Can Audiophiles Embrace Science Over Religion For The Hobby To Have a Future?

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
The demographics of the audiophile hobby today are downright frightening, a fact that I’ve been harping on editorially for years and years. It is well known that there are close to zero female audiophiles, and the current trajectory of the hobby isn’t likely to change that. The Baby Boomers, who invented, created, grew, and now curate the hobby, need to be concerned about the average age of the audiophile hobbyist. The number is high when the goal is to sell them expensive technology. While Generation X (think: mid-40s to later 50s in age today) is not excluded from the hobby – they spend on all sorts of technology with enthusiasm – it is that time in their lives to invest in marquee material goods, like a fine pair of speakers or an OLED UHD-TV. In regards to the future of the hobby, the question is, just how many more 72-year-old audiophiles will want to upgrade their $12,000 tube preamp to a $20,000 one when they are 10 years older? Not many. Can Asian, Middle Eastern and other overseas markets make up for the dwindling demand, lack of displaying retailers, and other problems in the United States? Unlikely, as they’ve sustained the business of high-performance audio for longer than most American audiophiles understand and/or admit. It ain’t a news story that the audiophile hobby needs a sea change to save the business of consumer high-end audio. Can it embrace a new mindset and welcome proven technologies to have a future? Or will it continue to stay in the past with antiquated technologies and unproven tweaks?

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Read: Audiophiles Need to Embrace Science over Religion
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
Fun editorial. Good read as I lay in bed, unable to sleep with a cat pushing me off one side and the Lady running a space heater making it too warm to stay under the covers... :rolleyes:

Seemingly more poignant stated as: can audiophiles embrace reality! ...While at the same time raising the point that looking forward in the industry needs to look much different than the nostalgia of only Vinyl and 2-channel purists.
I remember conversing with another AH-er about our BMR monitors and how he had a separate system he used when gaming because it seemed disrespectful to the Speakers! I opined that we each bought our Speakers for the promise of accurate reproduction of sound and that the program material was irrelevant; just as much effort went into the game as into a stereo mix of the latest pop gem or blockbuster movie. Sound is sound!
But whether you are bumping Iggy Azalea’s latest over a Logitech 2.1 THX speaker set streaming from a refurbished laptop or watching Bojack Horseman on an 85” QLED screen hooked up to a set of Wilson Chronosonic XVXs... it doesn’t matter.
The snob appeal needs to be replaced by inclusive acceptance that Diana Krall and Rickie Lee Jones isn’t for everyone and that Cake or Cake By The Ocean deserves the same treatment as Walk On The Wildside.
Do you think Jim Salk has sleepless nights hoping somebody doesn’t watch Godzilla Vs. Kong on his latest masterpiece build?

It seems for a majority of us here, that we aren’t interested in the extras that get piled on. Sure, @gene has his Kimbers...I have my Soundocity Outriggers... many of us have our quirks, but fortunately we aren’t buying into quantum tunneling. :p
People are interested in lifestyle products that make sense to them and in their homes. That is how the future of our passion lives on and passes down to the next group in line. But convincing a Milly that some uber-tiny KEF Subwoofer is going to change their life is the wrong tact. Rather it’s in finding smart ways to raise awareness that there are better ways to enjoy music and movies than phone speakers and sound bars.
Accessibility becomes key. In our time of Pandemics and Short Attention Spans, simplicity and efficacy will likely win.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
I know what you're talking about regarding Caddies, but there's an update and it's rather a big one:
GM giventh and GM taketh. The awesome CTS has been discontinued and replaced with a wanna-be - CT5 pandering back to the core Cadilac audience - the retirees. CT5 basic is powered by four pots with 247hp and the V model develops a meager 360hp, 40hp drop from a previous corvette's power plant.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
Wow. I've made this comparison so many times. It really is like a religion.
 
G

Gmoney

Audioholic Ninja
Wow. I've made this comparison so many times. It really is like a religion.
Many have lost there way or have falling into a Pit filled with Quicksand. To be One Ask One. But than again I've never ordered Specially built speakers from a One man Garaged team. Two come to mind, from Generation X.
 
G

Gratefuleric

Audiophyte
Thanks for speaking the truth, I recently saw an add for a liquid "sound enhancer" at $500 a bottle for what looked like fingernail polish, I reached out to them to remind them that mail fraud is a federal crime. I started in the world of vinyl and tubes as a teenager in the early 70's (Sansui 100A) but I now almost strictly stream my audio into a Peachtree integrated amp with a great built in DAC, Tekton DI's and a subwoofer and even a Schit Loki mini-EQ (oh the horror!) and even without directional speaker cables and wooden spools or "power enhancers" it blows the doors off of anything I've ever put together. Lose the Voodoo nonsense and embrace the science (yes, climate change is real) and you'll usher in a whole new generation of audiophiles. My 20 something nephew writes and creates digital music almost strictly with headphones and he loves to come over to proof his music on my system at 98db+ and is really excited to hear uncompressed, room filling, full spectrum audio reproduction. I instantly created an enthusiast and it was fun too! He said "yes! THAT is what I wanted it to sound like! where can I get this stuff?"
If we don't embrace change we will go the way of dinosaurs and compressed digital will take over with an endless loop of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.

Eric Jackson
San Diego, Ca.
 

Attachments

Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Chief
Interesting analysis Gene. I think we need to analyze how young people get into hi-fi in the first place. For many it will be their parent's home theatre. Both my kids have enjoyed the HT experience and know what a good AVR and speakers can do so they will be more likely to venture into the hobby. Those listening to TV speakers or sound bars less so.

Most young people listen with earbuds or headphones over portable devices, so even a $2,000 budget system can be a hard sell when you can get good headphones for a few hundred. I use those for Christmas presents and then when they go from Sennheisers to cheap earbuds they immediately know the difference. :cool: After graduation my daughter didn't have a lot of money but bought a nice vintage Techniques system with a turntable (as some indie bands like to release vinyl) for music listening, so we can have a positive influence even on the young ladies.

Other issue is on-line shopping and big box stores. The Best Buys out there have a big selection in the low end but limited quality gear, except for maybe AVRs. The higher end speakers you find are typically through Best Buy Marketplace through a 3rd party reseller with no in-store stock. Does someone new to the hobby want to spend that kind of money without an in-store audition? (Given the on-line shopping trend that might actually be a yes/maybe.)

Even some local hi-fi shops are getting into that act. More real estate is being dedicated to fancy HT rooms which means less space for speakers to demo. They concentrate on the HT market to make money on installs, as opposed to carrying a big selection and investing heavily in inventory. We only have one or two serious hi-fi shops in a city of 500,000 and for a lot of the really good stuff I would have to make the trek to Toronto where the big hi-fi shops are.

I think the hobby is getting a lift from Youtubers though. John Darko seems to concentrate on modern apartment size gear like DACs, various pre-amps and integrated amps, bookshelves and headphones. Next Best Thing Studio is a young Canadian guy that used to work at Audio Excellence in Toronto (Markham) who has been building his channel for a couple of years. I know there are a few 'influencers' in audio that have much bigger subscriber bases. These tend to be rather subjective reviews though with no science, but it does promote the hobby in the long run provided they stay away from the dubious peripherals.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
I like this Jerry guy. He listens to FM much more frequently than I have in a long time, tho.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
In interesting read. I feel also we need to embrace using the science to make our products more innovative. Wireless active powered speakers stuff that you can just turn on run an eq and play.

The new potential customer is not going to embrace gigantic speakers with all these complicated cables etc. Now will we always have us niche hobbyists? of course. But for the more casual we either find a way to use our science to make this more easy to use or we go the way of the dinosaur.

Also I can tell you how many times on forums I've seen newbies spoken down to or condescendingly in tone. Now we're not talking about some jerk that comes on acting like he's the greatest audio guy in the world or the average troll

I'm talking about a genuine new guy who hasn't read the latest stuff on bass management etc and they get that irritated I shouldn't have to answer this a 100 X's in a row or they get poked fun at because they're all excited about they're new amp not realizing it probably won't sound any different then they're avr in a blind test. And we just gotta tell em!!!! Or they ask a question about speaker X over speaker B and the thread devolves into a couple of dudes screaming at each other over speaker design

I'm not saying you can't help educate them but it's not what you say sometimes it's how you say it. If we want them to get on board we got to make sure they're feeling welcome and were patient with them nobody wants toget into something they're not having fun in
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
I think good wireless technology would go a long way for the new consumers for sure....see the request all the time and its largely slim pickins.....
 
Big-Q

Big-Q

Enthusiast
That is an interesting read. While much of what was stated I agree with. Some of it I do not. Yes, streaming will be the main source of music listening going forward. I love streaming right along with vinyl, CD’s and even my cassettes. For sure, there is an element of “snobbery” in the audiophile community that is not appealing. The vinyl only attitude is not helpful either. However, there are many audiophiles, like me who are not that way.

To illustrate… this last weekend I had a 20-something over to talk about audio equipment. He knew nearly nothing about it but wanted to learn. My first question to him was how he consumed music currently. The answer was through Spotify (I was not surprised). I said that is a great place to start (the audiophile snob would never say that, but it is true). So, then the discussion revolved around getting better sound from Spotify (better than his earbuds). He also wants to get into vinyl and cassettes (that surprised me).

My suggestion to him was to get an inexpensive set of decent sounding powered speakers that had Bluetooth, phono line-in (switchable to regular line-in), USB, and AUX. I showed him a good candidate for around $250. This would take care of his Spotify right away but would also allow him to add a turntable, CD player, or tape deck as money permitted.

We then chatted about my home theater system and my two-channel system (different room), how to play records, my cassette deck and CD players. I also showed him my ROON setup. I played him a record, cassette, CD, and some stuff off ROON. He was shocked how good the music sounded. It was like he was in audio heaven. His comment to me when he was leaving was… “this is where I want to get with audio someday.”

When I go to the local record store (Randy’s Records in SLC), it is me and maybe one other older dude and a bunch of 20-something “hipsters.” They love vinyl because it sounds better than their earbuds. Vinyl played through a turntable and a set of powered speakers is a better listening experience for them. That is how we get them in. It is through vinyl and through helping their Spotify and iTunes streaming sound better.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
I think junk science and snake oil are devastating to this hobby. It makes me genuinely sad when I read stuff in support of it by people who really should know better. I called out Guttenberg in the comments section of one of his videos. I don't remember exactly all of the details because it was quite a while back, but I was surprised he replied to me. I think I got under his skin.

I made a snarky comment or question something along the lines of why I should believe anything he says when he spreads misinformation all the time. He actually replied, a little butthurt, wanting to know when he ever did such a thing. I replied by linking something he'd written or said about the benefits of "better" interconnects and typed up a paragraph telling him it pisses me off that someone in his influential position promotes crap like that. I pressed him about demonstrating the science behind it too. He never replied after that.

I've watched a few of his videos and he seems like a really cool guy. Someone I'd enjoy a conversation with, but it's him and others that are part of the problem.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
That is an interesting read. While much of what was stated I agree with. Some of it I do not. Yes, streaming will be the main source of music listening going forward. I love streaming right along with vinyl, CD’s and even my cassettes. For sure, there is an element of “snobbery” in the audiophile community that is not appealing. The vinyl only attitude is not helpful either. However, there are many audiophiles, like me who are not that way.

To illustrate… this last weekend I had a 20-something over to talk about audio equipment. He knew nearly nothing about it but wanted to learn. My first question to him was how he consumed music currently. The answer was through Spotify (I was not surprised). I said that is a great place to start (the audiophile snob would never say that, but it is true). So, then the discussion revolved around getting better sound from Spotify (better than his earbuds). He also wants to get into vinyl and cassettes (that surprised me).

My suggestion to him was to get an inexpensive set of decent sounding powered speakers that had Bluetooth, phono line-in (switchable to regular line-in), USB, and AUX. I showed him a good candidate for around $250. This would take care of his Spotify right away but would also allow him to add a turntable, CD player, or tape deck as money permitted.

We then chatted about my home theater system and my two-channel system (different room), how to play records, my cassette deck and CD players. I also showed him my ROON setup. I played him a record, cassette, CD, and some stuff off ROON. He was shocked how good the music sounded. It was like he was in audio heaven. His comment to me when he was leaving was… “this is where I want to get with audio someday.”

When I go to the local record store (Randy’s Records in SLC), it is me and maybe one other older dude and a bunch of 20-something “hipsters.” They love vinyl because it sounds better than their earbuds. Vinyl played through a turntable and a set of powered speakers is a better listening experience for them. That is how we get them in. It is through vinyl and through helping their Spotify and iTunes streaming sound better.
I like the part about encouraging use of speakers, have always preferred such myself over headphones/ear buds. The vinyl/cassette part not so much, particularly for folk on a budget.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Chief
@Pogre I have been following Steve Guttenberg on and off for many years, since the old Sound and Vision magazine, so I've grown to like the guy. He has a lot of genuine enthusiasm for the hobby. I think his promotion of peripherals is few and far between, though, fortunately.

It's only natural that he will have a lot of old contacts in the industry, but he does try and promote younger people as well. He was one of the old guard to highlight Jana Dagdagan and her Earspace recordings on Youtube and her work with John Darko. Since Steve's move to Youtube, though, his reviews have been rather subjective so they are one more amongst many opinion pieces that don't produce any independent measurements.
 
R

Ringo

Audiophyte
Jerry I agree with you more thansome of your other articles...but ya just couldn't resist an anti-vinyl riff, could ya? Worse than poison? Seriously?? I respectfully submit that vinyl music playback can be and WILL be a part of the solution to get younger people into the audiophile hobby. Not a continuation of the problem. Cuz ya know what many younger people enjoy? That's right, "vinyls". They seem to like them a lot. Deny that and you're denying reality as much as you say the boomer audiophiles are!

I'm young myself, by audiophile standards..early 40s. Guess what? I love the vinyl format. I don't care that it doesn't measure as well as digital...noise floor, disortion, blah blah blah...I love the format. I love how it sounds. Period. And I'm certainly not the only one under 50 who does. For the record, I love digital too: I have Roon, with Quobuz, with multiple endpoints. Freaking love it. But I love my vinyl music just as much. It IS possible to love both, it really is.

Bottom line, vinyl is here to stay, like it or not. Vinyl is BACK, baby! If you deny that, who's the one most rigidly resisting reality here?
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
@Pogre I have been following Steve Guttenberg on and off for many years, since the old Sound and Vision magazine, so I've grown to like the guy. He has a lot of genuine enthusiasm for the hobby. I think his promotion of peripherals is few and far between, though, fortunately.

It's only natural that he will have a lot of old contacts in the industry, but he does try and promote younger people as well. He was one of the old guard to highlight Jana Dagdagan and her Earspace recordings on Youtube and her work with John Darko. Since Steve's move to Youtube, though, his reviews have been rather subjective so they are one more amongst many opinion pieces that don't produce any independent measurements.
I don't remember which of his videos I commented on, but he promoted something snake oily in it that stuck in my craw enough for me to want to post something. It wasn't just because I wanted to be mean to him. I've watched quite a few of his videos and I do like the guy.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Chief
I don't remember which of his videos I commented on, but he promoted something snake oily in it that stuck in my craw enough for me to want to post something. It wasn't just because I wanted to be mean to him. I've watched quite a few of his videos and I do like the guy.
I think I know you better than to think that you were trying to be mean. ;) I too recall him saying something about interconnects months ago and wasn't impressed either. Just sayin' that he doesn't do that sort of thing often. If he did, I would drop the channel in a heart beat.
 
Big-Q

Big-Q

Enthusiast
Jerry I agree with you more thansome of your other articles...but ya just couldn't resist an anti-vinyl riff, could ya? Worse than poison? Seriously?? I respectfully submit that vinyl music playback can be and WILL be a part of the solution to get younger people into the audiophile hobby. Not a continuation of the problem. Cuz ya know what many younger people enjoy? That's right, "vinyls". They seem to like them a lot. Deny that and you're denying reality as much as you say the boomer audiophiles are!

I'm young myself, by audiophile standards..early 40s. Guess what? I love the vinyl format. I don't care that it doesn't measure as well as digital...noise floor, disortion, blah blah blah...I love the format. I love how it sounds. Period. And I'm certainly not the only one under 50 who does. For the record, I love digital too: I have Roon, with Quobuz, with multiple endpoints. Freaking love it. But I love my vinyl music just as much. It IS possible to love both, it really is.

Bottom line, vinyl is here to stay, like it or not. Vinyl is BACK, baby! If you deny that, who's the one most rigidly resisting reality here?
You nailed it. All the formats have something to enjoy.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
I just don't see spending time listening to guys like Guttenberg, Darko, Grandpa Paul and some others....just better things to do :) I don't think they do the younger audiences much good otoh.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
Jerry I agree with you more thansome of your other articles...but ya just couldn't resist an anti-vinyl riff, could ya? Worse than poison? Seriously?? I respectfully submit that vinyl music playback can be and WILL be a part of the solution to get younger people into the audiophile hobby. Not a continuation of the problem. Cuz ya know what many younger people enjoy? That's right, "vinyls". They seem to like them a lot. Deny that and you're denying reality as much as you say the boomer audiophiles are!

I'm young myself, by audiophile standards..early 40s. Guess what? I love the vinyl format. I don't care that it doesn't measure as well as digital...noise floor, disortion, blah blah blah...I love the format. I love how it sounds. Period. And I'm certainly not the only one under 50 who does. For the record, I love digital too: I have Roon, with Quobuz, with multiple endpoints. Freaking love it. But I love my vinyl music just as much. It IS possible to love both, it really is.

Bottom line, vinyl is here to stay, like it or not. Vinyl is BACK, baby! If you deny that, who's the one most rigidly resisting reality here?
Yeah I've got a ton of friends that have gotten into vinyl lately
 

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