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Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

I read with great interest the new E-newletter from WP and found it very enlightening on more than one front. The question that keeps coming up is what has happened to the passion of audio for the masses?

I was interviewing for a postion with a very successful electronics chain. They are forcing the closing of many competitors around their trading areas. It is not their audio passion or presentations that have anything to do with it. Truthfully, audio is hardly on the radar. It is video, video, and more video that is driving it all. When audio is included it is "dumbed down" as to be nothing more that an afterthought, not quite meaningless, but nontheless not as near important as the "picture".

I could not help but wonder why this is accept when I asked my general manager/interviewer what he listened to and on. He said he was more pasionate about audio thtn video, but that he really didn't have anything worth talking about and that he was going to have an associate put together a system for his new "theater room" at his house. I found it hard that he could put the word "passionate" in that sentence. Where ever I have moved or where ever I went audio was a major part and was the first thing set up.

I thought it is not wonder why audio and the interconnected music sales in tanking. If the people who are charged with being the "experts" and the "go-to" people to help customers travel the trecherous audio purchasing road and really don't have the "passion" or general interest and move then down the "Isles Of Mediocrity" and pick up the swell, dreaded, Home Theater In The Box, you can gain an understanding.

I then asked him," If someone walked in with a pile of $2000 and asked you to pick a great audio system, could he given them the most bang for the buck"? His answer was he did not know!

He then asked me a pointed question," If I had been in their stores, and if saw what they offered would I want to own anything there"? I said I have been in many times to buy other things, but, no audio there intested me on any level! He was shocked. I told him based on what I saw none of the buyer for their chain were audiophiles on any level and that certainly their speaker choices left much to be desired on any level. I also said that given the same money for their speaker offerings there were many better choices at every price point that would be easily discernable by any listner. It was clear that no one in purchasing agonized over any lines they were carrying. He admitted that video easily topped their audio sales, at which I replied that I was not surprised. I said all too often the same people who by video with their eyes (appropriate), do the same thing with audio (pretty cabinets and drivers), rather than closing their eyes and making their sense of hearing more accute. What an awful mistake.

The issue is is that if the MP3 playing world is not exposed to great audio where they do much of their eloectronics shopping how can the public be anything but dumbed-down to what the promise of audio really is. The passion in gone. The table radio wins!!!!!

Monty
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

The Big Box stores approach to sales and marketing is consistent with the prevailing trends in marketing in general. It's geared toward items that can pretty much sell themselves and aren't dependent on people skills. Simply put, price it low, accept thin margins and let volume give you buying power that allows you to thwart most all competition.

The High-End retailers are in a bad competitive position. Sales of serious equipment require excellent people skills, considerably more effort and the growing presence of discounters via the internet. Couple that with virtually no marketing outside the existing audiophile community and I'm surprised we still have as many as we do.

I think the smart guys are beginning to show the High-End retailers the path to survival and prosperity in a hostile environment. Never-the-less, the next few years are going to see a lot of local dealers throwing in the towel.

Outfits like Audio Advisor, Upscale Audio and several others are taking their business to the customers rather than wait for customers to walk through their doors. These customers, or at least potential customers, are right here at Stereophile or at a handful of other online sites like Audiogon, TAS and the like.

I think there is an enormous market for High-End audio that has never been reached. People just don't know what it is that they don't know...if you know what I mean.

The High-End industry can and will survive with consolidation, but the local retailers are going to continue to face some difficult times until the industry itself organizes to mount a serious marketing campaign to expand its customer base.

If I were a retailer, I would take a hard look at the way Upscale Audio is doing business and honestly ask myself where my future customers are going to be coming from.

Monty
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

My use of "High-End" wasn't meant to be interpreted as high price. I probably should have said high quality.

The Big Box stores are using a lot of leverage in buying enormous quantities of product from manufacturers who can spit that stuff out in huge numbers and are not the least bit interested in dealing with a company that isn't set-up to manufacture huge volume.

I think they approach it from the point of view that they can create demand for just about anything and aren't trying to offer superior products. Their focus is on supply reliability and the "average" consumer.

I do a lot of business with Wal Mart and I suspect that the Big Box stores are concerned with the same things Wal Mart is.

jazzfan
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

The argument about the impending death of high end audio has been going on for as long as there as been high end audio. I just try to ignore it most of the time but once in a while I feel the need to add my two cents worth.

Being a long time jazz listener and fan I've heard the so called ringing of the death tolls of jazz many times over the years and yet jazz is still with us. Is jazz as popular as it once was back in the 1930's and 1940's? No. Is it dead? No. However it still survives and jazz survives because enough people care about jazz to not let it die. The same things can be said for western classical music and opera.

But if you want a more hardware driven example, try this one. Many people say that they just don't made furniture today as well as they did in the old days. Why just look at how well some of that old furniture is made. I have two things to say to that. First, the old furniture that you're looking at, which has managed to survive, was the good furniture of yesteryear, the junk didn't make it this far and second, there is plenty of high quality furniture still being made, it just cost a fortune and is not sold in most mass market, high volume furniture stores. The good stuff is sold in little boutiques or directly by the makers. Remind you of another high end business?

And as for MP3s killing the high end. My father is 76 years old and grew up during the golden age of tubes and never heard of an MP3 until he was well into his late 60s so why doesn't he and lots of other people of his generation have a halfway decent stereo?

And speaking of tubes, where are those tube based record players and radios from the 1940's thru 1960's that where sold at Sears and Woolworths and Macy's and the like. I have a good guess - gone! Because they were (everyone together) mass market junk! The good stuff is still around and sought after because it is and was GOOD STUFF.

mmole
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

I don't know, my brother insists that I'll never truly understand fishing because I go for bass rather than fly-fishing for trout.

My brother-in-law says I'll never understand the thrill of driving a real high performance automobile since I'm still driving an old 325i.

My boss says I'll never undertstand the ecstasy of haute cuisine because I'm more of an Outback kind of guy.

But I've sampled all of these and I really don't want to fly-fish, drive a Maserati, or eat whatever it is you eat when you're eating haute cuisine.

I love music and high-end audio and there's never been a better time to be involved in both in terms of availability of wonderful, affordable hardware and beautifully produced new and remastered software. I enjoy the company of our community here in the forums and at the annual HE shows.

I'm just not convinced that as part of this hobby we need to be evangelical and try to bring these poor uninitiated souls into our group. Those who need the high-end will find it and us. Those who find pleasure elsewhere will go fishing with my brother, driving with my brother-in-law, or dining with my boss.

Buddha
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

Hi, guys!

I guess I'm the Pollyanna here. I think the future of hi end audio is so bright, it will have to wear shades.

We're in a lull, but something great will happen in about 4 or 5 years - data storage will become so big and cheap, that all the files people keep on their iPods or whatever will be non-compressed. (I was going to say un-compressed, but that would imply an a priori compression followed by un-doing it, ergo, non-compressed.)

Anyway, once all the music is full frequency, people will start to demand more of it...better headphones, better sounding portables, better car systems...and this will once again open the door to hi end expectations.

There will be a renaissance, honest!

Then something really important has to happen: The hobby will need some alpha males (and some alpha females, I suppose) to publicly demand quality sound and use quality equipment.

Just as it happened for Cristal, Fendi, and whatever other hi end brands are now embraced by pop culture, the hi end of hi fi needs some conspicuous consumption. Hi end hi fi needs someone like Fiddy Cent, Eminem, Missy Elliott, Green Day, or whoever to start mentioning the importance of using good equipment to really "get" their music.

If that happens, hi end will rage like Nike and Fubu.

Our culture is already primed for "hi end" consumables...probable more so now than an any other time! I say the iron is getting hot.

Imagine, if you will, an episode of Cribs dedicated to the hi end sound systems of the rich and famous.

BLAM!!! Instant rebirth!

I'm sick of seeing 10 million dollar mansions filled with Sony receivers and plastic surround speaker systems.

Those people just need some alphas to put the heat on them to kick it up a notch.

Hi end needs more than Fabio, as great as he is.

Wouldn't you think the world would take notice if Lenny Kravitz endorsed Martin Logan, or Eminem "represented" for Devore speakers?!?

The other thing that paradigm shift would do is take the insistence on custom installs away - those aren't good for hi fi, too permanent, too fixed - leave the equipment conspicuously out in the room, with room treatments!!!

I have a dream. I have a dream that there will come a day when people are judged by the quality of their room treatments and not by the color of their Escalade!

Fear not, fellow hi enders, the future is coming and it will shine brightly on hi end audio.

_____________________
_____________________

Also, an this is a big issue...we need to get off this Amanda McBroom, Patricia Barber, Lincoln Mayorga, obtuse stuff we demo with and play music that people like and are familiar with when we do our recruiting.

Seriously, how many of you at age 22 would have been seduced into hi end hi fi if all the stereo store played was lute canticles and three versions of the Goldberg variations? Glenn Gould or no, we gotta put the fun back in hi fidelity, too!

That job starts the next time your kids have some friends over...

Cheers, amigos!

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

Roy:
"But I've sampled all of these and I really don't want to fly-fish, drive a Maserati, or eat whatever it is you eat when you're eating haute cuisine."

I'm with you and from the midwest maybe that haute cuisine is what they eat in Indiana, ie Terre Haute. LOL I also find that I can burn a better steak than Outback any day.

Your 325i is like a old piece of Mac gear...never out of date, really.

I do all my fisihing now that I am not in New England any more at the local seafood store that flys it in daily. I always thought the best part of fishing anyway was drinking really good beer in the boat.

All of us were exposed to really great audio somewhere in our lives and I am afraid that too many will be exposed to mediocrity masquerading as "really good" audio and not hear the difference.

In this freeze-dried, microwaved, MP3 downloaded, breakfast in a bar world we live in to expect more might be a real stretch.

jazzfan
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio


Quote:
Also, an this is a big issue...we need to get off this Amanda McBroom, Patricia Barber, Lincoln Mayorga, obtuse stuff we demo with and play music that people like and are familiar with when we do our recruiting.

Hi Buddha,

I fully know and understand what you mean but while Madonna or Gwen Stefani may be fun to listen to they're just not recorded well enough to tell whether their tonsils have been removed, and if so, on exactly what date.

And what is high end audio for if not for such "deep" listening?

Monty
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

Wow, that was darn right inspiring! We should begin the revolution without 'em!

Picture this...millions of us (well, ok, a couple of dozen) wearing a T-Shirt with the slogan, "Let me show you the sweet spot!"

Buddha, you da man!

BTW, your reference to Fabio cracked me up. I actually busted up laughing when I read that piece...you know, the part about him having guests over one night to listen to his system and they all got sick (literally) after about 30 minutes into it. Ha! I could just picture Fabio's expression, "what?!"

Buddha
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

I hear ya, Jazzfan, but if you've been around hi fi for any length of time, those artists start to sound more like "assigned" listening!

I say whatever it takes - today's Gwen Stefani is tomorrow's Billie Holiday, as scary as that is.

What we audiophiles play oftens seems more like a fetish than an appreciation.

I have a buddy who listens to cool stuff, but whenever fellow audiophiles are around, out comes the pap.

It fascinates me that audiophiles seem to have such an inordinate fondness for those acts. It seems disingenuous. I think they're just going along with the herd and secretly play "Ray of Light" and "Spiderweb" when they listen for actual pleasure.

Seriously, if your dad had only let you play the "official" hi end sounding discs of his day, would that have helped attract you to hi fi?

My kids like how "Stacy's Mom" sounds on the system and if it draws them closer to our hobby, then great!

One night I put on that Patricia Barber disc with that kind of droning song on it (sorry I can't be any more specific... ...) and my kids asked me what was wrong with the stereo.

I bet it's not "free jazz, or get out" when other people want to hear your system.

We have to lure them with sugar before we nourish them with substance.

(Disclaimer: Just in case, since we have audiophiles all over the place here, I'm just joshing around with Jazzfan 'cause he's cool and I like him.)

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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio


Quote:
I bet it's not "free jazz, or get out" when other people want to hear your system.

Actually, Buddha, back in my college days it was more like "free jazz and get out" since my roommate and I would often use free jazz as a handy, never fail room clearing device. No matter how good the wine, women or weed, if one needed to hit the sack and people just refused to leave, put on some Art Ensemble or Cecil Taylor and half way through a side of an LP and bingo the room was empty. Never failed. Not even once.

Now I have to admit I have an approach much more in line with what Roy stated earlier. I'm not out to win over any converts. Only a few carefully chosen people get to sit in the sweet spot and hear my system. That's not because I'm a snob, it's because most people can't believe my stereo can be any good because they have never heard of Sim Audio, McCormack, Linn, or Vandersteen plus not only do I still play records but I actually believe that they sound better than CDs!!! What a nut!

I have over 2000 LPs and 4000 CDs and yet when people come to my house they will in variably ask to hear some super popular artist, like Billy Joel or Madonna and I will most likely not have any. Then after naming three or four different popular artists, of which I fail to produce even a single recording, the person will turn to me, the owner of over 6000 albums, and ask me with a straight face just what I listen to. I point to my collection and answer that I somehow manage to find a thing or two to listen to.

I guess it goes something like this:

It can't be a stereo if it isn't a Sony.
It can't be music if it isn't popular.
It can't sound good if it isn't digital.
And so on and so forth.

Buddha
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

Yup, we do walk a fine line between their pain vs. our own.

Similarly, I'm a wine lover, and one of the first principles of wine loving is to open really good bottles for newbies. Share the best with them and you may wake up their palate and make the world a better place.

Your great point with Madonna and who-all hits home there, as well, because no matter how good the wine, sometimes a person will spit it out and say, "Hey, this isn't white zin! Ya gotta anything GOOD?"

How about I change my plea from playing to the masses into meeting them part way?

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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

Hi guys, sorry I haven't weighed in on this great discusiion 'til now, but sleep debt got the best of me.

I agree that one of the burdens of connoisseurship is befuddling those who aren't in the brotherhood. It's even worse when you get partially into a subject and discover that there are some people who simply have to out-arcane you. I learned how to fly fish, but living in central Virginia, I had a lot more opportunity to use a popping plug to catch bass than I had for stalking the wily trout. I learned about wine, but discovered that I enjoyed mellow Bordeaux a lot more than the California fruit bombs that tickle the palettes of my oenophile friends. I finally bought a "real" guitar (one with a name I recognized on the headstock), only to discover that it had to be a certain model and vintage to impress my guitar collector friends. How frustrating it is to know just a little about any obssession.

I worry sometimes that we audiophiles do that too. "I just bought a good hi-fi," a friend tells us and off we go about how "real" audio is tubes or vinyl or three-channel masters played on DVD. A better response would be, "Tell me what you like about it." (Not that I'm accusing Jim or Buddha or Monty or Jazzfan of this insensitivity, but we all know it happens.)

Of course, I've caused eyes to glaze over many times with my monologues about soundstaging, imaging, tube watts versus solid-state watts, and all kinds of crap that my friends didn't want to hear. In some circles, audio is a subject that my friends warn strangers about -- like an ex-girlfriend. "Don't mention hi-fi to Wes, you don't want to get him started."

I guess I'm saying that there are worse things than listening to a buddy's Madonna recording -- being a bore or a pedant, for instance. Besides, I used to make hi-fi sales using customers' Madonna CDs all the time back when I was in retail. They were generally well-recorded enough to reveal the difference between a good system and a great one. And when customers brought in really crappy sounding CDs (I remember an INXS disc), I would agree that it didn't sound that good and pull out an old LP of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme that we kept in the store and say, "Listen to how good that old stuff you used to listen to in college can sound." Roy Hallee made a lot of audio sales for me.

Got to admit, though, I'd buy a Let me show you the sweet spot! teeshirt, although I'm not sure I'd wear it in public. I already get that look a lot.

jazzfan
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

Thanks Wes for that wonderful addition to what seems to be turning into one of the better discussions in this still new Stereophile forum.

Continuing in a similiar vein, I've been thinking about just what it is that makes us take on the "burdens of connoisseurship" to begin with. I mean why can we be happy with a white zin or a home theater in a box or a Ford Focus or a Kenny G solo or anything run of the mill (just plug in the ban of the connoisseur for any given field)? And frankly I don't know the answer.

I've been out sailing and yet I've never wanted to own a boat. I've been fishing but I've never fallen in love with the sport. I've been skiing but I can take it or leave it. I've been driving for over 30 thirty years yet I'm happy with my minivan. But on the other side of the coin, I won't settle for crappy sound and white zin and I just love bicycling. I live for the feeling of pedalling down a long stretch of open road with the sun shining and the wind blowing, looking at the flowers and trees and enjoying all of God's creations. And yet many people just don't get it.

It's the same thing with the "sweet spot". Some people can sit in the sweet spot and just melt while others just shrug their shoulders and say "What's the big deal? I don't get it." Same thing happens with HDTV. Some people see it and just have to have it and other people say "What for, so I can watch really bad programs in high definition? Big deal."

To put it all in the words of Vinnie from Brooklyn "Sausach

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

I am going to fess up now and tell you that the anonymous posts here were mine, but I did not what to prejudice this great thread. My experience was real and totally frustrating. I was urged for months to do this interview. My fears were not unfounded.

I do like spacial cues, but I am not over the top about it. My two favorite recordings I did last year for two, poor, amateur clients are of a solo piano and a piano and female vocalist of Christmas music. We recorded on a Steinway "B" and a 5'3" Boston Grand. I recorded them with an inexpensive Echo Indigo I/O card (JA recommended) in my Dell Laptop and $300 worth of mics and mic pres. I got tired of carrying my desk top computer to sessions. When I get my Manley Tube 2 channel mic pre and a pair of AKG 414's I'll let you know.

When I record a piano I like the sound of what the piano player hears as he is playing. I am selfish. I like a slight air around a vocalist, but I am a huge fan of JA's recording technique (what the audience experiences), and also of Maple Shade recordings. I have been listening for many weeks to 2 Sony Murray Parahia piano recordings that the piano sound is to die for. Billy Joel's Fantasies and Delusions is excellent as well. To get this you need some $5K mic pres and a couple of fig 8 tubed mics and "all can be right with the world".

What gets under my skin is when people tell me they are really into audio and in their equipment there is no evidence to such, or if they are in the business to "help others" buy audio and can only sell them "Yugo 5.1", but really believe it is great. I do not expect someone to own Levinson to prove they are really into it. I cannot afford Levinson. I am not a snob, but we all know there is equipment that is all priced the same, and some rises to the top in its price/performance category. Stereophile helps us seperate the wheat from the chaff. We do the same thing for our friends when asked. When you are into really, really high end buyers remorse is awful. I have recommend to friends a Sony STRDE 197, and pair of Epos 3's or JBL E50s, and a Sony DVD/CD/SACD player in lieu of a Wave Radio...and won. It is the same pile of money. And now they have PCM and video. This is my only real point.

My interviewer used to lay tile in the construction industry, a noble profession, but had no PASSSION for audio or video, it was just a decent paying job. Customers may consider him and expert. Moan! We who come here are not causal spectators. Life is much more fun with some passion about something in it.

When someone asks me about their audio system I am ALWAYS kind. I need more friends, not less. If someone truly wants help, just like you, I would jump in with both feet and offer as much help as I could. My only rule is you must tell me a budget number first as I am not shooting for the moon and back-tracking after that. Getting Stephen Mejias out of his boom box is what we all hope for. I would hate to write for Better Homes and Gardens and not really like flowers and or home decorating.

What I like about coming here (forum) is that every one has passion on some level and what I hear more is that it is about the music, the ends matter more than the means. To me the best sound I have heard was through a pair of Quad 989s, but I have never heard anyone say they are perfect or without some minor flaw. But, what they do right is breathtaking, and with the right software sound that touches your soul.

I also don't get nutty about someone elses musical choices accept when they try to pass off a mediocre recording as really good. It is difficult to audition audio with a recording that is poorly mastered with near total compression to get the most out of "air-play". I have always kept compilation discs of great sounding recordings for final use. I even have a sub woofer demo disc for those who just must have: bass, bass, more bass, bass all over the place! You know'em and you love'em. When it is someone else's system they get to have what they want; He who pays decides! is my only rule.

I am not worried about high end as all the "Phile" staff showed us from CES, some nutty priced, only proves that there is still capital being spend to further raise the bar. I would hate to be installing some of the speakers they showed us. 2 men and a truck may not be enough.

All the comments were great and enlightening.

With the industry losing many to HDTV/video and the expensive monitors, it just bothers me to see audio relagated to the back burner, back seat, or any secondary concern. Video these days is easy to buy. Good audio takes passion to demo and sell properly. Luckily, most of the independent, quality Cedia dealers do "get it". I just fear for those who go to "Big Box Audio/Video" and think they are hearing it all.

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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

So the "masked man" confesses. Well thank you Jim for starting such a great thread. As for your last line "I just fear for those who go to "Big Box Audio/Video" and think they are hearing it all" I believe that this is basically the same as your first point and very similiar to a point that Michael Fremer has been trying to make with the Wall Street Journal for quite some time.

It goes something like this: most people accept the fact the world's finest wines, watches, sports cars, paintings, and other luxury or state of the art items often cost outrageous amounts of money. Plus they often also accept that the mass market versions of these products are poor copies of the state of art items and they don't fool themselves into thinking that the $25 Timex watch is the same as a Rolex or a $10 bottle of Gallo wine is the same a nice Barolo. However, this is not the case when it comes audio. Digital is digital. Bose is the best. All MP3s are the same. 100 watts is a 100 watts. If it's available on iTunes it must sound good. I could go on and on but I think you know what I mean.

Frankly, I'd be happy if people would just be willing to put high end audio in there with the those other things I mentioned like fine wines, watches, etc. At least then us audiophiles would only be considered half as insane as we presently are!

Buddha
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

The more I think about this topic, the more meat there seems to be.

At some level, I am an ambassador for the hobbies I like.

Part of the answers I give when chatting with acquaintances about interests is my enthusiasm for what has managed to capture my interest.

I'm not an "evangelical audiophile" by any means, but when people give me that incredulous look I hit them first with how fun it is to play music and for it to sound good, too.

Audiophilia seems viral to me, and I like trying to infect people with it.

If I have what they like, on it goes, with chit chat about how cool the bass sounds or how great a vocal comes through. Once they start nodding their head, we start playing all kinds of stuff.

First time I ever walked into a wine store, the owner greeted me and started a conversation. He even popped open a few bottles of inventory to demonstrate how fun it was to check out different wines and demonstrate what the terms I had asked about meant. I owe him a debt of gratitude for making the hobby more approachable and I try to pay that back with budding winos and audio recruits!

I've heard my niece's Shrek CD enough times to sing along, but she keeps brining it over to hear on the "good stereo."

Victory.

Every time we can raise someone's expectations, even if it's with a totally, completely, compressed Santana release, we make the hobby stronger, and a stronger hobby equals more options for me to choose from!

Lastly, I strive to be the guy a friend or friend of a friend can call to go shopping. I have them bring what they want to hear and we go listen.

You all know that from practice, us crazy audiophiles do develop an ear for things that a neophyte might overlook, and that's the ticket to seduce a new listener.

Example: I went with a buddy to check out entry level systems he had pre-auditioned. He likes Kind of Blue, so we started there. There's one cut with a brush drumstick thing (do they call them brushes?) and he played it on the system he initially liked best. To me, a different speaker in the room did a demonstrably better job of recreating that sound and I had him compare. The light bulb went off over his head, and suddenly he became more discerning.

Now he is one of us, for better or worse!

Many times, we do need to help seduce new listeners...hopefully Socratically. It makes things better for everyone.

That seems to be part of my job as an audiophile. Yours too!

My next project is getting my iPod wearing friends to start thinking about better earphones...after that, the infection will spread!

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

I do not want people to think I am off to save the world from bad audio, but...I am so glad some of you are with me.

I hope everyone is in a profession they are passionate about, because if you are I belive you will be more successful, have less stress, be able to work more hours with less stress and not really know you are, and just have a better quality of life.

When someone kids me about being 58 and having an IPod, I just hand it to them with my Grados and tell them to just listen. The grin gets bigger and bigger. Now, that wasn't THAT difficult. We know it is not truly highend, but jeez, 23 hours of wav files in my pocket? How can that be a Bad Thing?

Regards,

Freako
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

When people throw their money after plastic junk stereo, it's plainly because they ain't nerds like us. They honestly don't know better than to experience music as some sort of low level background noise. Lots of older people buy stuff without even listening to it, in total confidence that the salesguy know much more than they do. So they trust him completely if he says "This is good stereo". Lack of "education" and interest plus an obvious trust in "authorities" is their problem, when it comes to hifi. ("I can't hear it anyway")

The youngsters who endulge in mp3 and other kinds of portable music, especially on their cell phones (yikes!), do this because they can't stand not being entertained for 2 minutes, without going berserk. Imagining them posing as the future high end buyers is hopeless. They can't even sit still for 2 minutes! Plus when they grow up to be relatively normal adults, they will have zero hearing from extensive mp3 overkill.

But I agree (naive as I am) with Buddha. There will always be a group of hardcore nuts, that go after the ultimate experience. The Turntable and the LP was declared dead many years ago, but it enjoys it's second youth today, to the surprise of the digital industry, who in their obstinate and narrowminded stupidity loudly declared the digital media "perfect" back in the 80'es. There may come many more surprises along the road.

No need to worry I guess

Freako
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio


Quote:

Quote:
I bet it's not "free jazz, or get out" when other people want to hear your system.

Actually, Buddha, back in my college days it was more like "free jazz and get out" since my roommate and I would often use free jazz as a handy, never fail room clearing device. No matter how good the wine, women or weed, if one needed to hit the sack and people just refused to leave, put on some Art Ensemble or Cecil Taylor and half way through a side of an LP and bingo the room was empty. Never failed. Not even once.

Now I have to admit I have an approach much more in line with what Roy stated earlier. I'm not out to win over any converts. Only a few carefully chosen people get to sit in the sweet spot and hear my system. That's not because I'm a snob, it's because most people can't believe my stereo can be any good because they have never heard of Sim Audio, McCormack, Linn, or Vandersteen plus not only do I still play records but I actually believe that they sound better than CDs!!! What a nut!

I have over 2000 LPs and 4000 CDs and yet when people come to my house they will in variably ask to hear some super popular artist, like Billy Joel or Madonna and I will most likely not have any. Then after naming three or four different popular artists, of which I fail to produce even a single recording, the person will turn to me, the owner of over 6000 albums, and ask me with a straight face just what I listen to. I point to my collection and answer that I somehow manage to find a thing or two to listen to.

I guess it goes something like this:

It can't be a stereo if it isn't a Sony.
It can't be music if it isn't popular.
It can't sound good if it isn't digital.
And so on and so forth.

LOL, Jazzfan. You are totally right!

But I tend to agree with Buddha here - we nerds have to use the carrot to lour some ordinary people into this great hobby. So you better get out and buy a few CD's with madonna and Billy Joel!

Freako
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

Wes wrote: Of course, I've caused eyes to glaze over many times with my monologues about soundstaging, imaging, tube watts versus solid-state watts, and all kinds of crap that my friends didn't want to hear. In some circles, audio is a subject that my friends warn strangers about -- like an ex-girlfriend. "Don't mention hi-fi to Wes, you don't want to get him started."

Good point! Being a nerd isn't widely accepted

KBK
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio


Quote:
Wes wrote: Of course, I've caused eyes to glaze over many times with my monologues about soundstaging, imaging, tube watts versus solid-state watts, and all kinds of crap that my friends didn't want to hear. In some circles, audio is a subject that my friends warn strangers about -- like an ex-girlfriend. "Don't mention hi-fi to Wes, you don't want to get him started."

Good point! Being a nerd isn't widely accepted

Apparently now, it is, when the ladies are shopping for a husband.

Freako
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Re: Record sales and the lost art of high end audio

No ladies are getting permanent residence in MY apartment

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