Key to Finding New Generation of Audio Enthusiasts

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
With Baby Boomers now in their 70s and most Millennials firmly entrenched in low quality streaming services with lo-fi speaker systems, how do we entice a new generation of AV enthusiasts to delve into the world of Hi-Fi audio? Show them positive life experiences.

In this article by Jerry Del Colliano, he explores how lifestyle hobbies like high-end Golf resorts often promote luxury cars and watches to entice their members to enjoy these perks while also building a positive association with them. Can the same thing be done with hi-fi systems?

golf-audio.jpg


Read: The Key to Finding a New Generation of AV Enthusiasts is Positive Life Experiences
 
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mono-bloc

mono-bloc

Audioholic
The thing is while you say that baby boomers are the only one's interested in genuine HiFi, Your average young person, or in a lot of cases the man in the street, has never heard of The High End. The fact that stores are closing down at an alarming rate. Leaving only the box sellers, who sell mass produced products, which last no time at all and in a lot of cases are not repairable Your average AVR is updated with a new model every 8 to 10 months.

People that see adverts or shop fronts for good quality audio, won't go in as they think that the gear shown is way out of there price range. Plus wages only go so far, and there's not a lot left after you pay for essentials. So your left with the baby boomers , who want to spend up, instead of leaving it to the kids when they cark it.

Home theatre is on the way up, for established home owners, who have the space and cash to finance it. But again in most cases there reduced to a box seller budget. We read it all the time on forums and notice boards, they want everything but have next to nothing by way of a budget.

I get people visiting my shack in the hills, and I'm a cranky baby boomer plus, The first thing they ask is why do I have all those box's and where's my AVR ? I try to avoid talking about costs, as I get there story about what's wrong with there 25 dollar DVD player. And why don't I have a big sub-woofer. I try to explain that my woofer has 4 legs and a wooly coat.. Is it any wonder I live in peace and quite , and try to avoid visitors.
 
MigMeisterGeneral

MigMeisterGeneral

Audiophyte
I agree that clinging to the past tech and music will stagnate future growth.

Newer technology has made better quality music sources and clearer, more powerful amplification possible. These new advances can now power speakers with improvements born from modern engineering and innovation.

A case must be made - not just for why this all matters but why it is necessary.

From introduction to sales, from purchase to placement the goal should be to foster and share moments when one's beloved favorite causes the eyes to slowly shut and the smile to slowly widen - resulting in fingers snapping, hands clapping and toes tapping.

I think the answer lies in selling the whole audio experience and its the benefit to mind, body, and spirit.

To the mind. REW is a great tool: a little arcane but with it, one can learn how to make the improvements that clarify and balance the sound in my space.

But what if a newbie is intimidated, not ready or willing to dig that deeply?

What will spark interest?

Streamlined, understandable and relatable guidance would be helpful.

If a hobbyist loves the result of sound sculpting but is challenged getting there, having available, knowledgeable, trustworthy support to answer questions is key here. There's a great subwoofer manufacturer that does very well with this - allowing generous product trial periods along with detailed web and phone support.

To the body - Choosing the best equipment for the best sounding environment

promotes physical health by not bombarding frustrating or fatiguing listener's ears. More should be said about the correlation between good sound, healthy hearing, and the positive effects to the body of exposure to pleasant sound experiences.

To the spirit:

Let's guide new audiophiles to quality sound sources, reproduction, and expression (and not emphasize selections based (primarily) on history or overdone aesthetics I mean, really, car paint jobs? how irrelevant!

Be that as it may, taking a cue from the auto industry would be helpful. The makers at each level are adept at selling to customers the advantages of having their particular auto. Why is this not as effective in the audio world?

I wonder if it is because there are obviously way fewer audiophiles than drivers that the selling skews toward pulling in bigger dollar listeners. The high-end market segment will be more enamored with extravagant design and luxury finishes.

As a matter of course - broad budgets allow for deeper R&D and better-quality materials that truly solve genuine sound engineering challenges. I get that. And I can also appreciate that there are many heads and hands involved in bringing a product from its idea stage to the listener's living room but some of the product markup out there is just plain ridiculous.

(And kudos to Audioholics for blowing away the smoke and smashing the mirrors of some of the most notorious snake oil salesmen).

I believe that an unfortunate byproduct of overemphasis on the high-end market is the implication that all the absolute best sound solutions can only found in the stratosphere.

In a spirit of industry cooperation, it would be beneficial to take any universal elements and "secrets" (from physical design to engineering solutions) and make them the equivalent of open-source code - design solutions employable as far as any manufacturer is willing and able to take them. Similar to how seat belt technology was shared freely owing to the tremendous overall benefit to all drivers.

One must maintain a mature outlook and understand that a comprehensive and enjoyable experience can be had with quality solutions at reasonable prices. (Hence the rise of "Cheap Audio Man" - an everyman cheerleader and an audio reviewer making reality-based assessments of affordable, good audio and poking fun at the money focused side of audiophilia).

Because sound experiences are so varied and so personal, inviting and actively promoting sound solutions as individual expressions of personal spirit will go a long way towards wooing newbies into the audiophile fold (as opposed to competing factions solely declaring that their product x can beat competitor y in a schoolyard listening test fight).

In conclusion, clarifying the definition what is good sound and making it accessible, emphasizing real world physical benefits, and embracing and promoting positive, inclusive, and soulful experiences will go a long way towards revitalizing the hobby.
 
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M

mns3dhm

Enthusiast
I'm supposed to believe marketing audio gear at places like Pebble Beach, where green fees are $595 per round, is somehow going to alleviate the snob image of the audiophile buyer and grow the hobby?
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Warlord
*sighs

Here we go, back to the elitist approach to bemoaning the dying HiFi Hobby and marketplace. What, Jerry? No McMansions as part of this trip? Guess it's just another dumpster fire of an op-ed, in that regard.

If the goal is to be more accessible, why do you keep leaning on exclusive concepts of marketing that really only serve to the priveledged, to the "Haves," the upper class? Are you suggesting that a mid-5-figure income isn't worthy of the audio hobby?

If not... you need to work on your messaging, cause once again, it certainly sounds that way. And #hint: this type of attitude is a big part of the problem you are bemoaning.

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WookieGR

WookieGR

Full Audioholic
Getting people to give up their laziness and lack of interest in quality is a big hurdle. There's an entire psychological aspect behind people with lesser attention spans and what they are willing to get out of things.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
"With all due respect to Costco, Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon, they don't offer much of a "wow" experience in their retail/wholesale/online domains. You simply need to know what AV equipment that you want, and then buy them as if they were not that different than a 32-pack of Cottonelle toilet paper, or a four-pound box of Cheerios."

I understand complaints about piss-poor customer service at the electronics specialty stores like BestBuy (they did it themselves as a cost-cutting measure, and its net effect on profits is not for me to judge), but please leave wholesale clubs (Costco/BJs/etc.) of it. Your argument is invalid. This is precisely working as designed. They have enough sales without getting A/V experts. I've yet to see ANY almost empty Costco store on any weekend. And let me remind you about Costco's return policy -
Notice how there's no return by date (outside of the stated few exceptions?) And even for electronics - 90 days. (Best Buy has only 15 days !!!)

Target is an interesting mention, as I shop there more often than I used to. I see it as a more upscale Walmart. So speaking of Target/Walmart - they both have electronics sections, but I don't know who would go to either of them and expect to get expert advice.

Amazon doesn't have retail stores (except Wholefoods and experimental groceries), so how would they provide a "Wow" service? Nearly every time I've had a chat with Amazon CS, I got what I wanted, if not more.

Now to address the online A/V buying experience - Could it be improved significantly? Absolutely, but to make it accurate, helpful, and easy to use requires MASSIVE investment, which may or may not generate sufficient delta sales.
 
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Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Audioholic Field Marshall
I think complexity and cost are what makes it taboo.

Try spending some time at r/budgetaudiophile and learn how real people live their lives. They want decent audio, but many have very tight entertainment budgets. Right now we are in a GREAT age of budget speakers, where some really amazing boxes can be bought for less than a layperson's paycheck.

TV's aren't bad either. $500 gets you a LOT of television screen area now, even if it doesn't get you the best whiz-bang picture.

Blu-ray players? Cheap as cheap, and >90% of the people would be happy with whatever you can buy at Target, as long as it lasts a few years. Same with streamers, where $50 plus a subscription or two goes a long way.

So where is the roadblock to affordable hi-fi that could get our children and grandchildren interested? Oh! Well suddenly I read these pages and hear about how the latest 13.4.4.2.6.8 receiver "only" costs $3299. That's all? I'll take two! :rolleyes:

Dolby's nonstop adding channels and surround modes, with the correlating increases in complexity and price, tend to push people away. A LOT of people were and still are happy with just 5.1. There's such a thing as stress caused by knowing "something better" is out there but you can't afford it (see people who trade in their low mileage cars every 3 years). Buying more and more speakers, needing more and more space, running more and more wires, justifying it harder and harder to the wife... yeah forget that noise. Joe Blow winds up dropping $250 on a soundbar or foregoes even that and listens to the TV speakers. Hint: If you price equipment into a place that only boomers can afford it... only boomers will buy it.

I'm in absolute love with my Marantz NR1200 and I wish more manufacturers would take a chance with a basic 2-channel AVR so prices could come down more. Take out all the surround modes, all the DSP effects, and just downmix to 2 channels and call it a day. Many people would be content with a quality 2.0 or 2.1 movie experience if it fits their budget. With housing crunch as it is, a lot of people don't have spacious living rooms (or a living room at all) to set up an extravagant system. Just don't drown the consumer with such a plethora of choices.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Personally can't think of a bigger waste of money and time than golf and exclusive country clubs, and I'm a boomer (but not quite 70 yet). LOL hippie hotel and ebike sounds a lot more fun. Let alone collecting watches. My grandfather (mom's side) was a big golf/country club guy and I had my shot but didn't care for it at all.

High end audio stores and their often silly marketing and pricing won't get as many interested as it will drive away IMO. Tell someone you're an audiophile these days and they're more likely to think of silly things than anything particularly useful. High end audio has been shooting itself in the foot for a long time now. You can get excellent audio without the high end purchasing/marketing. Hopefully the younger folk are realizing that. A broader appeal with good basic affordable products would be a better way to go IMO to increase interest. Like rebuilding a middle class, which drove the whole thing to begin with IMO, rather than selling to people with more money than sense.
 
j_garcia

j_garcia

Audioholic Jedi
Why have nice audio gear if you don't have good music? What is the current generation going to be nostalgic about when they look back at their teens, the time of "finding your own music"? The vast majority of today's music, honestly, isn't good. I don't hear much that sounds like it will stand the test of time. There are always great artists, but the mainstream stuff is just fluff today. Old fart? Yeah maybe, but a fan of music.

Wanting the sound of a theater at home also I don't see so much. Audio gear in general is now much more expensive, mainly the electronics. A "budget" system is now about 2X what it used to be. I could put together a very respectable 2ch system for around $500-700, and a comparable system today would run someone around $1000-1500.

Convenience does win out usually, but I agree that part of it is laziness of the consumer too. Instant access to one song, so you don't need to buy an album and listen to it and become invested in an artist. Access to almost any song online at any time also doesn't create a condition where people feel like they need to buy it anymore. at the same time, I have to pay to listen to quality sound on subscription services? lol, that is not as appealing as they'd like to think.
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Senior Audioholic
Hi,

Well, I would argue that there's more audio enthusiasts now than ever before. There's an actual market to be a music creator at all levels and tons of people create music from DAW's now. It's cheaper to hire a content creator to make you a new track on their DAW than it is to license someone else's music for use.

Lo-fi is all the rage right now. Everything is using it. All comercials have a low-fi beat going on, that was made in a few hours on a DAW with sampling. And these people are using very high quality studio monitors, headphones, etc, to mix on. But the current trend is to take high quality sampling and make it sound low fidelity with artificial pops and clicks like its a record even and warped sounds from broken retro gear. Just listen to every commercial. Listen to any ad. It's everywhere! People are slurping it up. Channels stream it all day long. And more and more people are working music content creators than ever, making this kind of stuff and churning out material than ever before, again, because its unique to the buyer/consumer and doesn't have to be licensed from some big company/label to use.

But how do we translate this current experience of wirelessly, bluetooth, streaming beats, electronic music, mixed samples, etc, into traditional hi-fi? I don't think it will. There are people who are heavy into retro. There always will be. But how do we take today's culture and fit hi fi systems into it? I don't think it's going to be simple. If it's not wireless and can be plopped down near their big TV or somewhere like the wildly popular (ugh) soundbar, people will continue to think soundbars on their TVs is Hi-Fi. To them. And then when they are shown a real hi-fi system, even a budget one, the size of it all, the cables, talking about the room, etc, placement, you lose them instantly. That's work. Most people are simply not in the hobby of audio preparation, they just want to listen to something and not have to work on it. That's for hobby enthusiasts (like most people here).

Hi-fi definitely needs a reboot. It will have a smaller and smaller market as things get wildly expensive and huge without being able to easily integrate into today's streaming tech and mobile tech. This is essential. The cost of these crazy streamers is so ludicrous for what they are. And competition is good, so we need more of that to help drive prices down.

The DIY audio market is bigger and better than ever too.

Want to fill everyone's home with a system? Built in amplifier and room correction procedure into the speaker (either a bookshelf class or floor stander) with HDMI, optical, USB, bluetooth, etc, connectivity built in. Have each speaker wirelessly talk to the other(s) on the system. Run the room correction to get the timings, etc, down. And don't make it cost thousands of dollars for the base unit with tiny little speakers. It needs to basically instantly be usable with someone's TV/mobile and internet for streaming and not have tons of wires and lots of steps to "set it up." But it can't be cliche Sonos junk and proprietary, it needs to be a pretty open standard so people can buy stuff and just integrate it. It probably needs an app for their mobile device that measures the room and shows you optimal places based on room harmonic orders to put the speakers. Make it easy for the masses to benefit really old well known concepts without them feeling like they have to go to school just to know where to put the sound box.

We are already seeing powered towers even with connectivity. We need more. But they need to not be $1k+ each.

Pricing hi-fi up in today's inflated economy, with no end in sight, will just kill the hobby for everyone except wealthy people or the dedicated enthusiast that will eat ramen for a few years to save up to buy that sweet Legacy Audio tower pair they wanted for a decade.

Very best,
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Why have nice audio gear if you don't have good music? What is the current generation going to be nostalgic about when they look back at their teens, the time of "finding your own music"? The vast majority of today's music, honestly, isn't good. I don't hear much that sounds like it will stand the test of time. There are always great artists, but the mainstream stuff is just fluff today. Old fart? Yeah maybe, but a fan of music.

Wanting the sound of a theater at home also I don't see so much. Audio gear in general is now much more expensive, mainly the electronics. A "budget" system is now about 2X what it used to be. I could put together a very respectable 2ch system for around $500-700, and a comparable system today would run someone around $1000-1500.

Convenience does win out usually, but I agree that part of it is laziness of the consumer too. Instant access to one song, so you don't need to buy an album and listen to it and become invested in an artist. Access to almost any song online at any time also doesn't create a condition where people feel like they need to buy it anymore. at the same time, I have to pay to listen to quality sound on subscription services? lol, that is not as appealing as they'd like to think.
They might say the same about your musical taste, tho....
 
C

corey

Senior Audioholic
A broader appeal with good basic affordable products would be a better way to go IMO to increase interest. Like rebuilding a middle class, which drove the whole thing to begin....
I agree. It's easier to sell a high end system to someone who aspires to one, rather than someone who's idea of home entertainment sound comes through TV speakers that are advertised as surround sound. To expand A/V, I'd look to putting loss leader, upgradeable 5.1 systems into living rooms of people still adverse to sitting in movie theaters.
 
j_garcia

j_garcia

Audioholic Jedi
They might say the same about your musical taste, tho....
Of course kids would say that. Then they will like some of that music later when as nostalgia.

Really, look at how much music came out of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, maybe even the 00s. There was just a TON of great stuff and a resurgence of music with those generations. After that, the resurgence was not so pronounced.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Of course kids would say that. Then they will like some of that music later when as nostalgia.

Really, look at how much music came out of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, maybe even the 00s. There was just a TON of great stuff and a resurgence of music with those generations. After that, the resurgence was not so pronounced.
LOL we're the same generation and I somewhat think the same way. Just sayin' it's somewhat generational, has been for a long time....
 
SithZedi

SithZedi

Audioholic General
Cell phones are the biggest factor for sure. Also, content as some have said. Remember one of the reasons I felt compelled to buy my first system in the 70s was so I could clearly hear the singers voice and lyrics. Still feel the same way but modern popular music's creativity does not seem to provide that hook as in the past.

Wondering about the industry's advertising strategy. I don't watch TV much besides sports and streaming series/movies. Do any of the big manufacturers even run commercials anymore? Just a few spots now and again to get the industry on the radar screen for the young demographic.
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
The younger folks at my work, or that pass thru here via my son, cannot fathom sitting and listening to an album front to back, or the idea of a gem of a song hidden on the B side that never got any air time at all, that you could not know about without owning the record.

With the current appetite for autotune as a desired effect, I don't think the younger generation can be trusted with audio. Personally, I am thankful that most don't have the means to play it any louder. Since figuring this out, I am now a fan of ear buds. . . for them.
 
G

Golfx

Full Audioholic
Personally can't think of a bigger waste of money and time than golf and exclusive country clubs, and I'm a boomer (but not quite 70 yet). LOL hippie hotel and ebike sounds a lot more fun. Let alone collecting watches. My grandfather (mom's side) was a big golf/country club guy and I had my shot but didn't care for it at all.

High end audio stores and their often silly marketing and pricing won't get as many interested as it will drive away IMO. Tell someone you're an audiophile these days and they're more likely to think of silly things than anything particularly useful. High end audio has been shooting itself in the foot for a long time now. You can get excellent audio without the high end purchasing/marketing. Hopefully the younger folk are realizing that. A broader appeal with good basic affordable products would be a better way to go IMO to increase interest. Like rebuilding a middle class, which drove the whole thing to begin with IMO, rather than selling to people with more money than sense.
I like golf and its complexity and the long lead time to get good at it. It is never boring and success varies widely within the same week which is what keeps my interest. I also like AV gear and home theaters and the journey that goes into understanding how to setup and enjoy my hard work.
 
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