Regular readers will know that I routine whinge and kvetch about how too many people are missing out on the power and the glory of music by settling for substandard audio.
Crappy earbuds (or worse, overhyped, too expensive Beats headphones), mono Bluetooth speakers, smart speakers, computer speakers (especially laptops) all suck when it comes to reproducing music. And most of that music is encoded in some awful compressed format (MP3s, for example), meaning that up 90% of the audio information has been stripped out to make the file smaller.
Music is increasingly virtual, streamed from some distant server for next to nothing. It doesn’t even have to take up space on your hard drive.
This is the polar opposite to the way previous generations treated music. Back in the 70s and 80s, untold billions were sunk into amps, speakers, turntables, high-end cassette decks, and CD players, all in an effort to achieve the best audio possible for the living room/bedroom/car.
If you grew up during that era, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Nothing was more important than the ability to play your music collection LOUD and CLEAR.
Album purchases were often chosen based on the clarity of their production. And we bragged about how many linear feet our music collections occupied. “See how much personal space I have devoted to my albums? THAT’S how much I love music!”
I can still recite the brands and model numbers of all the gear I bought in chronological order: Sansui, Akai, Denon, Carver, Cerwin-Vega, Polk, Technics, Pioneer, Yamaha, Tannoy, Klipsch, Merdian, NAD, PSB.
Yes, it can be an expensive and time-consuming pursuit. But once you’re bitten by the audiophile bug, it’s really, really hard to turn back. And since convenience and price trump everything, it’s understandable why high-end audio remains the domain of Baby Boomers.
But things seem to be changing, a notion that does my heart some good. This is from CNET.
There’s no getting around it, the high-end audio demographic skews to baby boomers. They’re the ones that mostly design, sell, and buy audiophile gear. That’s why I’m happy to report there’s a growing contingent of younger men and women making outstanding audio products attracting younger buyers.
While some young people inherit their parent’s or older owner’s businesses I’m more interested in young entrepreneurs who took the initiative and built their companies from the ground up.
All audiophile companies are small businesses and their products are mostly hand crafted. One big benefit for customers is they have greater access to the companies’ owners and engineers than they do with giant corporations meaning more personalized product support. As a result, I’m hoping this will help these companies to better connect with younger audiophiles and music lovers than the established brands.
These young people are the future of hi-fi.