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Buddha
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The shape of things to come...

Aloha,

Remember that thread about the future of hi fi?

I think we caught a glimpse of the future in the March Stereophile, and it portends well for our hobby.

In Michael Fremer's column, he described some new iPod accessory thingies that will eventually help "save/preserve" this hobby.

Did you see the iPod speaker upgrades by Monitor Audio and the tubed iPod system?

Here's how the future will happen:

There will be system add ons that lots of people will buy. Some enthusiasts will use a loseless algorithm that will sound better when their friends hear it.

Some will use add on systems that sound beter than others.

Some will use both.

People will hear these systems and ask why they sound so much better than their own.

Et Voila! The rebirth of hi fi!

The future of hi fi is ensured.

I'd go so far as to posit that when this renaissance blossoms, we will see an even mightier hi end / hi fi market than we have now.

I also propose that the same sort of people who are drawn into the new age of hi fidelity will pick up the vinyl torch and run with it; more out of cool factor than anything else - but then it will infect them and they will spread that gospel, as well...

It's all a function of:

Storage capacity (GB) X accessories (A)+ coolness quotient (CQ) + peer competition (PC) = market opportunity (MO).

(GB)(A + CQ + PC) = MO

Monitor Audio is genius for doing what they are doing. They are helping to create a marketplace that will help us all.

So is that 3,700 dollar tubed iPod desk top thing...trickle down theory would state that by created a demand amongst the well healed (and who like to one-up each other), that subsequent downstream demand will be created at lower price points.

I have a friend who spent alot of time in Afghanistan and he is fond of one of their sayings...

"The poor man knows what the rich man is having for dinner."

I think it applies to hi fi, too.

dcrowe
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Buddha, you have nailed it, as always! One addition: there will come to be commonly available small portable systems that contain not only cell phones with e-mail, but also audio and video, as well as computing power for creating content (something like i-Life, but with easier interfaces). Then we will see the development of some truly hi-fi in-the-ear phones.

Then people will dream about the shape of things yet to come when they can get tiny devices implanted into their scalp that remotely induce signals into the nerves!

Jeff Wong
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Re: The shape of things to come...


Quote:
Then people will dream about the shape of things yet to come when they can get tiny devices implanted into their scalp that remotely induce signals into the nerves!

Devon - This almost came to pass 10 to 15 years ago. A very dear friend of mine was trying to bring to market a hearing device that helped the profoundly deaf. A transducer (in this case, designed like a wristwatch, worn on the wrist) sent electrical pulses into the skin. The subcutaneous nerves transmitted the audio signal via the skin, bypassed the eardrum, directly connected to the brain, and allowed people who had never heard before, to hear sound. In the clinical trials, some of these people were brought to tears. The sound was nowhere near high fidelity, but, to people who couldn't normally hear, it was a big deal. The device had other applications planned (communication in noisy factories, which I always found a bit scary - the idea of someone talking directly into my head.) Unfortunately, even with grants from the Canadian government, my friend was never able to get enough investment capital to launch things on a mass scale. He chugged along for years doing development and research, but, the limited investments only went so far.

With regard to the iPod and its accessories saving High End audio... does this mean we're going to see a lot more white vinyl LPs?

Monty
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Re: The shape of things to come...


Quote:
With regard to the iPod and its accessories saving High End audio... does this mean we're going to see a lot more white vinyl LPs?

I'll believe it when I see a cardboard, cut-out 45 on the back of a box of Fruit Loops.

Buddha
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Ah, yes, the finer details...

In the hi fi realm of the future, white will be the new black.

White will also be the new brushed metal.

We will also have transformed interpersonal communicating to sitting next to each other and texting.

Windzilla
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Re: The shape of things to come...

First and formost, read this
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.11/bolero_pr.html

I believe Wes Phillips recommended this reading in one of his Blogs.

More to the original point of the post.

I think that they are on the money with this type of product, they just need to get the word out. of course audio will get better and better. I think those pesky MP3's are what clayton christensen would call disruptive technologies. and as such hi-end has scoffed at, scorned, begun adopting, and eventually will drive there development. Jump on the band waggon all, and get your codecs ready! my question is when will stereophile do a good codec shootout!

Buddha
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Do you remember the ad that showed a completely silent rave, where everybody had headphones tuned to the DJ's frequency?

When the music started again, they all danced to the same beat, but we heard nothing?

I can see a future where certain night clubs are eerily silent.

Maybe even multi-genre clubs where people wear bracelets or necklaces in glowing colors that correspond to the sub-crowd they are part of in the greater club mix.

You could even have a rave that satisfies three generations or more, all at once, all hanging out in the same place, having different experiences.

Now, imagine a million people doing that in a giant field, in the rain.

Someday...

Windzilla
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Woodstock 3000, peace love and alpha wave transmission (NT)

Woodstock 3000, peace love and alpha wave transmission

Buddha
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Hey, today Apple announced this:

"...With the $349 iPod Hi-Fi system, users can dock their portable players into the speakers and use a remote control to operate it from afar. That means there

Jim Tavegia
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Re: The shape of things to come...

When the Triangle Celius (tree-un-gle) speakers come with a matching Cary or VTL docking station I might be in. Is the IPod moving in the Bose direction?

Kal Rubinson
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Re: The shape of things to come...


Quote:
Hey, today Apple announced this:
"...With the $349 iPod Hi-Fi system, users can dock their portable players into the speakers and use a remote control to operate it from afar. That means there
Buddha
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Hi, Kal!

Great example!

I think there is a keen sort of ironic awareness with iPod aficionados that may make for a fun tube market as they find ways to "display" their iPods and taste at home.

iPods can remain a terrific focal point for the industry as it finds ways to make people happy.

You KNOW that there will be tons of folks looking for ways to "brand" themselves by finding novel or better sounding iPod based systems.

Many of my hi fi buddies first ran into "stereo heads" in the dorms, who created a pleasant ambience with good record selections and collections, and good sounding gear that made someone want into the hobby. I think the iPod penetrating dorms and finding good dorm set-ups will also pave the way for our future.

I'm absolutely positively optimistic about hi fi. The iPod is the biggest format integration since the CD. We should be rejoicing.

OK, I'll go turn down my pollyana schtick now...

Buddha
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Had some champagne.

Sent Mark Levinson an email suggesting a Burwen Bobcat Red Rose Hi Fi iPod product or system.

Wouldn't that DAC and program be a perfect synergy partner for an iPod system?

OK, more bubbly....

ohfourohnine
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Re: The shape of things to come...

My guess, Jim, is you're on the right track. I think Jobs thinks Bose is the outfit he has to beat - just barely- and that is what he'll do on that end of the system. On the front end I expect some significant strength in the music server market. That little mini (priced right), his Airport answer to local networking, and his lossless compression could make a pretty attractive package for those wanting decent (not what you're used to) whole house sound systems. The hitch will come if his iTunes downloads continue to be his leading revenue stream. If that occurs, why should he move to higher resolution downloads? I figure we've got no more than one chance in four that this development will move iPod/iTunes people in the high-end direction. Those, however, are better odds than I would have given before he made this verticle move.

ohfourohnine
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Re: The shape of things to come...

How can you doubt Jobs when he claims "audiophile quality sound" which he does in the description on the Apple Store website? After all, it is battery powered to keep out all that nasty power line noise, and the grilles are removable.

Buddha
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Got shot down.

Oh, well.

There's gotta be something else I can invent tonight....

How about an "MP3 Reader" that instead of a fixed memory, accepts Flashcards?

That way, you could have an array of flash cards (wonder-wands, whatever) that you can just plug in or unplug into the miniplayer instead of having to binge and purge a built-in memory.

You could have an array of memo-sticks that you could exchange depending on your mood or listening desires.

Did that make sense?

ohfourohnine
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Re: The shape of things to come...

I think it makes as much sense as most of the stuff we do.

jazzfan
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Buddha etal,

I don't mean to be a party pooper but I happen to fall well on the other side fence on this issue. In fact I was all set to post a message regarding Apple's version of an audiophile when I came across this thread which covers similiar ground.

Here's my take.

First off, Apple finally makes it's own version of a product that other companies have already had out on the market for quite some time, releases it with plenty of fanfare and press coverage and viola! home stereo as we know it is revolutionized!! Not only do major newspapers like the Wall Street Journal cover the event but they even go so far as to parrot Apple's press release and pass it as news coverage. Sample quote "including a $349 speaker-system device that turns its digital-music player into a high-quality home-stereo system." Sounds like a press release to me. Sorry but I can't link you to the story since the online WSJ is a pay site.

To their credit on the same page the Journal has another story which talks about how the most music stored on most iPods is of poorer audio quality than a normal CD.

Now why do I feel that this latest spin on what used to be known as a boom box is not a good thing for the high end? Because of the market or user that the device is aimed at, namely someone who no longer buys CDs. In other words, all of those people who have been downloading music from iTunes and the various other online music services.

And what do all these people have in common? They think that compressed audio sounds fine and not only that, they are willing to pay for it!

No, I'm sorry but this is not going to save the high end any more than the cassette, the boom box and rack system ("Look, the speakers are the exact same height as the rest of the stereo!") did.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Sometimes the lines become blurred as to what some people think is "high-end" audio. If you have been a fan of MP3s, then the IPod with wav files IS a step toward "High-End", but it really isn't. That does not make it any less remarkable.

My very first computer came with 640K of ram and no hard drive. I added a whopping 2 meg HD for $200. That is the price of a 160 gig external HD today. Yes, the IPod is way cool. I have not forgotten where I came from.

I love my IPod because I can take CD quality music, 23+ hours of it in my shirt pocket. Previoiusly I would have had to take 25 CDs, my swell Sony Walkman and a pair of fairly sorry headphones, unless I stashed my Grados in my bag. It is this convenience of no cd jewel cases and very good sound that won me over.

If the "high-End" target is JA's He-Man rig, or AD's, or MF's, or ST's, or many of what forum members listen on, then you understand where the IPod really ranks. We get it! It is those who try and really pass it off has truly "High-End" that have missed it. They may have not heard a truly great audio system or just accepted less and let convenience overtake their sense of what good sound is.

I would guess that running the IPod through many of the "Phile" reviewed headphone amps, ie Emmeline, and any pair of Sennheiser or Grado headphones might be tricked that they have reached the pinnacle of audio nervanna.

The sad part is there are too many influential writers at major papers and magazines that convince all too many of their readers that the writer really knows what great audio is, and the IPod is it...to them. An even when Michael Fremer calls the out, they just ignore him and and continue to mislead the unsuspecting readers. It is amazing how good marketing has become that we can convince many that mediocre is great. How have Americans fallen for the car companies forcing new styling on us, excellerating depreciating what we just bought last year, and somehow trying to convince us that more mediocrity is really innovation.

New models of audio have not come so quickly. Most audiophiles do not buy "shiney", but will buy improved sound quality they can hear.

The IPod really flies in the face of that. It won on convenience, but the aidiophiles who run wav/aiff files know what it can do, and are quick to realize what it is not...truly high end audio...but still loads of fun. When not at home listening to our real audio systems it sure beats no music at all.

WonkoTheSane
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Jazzfan,


Quote:
ohfourohnine
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Re: The shape of things to come...

I haven't looked, but there must be a full moon tonight. Jazzfan simply asserts, quite correctly I think, that Apples new iHi-Fi is no cause for celebration in the audiophile community and you and Wonko rise vociferously to the defense of the iPod itself. I've read his post about three time and can't find him addressing the iPod per se.

Jazzfan is right. It may make some money for Jobs, but what good is it to high end audio that the Apple Stores will offer their own item in competition with the Belkin, Bose, and Monitor Audio boom boxes?

I've got an iPod full of good stuff in lossless, a TotalBithead, and some nifty Shure in-ear phones too. They're convenient, portable, and fun -nothing more. My having them and using them does nothing at all for the perpetuation of high end. Nor can I understand how embracing MP3 offers benefit to it.

One point I'll concede is that the iTunes store and their billion downloads has undoubtedly funnelled deserved compensation to musicians which would otherwise not have gone there and that can't be bad for the future of music.

Monty
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Re: The shape of things to come...

The ipod does nothing for me. I don't like phones and don't like music as a distraction. However, I don't see any reason why the digital storage media couldn't be a great thing. It would be great to have a digital jukebox the size of a credit card if the playback capabilities can unravel the mess of 1s and 0s and transfer a musical signal to full range speakers in the home.

WonkoTheSane
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Ahhh, his post was about the Apple iHi-Fi! I missed that entirely. Not only does he never address the iPod directly, he only referenced the new iPod attachment, that I now understand he was focusing on, obliquely. It's there, clearly, now that I have the context I was missing. My apologies.


Quote:
My having them and using them does nothing at all for the perpetuation of high end.

But it can. The next time you are on an airplane, someone might ask why your iPod is attached to an umbilical, and then you get to do some sales. It is more than fun though, for us bottom dwellers on the income tax scale, it can be good sound, even great sound, for less than 1000k. You owning them might not further hi-fi, but someone else deciding they are better, and that better is important to them, sure would.

The point is, if we don't embrace some of these new music lovers, they'll go to Bose, iHi-Fi and Monitor Audio and be embraced.


Quote:
Nor can I understand how embracing MP3 offers benefit to it..

I hope I never said you should embrace it. I use it, but I wish there was a lossless option available, if there were, I would use it. Again, the idea is to show that better is easily achievable without having to suffer for it.

jazzfan
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Re: The shape of things to come...

Cheapskate,

Indeed, you did get it right for the most part. I wasn't taking aim at the iPod itself but rather more at iTunes and the use of poorly compressed digital audio files and the willingness for our mass culture to now accept them as high fidelity. This is not a good thing.

The iPod itself is a wonderful device and can be used to produce some pretty good sounding music. On the other hand, in the wrong hands and with the very little effort it can also produce and reproduce some pretty bad sounding music. The problem lies with the average person's misunderstanding of the various forms of digital audio. I do not mean that as a put down, there are just way too many file formats, compression schemes, digital rights management protocols and the like for any consumer to have to keep straight, the whole thing is one big mess.

Let me give you just one small example. Jim keeps raving (well he doesn't really rave but he does write a lot about it) about loading up his iPod with either Apple lossless files or wav files for better sound quality. I think I stated in my earlier post that many of the currnet iPod users no longer even own a traditional stereo system, hence Apple and others wanting to sell them these "iPod boom boxes" (for lack of better term). Now bear with me for just a minute. Well if you don't own a stereo why would you buy CDs, you wouldn't, you would get all you music by downloading, hopefully by legal downloading and the present time there is no way to legally download any music in either Apple lossless format or wav format to put on one's iPod. One can download flac or windows media player lossless but those file formats will not play on an iPod. And iPods dominate the portable music player market.

Another big problem with compressed music is that every time one convrts the file from one format to another formant one adds some form of digital noise to the file. So if you download a file from iTunes, burn it to a CD, give the CD to your friend who rips it to Windows Media Player, who copies it to his iRiver player, who lends it his girlfriend, who gives it to her..... You can see how even with "perfect" digital files one can end up with a pretty bad sounding third generation copy.

I'll dismount now. Anyway the thing to keep in mind is that whatever happens vis-

WonkoTheSane
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Re: The shape of things to come...

In response to Jim's question earlier in the thread, Is Apple moving in the Bose direction, I found this interesting. Apple product direction

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