You Really Can Help Save the Stereo
Save the Stereo, a Web-based project dedicated to developing and promoting the best ideas for leading the next generation of music lovers to component-based high-fidelity, launched at the start of the year. Although we have seen a number of prior organizations dedicated to the cause of spreading the gospel of high performance audio wither and diesee John Atkinson's 2005 essay on the subjectthis one is different. Because its founder, Gordon White, is soliciting feedback from the audiophile community and developing a grounded action plan before proceeding, perusing the project's website and filling out its all-important, short survey seems more than worth the while of both high-performance audio consumers and industry members.
As White explains on the website's "About Us" page, he alternates his time between publishing Truck Camper magazine, whose avid readership includes Gene Rubin of Gene Rubin Audio, and heading to his basement, where he listens to LPs and digital files of everything from Vivaldi to Daft Punk through "tubes, tubes, and more tubes." He developed Save the Stereo's website with the assistance of his music-loving wife, Truck Camper magazine editor, web developer and "social media expert" Angela White. Given that Angela is "not an audiophile," Gordon has worked hard to develop a project that speaks to the entire music loving community.
"I've been a music lover and passionate audiophile since my early '20s," he explained during one of two intense phone chats. "Based on everything I've read in Stereophile and other publications since 1992, including your recent essay, 'As We Listen, So We Are,' I realized something has to be done to reach the next generation of music lovers. I'm doing this for fun. I love the challenge, and I want to give back to a hobby that has been an important part of my life ever since I was a teenager."
Before launching Save the Stereo, Gordon devoted three months to researching challenges to the survival of high performance, component-based stereo. While asking what the solutions might be, he constantly confronted the questions, "Why is high-end audio important? Why not let it die? Why is it relevant to music lovers who are not currently audiophiles?" These concerns and more he attempts to address on the page, "Why Save the Stereo?" While his rationales for the importance of music mostly emphasize the practical and merely hint at its spiritual import, there is no question that White hits much of the nail on its head.
Nor does he pretend he has all the answers. "I'm asking people to take a look and give me their feedback," he says. "I know the site isn't perfect, and I really want to hear from everybody with ideas. I want to get everyone on a single page so we can move forward collectively."
Gordon White's goal is to receive enough responses and suggestions from community and industry members alike to put together an action plan. After that, Gordon and his friend, electrical engineer and Lancaster Audio Club founder Rob Czetli, hope to move the ideas forward.
"First we need to figure out if everybody thinks Save the Stereo is a good idea," he says. "Then, we need to integrate new ideas and feedback. This is why we must gather ideas from as many people as possible before proceeding. Finally, after an action plan evolves and we vote on it, it will be up to the industry to fund the project.
"The biggest challenge I think we face is that most music lovers who have been walking around with Beats headphones have never experienced great sound, and don't have a lot of opportunities to access that experience," he laments. "The $4 million ads for Beats and Sonos during the SuperBowl show that interest in music has not diminished. But it seems these companies are the only ones reaching out to music lovers."
The next step is up to you. There are no dues involved. White asks that you simply take the Save the Stereo survey and spread the word. As he writes, "Somewhere out there are young music lovers starving for a deeper connection to recorded music . . . We need to do what we can to reach these young music lovers and share our incredible hobby with them. They are looking for us, even if they don't know it yet. Let's give them the opportunity to experience the magic of recorded music on a component-based high-fidelity stereo system . . . Component-based high-fidelity stereo is important and worth fighting for."