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Stephen Mejias
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Banning Youth From High-End Audio

I'm interested in attracting a younger audience to high-end audio. But is this possible? Sometimes, I feel that bringing a younger crowd to our hobby should be no problem at all. Young people love music, love their iPods. So: Why not? (When I say "young people," I'm talking about college kids, kids who are out on there own, working, spending some of their own money, beginning to make their own decisions. I don't expect 15-year olds to be rocking the hi-fi.)

Other times, however, I wonder if high-end audio really is an older person's game. We play checkers before we play chess, we drink Mad Dog before we drink Louis Latour, we listen to lo-fi before we listen to hi-fi.

I remember reading somewhere, or maybe someone said it to me at a show, that we should actually ban younger people from the high-end altogether, wait until they're at least 30 before even allowing them to listen to our stereos. Is there some logic to this?

Is there a real way to attract a younger audience, or are young audiophiles simply the rare few who have grown up around the high-end? Is there anything we can actually do, or are we wasting our energy by even trying?

Elk
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

I find that all ages can really enjoy high end audio.

My approach:

Don't treat the system as holy or sanctified. For example, let the kids turn on the tube amp and watch the tubes light up.

Explain (briefly!) why the system is a little different from what they have heard before. Tell them it is a silly hobby, its fun, and don't try to justify it anymore than the average fisherman justifies his bass boat or she justifies cute shoes.

Present the "magic chair" in which to sit.

Tell them a little bit about what they will hear - for example, anyone who hasn't heard a system image is amazed that the voice hangs in space in the middle but there are only two speakers. I compare it to watching a movie - it's not real but we pretend it is - and it is fun to pretend.

Play music they like! Most people do not care about Patricia Barber, Jennifer Warnes, or audiophile spectaculars. But go ahead and pick out good recordings. For example, play Diana Krall for the close mic'd voice (yes the instruments sound crummy, but they won't care - the voice is fun to listen to and images wonderfully well). Play Crowded House for well recorded power trio pop, (I'm a classical music nerd and need to resist playing well recorded early music...)

For the iPod crowd: I use an adapter to plug it into the system. Show them the volume control on the main system. Make sure that the iPod is turned to 3/4 or so volume (good signal level but no distortion). Let them play anything they want at any volume they desire. Later, if you have the original CD, play this for them as a comparison and watch their eyes bug out at what they hear.

For kids I often setup some recording equipment and recording them in stereo as they talk, move around, etc. Play this back for them. They really enjoy this. Similarly, record the junior high, high school or college rock band or other groups. Burn the members a CD to listen to. Then later invite them to hear it on the "big system". This is music they know and which they have already listened to on their stuff. They are always amazed at how much more real it is.

I have yet to find anyone that doesn't get it.

jazzfan
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

Elk,

Excellent post, filled with lots of great ideas and advice. Only problem is how do I justify having a group of teenage girls in my listening room to both my wife and the local police?

Elk
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


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Only problem is how do I justify having a group of teenage girls in my listening room to both my wife and the local police?

A quandry.

As a side point, females often have better hearing than males. A 15 year old girl can easily hear things that many of us wish we could hear. And they sure have opinions.

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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


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As a side point, females often have better hearing than males. A 15 year old girl can easily hear things that many of us wish we could hear. And they sure have opinions.

I'm no stranger to 15 year old girls being as I have two daughters, one of whom is almost 22 years old and the other who is 19 years old. My older daughter has always enjoyed my main stereo and loves coming home from college and putting on some music. The younger one couldn't care less about my stereo or my LP/CD collection. Give her an iPod filled with low bit rate versions of the latest hit music and she's quite happy.

So I guess regarding your statement:


Quote:
I have yet to find anyone that doesn't get it.

I can safely say "I have!!"

Elk
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


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Give her an iPod filled with low bit rate versions of the latest hit music and she's quite happy.

So I guess regarding your statement:


Quote:
I have yet to find anyone that doesn't get it.

I can safely say "I have!!"

A fair point.

However, I don't mean to say that all will understand why we care or why we put the money we do into our systems. However, I find that all can hear the difference between "bad" and "good" music reproduction.

This is like my reaction to home theater. I can see and hear what is going on and can appreciate that others may find this interesting. I personally simply don't care however.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

In line with Stephen's question of how to lure the 20 something crowd to the high end, home theater may be a useful tool. Don't get me wrong, I have no interest in it either, but I've been spoiled by pretty good two-channel sound for a long time and am old enough to be set in my ways.

Twenty somethings are avid consumers, no doubt about it, and music videos through those popular home theater set-ups (good, better, best) might offer a convenient entry to hearing more than they'd heard before. That's how it starts, isn't it - hearing more and wondering whether there's something else beyond that?

Perhaps Stereophile's sister Home Theater publication offers more than meets the eye. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that.)

jamesgarvin
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

Not sure how you, Stephan Mejias, can attract more youth to high end audio. Though I can make suggestions as to ways in which the high end audio industry, by which I mean the manufacturers, writers, and consumers, can attract more youth.

I think that the magazines, including Stereophile, need to encourage more youth participation in this hobby. For example, I subscribe to Bassmaster Magazine, with an annual circulation of more than 600,000 which they accumulated without being sold on the newstand. Not an issue goes by without the magazine or a manufacturer advocating readers to leave the expensive fishing toys at home and take kids fishing. They regularly run competitions for kids. They constantly instruct their readers that unless people are introduced to fishing at a young age, they will not likely become fisherman, and the industry will suffer from fewer participants.

I have subscribed and/or read Stereophile for twenty years, and I do not recall ever, and I mean ever, reading anything similar in the pages of Stereophile. And then people wonder why the average age of the reader goes up every year. Common sense tells us that eventually Stereophile will live no more because there will not be enough younger subscribers to replace the old codgers.

I recently read of JA attending a audio store in, I believe, North Carolina. I believe JA was of the opinion that such exercises would help generate interest in high end audio. My first thought was, are you crazy? Who showed up? People who are already into high end audio. The way you increase interest in high end audio is to attract people who would not normally be interested in the hobby, not by bringing in the converted. How many kids were there? Were adults told to bring their kids? Were kids told to bring music they were interested in hearing? Or was it the typical middle age men who already have expensive toys at home going out for an evening with the boys listening to expensive toys somewhere else?

I think Stereophile, TAS, and the various internet publishers should encourage the reader to involve their children. Promote incorporating our high end audio systems into a home theater, for while many of us may regard Home theater as nothing more than mindless explosions, a little effort can find some well recorded beautiful music, which combined with images, will hold a child's attention, and expose them to our toys.

Stereophile could arrange, with its considerable clout, listening sessions at various high end dealers, and cajole adults to bring their children with them.

I read about and see pictures of hobbyists who get together at various houses in clubs and "raves." Of all the pictures I have seen, I have never seen any children present. Why the hell not? They are comprised of 95% men sitting around drinking beer and other libations. Few women. No children. Just on a personal level, I work a lot, and in my free time I am not trying to formulate ways to avoid being with my family. I wonder what the divorce rate is for us hobbyists.

To those clubs and "ravers", why not bring the kids (if during your visitation). Why not bring the wives (if they have not divorced you already). Ask them to bring the music they want to hear. Without the insults. I have swallowed hard at Celine Dion and the American Idol compilation discs at home. It can be done.

To the manufacturers. Ever donate old equipment to schools? Ever hold seminars for young kids?

Stephen, you raise a good point. Problem is that, at the end of the day, I really do not think the industry is serious in attracting more to his hobby. I think the manufacturers like to promote eye and ear candy, pricing their wares for the elite, I think hobbyists like to believe they are the elite, sitting in their rooms by themselves agonizing over minute details of equipment, glued to the sweet spot, to the exclusion of everyone else, and I think magazines like to play with those toys, and everyone is happier than a pig in mud. I predict that some day, after many manufaturers and magazines have folder their tents, probably after I am gone, people will be looking at each other wondering what happened, and who turned out the lights.

If the industry is serious about attracting more kids to the hobby, there are things it can do. I think the real question is not how to attract more kids to the hobby, which ultimately grows the industry, but why has the industry done nothing of any significance to attract younger hobbyists.

I do not work for a magazine or a manufacturer. Perhaps your question should be directed to them.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

The old addage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" is true in this hobby as well. The generation you suggest we meet has no problem with a $5 cup of "joe" at Starbucks, but then listens to MP3 quality audio on the stock EBuds that came with the player.

This same generation will spend thousands in their car audio systems and spend little time awake at home, so I guess this makes sense. It seem rare these days that I can pull up to a stop light or sign and hear my own car audio over my idleing neighbor. Often I think I can see my auto glass "flexing" to the beat!

They are certainly not going to hear great audio in most Best Buy or Circuit city outlets...Magnolia probably, but they would have to search out the Best Buy location that has one inside the store, or a stand alone Magnolia like we have on the north side of ATL. Most high end dealers are not on the "beaten path" or by the Mall!

This is a generation who has probably already heard great audio from their parent's system and probably even decent FM playback from PBS is better than MP3's they listen to. We are talking classical programming.

If you look at the current state of affairs in pop music you can understand why they have not met high end. Does any of it deserve DSD treatment? I have a recent Sting SACD release and when listening to the quality I wonder why bother with DSD for this? I have many DSD releases that ARE worth the effort. It takes an effort, an avid interest in audio that surpasses just the "music experience" most young people have to day.

It is just about convenience today, as I have said before. Until I see a generation with Shure E4s, or even Sony 7506's, Sennheiser HD 280, or better AKG 601's, then I would believe there is hope.

Unfortunately it is more like a religious experience you either buy into it or not. You can buy into faith or high end audio, or some other worth while persuit. They all take effort and are not easy or often convenient. Both are life changing. You have to want to sign up.

Maybe Outlaw, Harman Kardon, Yamaha, or Magnum Dynalab need to "color-up" their receiver like some recent Project, Music Hall, or Rega Turntables. I cringe at that thought.

smejias
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

Great ideas, Elk. I especially like your emphasis on keeping things simple and fun.

Axon
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

There are lots of "youth" in high-end audio. They just live on different forums than you do. And they usually spend their audio money on different things.

EDIT: I'm 24, fwiw.

smejias
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:
There are lots of "youth" in high-end audio. They just live on different forums than you do. And they usually spend their audio money on different things.

EDIT: I'm 24, fwiw.

You've linked to some interesting and valuable information. Thank you. Am I correct in thinking that headphones, MP3 players, and their accessories are head-fi's main interests? Those components are certainly great ways to bridge the gap between young and old hi-fi enthusiasts.

I see lots of people posting on head-fi, announcing that they've been interested in audio for a long time. That's great, very encouraging.

jamesgarvin
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

"The old addage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" is true in this hobby as well"

Certainly. But who or what is doing any leading? Therein lies the problem. Manufacturers, magazines, and us hobbysists do no leading, and hope the younger generation finds its own way to a hobby we love.

We assume that we have some influence on whether our children become good family people. Good students. Good parents. Good people. We assume that we raise our kids not to be criminals.

This is not about what music they listen to. This is about them caring about the reproduction of that music. I think it pretty clear from reading magazines, corresponding with hobbysists, and attending the odd show that we as parents and industrial leaders have done almost nothing to influence our children in this respect.

Being a parent takes work. We do not throw in the towel if the water gets a little rough. You want your kids to appreciate high end audio? It takes some work. Don't sit by yourself in your little cave. Don't insult your kids choice in music. Don't let your kids absorb themselves on their computer. Do integrate your audio and home theater system. Do invite them to your audio system. Do let them play their own music on your hallowed system. Do play games on the floor of your audio room, using music (gasp) as background. Do let their friends in your music room. Do let them hook up their videogames to your audio system. It's called sacrifice. The only question is whether we are willing to meet them halfway, and whether this sacrifice is better than the alternative, which is an even smaller and more inconsequential than it is now.

My nearly four year old will every now and then ask to "make music" in the basement. I'd say that is encouraging.

JasonVSerinus
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

I was very encouraged to read that, at one of the CES press events, a demo compared the sound of an mp3 player to a high-end system. Supposedly members of the press were blown away. If such demos were organized on a regular basis - if high-end dealerships regularly invited the local music press from all genres to hear the difference - I think great inroads could be made. The media, after all, spreads the word. Some people learn about the high-end through Stereophile, but specialty audio magazines are not frequently encountered at the local supermarket or wherever. If the general press in the U.S. had been fully educated about SACD and DVD-A when they were first launched, I would like to think that the public reception iin this country would have been quite different.

jason victor serinus

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

My children have long held an interest in all things audio. They have heard great audio in our home from the day they each came home from the hospital.

My oldest son is a manager for Magnolia. His audio and video often top my rigs. He shares my love of jazz.

My middle son is excellent drummer who took his last lessons from Rick Roccapriorre, a Berklee graduate when we lived in CT. The kid can hit the skins remarkably well and has a decent stereo both home and car.

My daughter, the master thespian, is also a remarkable singer whose musical skills fall more in my line of singers of great standard songs. She played the lead in Ann of Green Gables her SR year in HS. She sang lead in all the school musicals. I have never seen anyone memorize lines as fast as her. She does community theatre on occasion. Now at my age I can't remember anything.

With a grand piano in our old home they knew what real acoustic music sounded like. The problem today is less and less students learn to play an instrument, it is real hard work afterall. Music/art programs are often the first cut in school.

If I had played the piano as much as I played baseball I could be making real money playing it. That is the biggest regret in my life. We just learn it too late in life.

My recent travels to Emory Univ to free concerts and recitals only to see less than 50-60 people in atendance at each performance is sad. These are Master In Music students who are more than accomplished. It is FREE and still they refuse to partake. To not go hear the remarkable Jaeckel OP 45 Organ for "free" is just rediculous. With 3 million people in metro ATL, who should have to beg?

smejias
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:
I think that the magazines, including Stereophile, need to encourage more youth participation in this hobby. For example, I subscribe to Bassmaster Magazine, with an annual circulation of more than 600,000 which they accumulated without being sold on the newstand. Not an issue goes by without the magazine or a manufacturer advocating readers to leave the expensive fishing toys at home and take kids fishing. They regularly run competitions for kids. They constantly instruct their readers that unless people are introduced to fishing at a young age, they will not likely become fisherman, and the industry will suffer from fewer participants.

This sounds like a good idea. We were actually considering something like this awhile back. The plan was that I'd visit dealers in select markets and work with them to put together entry-level systems at a few different price points. We

Axon
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:
You've linked to some interesting and valuable information. Thank you. Am I correct in thinking that headphones, MP3 players, and their accessories are head-fi's main interests? Those components are certainly great ways to bridge the gap between young and old hi-fi enthusiasts.


That's basically it. A lot of people there start off with cheap headphones, then start buying lots of them to understand what they like, then they start to upgrade. There is a ridiculous difference in quality between headphones at the mid- and lo-fi, and not all of them are bad.

bifcake
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:

I think the manufacturers like to promote eye and ear candy, pricing their wares for the elite, I think hobbyists like to believe they are the elite, sitting in their rooms by themselves agonizing over minute details of equipment, glued to the sweet spot, to the exclusion of everyone else, and I think magazines like to play with those toys, and everyone is happier than a pig in mud. I predict that some day, after many manufaturers and magazines have folder their tents, probably after I am gone, people will be looking at each other wondering what happened, and who turned out the lights.

If the industry is serious about attracting more kids to the hobby, there are things it can do. I think the real question is not how to attract more kids to the hobby, which ultimately grows the industry, but why has the industry done nothing of any significance to attract younger hobbyists.

I think you hit it right on the head. The manufacturers and everyone else involved in the high end industry feeds off the high end audio being exclusive. Once it stops being exclusive, a certain marquee, certain unattainability will be lost and that would mean slide in prices and profits.

I think that head-fi has done more for the accessibility of high end audio than anything else in the last several years. If you look at head-fi, you see many college students, high school students and 20 somethings enthusiastically involved in higher end audio.

I think that the biggest draw of headphones as an introduction to high end audio is affordability. You cannot expect a 15 year old to be excited about something he/she can hardly afford. Headphones on the other hand are very affordable and the kind of quality and sound fidelity headphones offer rival some of the most expensive speakers out there.

Furthermore, head-fi holds multiple meetings and get togethers throughout the year. This gives many people an opportunity to sample different equipment and to hear what's possible in high end headphone audio. Granted, that headphones and related equipment is much more portable than the 200lb speakers and 100lb amps, so it's possible to carry that gear to a meet. However, I think that the greatest hurdle to introducing younger generations to high end (when I say "high end" I really mean "quality") audio is price. The entry fee has to be affordable. With headphones, the entry fee can be as little as $100. If high end audio's entry fee was $300-$500, I think you would find many more people flocking to quality sound.

jazzfan
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

To answer the main question of this thread, what are you doing to help promote high end audio?, I offer these two links to recent posts that I made on Head-Fi:

Vinyl Giveaway

Turntable Giveaway

Regarding the first linked post, check out the last paragraph.

Regarding the second linked post, I think that it speaks for itself.

I realize that the turntable is far from a high end model but so far the only members who have entered the contest seem to be college or high school students for whom even what would seem to us working folks to be a modest couple of hundred dollar expense is for them a major investment. All of them have expressed interest in getting into vinyl playback and most of them have not able to because of their lack of funds. I hope to correct that problem for at least one of them.

You might also want to read through the remainder of the thread see just how much interest in and knowledge about vinyl exists within the Head-Fi community. So in the end Stephen does have a very valid point and an even better question might be why aren't those kinds of discussions happening over on this forum.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

I agree with all that has been said, but you miss the point of getting people TO the event to even hear the high end experience.

If I was a dealer in the business and I was near a major university I would rent space in some campus hall and install 3 systems at increasing price points that students and FACULTY could come in and audition. The problem might be like MF's attempt to get people to show up at a turntable seminar at a local school that turned out to be poorly attended. That is certainly not his fault.

With these systems you could even let students and faculty hook up their IPods and listen to tunes and formats they are into and discern the difference in quality and then find out if they even cared.

In my early 20s and I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in MD, the local audio dealer in BelAir, MD did just this in a small 300-400 seat auditorium. He set up a system with 3 Phase Linear 400 or 700 amps each stereo amp driving a pair of large Bozak Concert Grands, the left channel speakers spread evenly on stage left and the rights accordingly.

It was a superb sounding demo. I had already bought my starter system from him that included Dynaco A-25s, and Fisher 500TX, and a Dual 1209 with a Pickering XV 750. Months later I hadded a Teac 350 cassette recorder for $400.00.

In marketing it is the sizzle, not the stake...it is what it DOES, not what it is. We all too often get caught up in the branding, but sales and marketing people who get back to basic "experience" marketing usually succeed if they demo properly.

Things that people need are easy to sell. It is getting someone to WANT what you have that is difficult. Very few in highend audio do any of that. Unless you change the way people are exposed to highend audio nothing will change.

Internet audio equipment selling has provided the same vehicle as music downloads have to the music business...convenience. None of this has been about quality. This is what has to change.

I would bet that if Apple rebadged the the Music Hall 25 integrated amp or the Jolida 1701 with a built in IPod dock and sold the Epos 3's they would move quite a few "boxes". That would at least be a huge quality step up from the mini docks they sell now.

smejias
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:
I offer these two links to recent posts that I made on Head-Fi:

Vinyl Giveaway

Turntable Giveaway

Jazzfan, this is so awesome of you. And, as if the turntable wasn't enough, you're including some excellent music! Really wonderful. It makes me happy to see this.


Quote:
All of them have expressed interest in getting into vinyl playback and most of them have not able to because of their lack of funds. I hope to correct that problem for at least one of them.

I wonder if we, Stereophile, could do something like this. It would be a contest that grows from a review or a column, something similar to John Marks' American Literacy contest, where, instead of giving away a CD, we give away an entry-level turntable. Say, Art Dudley reviews the Rega P1. We extend the review into a contest in which interested readers have to write in telling us why they absolutely NEED a P1. The best letter wins. Something like that. I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud right now. I have no idea of what types of corporate hoo-ha we'd have to go through to get this done. But I like the idea.


Quote:
So in the end Stephen does have a very valid point and an even better question might be why aren't those kinds of discussions happening over on this forum.

Yes, this is really the question I, for obvious reasons, am most interested in. But maybe we're beginning to answer it.

bifcake
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

Stephen,

I think you're missing the point when you decide to give away a turntable. A turntable by itself has no value to the uninitiated. If you're looking to attract a younger crowd, you have to give away a system, not a component and the system you give away has to fit in with something they know and something they appreciate.

So, I think that the system you give away has to be:

a) Complete (including speakers)
b) Accommodate the current setup (i.e. the computer, the ipod)
c) Compact to fit into a bedroom

I would suggest giving away a good sounding, reasonably priced bookshelf system that includes something like a squeezebox. This is something that will have a definite value to a high school/college student and this will initiate them and give them a taste of higher end audio market.

jazzfan
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:
Stephen,

I think you're missing the point when you decide to give away a turntable. A turntable by itself has no value to the uninitiated. If you're looking to attract a younger crowd, you have to give away a system, not a component and the system you give away has to fit in with something they know and something they appreciate.

So, I think that the system you give away has to be:

a) Complete (including speakers)
b) Accommodate the current setup (i.e. the computer, the ipod)
c) Compact to fit into a bedroom

I would suggest giving away a good sounding, reasonably priced bookshelf system that includes something like a squeezebox. This is something that will have a definite value to a high school/college student and this will initiate them and give them a taste of higher end audio market.

Alex,

I think that you're onto something. Here's my idea for new type of starter system.

1) A nice pair of good sounding but inexpensive bookshelf speakers (EPOS and NHT come to mind.) With or without stands.

2) An integrated amp.

3) A Squeezebox

4) Decent speaker cable and interconnects.

Other possible items to include:

5) An external hard drive preloaded with losslessly compressed (FLAC format?) music.

6) A wireless router (required in order to use the Squeezebox).

7) An outboard DAC (with a decent headphone outlet) so that the digital output of the Squeezebox can be used. Not really required but would help to bring the Squeezebox up to "audiophile" standards.

Not only will the Squeezebox play their existing computer based music but if the preloaded external hard drive is included it will play true "CD quality" music. And since with a Squeezebox one can access plenty of streaming internet content there is no need for a tuner.

With the upcoming Home Entertainment Show only a month away it might be possible to get some manufacturers on board in time to set up a system of this kind somewhere within the show and run the giveaway as part of the show.

smejias
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


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With the upcoming Home Entertainment Show only a month away it might be possible to get some manufacturers on board in time to set up a system of this kind somewhere within the show and run the giveaway as part of the show.

Too little time to do this properly, I think. But I also think it's a good idea. Something to consider for the future.

jazzfan
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:

Quote:
With the upcoming Home Entertainment Show only a month away it might be possible to get some manufacturers on board in time to set up a system of this kind somewhere within the show and run the giveaway as part of the show.

Too little time to do this properly, I think. But I also think it's a good idea. Something to consider for the future.

There might not be enough time to prepare a giveaway but I would think that there is enough time to put together a system of this type and have it on display at the upcoming HE Show. While the "youth" we've been writing about will most likely not be attending this gathering of old farts, oops I mean folks, many of those older folks have friends and younger family members that would love to hear about just such a system. It really can't be all that difficult to put such a system together and I'm sure it would be a big hit plus these kinds of systems, i.e. a computer based server streaming A/V content, will be a big part of the future of home entertainment.

In addition, there are many different levels of for this type of system:

Mid/Lo-Fi/Entry Level - Squeezebox fed with MP3s or some other lossy format.

Mid-Fi/Entry - Squeezebox fed with a lossless format.

Mid-Fi/High End - Squeezebox with an outboard DAC fed with a lossless format.

High End - Transporter fed with a lossless format.

Easy to get started and lots of room and ways to grow.

Axon
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

Guys. Seriously. Your sense of "lo-fi" is a little out of whack for people who think it's nuts to spend money on headphones, and don't have that much money to begin with.

Thought experiment: 15-year-old John Smith has an iPod and $50. What should he buy with that $50 to improve his listening experience?

bifcake
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:
Guys. Seriously. Your sense of "lo-fi" is a little out of whack for people who think it's nuts to spend money on headphones, and don't have that much money to begin with.

Thought experiment: 15-year-old John Smith has an iPod and $50. What should he buy with that $50 to improve his listening experience?

I think an Ipod is more to the tune of $350 and if you frequent head-fi, you constantly see posts from teens asking for headphone recommendations in the $200-$300 range and an amp in the $200-$400 range. That's a grand right there. I don't think it's out of whack to recommend a $1200-$1500 system as a starter.

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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:
Guys. Seriously. Your sense of "lo-fi" is a little out of whack for people who think it's nuts to spend money on headphones, and don't have that much money to begin with.

Thought experiment: 15-year-old John Smith has an iPod and $50. What should he buy with that $50 to improve his listening experience?

The key problem with your statement is the last sentence: for many, if not most, people there is no "improving" on the iPod/iBud/128K MP3 combination. They have been told over and over and over...again how that simple combination gives them "CD quality" sound so how and where and why is there room for improvement. Oh right, some golden eared audiophiles think that little iPod combo is pretty much garbage but then they're just a bunch of nuts with too much money and no taste in music anyway. It's not a pretty picture and I, for one, don't have the answer.

bifcake
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:

Quote:
Guys. Seriously. Your sense of "lo-fi" is a little out of whack for people who think it's nuts to spend money on headphones, and don't have that much money to begin with.

Thought experiment: 15-year-old John Smith has an iPod and $50. What should he buy with that $50 to improve his listening experience?

The key problem with your statement is the last sentence: for many, if not most, people there is no "improving" on the iPod/iBud/128K MP3 combination. They have been told over and over and over...again how that simple combination gives them "CD quality" sound so how and where and why is there room for improvement. Oh right, some golden eared audiophiles think that little iPod combo is pretty much garbage but then they're just a bunch of nuts with too much money and no taste in music anyway. It's not a pretty picture and I, for one, don't have the answer.

I think that the answer is that you don't start at the source. You start at the speaker level. Everyone "knows" that better speakers will give you better sound. That's where the interest will begin to be generated. Just as the interest generates at the headphone level, where teens want to improve upon the earbuds that came with the ipod, so will they want to improve upon their current consumer grade speakers. Once you take them to the slippery slope, you just give them a bit of a nudge and watch as they slide to the abyss of audiophilia.

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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:
I think that the answer is that you don't start at the source. You start at the speaker level. Everyone "knows" that better speakers will give you better sound. That's where the interest will begin to be generated. Just as the interest generates at the headphone level, where teens want to improve upon the earbuds that came with the ipod, so will they want to improve upon their current consumer grade speakers. Once you take them to the slippery slope, you just give them a bit of a nudge and watch as they slide to the abyss of audiophilia.

Seeing has how I've owned a Linn LP-12 for over twenty years I guess you say that I'm somewhat of a source kinda guy and therefore I don't agree with your statement regarding speakers and headphones. However, it's not about whether or not speakers are more important than the source, it's about whether the average person believes that there is any room of improvement and, if so, will they be able to hear it since, after all, they are not golden eared audiophiles.

After all, doesn't Apple make the best iPod "boom box" and doesn't Bose make the best speakers? Why do or, more importantly, would someone need anything else?

bifcake
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:

Quote:
I think that the answer is that you don't start at the source. You start at the speaker level. Everyone "knows" that better speakers will give you better sound. That's where the interest will begin to be generated. Just as the interest generates at the headphone level, where teens want to improve upon the earbuds that came with the ipod, so will they want to improve upon their current consumer grade speakers. Once you take them to the slippery slope, you just give them a bit of a nudge and watch as they slide to the abyss of audiophilia.

Seeing has how I've owned a Linn LP-12 for over twenty years I guess you say that I'm somewhat of a source kinda guy and therefore I don't agree with your statement regarding speakers and headphones. However, it's not about whether or not speakers are more important than the source, it's about whether the average person believes that there is any room of improvement and, if so, will they be able to hear it since, after all, they are not golden eared audiophiles.

After all, doesn't Apple make the best iPod "boom box" and doesn't Bose make the best speakers? Why do or, more importantly, would someone need anything else?

Exactly! It's the perception of the biggest bang for the buck. It's not whether you think that speakers will make the greatest change, it's whether the average Joe will. So, you start with that. Everyone knows that you can't get good sound out of a boom box. The reason I say "everyone" knows it's because I asked many non-audiophiles whether they can get good sound out of a boombox. Each and everyone of them said they couldn't, but many said that if they just wanted to dance or hear music in the background, it was good enough. So, given that boombox is not a contender here, I think it may be safe to proceed with the home stereo/setup level and the speaker option.

The bottom line is that you have to start somewhere and if you start at a place that's logical to the person you're trying to lure and it's affordable, then you're on a good track.

absolutepitch
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

I apologize for answering before reading the entire thread, but I'm limited on time.

I think we listen to LoFi before HiFi because LoFi is all around us, from elevator music in department stores to background music in supermarkets. There is some merit to saying that car stereo is HiFi compared to the previously mentioned sources. TV sound and ordinary radio is not that great either.

I found that when I invite people to listen at my house(especially those in their late teens and early twenties), they are more receptive to hearing the good sound and ask how they can get it too. Within their budgets, it's just impractical. But as Stereophile Recommended Components suggests that the Classes C and D can be affordable and sound good. It's getting them to start listening and looking. Going to HE show is a great step.

For me it's been a life journey, and those in their 20's are starting the journey. Once they hear what I listen to, they get hooked. I've had one pre-mid-age person say about a CD with vocal solo "She's right there!", pointing between the speakers, at the TV that's turned off. Then they research and buy, trade-in and buy more, usually after they get a good-paying job. I have so-called 'ruined' several young folks that formerly were into computer hobby and now are buying audio/video equipment big-time. Some thank me, and some aren't so sure, or at least their wives aren't.

There are also those that are a little older that hear what a good system can do. But they have little interest in upgrading, because it's not important to them, or they can't hear the difference anyway, often having other hobbies instead of audio.

Patrick82
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio


Quote:

You cannot expect a 15 year old to be excited about something he/she can hardly afford. Headphones on the other hand are very affordable and the kind of quality and sound fidelity headphones offer rival some of the most expensive speakers out there.


I'm using headphones because I can't afford million dollars worth of room treatments.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Banning Youth From High-End Audio

Patrick - Good to see you here at Stereophile. You make me feel sane when it comes to tweaking.

This is the kind of action going on over at Head-Fi that is luring younger audiophiles into the game:

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=209012

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