Is the Audiophile Dying Out?

Is the Audiophile Dying Out?

  • Yes. The kids only care about eabuds and smoking weed.

    Votes: 26 57.8%
  • No. The kids are allright.

    Votes: 19 42.2%

  • Total voters
    45
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Field Marshall
LG? Beauty? You must be waxing sentimental about that girl you met when you served in Korea. :p
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
What I really want is an Oppo audiophile phone.
 
T

Tachead7075

Audioholic
Well, I don't think I am going to waste anymore of my time talking about phones. And, for the record, I hate Apple and would never own an iPhone.

Thanks for the article Gene, it was an interesting read.
 
S

SpeleoFool

Audiophyte
This article showed up in my news feed, and I registered just to comment. I'm a mid-40's engineer who has been a lifelong lover of music, but only discovered HiFi about 15 years ago. Audiphiledom is suffering, but it's not dead. However, I don't think 2-channel HiFi is going to resurrect it.

The problem with HiFi today is rooted in MP3s. The ubiquitous digital music CODEC arrived in the mid-90s and revolutionized how people consume music. A single CD contains about 650-700MB of uncompressed music. In 1995 a 500MB hard drive cost a few hundred dollars! As the cost of storage dropped, people were able to own vast collections of compressed digital music. In time, people got accustomed to favoring quantity over quality.

Even though the conditions that made MP3 music so revolutionary no longer exist today, the average consumer still values quantity over quality. The most popular digital streaming services (e.g., YouTube, Spotify) still stream compressed audio, and most consumer audio gear is only good enough to make sound, not to sound good. Point is: there is an entire generation of people who, for the most part, don't even know what good sound is!

I could continue with more trends, like how big box stores displaced smaller businesses, recession wiped out a lot of boutique high-end audio stores, and now the Internet is cannibalizing brick and mortar shops. The point is, where does one even go to experience HiFi? Especially if you don't know it exists? And if, as this article astutely noticed, you want to consume your entertainment as more than just music absent video, why would you look to invest big bucks in 2-channel audio?

Even when I was getting into HiFi in the mid-2000s there was a perception that more than 2 speakers was somehow impure. And I'm not saying that music shouldn't be rendered on 2 speakers in a traditional HiFi sort of way, but I am saying that one needn't limit their entertainment setup to 2 channels only. For instance:

Theater, 2019 - 2k.jpg


In addition to being an audiophile, I am a prolific XBox gamer. Hence, my entertainment center needed to be more than a simple 2-channel setup for music. I built a 5.1 surround system based on Sonus Faber Cremona speakers with their matched center and sub, and I have evolved that system over the years to keep up with the times. I have a Sony 4K projector for my big screen as well as 2 additional LG flat panels. At any given time I have several XBox consoles plugged into my system; I use an 8x8 HDMI matrix to route video from any of these to any of my 3 screens (and I have occasionally run extra outputs to monitors for even more outputs).

As busy as this setup is, I still have a path to pristine 2 channel audio, using Roon to stream to a Mac Mini hosting an Ayre QB9-DSD DAC into the McIntosh chain and out the left and right towers. It's still traditional 2-channel HiFi, but with lots of extra frills for movies and gaming.

Most of my gaming friends use TVs and soundbars and whatnot. When I've had people over to play on this setup, their heads explode. They are not used to the role that good sound can contribute to gaming--they haven't been exposed to it.

Where I believe audiophiledom may be redeemed is through headphones and personal audio. The fundamental problem that needs to be solved is simply exposing people to high quality music through good audio chains so that the ones who appreciate that kind of experience can make informed decisions about how much to invest in audio. Headphones are at least 10-20x less expensive than 2-channel HiFi for comparable quality experiences. Moreover, China has been producing increasingly excellent head-fi gear at ever-falling prices. Competition is bringing truly excellent audio within reach of what consumers are willing to pay for things like gaming headsets. Sooner or later people are going to discover what their money can buy them, and then just maybe there will be a revolution in demand for quality.

This isn't just theory or conjecture--I have been actively sharing high-end headphones with people for a couple years, and without exception everyone has been blown away by what music they know sounds like when they can actually hear it, lol.

In any case, if people discover what a difference good sound can make to their entertainment experiences, I think that may eventually lead to more interest in 2 channel HiFi or big integrated surround systems like what I've built. But people need to know those experiences exist before they can aspire to them.
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Field Marshall
Can I interest you in some TF2 sometime? Boink!
 
friedmud

friedmud

Audiophyte
I'll add one to this: embrace the idea that music can come from more than _2_ speakers. More "general purpose" systems (that do double-duty as HT or just for TV) will always have more than 2 speakers going forward (and should!).

For instance, right now I'm listening on my new 3.1 system (SVS Prime Books, SVS Prime Center, SVS SB2000-Pro Sub) in my living room. It is _sublime_ (for what it is). BUT - it would not exist as simply a 2.1 or 2-channel system because that center is absolutely critical for TV/movies. I could, of course, ignore the center and just play using the two books... but the center is actually awesome - and using the Dolby Surround mode on my Onkyo receiver to light up the center give better (and louder) sound, and better imaging (things supposed to sound like they are coming from the center... just _do_). A purist would yell at me for doing this... but it really does sound better and fill my whole (open concept) house with music better.

In my last house I had a full 5.1.4 Atmos system in the living room.... and, again, utilizing all 9 channels for playing back music was _awesome_. Within the speaker area it would surround you with sound - outside it would fill the house.

We shouldn't shy away from utilizing more speakers - and we shouldn't shun people that do!
 
friedmud

friedmud

Audiophyte
This article showed up in my news feed, and I registered just to comment. I'm a mid-40's engineer who has been a lifelong lover of music, but only discovered HiFi about 15 years ago. Audiphiledom is suffering, but it's not dead. However, I don't think 2-channel HiFi is going to resurrect it.

The problem with HiFi today is rooted in MP3s. The ubiquitous digital music CODEC arrived in the mid-90s and revolutionized how people consume music. A single CD contains about 650-700MB of uncompressed music. In 1995 a 500MB hard drive cost a few hundred dollars! As the cost of storage dropped, people were able to own vast collections of compressed digital music. In time, people got accustomed to favoring quantity over quality.

Even though the conditions that made MP3 music so revolutionary no longer exist today, the average consumer still values quantity over quality. The most popular digital streaming services (e.g., YouTube, Spotify) still stream compressed audio, and most consumer audio gear is only good enough to make sound, not to sound good. Point is: there is an entire generation of people who, for the most part, don't even know what good sound is!

I could continue with more trends, like how big box stores displaced smaller businesses, recession wiped out a lot of boutique high-end audio stores, and now the Internet is cannibalizing brick and mortar shops. The point is, where does one even go to experience HiFi? Especially if you don't know it exists? And if, as this article astutely noticed, you want to consume your entertainment as more than just music absent video, why would you look to invest big bucks in 2-channel audio?

Even when I was getting into HiFi in the mid-2000s there was a perception that more than 2 speakers was somehow impure. And I'm not saying that music shouldn't be rendered on 2 speakers in a traditional HiFi sort of way, but I am saying that one needn't limit their entertainment setup to 2 channels only. For instance:

View attachment 41279

In addition to being an audiophile, I am a prolific XBox gamer. Hence, my entertainment center needed to be more than a simple 2-channel setup for music. I built a 5.1 surround system based on Sonus Faber Cremona speakers with their matched center and sub, and I have evolved that system over the years to keep up with the times. I have a Sony 4K projector for my big screen as well as 2 additional LG flat panels. At any given time I have several XBox consoles plugged into my system; I use an 8x8 HDMI matrix to route video from any of these to any of my 3 screens (and I have occasionally run extra outputs to monitors for even more outputs).

As busy as this setup is, I still have a path to pristine 2 channel audio, using Roon to stream to a Mac Mini hosting an Ayre QB9-DSD DAC into the McIntosh chain and out the left and right towers. It's still traditional 2-channel HiFi, but with lots of extra frills for movies and gaming.

Most of my gaming friends use TVs and soundbars and whatnot. When I've had people over to play on this setup, their heads explode. They are not used to the role that good sound can contribute to gaming--they haven't been exposed to it.

Where I believe audiophiledom may be redeemed is through headphones and personal audio. The fundamental problem that needs to be solved is simply exposing people to high quality music through good audio chains so that the ones who appreciate that kind of experience can make informed decisions about how much to invest in audio. Headphones are at least 10-20x less expensive than 2-channel HiFi for comparable quality experiences. Moreover, China has been producing increasingly excellent head-fi gear at ever-falling prices. Competition is bringing truly excellent audio within reach of what consumers are willing to pay for things like gaming headsets. Sooner or later people are going to discover what their money can buy them, and then just maybe there will be a revolution in demand for quality.

This isn't just theory or conjecture--I have been actively sharing high-end headphones with people for a couple years, and without exception everyone has been blown away by what music they know sounds like when they can actually hear it, lol.

In any case, if people discover what a difference good sound can make to their entertainment experiences, I think that may eventually lead to more interest in 2 channel HiFi or big integrated surround systems like what I've built. But people need to know those experiences exist before they can aspire to them.
And now I see that someone else had already said what I came to say: that we shouldn't shun those with more than 2 speakers :)

All good points made here.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Seems to me 2ch was more a compromise in the first place compared the better testing 3ch....just harder to implement at home.
 
friedmud

friedmud

Audiophyte
I went into a AT&T store last year to buy a Iphone 6s + and all the sales lady wanted to do was sell me a 1200 buck phone. I walked out with a Iphone paid cash under 400 bucks with a prepaid plan. They where trying to get me to buy one of those 24 month plans would've been like umm 120 bucks a month.
You realize that this is EXACTLY the same story people tell about NOT buying "audiophile" gear..... right?

"""
I went into an audio store and the guy there wanted to sell me $1000 speakers! I walked out of there with speakers for under $400 and they do WAY more than I need!
"""

Can you accept that people have different interests/needs and that the $1200 phone is _really_ interesting to people who are "into" that?

Just think about the time spent enjoying something vs the $ amount for it. I can guarantee you that hrs/$ is WAY higher for "kids" buying phones than it is for most audiophiles (how often do you use your system?).

I'm in my upper 30s... and I can see the value in all of these things. I spend a lot on my phone because I spend a lot of time on my phone (for work, entertainment, and communication) - and having all the greatest features and the speed is useful to me.

I also love audio... especially for HT. I spend quite a lot of money on audio throughout my home... but if I'm honest... I use it a lot less than I do my phone!
 
M

mcurtin78

Audiophyte
This article is spot-on.

From what I read, above, I likely represent a cohort that sits between the "old" and the "new" perspective of audio and video experience. Crutchfield had its HQ in my hometown, so I grew up exposed to the rapid evolution of home audio/theater in the early and mid-90s. Boxes and cables and cases were increasingly impressive and something I loved seeing as a centerpiece. My friends loved the technical specs and performance, my significant others, not so much.

No approach is necessarily wrong, but I fully agree that the taste of the "new" client is an evolutionary one. I cannot think of one friend that has a dedicated audio room, and only a handful with true home theaters - even with these folks being quite well off.

With increasing rejection of large homes in the suburbs, people in my age range are accommodating systems in higher-end condos, small mid-century moderns, and old Victorian homes. It's truly amazing to see what the newest gear is able to accomplish in these spaces.

Having gone from large format setups to now ones that blend (nearly) seamlessly into living spaces, I can say that the experience definitely exceeds my expectations. The aesthetic gains far outweigh the barely-perceivable audio/video fidelity losses. Our small, very modern apartment has its own "home theater" with only a Sennheiser Ambeo and a Samsung The Frame; the "office" (just a desk built into the kitchen counter area) uses the Ikea/Sonos table lamps; and the "audio room" is a Peachtree Nova, Yamaha high-res streamer, and Monitor Audio Silvers on shelves at the foot of our bed.

Finally, what I truly love about our setups is that they are designed for shared use and experience. But, you better not sit in the middle of the couch during movie night - that sweet spot is mine!
 
friedmud

friedmud

Audiophyte
Waiting in line for as cup of coffee when I can make a whole pot of it at home, drink it at my leisure and not have to listen to the droid behind the counter tell me how special their coffee heater is and how it seems to make them think they're 'interesting' while surrounded by people who piss away money for something that can be bought for $10/lb reminds me that people are idiots (not that I really need a reminder). Last time I went to Charbucks, it was to use a gift card before it expired and it took almost ten minutes to get that cup into my hand. I guess they charge so much so they can recover their rent faster and I like the beans I buy at a local grocery store more than what I had from them- I don't think I finished my cup. Good thing it was free.
This thread is absolute gold. If anyone could understand the drive to spend more money on a higher-end product that many will see as a "waste"... I would think it could be audiophiles!

I absolutely cannot believe the cognitive dissonance shown by some of the posters here.

We should absolutely celebrate _anyone_ who goes out of their way (and spends significant money) to procure and enjoy a quality product rather than just accepting common crap. That includes:

- Coffee
- Cell phones
- TVs
- Speakers
- Headphones
- Wine
- Hotel rooms
- First-class seats on airplanes
- Fine furniture
- Nice houses
- Whatever!

_Anyone_ who puts intention into their purchases and utilizes significant sums of their free cash to enjoy something "special" to them in life is a-ok in my book. I get much more upset at people who just "let life pass by" without ever actually caring much about having a bespoke experience with any of it...
 
friedmud

friedmud

Audiophyte
Enjoyment of music...Music which has a very deep impact on one's consciousness,,,,etc, etc VS opening/closing apps on a fcking phone ......there's a big difference there, you simpleton
Why the name-calling? THIS attitude is what would drive people away.

Don't forget that Phones are _communication_ devices. Seeing my newly born nephew live over Facetime is much more transformational than listening to any song on the planet.

BUT: This is NOT a competition! We are humans, we can have many diverse interests. As crazy as it may sound to some people here... many people can have more than one! lol.

No one is a "simpleton" because they enjoy something different from life than you.
 
friedmud

friedmud

Audiophyte
Great article, and the timing is perfect. you made me feel great because of all the sweat, blood, curses, and alcohol that went into my project. I started with a lot of research, then AV acquisition, remodeling, including wiring new dedicated circuits, 3 pair of ceiling speaker installs, moving 1 sub to concealed corner, led downlights, drywall repairs, paint, carpet, building a acoustically dead entertainment center from semi-custom cabinetry (Lowes, MDF reinforcement, and lots of hidden thermafiber), and on and on. Getting to the point where the actual new components will be hooked up (this weekend) to 3 visible speakers (2 D11s +DT 9060) via a Marantz SR7015 + Marantz MM7025, and Sony X900H TV. A lot was sourced from AAFES, which used to be THE place to buy quality...not so much any more. You and yours helped me reach a better understanding of how to begin my journey from cheap Sony amp and mediocre speakers that did nothing much except clutter up the space. Now its time to convince the wife that the curtains hanging in front of the three family room windows behind the audience need to go (Honey, I will pay for the good stuff). Also trying to figure out how to deaden the left wall from reflected sound without conflict. Not alot I can do about the right side half wall.

Thanks for all the info on the Marantz product line (funny, finally able to purchase the 2020 model in OCT) as well as the Definitive Tech info and the heads up about Blue Jeans wiring (quad banana plugs bundled in a thick cable are sweet, subwoofer cable is also very nice). I will upgrade from the Klipsh ceiling speakers as I clear the zero percent debt.
System sounds like it's great! I have an 85" X900h downstairs waiting to be hung on the wall... still waiting for a lot of the audio components to come in...

How do you like the TV?
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Field Marshall
Hey friedmud, can you slow it down a bit and maybe use smaller words? Some of us are simpletons.:p Audio components? Do tell.:)
 
friedmud

friedmud

Audiophyte
Hey friedmud, can you slow it down a bit and maybe use smaller words? Some of us are simpletons.:p Audio components? Do tell.:)
Hah - sorry, just had a bit of time before my next meeting and found the topic interesting :cool:

As someone in-between in a lot of ways (age (38), financially, etc.) - I tend to see all the various sides of these discussions.

My audio components? I just bought a new house, so still "settling in"

My main listening area right now is the 3.1 system I mentioned earlier: SVS Prime Books, Prime Center, and SB2000-Pro subwoofer mated to an Onkyo TX-NR787 receiver which was repurposed from my last HT build. Sounds absolutely sweet in my living room. The TV is a 65" 4k Sony X900E.

My new HT build is 7.1.4: SVS Prime Pinnacles for left/right, SVS Prime Ultra Center, SVS Prime Elevations for the ceiling, Monoprice Monolith THX 15" sub, and 4 repurposed Polk T50 floor standers for the surrounds... all mated to a Denon x3700h. Like mentioned earlier, the new TV is an 85" 4k Sony X900H.

To stay on-topic... while I don't know anyone who has a 2-channel system, most of my friends have decent HT systems. I think HT will continue to be the gateway drug for audiophiles. Soundbars keep getting better, but once you get a taste of better audio... it can lead to wanting even MORE ;-)
 
K

Kleinst

Full Audioholic
You realize that this is EXACTLY the same story people tell about NOT buying "audiophile" gear..... right?

"""
I went into an audio store and the guy there wanted to sell me $1000 speakers! I walked out of there with speakers for under $400 and they do WAY more than I need!
"""

Can you accept that people have different interests/needs and that the $1200 phone is _really_ interesting to people who are "into" that?

Just think about the time spent enjoying something vs the $ amount for it. I can guarantee you that hrs/$ is WAY higher for "kids" buying phones than it is for most audiophiles (how often do you use your system?).

I'm in my upper 30s... and I can see the value in all of these things. I spend a lot on my phone because I spend a lot of time on my phone (for work, entertainment, and communication) - and having all the greatest features and the speed is useful to me.

I also love audio... especially for HT. I spend quite a lot of money on audio throughout my home... but if I'm honest... I use it a lot less than I do my phone!
I agree. Ultimately this is a hobby for me. But for some having the latest features on their phone might be their hobby. Or heaven forbit they have a couple hobbies. It's all ok.

But good point here on this post. TVs have crap speakers now and they keep getting worse. Maybe it's been posted on this thread as I haven't read it all, but I'd be real curious what the soundbar has meant for sales of AVRs? I bet those that adapt and offer quality will still profit and those that don't will have a hard time making it (Onkyo?).
 
Alfred Prill

Alfred Prill

Enthusiast
System sounds like it's great! I have an 85" X900h downstairs waiting to be hung on the wall... still waiting for a lot of the audio components to come in...

How do you like the TV?
It is awesome, great blacks...you watch college football? you will quickly realize your feed is only as good as the network covering the game. I was able to enjoy it for a few weeks before starting the project. Enjoy check out
Mounting Dream TV Wall Mounts TV Bracket for 42-70 Inch TVs, Premium TV Mount, Full Motion TV Wall Mount with Articulating Arms, Max VESA 600x400mm and 100 LBS, Fits 16", 18", 24" Studs MD2296-24K. Easy to install and hang a large tv without worrying about centering exactly, set up accounts for studs that aren't centered on your viewpoint
 
Alfred Prill

Alfred Prill

Enthusiast
This article showed up in my news feed, and I registered just to comment. I'm a mid-40's engineer who has been a lifelong lover of music, but only discovered HiFi about 15 years ago. Audiphiledom is suffering, but it's not dead. However, I don't think 2-channel HiFi is going to resurrect it.

The problem with HiFi today is rooted in MP3s. The ubiquitous digital music CODEC arrived in the mid-90s and revolutionized how people consume music. A single CD contains about 650-700MB of uncompressed music. In 1995 a 500MB hard drive cost a few hundred dollars! As the cost of storage dropped, people were able to own vast collections of compressed digital music. In time, people got accustomed to favoring quantity over quality.

Even though the conditions that made MP3 music so revolutionary no longer exist today, the average consumer still values quantity over quality. The most popular digital streaming services (e.g., YouTube, Spotify) still stream compressed audio, and most consumer audio gear is only good enough to make sound, not to sound good. Point is: there is an entire generation of people who, for the most part, don't even know what good sound is!

I could continue with more trends, like how big box stores displaced smaller businesses, recession wiped out a lot of boutique high-end audio stores, and now the Internet is cannibalizing brick and mortar shops. The point is, where does one even go to experience HiFi? Especially if you don't know it exists? And if, as this article astutely noticed, you want to consume your entertainment as more than just music absent video, why would you look to invest big bucks in 2-channel audio?

Even when I was getting into HiFi in the mid-2000s there was a perception that more than 2 speakers was somehow impure. And I'm not saying that music shouldn't be rendered on 2 speakers in a traditional HiFi sort of way, but I am saying that one needn't limit their entertainment setup to 2 channels only. For instance:

View attachment 41279

In addition to being an audiophile, I am a prolific XBox gamer. Hence, my entertainment center needed to be more than a simple 2-channel setup for music. I built a 5.1 surround system based on Sonus Faber Cremona speakers with their matched center and sub, and I have evolved that system over the years to keep up with the times. I have a Sony 4K projector for my big screen as well as 2 additional LG flat panels. At any given time I have several XBox consoles plugged into my system; I use an 8x8 HDMI matrix to route video from any of these to any of my 3 screens (and I have occasionally run extra outputs to monitors for even more outputs).

As busy as this setup is, I still have a path to pristine 2 channel audio, using Roon to stream to a Mac Mini hosting an Ayre QB9-DSD DAC into the McIntosh chain and out the left and right towers. It's still traditional 2-channel HiFi, but with lots of extra frills for movies and gaming.

Most of my gaming friends use TVs and soundbars and whatnot. When I've had people over to play on this setup, their heads explode. They are not used to the role that good sound can contribute to gaming--they haven't been exposed to it.

Where I believe audiophiledom may be redeemed is through headphones and personal audio. The fundamental problem that needs to be solved is simply exposing people to high quality music through good audio chains so that the ones who appreciate that kind of experience can make informed decisions about how much to invest in audio. Headphones are at least 10-20x less expensive than 2-channel HiFi for comparable quality experiences. Moreover, China has been producing increasingly excellent head-fi gear at ever-falling prices. Competition is bringing truly excellent audio within reach of what consumers are willing to pay for things like gaming headsets. Sooner or later people are going to discover what their money can buy them, and then just maybe there will be a revolution in demand for quality.

This isn't just theory or conjecture--I have been actively sharing high-end headphones with people for a couple years, and without exception everyone has been blown away by what music they know sounds like when they can actually hear it, lol.

In any case, if people discover what a difference good sound can make to their entertainment experiences, I think that may eventually lead to more interest in 2 channel HiFi or big integrated surround systems like what I've built. But people need to know those experiences exist before they can aspire to them.
Ok you win. I hate to jump to conclusions, but the concept of "Household 6" (ie spouse) has not struck your lifestyle. Overview not required to understand Yoda "force level mastery is strong with this one, emhh". Mcintosh...damn I had to look it up to make sure I spelled it correctly, almost went with Steve Jobs spelling.
 

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