The Next Wave

I began working as a salesman of high-end audio gear in 1978. I was 29, and, as I recall, a healthy percentage of my customers were about my age. Most of the top high-end designers and entrepreneurs, too, were young: John Curl, Dan D'Agostino, Jon Dahlquist, Ray Kimber, Mark Levinson, Bill Low, Mike Moffat, Nelson Pass, Peter Snell, Bob Stuart, Jim Thiel, Ivor Tiefenbrun, A.J. van den Hul, Richard Vandersteen, Harry Weisfeld, David Wilson. The fact is, high-end audio's Golden Age—the late 1970s to the mid-1980s—was largely fueled by the under-40 set, and most high-end journalists were fellow baby boomers. Now we're all oldsters, with just a smattering of under-fortysomethings. That's about to change.

Strangely enough, it's vinyl's ongoing surge that's keeping hope alive. Vinyl isn't just for diehard audiophiles buying their umpteenth remastering of Muddy Waters's Folk Singer. No, it's thirtysomething hipsters scooping up old and new sides to play on their home hi-fis—while their peers and their parents' generation do virtually all of their listening on the go. Sure, the latter might do a smidgen of background listening at home with a cheesy Bluetooth speaker or sound bar, but through a stereo? No way: The only people kicking back at home spinning tunes are hipsters, audiophiles, and other misfits.

But their numbers are growing.

I'm fascinated by newly minted converts to vinyl. These refugees from the world of mobile digital sound have now discovered that music is best savored at home—and that has changed their perspective. I've seen it happen again and again with my under-35 coworkers: Once they've taken the plunge and bought a turntable, they're goners. It's strange—they grew up with the effortless discovery of new music at their fingertips, but now they're out there, chasing down gems in record stores and at yard sales. They're hungry for new sounds.

Something in the air
If, 10 years ago, you'd asked me where the next generation of audiophiles would come from, I'd have shrugged my shoulders. Back then, you rarely saw people under 40 at audio shows or in hi-fi shops, and most of my audiophile pals' adult kids had zero interest in the good stuff: Their hi-fis fit in their pockets.

That was then. Today's new vinylphiles are picking up turntable-tonearm combinations from Audio-Technica, Music Hall, Pro-Ject, Rega Research, and U-Turn. Record-player sales rise year after year—and not because kids are scoring old copies of Kind of Blue or 200 Motels at thrift shops. What's really fueling turntable sales are young bands' new LPs: While bands eke out their livings with micropayment "income" from their music being streamed by Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, and Tidal, they make a couple of whole dollars from each sale of an LP. Buyers of new LPs directly support their favorite bands' recording efforts, and fans gain a greater understanding that the music is valuable and worth paying for. That's huge!

These recent converts to vinyl are more turned on by music than they were when they just listened to files, or had access to millions of tunes via a subscription to a streaming service. They might own just a few hundred LPs, but they're fully engaged with that music. So even with pressing plants worldwide cranking out LPs at breakneck speed, record labels have no choice but to endure waits of three to four months to generate product. No wonder Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds, owner of Quality Record Pressings, recently bought 13 more vintage vinyl stampers to help meet burgeoning demand.

Then there's the ongoing boom in headphones. The masses may be satisfied with earbuds, or with Beats or Bose headphones, but sales of audiophile headphones are growing by leaps and bounds, and custom-molded in-ear 'phones are selling briskly to twenty-, thirty-, and fortysomethings. Hardcore head cases are gobbling up hi-rez players from Astell&Kern, Cowon, FiiO, Hifiman, Pono Music, and Sony. And new generations of planar-magnetic and electrostatic models from Audeze, Enigma, Fostex, Hifiman, Kingsound, Oppo, and Stax are rapidly advancing the state of the headphone art.

These buyers of high-end headphones are the next wave of audiophiles. Meanwhile, the old guys are just now starting to see how far headphones have come since the Grados and Sennheisers of 10–15 years ago. At last year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I spotted George Cardas cruising the ballroom dedicated to Head-Fi's CanJam event, wherein dozens of headphone suppliers showcased their wares. Cardas may be an old-guard cable manufacturer, but he now sees headphones as crucial to the future of the High End. Like me, he was excited by the vibe in that room.

New York City high-end retailer Stereo Exchange spotted the trend, and now devotes an entire room of their Broadway store to demonstrating upscale headphones and headphone amplifiers—and that led to a sales boom. Apparently, things have gone so well that the front of the shop is now lined with headphone listening stations; most of the buyers are under 40, and seem eager to step up to better headphones to get more out of their music.

Young entrepreneurs and designers are entering the fray: AudioQuest's Skylar Grey, Hifiman's Dr. Fang Bian, MrSpeakers' Dan Clark, Noble Audio's Brannan Mason, Vinnie Rossi, U-Turn's Ben Carter, and VPI's Mat Weisfeld, to name a few. Make no mistake, high-end audio is evolving—but now, with the younger generation embracing vinyl and headphones, it seems to have a future. These folks value music—and they buy new LPs and hi-rez downloads, crave better-sounding gear, and are intrigued by technology. By any definition, they're audiophiles.

History repeats: In coming decades, the "kids" will start to look and act more and more like us oldsters, and they'll have full-fledged hi-fi systems—even if they don't look exactly like our hi-fi systems. And they'll probably reminisce about the days when high-end audio first rocked their world. I can imagine a couple of 50-year-old audiophiles in 2035, enthusing over a pair of vintage Audeze LCD 3 headphones: "I used to have a pair of those—they were amazing!"

From my perspective, right now, high-end audio is just getting its second wind.— Steve Guttenberg

Luke Zitterkopf's picture

Felt the need to post a comment. With a disclaimer... I own the loudspeaker company Aluminous Audio. I have always been drawn to good music regardless of the physical medium, and I consider myself a refugee of "bad" sounding CDs. There are plenty of CDs with good sound quality but until I was fully immersed in vinyl records, I did not have a high benchmark for comparison purposes. I currently own CDs, hi res downloads, and tons of vinyl. All three formats have sound quality ranging from amazing to awful. So I assume that some of the younger folks out there may be using CDs, downloads, and vinyl just as I do.

Steve C's picture

Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree has re-mastered old catalogs and issues new vinyl. He is obsessed with great sound and has a big following. It is remarkable how an individual can get the masses interested in fidelity and consistently sells out of product. His multi-channel music is enveloping and engaging. Good for all of us that still spin.

monetschemist's picture

Great article, Steve!

A few years ago I gave my son my old Ariston RD-11 turntable, and bought him an Ortofon Red to put on its Grace tonearm (latest in a long succession of V15-III V15-IV Coral FR1-Mk3F Linn Adikt, the latter three of which were about as poorly suited to that arm as possible, but that's another story).

This rig went back into storage about a year ago, when he needed the room for his aquarium habit... and while it was in storage, I was moving stuff and dropped something on the turntable and busted the headshell on the Grace.

So, on I found a Linn Basik and today I found myself cutting and drilling a new armboard for that arm... Thanks to Hamish Robertson and Ivor Tiefenbrun and I guess Jelco and the nice people at Ortofon making their 2M series for this wonderful history and keeping that particular flame alive.

The old armboard is stamped April 1974. I bought the TT in 1976 if memory serves. It was a demo in a store here in Vancouver, long since gone. I seem to remember that they were demo-ing it with some kind of Supex cartridge.

My son's collection of records isn't hundreds, but probably about 100; some old, some new. The Ariston is these days plugged into a NAD 3020 (the original, not the new). Into its Aux is plugged a Fiio or some such 96/24 USB DAC into which he plugs his System76 laptop. He has more digital than LP. Said that, I doubt if he knows where his "CD collection" has gone... and he doesn't have a CD player.

The reason I could pass on my Ariston to him is that I bought a VPI Classic. Thanks Harry! Fortunately I was too lazy to haul my LPs off to good will... and over the last 10 years I have bought more than a few new ones.

So there you are, two generations of audiophiles (or audio fools as some would have it), and a wonderful record player that has passed from one generation to the next, and all the great circumstances around it that have made that passing on possible.

Thanks again, Steve!

PS forgot to mention that the Ariston had for awhile a Black Widow installed, which I bought used in Spokane in about 1978, for about $100.

I remember the trip back across the border into BC. The Canadian border guard asked the usual "anything to declare", to which I responded "I bought a used tonearm" or words to the effect. There was some duty owing. After all was done, the border guard said something like "wow, $100 for part of a record player!!! you could have just put that on top of your car engine and none of us would have known the difference".

jwh9's picture

I can tell you from where I live, this is especially true as more of my professional peers politely listen to headphones at work (creative jobs) and at home (being dealt the hand of apt life/cohabitation with roommates due to the continual bubble economy we know). This is all despite our 6-figure+ silicon beach incomes (LA's VR version of Silicon Valley).. it doesn't really matter here. A single family dwelling is just not a possibility or even a consideration for millennials in the LA basin.. let alone a $50,000 audio system. That just seems insane to me (although I could afford it.. and I am somewhat of an audiophiliac).

My personal system is one of vintage and high-value gear probably around $5,000 total. My speakers are a recently discovered pair of 20yr old NEAR 50me's. They still work as if new.. but they're broken in, of course:). My system is otherwise built around a used w4s dac driving a set of their switching amps directly with my library all ALAC using Bit Perfect and asynchronous usb at 384. I need only one set of balanced interconnects. All cabling is used, old school OCC copper.

Maybe not the best sounding system I've had.. but it's all fairly low footprint and close to the best I've had for less $.. good enough. Guessing it competes with anything 2-3x the price had I attempted to buy all new gear today. I'm ok at the systemic side of the equation. I also really like its extreme lack of pretense, aesthetically speaking. All the polished and veneered bits of gear seen in the stratospheric realms seems a bit pointless and excessive considering what's going on in the real world.

I also find myself buying the occasional item off eBay from China (where Sam Walton inadvertently transplanted the American Middle Class's manufacturing base, I suppose). Some legitimately well-made, well-working gear to be found there.. just poorly packaged & supported, of course. YMMV.

I'm not yet into vinyl (being an electronica guy) but there's a vinyl store down the street that hosts live events eve's and you'll not see anyone in there looking over 30.. usually. It's poppin.

I'm sure Hi end audio is aware that unless they pursue this new paradigm, their market is rapidly becoming smaller, yet perhaps also more lucrative and esoteric, but maybe more risk (like Hollywood's dependency on the tentpole Marvel blockbuster). The middle falls away here, also.

fetuso's picture

I am an eager reader of Steve's posts, both here and on cnet. He's written several pieces of this type in recent months, discussing the virtues of vinyl, especially in comparison to digital files and streaming. By digital files I have to assume he means MP3? Where I get a little miffed is when these articles completely ignore the existence of cd quality music. Do cd's sound as good as vinyl? I don't know, I don't have a record player. My gear includes a Peachtree Nova 65se, an Onkyo CD player, and Wharfedale Diamond 220's. This system generates the best sounding music I've ever had at home. Now, being a tinkerer at heart, I have researched the possibility of adding a record player to the mix, but have been turned off by the fact that many newer records are just a digital master on vinyl. How can I figure out the provenance of these records? Not to mention a LP is typically at least twice the price of a cd (I don't have the time to scour flea markets and garage sales). I do agree with Steve that the vinyl revival is being fueled by hipsters and single dudes, and that's great for me. In 10 years when my kids are older and away at school I'll finally have the time to scour the flea markets and garage sales of the future, whose shelves will be stocked by all the "new" used vinyl pouring in.

monetschemist's picture

I would not assume Steve means "MP3" when he says "digital files".

CDs are OK but many of us have ripped our CDs to hard drive as FLAC or WAV (lossless) and buy higher-than-CD resolution music when we can.

Anyway, the vinyl experience is completely different than digital (CD or otherwise). You hold in your hands a large object - the record - which you have to clean, put on the turntable, cue up... hard to do background music on LP; someone has to pay attention to the record player.

All that in my mind makes vinyl a "sit down and pay attention to it" medium. I put on a record when I have time to actively enjoy it. In contrast, if I put on my favourite playlist (in my digital collection I doubt if I have more than 50 MP3s in a total of well over 5000 tracks, the rest being in FLAC) I can cook, wash the kitchen floor, give the dog a bath, or even clean my records!!! Sure, I can also sit down and listen, and sometimes I do. But then I don't have the record jacket in my hands. And CD inserts are a very pale imitation of record jackets - tiny little photos, tiny writing (when they bother).

As to what sounds better, in my experience hi-res downloads generally sound better than CDs, because a lot of engineering is required to fit the music into 16bit / 44.1kHz packaging; less so in 24 bit / 96kHz. So aside from whatever actual music content there is above 20kHz, low pass filters can be more gentle, quiet passages get extra bits, dynamic range can be greater, etc.

And again in my opinion, buying music that I want to listen to actively on vinyl, whether it was sourced from digital or analogue, is a no brainer (for the reasons I mention above).

Finally - in my opinion, what's crazy isn't paying $25 for an LP; what's crazy is paying nearly that much for a digital file. From that perspective, LPs are a bargain!

fetuso's picture

Respectfully, this is what enjoys me most about vinyl enthusiasts; the notion, which is now bordering on cliché, that you can't sit and listen to music that's on a cd. I'm not debating the relative quality of either medium, but does vinyl have some mystical power to hold attention, while digital music causes ADD? I have my own listening ritual just like any vinyl lover; I peruse my collection, I make a choice, then I sit and enjoy. The other thing I find troubling about all this, and perhaps I'm being paranoid, is that there seems to be an effort to shame everyone into going vinyl, as if it's the only way to truly listen to music. Vinyl may in fact sound better, and I'd love to hear it for myself at home through my gear. I probably will, just because I love audio equipment. I just wish that people would stop conflating cd's with the on - the - go mp3 lifestyle.

monetschemist's picture

... anyway that's the way I read it.

If you get joy from sitting in front of the speakers listening actively to CDs, excellent! I would be the last person to try to shame you or anyone into adopting another medium. And it's always good to remember how many CDs you can buy for the cost of a turntable and whatever else you need to hook it up.

The only point on which I would disagree is that people on this site conflate CDs with MP3s. I don't think it happens here.

fetuso's picture

Yes, thank you, I meant annoys. Steve mentions in every post he writes about vinyl that digital consumers only have music on in the background, that they're disengaged. In fact, his post on cnet tonight says the same thing! People who sit and listen to music do so because they want to. It's completely independent of the recorded medium. He can't possibly believe that everyone who puts on a record then refrains from doing anything else...people have been doing stuff to music for generations. Digital formats just make it easier.

dalethorn's picture

Statistically, the vast majority of digital listening is done while doing something else. Even audiophiles listen while doing something else quite a lot of the time. Not because it's easier, which implies some reasonable comparison, but because there is no comparison. Digital is ubiquitous - my small laptop computer has thousands of digital tracks on it and goes where I go. Vinyl isn't merely less convenient - it's a hundred times less convenient, with essentially no portability.

mkrzych's picture

Indeed. vinyl is not portable at all and its purpose it sit and listen from start to end of the whole album. That's fine, but technically speaking vinyl is not better than CD, especially nowadays. The whole vinyl revival in my humble opinion is because CD mastering reached the point where sound quality of CD starts deteriorating - I am talking about almost every genre. Usually if CD is crap, the vinyl version is much better. There is also some tiny taste of hipstery to it as well.

Similar thing happening to the so called high resolution music, which vast of the files are just big 24/96 or even worse 24/192 buckets containing music which has been recorded (sourced) to that buckets from 50s, 60s where also stereo has its beginning. Again, those high resolution buckets for music originally recorded not in high resolution could be also better, because for that HR release, someone put an effort and remix or better remaster it taking into account original master, not the copy or master tape with better stereo perception recorded in 3 or 4-track instead of 2-track with phantom speaker etc. That's why even if I know that the so called high resolution offer is not in fact the high resolution source recorded, I tend to try it out, because could be better sounding than original old CD release.

fetuso's picture

You are absolutely correct that over-compression of music on cd is a big problem, and the only reason why I'm considering buying a TT to give vinyl a try. There are data bases where one can check compression levels, and the vinyl version of a given release is usually less compressed.

John Atkinson's picture
monetschemist wrote:
the vinyl experience is completely different than digital (CD or otherwise). You hold in your hands a large object - the record - which you have to clean, put on the turntable, cue up... hard to do background music on LP; someone has to pay attention to the record player.

The power of ritual cannot be discounted in preparing someone for a specific experience. Religions have always known this.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

fetuso's picture

I've been performing a similar ritual with my cd's for over 30 years. Vinyl enthusiasts don't have a monopoly on the process.

Mike Morrow's picture

Steve...just wanted to reiterate what a fantastic and "spot on" dialogue you shared on the next gen. Fantastic read and we should garner some knowledge sharing on the subject matter as it not only relates to the new and upcoming audiophiles...but women as well. Thank you for this great write-up!

Metalhead's picture

I have a dedicated listening room with (NO TV praise God) and two turntables and an excellent cd/sacd player. It is very interesting in a navel gazing way to compare and contrast the different mediums. Hell, I still have cassette and reel to reel as well. I gave away Jethro Tull cd's after spinning the vinyl. Also, I had Steppenwolf-Live on cd and after listening to the vinyl it was absolutely no contest. The vinyl just flat destroyed it. Am I a vinyl imperialist. No, I have an old cd of Buffalo Springfield and even older vinyl copy. The cd I much prefer. I have some sacd titles that I rank up with my better mofi vinyl titles. Also, some music I love like Sly and the Family stone I only have on vinyl and when I put it on I wonder where is the bass? It really does matter who and how it was mastered in the first place.

I would say after all is said and done that Mr. Fremer is more right than wrong. Overall the highest fidelity in my room is still the turntable.

I would say Try it, you can get a basic spinner with a moving magnet Ort or similar and align it and let it rip. After all it is still a hobby and you can either weigh in with a love ode to vinyl or sell it and remain all digital.

footnote. I have both moving magnets and moving coils and the coils I much prefer but then you get in to step ups or high gain and that brings other considerations. A basic nice mm can show you why people are buying vinyl.

Steve Eddy's picture

I think the graph in this article puts things into it proper perspective. And in the context of all the music people listen to and enjoy today, regardless of its delivery source, vinyl remains a microscopically small niche.

dalethorn's picture

What if we compared the number of new turntables on the market the past 2 years, to the number of new CD players on the market in that same time frame?

jmsent's picture

CD players in new cars ? CD drives in computers, DVD and Blu Ray players, etc? And everyone knows that digitally encoded music consumption has migrated from CD to downloads and streaming. What if you include those? No matter how you look at it, vinyl still represents a tiny niche.

dalethorn's picture

That may be relevant to a Best Buy or Crutchfield who are selling car systems, but since most turntables are strictly "play at home" for audiophiles, we need to compare apples to apples, i.e. CD players for home audiophile systems. When it comes to cars, if CDs weren't available the average consumer there would settle for whatever is available. We can also discriminate between audiophile CD players, and CD/DVD drives used more for ripping than playing. I'm guessing that compared to audiophile-grade home CD players, audiophile turntables are a much bigger number than most media are reporting.

jmsent's picture

to "audiophile players". Every record player plays the music at home. But not every record player is "audiophile quality". I'd bet the vast majority of vinyl today is probably being played on those POS Crosley record players you see at Target and Best Buy, or some old turntable that's been lying around for years gathering dust. And I bet if you added up all the players, LP or CD that could be considered "audiophile" (however you define that) the numbers would still be very small for both categories relative to the total. Vinyl is "a thing" right now, that's undeniable. Anyone who gets into it is pretty likely to go and buy a new turntable. But virtually everybody still has a working CD player, so not many will be sold, and they also have many alternatives to buying a CD player that will accomplish the same thing: a networked system with a CD ripper, a computer for ripping, a streaming device for digital music services, etc. It's an apples to oranges comparison, and really it sheds no light on what is happening. It's much more important to look at the consumption of the software itself to get a clear picture of what the market is doing.
Ask yourself: what percentage of people use vinyl exclusively for their music consumption vs the percentage of people using digital (CD, purchased download, streaming) exclusively for their music consumption? Confine that question to audiophiles if you like. Now, do you ever see a point where this will flip back over to the vinyl side?

dalethorn's picture

I seriously doubt that the pricy records I see from original masters, pressed on heavy vinyl, and advertised on sites like Stereophile, are being played on cheap turntables. If there's a concern about vinyl as the latest fashion for cheap turntable owners, I think that will fade away eventually. Yes, I see stacks of vinyl LP's at Barnes & Noble for example, and that's why I'd suggest looking at a more relevant datum for clues.

Steve Eddy's picture

I can't for the life of me imagine what relevance that has. Digital audio transcends any particular delivery medium. The relevant question is, how much music is being purchased and enjoyed on records versus how much music is being purchased and enjoyed digitally?

dalethorn's picture

The relevance is simple enough. Instead of looking at overall sales of media to the mass public as the measure of what's important to audiophiles, look at what audiophiles are buying. Since we don't have media purchases (other than hires downloads) separated out by audiophile and non-audiophile, my suggestion will provide a unique insight on the issue.

Steve Eddy's picture

Oh, so no one who enjoys listening to music in digital form OTHER than "hires" can be considered an audiophile?

What a load of elitist snobbery.

I'm sooooo glad glad I'm finally focusing my business away from this market.

[Flame deleted by JA]


dalethorn's picture

OMG, no - never did I mean that hires tracks were essential to this issue. I listen mostly (90 percent) to 44 khz WAV or FLAC tracks I rip from CDs myself. I am only (only!) trying to point out that until we look at who is buying the audiophile turntables, say $1000 on up, that we'll understand what the actual market is for hi-fi/audiophile sound in analog formats.

Steve Eddy's picture

I don't see that that matters. The reality is that analog constitutes only the tiniest fraction of the music that is purchased and enjoyed by people and that it's not all just people who don't care about quality or somehow enjoy music any less than "audiophiles."

dalethorn's picture

Whatever analog's fate I don't know, and I don't use the tech anyway. I'm strictly digital. But in the past couple of years reading Stereophile, I've been intrigued by the idea that the growing interest in analog playback (vinyl only as far as I'm aware) is helping to advance certain aspects of digital playback as well. It doesn't take a genius to see that some serious subset of the audiophile populace is buying vinyl and playing it on a lot of costly analog gear. Until such time as it's been proven to be folly, and the notion that because the pickup generates its own current (unlike other playback methods) is irrelevant, then count me along as an interested observer.

Steve Eddy's picture

The growing interest in analog playback is helping advance certain aspects of digital playback as well?

What aspects would those be exactly?

dalethorn's picture

Aspects that inform digital that it still has a long way to go to eliminate the need for analog.

Marc210's picture

I think you should listen to a studio master and to what becomes of it after the pressing...

dalethorn's picture

There's a long history in the recording business of nth-generation tape masters and all of the deterioration that goes with it. It makes sense today that mastering engineers are procuring better copies of the original tapes (in some cases, not all), or doing quality restorations of old recordings, so today's audiophiles can hear more of the old recordings than ever before. Once the best quality master copy is achieved, it's preserved in the highest resolution digital format so that no further losses or deterioration can occur. I don't know why the owners of such carefully-restored recordings would want to issue them on a low-resolution format like cassettes (I wouldn't), although reel-to-reel would be viable IF audiophiles wanted reel-to-reel tapes. But more than a few audiophiles know something that other people don't know, and so they've chosen vinyl as their preferred analog media.

Marc210's picture

Vinyl has crackles, hiss like tapes, distorsions for the groove end, even a cassette is better, but it's hip.

dalethorn's picture

Vinyl has improved vastly from the 1980's, and you can find articles in Stereophile describing newer tracking philosophies and stylus design that result in much lower noise than before. But cassettes, no. As far as I know even the top-quality Nakamichis with crystal heads and multi-servo capstans and the very best tapes could not come near the tracking smoothness of a good turntable. And while the cassette dynamic range may be technically equal to or better than vinyl in the best case, a whole new technology beyond Dolby B, 'Metal' tape formulations, and other things would be needed to get anywhere near digital dynamic range and low background noise.

Steve Eddy's picture

Even if you could perfectly preserve the studio master, how could you ever possibly hope to hear what was heard in the studio without using the same monitors and acoustical environment where the mastering was done?


dalethorn's picture

That's a great question, and for the future, maybe we could get some kind of 'setup' statistics with each album we purchase, that gives us the ideal playback gear and listening-room curves, or maybe settings for a universal DSP that can accept those settings and get whatever gear we have much closer to the original sound.

Professional studios who make masters have long been saving custom settings for different recordings, some of the preamp makers have (at least in the past) provided different "RIAA" etc. playback curves for different situations, and home hi-fi users have been using various EQ's and DSP's for a long time. Wouldn't it be nice, instead of just having "surround sound" for a bunch of recordings, then switch to 2D stereo for the rest, if we had the ability to combine the "home EQ curve" with the settings provided with the album, so we could hear something close to what the engineers hear in the studio?

Steve Eddy's picture

So you don't think the loudspeakers play significant role in that?

dalethorn's picture

I assume, because of the unknowns in the formula, that there would eventually be a locus point from which each album would have its own deviation curve. Each home setup would also have a difference curve, from "neutral" or whatever. By applying the album's curve (or studio curve) and the home curve, the home user would then hear what the studio intended. The futuristic home system would switch the studio curves automatically whenever the music played changed albums.