Well, cost. There, I said it. I don't fault Stereophile any more than you can fault Car and Driver for the fact that an entry-level real sports car cost over 30k dollars. Here's the thing, this really hit me in two ways.
First my visit to a high-end salon in Columbus, Oh. Me and the girlfriend are walking along enjoying our little weekend when I run in to the shop. It's a nice enough place but somethings amiss. First, there is no music playing. And then we finally see a setup ready to listen, and it's of course thier "big rig". And it sounds terrible. Not bad. Not off. Terrible. Flat, lifeless, not particularly detailed or dynamic. Amusical. I enjoyed the people working there, except the obvious owner, who was, well, a prick. Which is kind of the point of why audio is dying. It's as if he wouldn't PROPERLY set up a nice $5-10k system out of fear that it would sound better then his $120k system. And judging by the equipment he sold in that price range, including some very nice used Vandersteen speakers, Musical Fidelity amplification, Nordost cabling, it WOULD'VE. So what gives, dear audio retailers. If you want to convince 20 and 30 somethings that it's worth it to spend 50 grand on a stereo instead of a Volvo, wouldn't you start by showing how good audio can be, in say $1500 doses? By the time the average dapper middle classer has an extra $50k laying around, if he hasn't been bit by the audio bug, than a Volvo it is.
Next is the equipment itself. I understand there HAS to be markup to maintain supply chain, recover R and D, etc. But most people "into" audio know about how much a Mundorf Cap runs. A Silmic II Elecrolytic. A 1000 pack of wirewound resistors. Even building very fine gear using very good parts, equipment simply doesn't very often COST nearly as much as the PRICE should indicate. This is not the fault of Audio rags. In fact I am regularly impressed when I read between the lines of Stereophile to hear them saying that no, in fact, it's not very good. And for the money, it's terrible. But you have to admit, that based on cost, the High Quality Audio market is slowly pricing itself out of even the dreams of all but the most well heeled buyers.
However, I have to hand it to Stereophile for paying attention more than most Audio Rags for carrying the flag for more middle class buyers.
What do the rest of you think?