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Stephen Mejias
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Joined: Nov 7 2010 - 3:35pm
the next 40 years

In his fascinating essay, "Audio Engineering: The Next 40 Years," John La Grou explains that our technology culture is moving away from handheld devices and quickly embracing headworn devices. What affect will this have on the hi-fi hobby? What will happen to the traditional listening room? What changes to the hi-fi world do you think will take place over the next 10 years? 20 years? And beyond? 

Glotz
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Encumbrance is an issue...

I read the article and the prospects of vastly superior audio and video are promising.   

To use Art's favorite word of the March 2014 issue- 'Interesting".  Clearly, we are moving to entirely virtual 'world'.  

The thing that worries me the most is the encumbrance of the experience.  Wearing gear, as opposed to being around it, seems less attractive for certain prospective consumers.  Given the fact that 3D movie viewing seems to have lost a good degree of the momentum it initially garnished, an important question about the future of audio and video remains- 

Will movie lovers, gamers and music lovers find the gear too obtrusive and uncomfortable over time? 

Stephen found various Sennheiser headphones to be too uncomfortable after 35 minutes.  Will the same be found for this movement? 

Even "Gesturing" and using vocal commands (Xbox One, etc.) seem like extra work after a hard day at the office (after working out, etc.), and the alternative is the remote control with minimal interaction required seems more sensibly attractive.   

Then again, most humans seem like lemmings these days when it comes to adopting new technology, and perhaps just the fear of not 'fitting in' will drive these new modes of communication further.  (No offense intended.)

I can only imagine a new breed of humans with permanently attached headphones and visors, eyes with drastically enlarged pupils and ears with enormous pinnea.  Are WE the aliens of the future that we are constantly searching for?!?

Add drones circling overhead to the mix, and the future is scary landscape indeed.  

woodman1200
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Take with a grain of salt...

While it certainly was an interesting article, I think it should be taken with a grain of salt.

The problem with predicting the future is that we can only base our predictions on what we already know. There is no way to predict the unpredictable and it's effect on seemingly unrelated things. We are taken in different directions by some of the smallest and or silliest things. An example might be Dr. Dre and Beats headphones; who would have thought that an ex-rapper would go on to start one of the biggest headphone brands ever? No, they did not revolutionize in a technological sense, but they sure got a lot of younger people into audio. Beats success seems to have spurned familiar high-end brands to step up their game or get into the market. Look at all the cool headphones we have now! There is more interest and awareness of audio quality in the general public; something we audiophles have been trying to do ever since the end of the first audio golden age. Would anyone have predicted this 15 years ago?

It's nice to say that in 40 years audio will do this and do that. The trends do seem to point in that direction, but that does not explain why vinyl has seen such a resurgence. There are more cartridges, albums on vinyl (good, heavy vinyl!), and turntables available now than I can remember from when I got into audio in the 80's. How about tubes, how do they fit in to the future? I was just looking at 6l6's - there are so many, including KT-66's - the availability of really good tubes now is much more than than there was 5 years ago. Even Genalex Gold Lion is back (not the same company, but surely the same high quality and desireability). I don't even consider buying NOS since there are so many current production tubes to chooses from. There is still a demand for them, and not just from guitar players.

There are, of course, many, many other things that can affect the future. Some mind-blowing new technology could completly alter technology itself, and then what would be the value of these predictions? If transporter technology suddenly became available, why would anyone want to own audio gear when they could rent whatever gear they want - instantly! Why even bother with gear at all when you could transport yourself to the event and see it live, or transport the musicians to you? How much interest would there be in audio reproduction if someone could transport to another planet?

In the 60's, the video-phone was going to be the future - we have mobile phones now that can do that, but how many people even talk on their mobile phone? I should say mobile device - we access internet through wi-fi, cellular, we can text, send emails, take pictures...I guess we could even call people too - the iPhone really changed the way we use our technology. Selfies are all over facebook.

We have all this stuff now that makes out lives easier more productive, yet we still don't have our predicted four day work week, jet-packs, or personal aircraft in every garage. We have different things, different perks, different entertainment, all of which was never really predicted...it just happened differently than we had planned.

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