R.I.P High-End Audio?

Slowly, painfully, high-end audio seems to be dying. We all know it but we're apparently unable to resuscitate the patient. US dealers are closing at alarming rates—it must be the economy. Women continue to avoid the High End—it must be the technobabble combined with male equipment fetishism. Younger people aren't hopping aboard—it must be all those other things competing for their money. (Then again, it might be the High End's abhorrence of rock'n'roll.)

While it seems we're quick to point fingers and find scapegoats, we haven't addressed the primary causes of high-end audio's apparently inevitable decline. In the minds of most music-loving Americans, the High End simply doesn't exist. And for the minority who are aware of it, the High End is simply too expensive.

To illustrate this, Table 1 shows a top-quality system assembled from the most recent Stereophile "Recommended Components" listing in October 1993 (Vol.16 No.10):

Table 1: 1994 Class A System Cost

Cartridge: Symphonic Line RG-8 Gold $5000
Tonearm: SME V $2550
Turntable: Basis Debut Gold Standard (w/vacuum hold-down) $8900
CD Transport: Proceed CD Library $13,000
Digital Cable: TARA Labs Digital Master $59
5 DAC: Mark Levinson No.30 $14,950
Interconnects: MIT MI-330 CVT Terminator (3x1m) $5400
Preamplifier: Rowland Consummate $8750
Power Amplifiers: Mark Levinson No.20.6 $15,950
Loudspeakers: Wilson WATT3/Puppy2/WHOW $26,620
Speaker Cables: MIT MH-750 CVT Shotgun Terminator $4500
Total Retail Price: $106,215

The system listed uses the shortest possible cable lengths, omits accessories like power conditioners, and doesn't even include any of the megabuck gear—like the Genesis Model One loudspeakers, Rowland Nine and Jadis JA 500 amplifiers, FM Acoustic phono preamplifier, or Rockport turntable—none of which are listed in "Recommended Components." Many people could almost buy a home for this kind of money—but would have to take out a mortgage to do it! The system's intentionally short wires come to $10,495—a price most people would consider spending for a car. To 99% of Americans, the upper price range of high-end audio is otherworldly.

Does the average American recognize any of these brand names? Ask a few friends who aren't into audio. Chances are, they've heard of none of them. High-end audio has failed miserably at making the public aware of its existence. The irony is, some of these companies are the best in the world at what they do.

The automotive industry seems to be treated differently. Car magazines spend a lot of time covering the Ferrari Testarossa, Lamborghini Diablo, McLaren F1 (only $750,000!), and high-powered Corvettes. (How about those Guldstrand-modified ZR-1s starting at a mere $134,500?) Yes, we're all voyeurs and dreamers, secretly harboring hopes of winning the lottery or inheriting an estate from a long-lost relative. More pragmatically, we believe much of this incredibly sophisticated technology will filter down to the real-world cars we're likely to buy in the future. This has actually happened: Consider the Honda Civic's computer-controlled variable-valve timing; the Ford Probe's 24-valve, six-cylinder engine; and airbags, anti-lock brakes, four-wheel steering, and many other wonderful features that carefully balance the often conflicting demands of performance, safety, and the environment.

High-end audio might actually be better positioned than the automotive industry to provide immediate benefits to everyone. Unfortunately, we seem hell-bent on shooting ourselves in the foot. Far from cutting-edge audio technology benefiting the world of affordable audio, the High End has done its best to disassociate itself from mid-fi. ("Mid-fi" is even used as a term of abuse.) As a result, high-end audio has rendered itself essentially irrelevant to most Americans.

Any automobile can get you from A to B, but not necessarily in the same manner. Most people can appreciate the major differences between four- and eight-cylinder engines. But how many people realize the differences between solid-state and vacuum-tube electronics and the desirability for both to coexist?

Most non-audiophiles believe all audio equipment pretty much sounds alike, hence the mass-market's emphasis on selling components by features and price. But people actively involved with audio know that quality differences do exist. Nearly all audiophiles agree that amplifiers sound different from one another under real-world conditions of use.

The audible effects of as-yet-unmeasurable performance parameters and the importance of very small differences that may well be inaudible to some are continuing points of contention in the High End. Unfortunately, we continue to fight among ourselves over such matters rather than spreading the word to the mass-market consumer. The entire audio community would benefit if we emphasized those points on which we agree. Just as all automobiles are not built to the same levels of quality, handling, or efficiency, all audio equipment does not sound the same. The High End must be responsible for making people aware of this fact.

The best way to do this is to let people hear high-end audio for themselves. But the audio industry is structured in such a way that people can do this only through high-end dealers. It's unrealistic to ask high-end dealers to tie up their listening rooms educating the masses one at a time, knowing full well that many of these people will never buy. And the typical manufacturer's presentation at a local high-end shop preaches only to the converted. There must be a better way for the average Jane or Joe to hear what the High End is all about.

The High End should reach out to those unaware of our industry. Larger groups of people should hear demonstrations such as those sponsored by the EIA/AAHEA at the 1993 Summer CES (footnote 1). I envision open sessions run in conjunction with music-appreciation courses through adult education programs at high schools nationwide; a variety of full-length concerts played on quality high-end systems and offered through local radio stations and/or cosponsored by software manufacturers; discounts or other perks to customers who bring new patrons to high-end dealers; a sales force regularly demonstrating products outside the audio store; audio systems providing music at a variety of large meetings during cocktail hours—and I'm sure each of you can come up with other ideas.

While most other industrialized countries recognize the preeminence of American audio equipment, our own citizens fail to appreciate how much we've accomplished. We're headed in the right direction, but we haven't been able or willing to get the news out. High-end audio has made remarkable progress. You need to look or listen no further than the breakneck advances in sound improvement coming from the "perfect sound forever" digital medium. In less than a decade, improvements have bordered on the monumental. More importantly, a good deal of these innovations are now available at reasonable prices.

This is where the high-end industry continues to be misunderstood. High-end is not simply audio equipment that costs more. In fact, audio equipment deserves to be called "high-end" only if it sounds superb. Much of the audio gear which fits this definition is not outrageously expensive. In fact, many sonically splendid high-end audio products cost less than their mass-market competition. We continue to obscure this critical point.

Stereophile's biannual "Recommended Components" listings appear to paint a different picture. In general, better things do cost more, and audio is no exception. However, the relationship between price and performance is complex. If one product costs twice as much as another, it is unlikely to be twice as good. Stereophile's loudspeaker recommendations clearly illustrate the price/performance relationships in high-end audio. Table 2 lists speakers I believe to be excellent values:

Table 2 Recommended Components Loudspeaker Price/pair
Class

E PSB Alpha $200
D Epos ES11 $850
C Vandersteen 2ce $1300
B* Ensemble PA-1 $3200
B ProAc Response 3 $6500
A* Sonus Faber Extrema $12,500
A Wilson WATT3/Puppy2/WHOW $25,000

While I recognize that the "Recommended Components" classes are subjective (and categorical and non-linear and multidimensional and...), I feel they are meaningful enough to convert to numbers. For example, let a score of 6 represent the sound quality of live music. The highest-rated loudspeaker still won't fool listeners into confusing its sound with the real thing, so let us score it as a 5. The ratings for the letter classes are therefore assigned from 1 (E) to 5 (A). Since the restricted LF classes are a bit of a hedge, I've graded them in between the other classes (eg, Class A, with restricted LF, becomes 4.5 instead of 5).

Using these numerical ratings, the performance of the speakers listed in Table 2 is depicted by the graph below, which clearly illustrates the relationship between price and performance (footnote 2):

666RIPFig1.jpg

Fig.1 Loudspeaker Price/Performance Relationship

The PSB Alpha has the lowest performance rating (1 for Class E), coupled with an extremely modest price: $200. At the opposite extreme, the Wilson WATT/Puppy/WHOW has the highest performance rating (5 for Class A), as well as a very high price of ca $25,000. Ideally, the higher the price, the better the performance. But this is not the full story—the price/performance relationship is not a straight line. The curve is clearly asymptotic. It approaches perfection (a score of 6) but never gets there, regardless of how much the component costs.

Initially, as you upgrade from the PSB in Class E (with a numerical performance rating of 1) to the Vandersteen 2Ce in Class C (with a rating of 3), you get a significant increase in performance that is proportional to price. The curve mimics a straight line. As you spend more than the cost of the Vandersteen to move into still higher performance classes, however, the relative amount of increased performance decreases dramatically for each additional dollar spent. The shape of the curve changes to one representing diminishing, though nonetheless real, returns. You pay a tremendous premium to approach the state of the art.

A speaker's placement on this curve is influenced by many factors. For example, imported speakers will cost relatively more on the price axis, because their prices must include increased shipping costs and a profit margin for the importer. Smaller manufacturers usually cannot take advantage of volume discounts when buying parts. This must be accounted for in the retail price. Companies that sell direct are able to eliminate dealer margins, though the possible return-shipping costs have to be factored into their margins.

The performance axis is more complex. Whether aware of it or not, most people listen for a host of different sonic qualities: bass, midrange, treble, soundstaging, dynamics, transient response, resolution of detail, etc. The speaker designer has to balance each of these parameters to achieve the desired level of overall performance.

Many people believe that speakers that lie along the price/performance curve in fig.1 are high-end simply because they are listed in Stereophile's "Recommended Components." Yes, speakers at the top of the curve do outperform those at the bottom. But this curve is designed to identify speakers at all prices that outperform their competition. "Recommended Components" effectively tells you how to get the most performance for your money, at any price.

Using this curve, loudspeakers located below the horizontal line may cost less but clearly do not perform as well overall. Speakers located above the horizontal line cost more but perform only marginally better. You have to spend a great deal more money in order to realize significant increases in overall performance. The Vandersteen 2Ce or the similarly priced Thiel CS1.2 are located at the optimum price/performance position (indicated by the vertical line). Yet they are likely to sound very different from one another because they are designed differently. Stereophile's reviews of these two speakers (in Vol.16 Nos.4 & 9, and Vol.12 Nos.1, 6, & 11, respectively) make it abundantly clear that each has a distinct sonic character. The important thing is to understand what your priorities are so that you can select the best product in your price range.

To further complicate matters, price and performance alone are not enough to make a buying decision. If they were, you could rely exclusively on the opinions of reviewers you trust. Other factors that must be considered before purchase include visual appeal, size, compatibility with your existing equipment, availability, reliability, and resale value. For example, two very differently priced speakers may perform identically in all parameters. The more costly speaker, however, may look better to you, be more compatible with your existing power amplifier, work against the rear wall (which you may require), and so on. In addition to letting you hear the speaker, a dealer should help you sort out all your other concerns. No matter how good the review, there is no substitute for seeing, touching, and listening to the speaker yourself. The only way to do that is to visit a good high-end dealer.

The reviewer's task is to audition everything he or she can. A composite of this information—like "Recommended Components"—should help you narrow your search by identifying a small number of speakers that satisfy your basic price and overall performance concerns. The final buying decision must always be yours.

What does all this mean for high-end audio? Plenty.

• At any price, high-end equipment should be able to outperform similarly priced mass-market equipment. The customer should get more for his or her money, regardless of what they are able to spend. The PSB Alpha is a good example of high-end audio equipment's inherent value at even extremely modest price levels.

• The more you spend for high-end audio equipment, the substantially better the sound should be, as long as you are at or below the optimum price/performance–level (as seen from the vertical line in fig.1).

• The following generalizations have been verified by years of Stereophile reviews: all audio equipment does not sound the same; sonic compromises must be made at defined prices; the higher the price, the fewer design constraints; breakthrough technological advances do filter down to less expensive equipment over time. (These points are weakened somewhat by the realities of the high-end audio market. Manufacturers' costs must be met, despite lower unit sales. Higher-volume sales can be expected to lower per-unit prices.)

• Finally, the best of anything in absolute terms will always be very expensive. This is as true for high-end audio as it is for anything else. Since so few people pursue the state of the art, very few of the best units will be sold. In addition, research and development costs of innovation can be staggering. The best parts are costly, and building by hand takes time. Products that push the performance envelope need to be reviewed and discussed—we need to learn the limits of what is possible from the industry's ground-breakers and pacesetters. But we don't all need to buy their highest-end equipment. Ultra-expensive cutting-edge products are only a small portion of the high-end audio market.

High-end audio equipment can improve the quality of music heard in the home. It provides more enjoyment every time you play a record, listen to a CD, hear a cassette, or turn on the radio. Those of us involved with high-end audio need to relay the message that great-sounding audio equipment can be affordable, reliable, and easy to install and use.

Contrary to popular opinion, I do not believe that the marriage of audio and video threatens the future of high-end audio. The explosion of home entertainment is a wonderful opportunity to introduce more people to the wonders of high-end audio. The same can be said of interaction with computers, midi, video games, and anything else that involves the reproduction (or production) of sound. Wherever sound is being made, high-end audio gear can make it better.

Is high-end audio dying? Audio equipment is better than ever. There is great gear available at virtually every price. The equipment isn't the problem. The high prices aren't even the problem. We are the problem. We aren't getting the right message out. We aren't effectively communicating the value of high-end audio. We focus on the ultra-expensive without spending adequate time on truly affordable equipment. We are elitist snobs about our equipment and the music we enjoy. We put down video and interactive games and midi and computer interfaces because they aren't important to us. We are making a tragic mistake.



Footnote 1: See Stereophile, August 1993, Vol.16 No.8, pp.83–87.

Footnote 2: The price disparity between the extremes has widened enormously in 2013. The January 2013 issue of Stereophile includes reviews of the Dayton Audio B652 at <$40/pair and the Wilson Alexandria XLF at $200,000/pair.—John Atkinson

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soulful.terrain's picture
Conveinent omission?

 

I'm amazed but not suprised this article does not even begin to address the high cost of production. nowhere,,nada. No mention of this being the worst economic recovery in history,

You mention that we are the problem for not getting the message out.. Getting the message out? What message can you get out that will put more disposable income in peoples wallets?? You can hire the world's greatest marketing firms to get the message out but if people are going broke it won't matter.

You can largely thank the death of high end audio to the politicians and bureaucrats that always want to tax the 'evil' rich. In this case, companies that produce boutique audio components. This leads to job losses, lower consumer confidence, higher prices for componentry, etc; etc; which are ultimately passed on to the consumer. Thus, the consumer faces across the board tax increases on virtually everything (gas, groceries, utilities, services, etc; leaving them with less disposable income to purchase high-end audio componentry they love. Businesses then either have to close shop or go overseas to avoid high taxation. Then, those that go overseas just to survive, they are demonized for not 'paying their fair share' and to the point of being called unamerican. 

So as less and less people are unable to afford high-end gear under a progressive tax structure, so leaves less and less high-end gear being sold to the general public.

Its funny, the same liberals that love high end audio and even the ones that produce such boutique gear will immediatekly run to the voting booths and vote-in the very ones that are destroying their business,

The moral of the story: When government acts, the market reacts.

The upshot is, when it all said and done,we will all be equally unable to afford such high-end audio gear,

It can't get anymore more fair than that can it? After all, if we have learned anything in the last four years, we have learned that fairness is the new economic dynamic.

John Atkinson's picture
Historic Article

Quote:
I'm amazed but not suprised this article does not even begin to address the high cost of production. nowhere,,nada. No mention of this being the worst economic recovery in history...

Note that this article was reprinted from the January 1994 issue of Stereophile. I chose it for republication because the arguments presented are still relevant today.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

soulful.terrain's picture
True

That is very true John, It is still relevant today.

1994.. Bill Clinton was two years into his presidency. and he raised taxes in 1993 ;-)

John Atkinson's picture
From USA Today today

Quote:
It is still relevant today.

See www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/01/22/magico-audiophile-speakers-alon-wolf/1809691/

Money quote: "Opening your eyes to see not a band but a cold rack of hi-fi gear is a genuinely jarring experience, like drifting to sleep in a hot tub only to wake up in the factory that makes the hot tub."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

soulful.terrain's picture
lol

 

 good one smiley

prerich45's picture
Clinton

I didn't vote for him, but Clinton was responsible for a surplus - something no modern president has ever done.

soulful.terrain's picture
surplus

Clinton took office in 1992 and the dems controlled the House and the Senate, spending bills were flying left and right until the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress after 40 years of Dem control.

 The 'Clinton' suprplus should be credited to the Republican controlled congress that took over in 1994 under Newt Gingrich and John Kasich. Clinton worked with Congress unlike Obama who refuses to work with Boehner.

Naveb's picture
Really

People earning 250K cant afford high end?

Voting purely out of regard for ones financial interest is hardly laudible. There are more pressing concerns facing this planet than the ability to afford high-end audio components. 

ccfk's picture
Reality is Calling....

Please name the high end audio manufacturers who have been driven out of business by government regulation and high taxes.  It would seem to me that our tax burdens at the present time are close to historic lows. If the tax rate were cut 25% across the board, do you actually believe high end audio would start to thrive? Given historic tax rates, it's a wonder that high end audio manufacturing ever got started in this country if your argument has any merit.  Face it:  the way most people now consume music is antithetical to high end audio and people have different spending priorities.  Consumer data clearly shows this.  The free market has spoken, and the free market by and large doesn't care about the high end.  That's American capitalism.  Why do you hate it so? 

soulful.terrain's picture
A few points.

Operating costs to businesses whether small or large has increase astronomically. No matter how you slice it, That effects production in a negative way. Read Milton Freidman's "I pencil" to understand.

You forget about the state and local taxes, fees, regulations, licensing fees etc;; on top of the Federal governments encroachment.

I understand when people have more disposable income in their wallets, they tend to spend more on consumer goods and everybody wins. simple.

But we can't do that anymore, because we that make 250K/yr. have been redefined as millionaires and billionaires. We need to pay our 'fair share' you see..

You stated: "..people have different spending priorities.."

Thats true..Especially when people have LESS in their wallets, they tend to prioritize their spending..

ccfk's picture
Divert! Divert!

Just as I thought. You don't have any specifics.  Economics and political analysis aren't your forte, but it's cute that you try.  

ridikas's picture
Perfect!

Thank God for that! High end audio has become absolutely PATHETIC. The entire industry is a fraud and is supported on pure lies. 99% of all companies should be reported to BBB. I hope some readers here do just that. Transparent is selling 30K cables, YG is selling 100K speakers, etc. 

Let's all make a pact. Every time Stereophile's tests are drastically different than the snake oil the manufacturer posted, let's report them to BBB. 

This garbage needs to be run out of town. 

soulful.terrain's picture
Ridiculous!

yeah...yeah... lets turn them into the government, lets run all of the high end audio companies out of business those crooks.... those evil rich..

Then Stereophile and the Absolute Sound and other magazines will go out of business for not having but a few cheap components to review.

Fool...you miss the whole point because you're blinded by wealth envy.

You don't like high priced gear...Don't buy it! and don't ruin it for everyone else.

ridikas's picture
It has nothing to do with

It has nothing to do with what you're foaming about. One of my favorite speaker manufacturers is Harman. Makes your point rather useless, doesn't it?

jonahsdad's picture
Wingnuttery

You can largely thank the death of high end audio to the politicians and bureaucrats that always want to tax the 'evil' rich. In this case, companies that produce boutique audio components. This leads to job losses, lower consumer confidence, higher prices for componentry, etc; etc; which are ultimately passed on to the consumer. Thus, the consumer faces across the board tax increases on virtually everything (gas, groceries, utilities, services, etc; leaving them with less disposable income to purchase high-end audio componentry they love. Businesses then either have to close shop or go overseas to avoid high taxation. Then, those that go overseas just to survive, they are demonized for not 'paying their fair share' and to the point of being called unamerican.

What are you talking about?  Taxes have nothing to do with the fact that Hi End audio is actually alive and well, and this article from 1994 is worth reading for its comedic value.  Hi End audio is also doing well in Europe and every wealthy country on Earth, regardless of tax structure. Is it the mainstream of consumer electronics? No.  Does that matter? Not at all.

soulful.terrain's picture
You're brilliant

 

Oh sure, Raising taxes and issuing mountains of regulations have never had a negative effect on businesses and the cost of production,

I also have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell if you are interested.

remlab's picture
I remember...

"I remember reading an article exactly like this in the early 90's". I was saying to myself. Then I saw the speakers in question. Aha! From a mass market perspective, the high end can't die. In order for that to happen, it has to be alive in the first place. Long live high end audio!

OneMic's picture
Zombie Apocalypse

If High End died back in 1994 then it definately got resurrected into the unholy lifeless abomination that we see today.  I have never seen more medicore equipment sporting five figure price tags than we have right now.  I think its time for Stereophile to say to the manufactures that if you can't produce an excellent CD player, amplifier, ect. for less than the price of a brand new VW Passat you should probably kill yourself.  

I actually think that Stereophile should leave out pricing of equipment all together from their magazine.  They should let every piece of equipment compete against each other with out pretense. They should especially keep reviewers in the dark on what equipment costs.  But this might be unfair to them because how can they know what piece of equipment sounds better if they can't look at the price tag.   

 

 

remlab's picture
Comments with obvious underlying agendas...

Don't take the bait! Just ignore them!

marcusavalon's picture
Internet killed the Hi fi Star

I am an audiophile I don’t own and can never hope to own a $250,000 Hi end system.

However I think the reality is that the younger generation do not care about music as much. I have three children all in their late teens early twenties at college and whilst they all play music on i phones pods and computers and docking stations none of them have any desire to own a hi-fi which when I was there age was my ambition when I started out with a Rega 3 Nad amp and pair of speakers. Music especially pop or rock is delivered over youtube with a video experience as well and there are many other distractions like video games, the internet, the latest app for the smart phone etc. They are happy to stream music over the net and download MP-3's and do not understand their father’s quaint obsession with his $15,000 entry level audiophile system “ yes Dad it sounds good but my I-phone does all this neat stuff as well.”

The way the music industry is going it will all be delivered digitally whether that is in MP3 or some Higher definition format you will download or stream it. Ultimately I believe ownership of music vinyl / CD/ or downloads will disappear and you will have a subscription stream service in the cloud over a high speed broadband connection.

I only have one close friend that shares my interest in Audiophile sound and frankly we feel like the last of the Mohicans as I know nobody else that has this interest and the serious money Hi-end is only for Russian Oligarchs and Billionaires and the occasional lottery winner.

remlab's picture
Kids..

I have the same problem. My sons will brag to their friends about my system and they will ooh and aah and take pictures, but when I ask them to sit down and have a listen? Woosh! Out the door they go..With headphones and smartphones of course..

John Atkinson's picture
Sowing the seed

Quote:
I have three children all in their late teens early twenties at college and whilst they all play music on i phones pods and computers and docking stations none of them have any desire to own a hi-fi...

Don't you think that of all the young people listening to music, some will end up wanting more quality, just as you and I did when we were 20? What's important is that music is playing an important role in their lives.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

 

remlab's picture
Yes, I agree..

Talking about a seed, my youngest son loves the sound of the Sonic impact t-amp/ high efficiency full range driver combo I made for him. He has hope..

lwhitefl's picture
Advertising and Education

The article is certainly relevant to today's audio market. I agree there's lots of reasonably priced audio equipment that can be used for serious music listening, or to improve the home theater experience. Audio manufacturers with few exceptions don't appear to making any attempt to educate college age music lovers in ways described in the article. Even more astounding is the complete lack of advertising via commercial media. The automotive business model where $25K - $50K pricing exists doesn't appear to be a hindrance to demand for that product. I believe that's due in no small way to the advertising dollars spent to educate and promote the product. The high end audio industry needs to spend some of their large profits supporting audiophile education and advertising dollars.

criswood1's picture
Music is Important, but how important to them?

When my son went off to college a couple of years ago, I gave him my spare turntable, amp, tuner and a CD player, I even went with him to his first apartment and set it up for him. I bought him a couple of his favorite LP's and told him to have fun and to try and listen to sources other than his iPhone and internet streaming. I told him that he was missing something important. He has since told me that he has turned it on just a few times and was more interested in hooking up his iPhone to the amp.

What I have learned since is that what was important to me at that age and younger (good quality sounding music) isn't all that important to the younger adults. They want alot of choices quickly and at thier fingertips.

At my home last weekend I had him listen to a recent purchase of the Doors LA Woman at 45RPM, we finished and I asked him, do you hear the difference? wasn't that awesome sounding? Isn't that better than your iPhone? He stated very bluntly, I expect it to sound better, look how big your system is.

I remember being 16 (late-70's) and going to my best friends older brothers apartment, he had this silver receiver with knobs and switches and dials and a wooden looking turntable. He told me "this is made by Marantz one of the finest Hi-Fi's you can buy". He sat me down and told me all about what hi-fi was and then he had me take a listen. Wow! I was hooked, and I was hooked at a much earlier age than the college years.

My conclusion now is that, when I listened to that Hi-Fi when I was 16, that was technology to me, there were no cell phones, no computers, no digital anything (except maybe pong, burning a hole in the families TV screen). There was not the distractions and limitless choices of technology that kids today now have. There aren't too many of them that own a full album by any artist, just tracks upon tracks of digital "greatest hits".

labjr's picture
"Women continue to avoid the

"Women continue to avoid the High End"I

I think there's fewer men avoiding Victoria's Secret stores these days.

earwaxxer's picture
'High End' audio isnt going anywere!

There is really nothing different now, than there has been in the fairly short history of mega bux audio. There has ALWAYS been the ridiculously expensive gear, and there has always been those who will buy it. Its like yachts. You don't have to sell many of them to stay in business. Same thing today...

As long as we humans enjoy listening to music, there will be a high end market. Same thing with every consumable, be boating, exotic autos, you name it.

For a high end audio shop to make a buck is another question. Its all in the name. Those without the name will go away. So what, those in the know dont know about them anyway.

kevon27's picture
ReThink High End

Problem solved..

WWW.EMOTIVA.COM...

http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/index.html

http://www.tektondesign.com/pendragon.html

http://www.polkaudio.com/products/lsim707

http://www.bluejeanscable.com/

These are just a few.. There's no real reason to complain.. The market will correct itself.

prerich45's picture
 Yes, yes yes!!!!! Especially

 Yes, yes yes!!!!! Especially Tekton!!!

tmsorosk's picture
Whats the problem .

I won't comment on the economy , government , women audiophiles or even the state of hi end audio . But I will say in our house quality audio is alive and well not only with myself and many of my friends but also the wife and even the daughter ( 12 ) has setup a turntable and is buying records . 

With three system in the house , one in the garage and one at the lake , high end audio is a big and beautiful part of are little world .

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