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DennyB
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Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Well to a degree,I believe it is in the Dallas Area,I have seen 3 to 4 different high-end dealers go "belly-up" within the last 15 years. There are a couple of stores left,that I know of.

Monty
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

I am absolutely amazed at the number of new manufacturers that have entered the high end market over the last few years. Granted, many of them are based or at least produced in the Far East. Still, this certainly doesn't suggest a lack of demand for audiophile goods.

No, I think what we are seeing is simply a change in the way market forces are impacting the industry as a whole. Those that fail to adapt to the changes will likely fail while those that recognize the changing dynamic will do well...until the next severe economic downturn.

The days of sitting in your shop waiting for the next customer to drop in are long gone. Those that continue to opereate this way are surviving on borrowed time, and, probably, on the basis of having built a return customer base.

I'm sure there are exceptions, such as those shops that have ideal locations.

LM2940
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

"Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?"

No. it's not dead. It's not healthy....but it's not dead. People these days seem happy to think of music as "aural wall paper". Something to fill the silence while they are doing other things. You don't need $10K worth of equipment for that!
If the high end wants to be re-born then it must embrace music over equipment.
The equipment is merely a conduit for the music. The music is what is important.
SELL PEOPLE THE MUSICAL EXPERIENCE!

DennyB
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
"Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?"

No. it's not dead. It's not healthy....but it's not dead. People these days seem happy to think of music as "aural wall paper". Something to fill the silence while they are doing other things. You don't need $10K worth of equipment for that!
If the high end wants to be re-born then it must embrace music over equipment.
The equipment is merely a conduit for the music. The music is what is important.
SELL PEOPLE THE MUSICAL EXPERIENCE!

I absolutely agree,I am first an foremost a music lover,I love listening to LIVE music!!!

DennyB
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
I am absolutely amazed at the number of new manufacturers that have entered the high end market over the last few years. Granted, many of them are based or at least produced in the Far East. Still, this certainly doesn't suggest a lack of demand for audiophile goods.

No, I think what we are seeing is simply a change in the way market forces are impacting the industry as a whole. Those that fail to adapt to the changes will likely fail while those that recognize the changing dynamic will do well...until the next severe economic downturn.

The days of sitting in your shop waiting for the next customer to drop in are long gone. Those that continue to opereate this way are surviving on borrowed time, and, probably, on the basis of having built a return customer base.

I'm sure there are exceptions, such as those shops that have ideal locations.

Yes the market has changed,in some cases dramatically,but also think salemanship and customer service have some bearing on this,I have been to a few stores that unless your planning on spending a few grand,Salesman don't won't to have anything to do with you.

silvertone
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
Well to a degree,I believe it is in the Dallas Area,I have seen 3 to 4 different high-end dealers go "belly-up" within the last 15 years. There are a couple of stores left,that I know of.

There are at least 5 hi-end dealers in the North Dallas/Plano area that I know of.

RGibran
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

The power to promote, extend, grow, and bring a new generation to the high end lies soley on the audio publications dedicated to the hobby. The media is always the ultimate power, IMHO.

JA has expressed his concerns recently on this subject, however I must say I'm a bit taken aback by his editorial decisions of late. A newbie, picking up a copy of my beloved Stereophile and reading the opening greeting column "As We See It" for the last few issues could only remark...What A Joke!

RG

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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Sadly.... the number of pages too has shrunk....

Aug 2006 Issue 124 pages

Dec 2005 Issue 200 pages

stuwee
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Hey ya'll,let me tell ya a short story, it's about movie nights, the Sony model # don't know at the moment, nice picture from about '93,but we're talk'n about sound right? My roomies JVC amp was crapping out, as we are huge NASCAR fans, and movie lovers this just would not do!! Did some research and for the $$ it was vintage and Ebay. A Marantz 2270 w/wood case was here. we have a lot of non audiophile friends, most of them have expensive in their eyes HT systems, I admit that they do sound nice to me however, they were more about special effects sounds, way to much bass, could be the settings on the rig by the owner to show off. Ok the Marantz is in the house with the DCM KX-12II's just two of them, roomie is a very accomplished Musician, knows how to dial in a system, ya'll shoulda seen his face when the Marantz got hooked up priceless! The best part is when the HT friends came over for movie night.
They couldn't put their finger on it but, they all said the same thing, WOW, it sounds so right, so different, but, Damn it blows me away, now these folks are like me in their 40's could be they are used to the two channel sound. The kicker is they keep calling, you wanna see this movie or that, so I reopen this thread to those Q's, do you really need HT or do you want accuratly reproduced sound, God tell me I don't have to get a $20,000 Pioneer plasma screen and all that, I know a lot of the younger folks are so into this and that but can we all be mentors, their are so many nice systems out there if you want to expose newbies to music and sound, hell even HT do it, the look of awe and goosebumps and all is how to keep it up!!
Peace Craig

cyclebrain
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

No, high end 2 channel audio is not dead! My I-pod connected to my Bose Radio is fantastic. Just like being at a concert hall.

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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
No, high end 2 channel audio is not dead! My I-pod connected to my Bose Radio is fantastic. Just like being at a concert hall.

Are you employed by or contracted to Bose? Just for the record, a similar statement was made around 100 years ago for Enrico Caruso recordings on Edison cylinders.

cyclebrain
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Actually, I own niether an I-Pod or a Bose Wave Radio or work for Bose. But my point is that to most people these items are state of the art.

Yiangos
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Why you ask , have you been to it's funeral ? lol
okay,seriously now.The way i see it,it was never "alive".
back in the old days (70s,80s)there was the same number of 2-channel hi-end users as today.Those have evolved from listening to cheap stereos.They just wanted something better.Today,those with cheap stereos are the same ppl who use home theater equipment.One day,they will want something more,something better and eventually,will upgrade to what we call high-end.I know what you'll say now.Most people are more interested in movies than music and i agree with you but let's not forget than back then the world was only 3 billions.Now we are almost 7 and even of there is a truth in the demise of high-end,i blame the manufacturers and some reviewers for this.

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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
Sadly.... the number of pages too has shrunk....
Aug 2006 Issue 124 pages
Dec 2005 Issue 200 pages

There is a major seasonal element to Stsreophile's issue sizes, so comparing a December issue with an August is misleading. The number of pages published by the maagzine has actually been stable for the past five years.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

tandy
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

"Now we are almost 7 and even of there is a truth in the demise of high-end,i blame the manufacturers and some reviewers for this."

So true. Unless some manufacturers, and dealers, straighten up, I think customers will continue to turn away. Unethical behaviour always leaves a sour taste in one's mouth.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

High end audio is NOT for most people. Those who are suckered into buying audio based on great "marketing" rather than great sound will be lost to what they COULD be hearing.

They are driven by style over substance. Just because Herbie Hancock hawks certain products does not mean they sound great, but rather their advertising agency knows that a "spokesman" can override mediocre engineering. High end audio is not about acceptable, but more about trying the best you can to deliver as much as possible in a listening experience.

As far as dealers go, I feel for them as we now are trapped into getting the "best deal" rather than buying after being educated into knowing what is true high end audio and what great music reproduction is all about. On line shopping has changed everything. Being in retail can be no fun these days.

Today is about downloading and portability. Unless you are listening to wav files in your portable device through at least Shure E3c, Grado 60's, Entymotics, or something better than these you are hearing way less than most audiophiles hear on a daily basis. It may be acceptable, but it is not "like being there" as most audiophiles are still struggling to "get there" on a daily basis.

We understand that mp3 quality is now the defacto standard that is acceptable to the masses. The convenience issue is raising its head in music servers, but at least there are some who are marketing products that cater to delivering high end audio. JA has done a great job keeping us abreast about this new wave of audio delivery that even he is enjoying. For non-critical listening he finds it enjoyable. I'll bet his familiy enjoys the easy access to mucho music files.

It would be nice if the masses would at least make an effort to hear a great audio system properly set up. But, if Herbie Hancock at 2am can get you to part with your green with mere marketing words I'm sure a time consuming trip to a high end audio store is totally out of the question. Maybe high end dealers should offer $5 StarBucks gift cards for just coming in for an audition.

Masses will not be moved to high end audio in large numbers. It will done one person at a time, one on one.

cyclebrain
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:

Quote:
Sadly.... the number of pages too has shrunk....
Aug 2006 Issue 124 pages
Dec 2005 Issue 200 pages


Do we measure by quanity or by content/quality?
Now ask the question again.

There is a major seasonal element to Stsreophile's issue sizes, so comparing a December issue with an August is misleading. The number of pages published by the maagzine has actually been stable for the past five years.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Editor
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
Do we measure by quanity or by content/quality?
Now ask the question again.

You sure moved those goalposts fast! Time to reach for a can of "Trollbegone," I feel.

Seriously, "quality" is subjective, its definition will be different for each of us. Speaking personally, I feel the current content of Stereophile and its current team of writers are in many ways both better than they have ever been. Your mileage may vary, of course.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Quote:Now we are almost 7 and even of there is a truth in the demise of high-end,i blame the manufacturers and some reviewers for this.

This is like blaming doctors for people who get sicker when they would not seek medical assistance in the first place. You don't get to file a malpractice claim until after you have been treated and "harmed".

People who end up getting less than they could if they had shopped around and auditioned some true high end pieces are usually "convinced" that what they have IS "state of the art". "What do you mean most audiophiles think my "@#$%" is really awful? It sounds great to me."

JoeE SP9
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

You've got the right idea. Give HT people a demo of good sound and they are impressed. I tell them it's "only" stereo and proceed to turn on the surround processor and rear ESL's. They are then rendered speechless. 4 ESL's, 3 sub woofers and >750W (my apologies to DUP, I want more power) can be impressive. That's how you get converts, trust me on this.

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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:

No, I think what we are seeing is simply a change in the way market forces are impacting the industry as a whole. Those that fail to adapt to the changes will likely fail while those that recognize the changing dynamic will do well...until the next severe economic downturn.

The days of sitting in your shop waiting for the next customer to drop in are long gone.

I'm sure there are exceptions, such as those shops that have ideal locations.

The shop I deal with has been has been a family owned/run business since the 1930's. They started out selling only audio equipment (wasn't any TV at the time) and stayed with high-end audio until about 10 years ago when they ventured into HT. The owners tell me that more and more people are buying high-end 2 channel stereo gear (admitedly entry level) but still high-end. Even the market for upper audiophile gear is growing. And those whose hearing isn't so keen are purchasing the multi-channel HT gear. He readily admits, though, that they only have a select few who can afford both. Point being: 2 channel audio may have died in the mass-market but it is alive and well with those that can hear the difference.

59mga
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
...it's "only" stereo and proceed to turn on the surround processor...

How right you are JoeE. Remeber quadrophonics, from the early 70s. If you disconnected the front right channel and the rear left channel you ended up with...2 channel stereo.

DennyB
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:

Quote:

No, I think what we are seeing is simply a change in the way market forces are impacting the industry as a whole. Those that fail to adapt to the changes will likely fail while those that recognize the changing dynamic will do well...until the next severe economic downturn.

The days of sitting in your shop waiting for the next customer to drop in are long gone.

I'm sure there are exceptions, such as those shops that have ideal locations.

The shop I deal with has been has been a family owned/run business since the 1930's. They started out selling only audio equipment (wasn't any TV at the time) and stayed with high-end audio until about 10 years ago when they ventured into HT. The owners tell me that more and more people are buying high-end 2 channel stereo gear (admitedly entry level) but still high-end. Even the market for upper audiophile gear is growing. And those whose hearing isn't so keen are purchasing the multi-channel HT gear. He readily admits, though, that they only have a select few who can afford both. Point being: 2 channel audio may have died in the mass-market but it is alive and well with those that can hear the difference.

Great comments,I guess it is more alive,than I had thought.

cyclebrain
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:

Quote:
Seriously, "quality" is subjective, its definition will be different for each of us. John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile


"Quality is subjective"? From you J.A.? I'm sure that you have a graph that measures this.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

In a free market society this will always be a problem. Often times customers want to make everything a comodity and get the best price (not a bad thing), but there are too many high end dealers for the number of potential clients out there.

I would not want to put my lively hood on being a high end salesman these days. Since most are paid on commission I can understand their plight. How many car salesman have suffered through $50 commission $20K+ car sales? 10th of thousands. Why, because cars are commodities and they are marketed by price, not by features and benefits advertising for the most part. Your Sunday paper proves it. In bigger dealers salesmen become administrative assistants, just doing "the paperwork" to make all of $50. I feel for them.

With China manufacturing some great gear these days a "company" could be nothing more than 10 or less people with talented design engineering and a venture capitalist to finance their production runs and you have a new high end audio company.

There is a change that I see taking place in the market that is removing people in the "middle" and that will save customers money and retain profit enough to keep the product line alive, or should, in keeping that its performance vs price vs reliability is also highend.

You can be in this business these days and have a "stenciled" product that is yours from China and all you really need is a pile of cash. You would like to sell them and that becomes a marketing problem. Often times a retail dealer may take on a line, but not really give it the attention it needs. That is why testimonials from owners and good review exposure can help a product, but it does not guarantee success at all. Advertising is not cheap these days or attending as a vendor trade shows. They can turn out to be great bang for the buck done wisely.

Selling high end audio is very hard. Just because we all love great sound does not necessarily make it a great business. Those that succeed deserve our support, respect and admiration.

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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:

Quote:
Seriously, "quality" is subjective, its definition will be different for each of us.


"Quality is subjective"? From you J.A.? I'm sure that you have a graph that measures this.

I think there should have been a smiley at the end of your posting. :-)

But to take your question seriously, there are at least 29 different dimensions that decribe the performance of an audio component. Any specific meaurement can plot at most three of those dimensions against one another. "Quality" involves the listener's perception of all 29 simultaneously and the concept of "quality" -- ie, the overall balance between those 29 dimensions -- will be different for every listener. ie, is truly subjective even when everyone agrees on how the component performs in each of the individual dimensions.

This is why readers should not get hung up on excellence or poor performance on just one measured parameter in an equipment report. If the component performs badly or well in an area that doesn't matter to you personally, the test becomes irrelevant to you (though perhaps not to others).

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Buddha
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

29, eh?

I am an audio ninja, I know 29 ways to measure a component.

I like the precision of 29. It avoids the insouciance of claiming 30, but goes beyond the layperson's conception of the more typical 27 ways to measure a component.

Nicely done!

But, hey, I'm so old, I can remember whan JA told us there were 11 ways. That was shortly after J. Gordon Holt (in whose ears we trust) had published the fact that there was only one way to "measure" a component.

We've come a long way, baby!

(Totally goofing off.)

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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Yup, Frank Vanalstine has been in business for about 40 YEARS!!!! Many others have come and gone. Including many well advertised hypsters. Legacy Audio, 20+ years making the best speakers out there, cus' they priced high performance to mortals, both Frank and bill d. Nonsense evenutally does itself in. Speaking of wires, the worst pair I ever got are AudioQuest, some BS design claims, the plasticzers are ebbing out of the plastic, forming a gooey tacky stikiness after several years, that's called JUNK. My Generic Dayton/Parts Express or MCM wires, cables have neither corroded, connectors, nor lost any plastizers from it's covers. No goo, no mess. They also have the wire of the month design, total marketing nonsense. Nice pictures though, WHAT'S YOUR VOLTAGE?

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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

What are the 29 dimensions?

tbng
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Two channel has been dead for me since the early '70s when I discovered the simple Dynaco setup for a rear channel. You just attached the rear channel across the hot terminals on the same amp as the mains. A hookup for a summed center channel was also possible, all this with one amp, although it can easily be done with a second amp. Dolby matrix is fundamentally based on that very principle. If you're a classical or jazz fan, even the simple Dyna hookup is a major improvement over two channel, but a way to control volume, high frequency rolloff, and delay makes it much better. Lexicon's Logic 7 specializes in that feature. Stereophile, time to minimize touting those mint '55 Chevys and at least dip your toes into the modern era. Even Krell is involved in surround.

cyclebrain
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:

I think there should have been a smiley at the end of your posting. :-)

But to take your question seriously, there are at least 29 different dimensions that decribe the performance of an audio component. Any specific meaurement can plot at most three of those dimensions against one another. "Quality" involves the listener's perception of all 29 simultaneously and the concept of "quality" -- ie, the overall balance between those 29 dimensions -- will be different for every listener. ie, is truly subjective even when everyone agrees on how the component performs in each of the individual dimensions.

I refuse to use smileys. They don't meet my criteria of at least 20 of the 27 visual dimensions.

After giving your dimensions reply some thought, I have come upon the real problem and a solution. The problem is your stupid graphs only compare 3 measurements relative to one another. The solution is to create a more modern graph that displays all 29 measurements. When you prove your technical worth by doing this, I will renew my subscription.
(annoying smiley goes here).

I notice that you don't list any distortion data for speakers, which are normally a number of times greater than that of the electronics that drive them. Why is this? Do speakers also generate both harmonic and I.M. products like the electronics side does? If so, I would think that the emphasis that is placed on certain harmonics in electronic equipment would carry over to speakers too and also be at a much higher level than measured in electronics.

cyclebrain
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
Two channel has been dead for me since the early '70s when I discovered the simple Dynaco setup for a rear channel. You just attached the rear channel across the hot terminals on the same amp as the mains. A hookup for a summed center channel was also possible, all this with one amp, although it can easily be done with a second amp. Dolby matrix is fundamentally based on that very principle. If you're a classical or jazz fan, even the simple Dyna hookup is a major improvement over two channel, but a way to control volume, high frequency rolloff, and delay makes it much better. Lexicon's Logic 7 specializes in that feature. Stereophile, time to minimize touting those mint '55 Chevys and at least dip your toes into the modern era. Even Krell is involved in surround.


And for a real improvement get one of those springy reverb units for the rear speakers.
Two channel will be dead as soon as I have more than two ears!

tbng
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Didn't recommend one of those springy reverb units, did I? Lexicon's Logic 7 is not a reverb circuit. Their "Hall" circuits are, and I don't use them, although they are far superior to the reverb units of yore.

When you sit in a concert - assuming you do attend live performances - do your ears only hear from the front? There is no sound hitting your from the side, the ceiling, the walls, the floor? When you listen to the Berlioz Requiem, those four brass choirs aren't placed all around you? There are no organ pipes to the sides or behind you in the church?

JoeE SP9
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Although surround sound is something I can easily do. I only use it for TV, movies and the few music CD's I have that were mixed and mastered for surround. I've tried the Dyna Quadaptor, SQ, QS, 4-channel LP playback, a Benchmark delay unit(late 70's)and my current surround processor. For 2-channel recordings 2-channel playback sounds the best to me. Artificial enhancement from my Lexicon or any device for the simulation of surround sound just doesn't work for me.

Buddha
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Man, first someone insults beer on the "reference for good" thread, and now someone else insults "artificial enhancement."

Dude, if it weren't for artificial enhancement, there'd be no L.A., Vegas, Houston, Florida in general, New Jersey, or Wisconsin Dells.

Please take that back.

tbng
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Then use Lexicon's Logic 7, Bryston's "Natural" setting, or Meridian's Tri-Field, to name a few. Other than the capability of changing delay or high-frequency rolloff in a signal that is already digitized, there is nothing "artificial." I don't use the hall settings either.

59mga
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:

There are no organ pipes to the sides or behind you in the church?

This is why churches were designed with "cathedral ceilings" and a choir loft, above the churchgoers. It allowed the sound of the choir and/or organ to rise up then
flow down to the patrons.

JoeE SP9
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

I meant no offense to Enzyte users!

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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

How can I put it any more plainly? I don't like 2-channel music played though extra channels. It screws up the soundstage I've spent money and time getting.

cyclebrain
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
Didn't recommend one of those springy reverb units, did I? Lexicon's Logic 7 is not a reverb circuit. Their "Hall" circuits are, and I don't use them, although they are far superior to the reverb units of yore.

When you sit in a concert - assuming you do attend live performances - do your ears only hear from the front? There is no sound hitting your from the side, the ceiling, the walls, the floor? When you listen to the Berlioz Requiem, those four brass choirs aren't placed all around you? There are no organ pipes to the sides or behind you in the church?


I was poking fun at the Dynaco surround sound L-R difference system and not the Lexicon 7 system which I have no expierence with. And, yes I used this method as a kid in high school. Yes, my ears hear sound from the front, sides and rear. No, I don't attend live shows. I always end up sitting next to someone that won't shut up.

CECE
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Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?

Poking fun at a pretty slick inovation....how dare you mock the dead. Dave Hafler was /is an audio inovator..a pox on your house. The DynaQuad was clever and neat. Dynaco was an inovative force in hi-fi. Before there was Sony, before there was Panasonic...dynaco...and other inovators made it happen. DynaQuad, led to stuff which has now morphed into what is it now 7.1 10.1 surround? Pretty soon thre will be so many speakers in the room, it'll be like one big speaker. DynaQuad is like extracitng Hyrdogen out of water for energy, the stuff is in there already, why not use it well. DynaQuad just recovered what was already in most of the recordings. Lee Michaels Heighty High was one of the great examples. Still have all Lee LP's..great keyboardist. Do You Know what I mean....? Heighty High

cyclebrain
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Joined: Jun 16 2006 - 11:40pm
Re: Is High-End 2-Channel Audio Dead?


Quote:
Poking fun at a pretty slick inovation....how dare you mock the dead. Dave Hafler was /is an audio inovator..a pox on your house. The DynaQuad was clever and neat. Dynaco was an inovative force in hi-fi. Before there was Sony, before there was Panasonic...dynaco...and other inovators made it happen. DynaQuad, led to stuff which has now morphed into what is it now 7.1 10.1 surround? Pretty soon thre will be so many speakers in the room, it'll be like one big speaker. DynaQuad is like extracitng Hyrdogen out of water for energy, the stuff is in there already, why not use it well. DynaQuad just recovered what was already in most of the recordings. Lee Michaels Heighty High was one of the great examples. Still have all Lee LP's..great keyboardist. Do You Know what I mean....? Heighty High


My Todd Rundgren can kick your Lee Michaels ass any day.

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