Where would you like to see audio go in the next 20-30 years?

Where would you like to see audio go in the next 20-30 years?
Here's what I'd like to see
89% (88 votes)
No idea
11% (11 votes)
Total votes: 99

Forget about what you think will <I>probably</I> happen, if you could set the agenda, where would you like to see audio go in the next 20-30 years?

45triode's picture

1) Energy efficient, affordable mid-fi sound for the masses, based on solid-state drive technology with convenience of use put first, manifested in an all media (audio, video, Internet) server device that transmits sound and video per choice and wirelessly to screens and flat speakers that disappear on walls. (Something like a green SSD Mac mini, controlled via iPhone, with wireless signal transmission to active components like highly efficient planar speakers driven by T-amps. 2) Continued existence of handmade boutique-style products like Shindo and Yamamoto for the love of the heritage in a modern audio artist´s work. The existence of one would secure the existence of the other.

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture


Jim Tavegia's picture

I would love to think that there will be a new hi-rez format that will be super portable with very fast download times and would bring the masses out of MP3 land and save high-fidelity, which has been dismissed as not as important as convenience. Albums would be sold on tiny flash-drives rather than shiny 5" discs. Flash-drive players would have "drive trays" that would hold 100 drives and could assess discs and or tracks quickly. All players would use the HDMI protocol for two-channel as well as multichannel playback. Analog connections would be a thing of the past. all turntable phono stages would come with a built-in high quality ADC with a flash-drive jack for converting LP collections to digital.

xanthia01@gmail.com's picture

I'd like to see designers (as distinct from manufacturers) actually forget about planned obsolescence for once and design standards (and subsequently enable the design of products) that are in the best interests of audio quality. Instead of working on small increments or the minimum required to make the next sale, I demand not a small step forward, but a giant leap to the zone of perfection. DSD is a underwhelming start—now let's increase the sampling rate 10-fold or 50-fold and give people true "live" sound quality. I'd also like to see more electronic distribution of music and the Internet will no doubt be able to handle the above sort of files in 10 years or so. More music as well. And more original music—not the same stuff rehashed by unoriginal artists being "inspired" by the same old people.

Benjamin - Manila's picture

Software that converts 5.1 movies to two-channel binaural for headphone use.

Brankin's picture

The last 20-30 years have seen the rise and fall of vinyl, tape, CD/optical, and the emergence of DACs and computer/hard-drive media & equipment. I see vinyl remaining because, if the last 20 years didn't kill it off, the next 20 won't either. We will have some kind of solid-state storage that safeguards high-speed downloads. This will be like an immediately accessible jukebox-type system. I think the equipment will remain pretty similar because us audio geeks like our toys, especially to discuss and argue over. Some equipment will be more integrated, such as a DAC in the main storage device. Probably with the preamp. It will be wireless from this device to the powered speakers—sorry, cable guys. I see wired devices phasing out. I also see a waterfall of "classic cover" type bands recreating rock/pop music, similar to classical music. You can choose between 500 Beethoven 9ths and 50 Dark Side of the Moons! How's that?

Pete's picture

Widespread availability of 24/176.4 (or higher) digital files of all the best music ever recorded! If the high-resolution software is there, high-performance audio will certainly make the most of it (and the industry will flourish again).

Bruce Gorham's picture

A listening room in which the walls, ceiling, and floor are all sound/sight producing surfaces.

Tonko Papic - Chile's picture

Real 3D sound. The "normal" 5.1 or 7.1 and one or more speakers upwards. Then we can hear in volume (Real 3D).

Rob Auld's picture

For all the technology we have today, vinyl is still the best sounding by far. To make the situation far worse, the current music is being recorded to sound better on $39 iPods and 10¢ MP3 downloads. Recording levels are so high on some of these CDs that they are literally unplayable. I would like to see what would happen if the industry itself would start making audiophile recordings at appropriate levels—they might find it would solve or lessen the "sharing" problem they have been whining about if they catered less to those devices and more to those with the ability to purchase.

Nostradamus's picture

Music microchips inserted into the cerebral cortex of audiophiles, allowing any music to be available to them by just thinking about the song they wish to hear. Of course, they would also be able to receive downloads of new songs by a simple USB cable that would link a computer to the chip within their head.

DAK4's picture

Truly invisible speakers, like turning actual walls or windows or lamps into speakers that would sense where you are in the house and always give you a stereo front-stage sensation.

Mike Agee's picture

Did you see the comic strip Zits this morning? Jeremy can't hear the grandeur of the Beatles through his crappy audio system. The Beatles are great, but what we need is new music subtle and rich enough to improve when played over a great audio system. Before the world's problems hit the fan in a big big way, let's hope a surge of creativity comes along to save us and that great music is at the vanguard.

Ruud's picture

Not to state the obvious on a site like this, but if it were up to me, vinyl would rule the next 200 years.

Adam Liebling's picture

Digital Media: I would love to see all the music that is digitally created (so, I guess, pretty much all of it) go completely lossless with no dynamic-range compression, and with bit-rates and sample rates that are just insanely high. I think it is absolutely crazy that with the invention of Blu-Ray and HD-Audio we have the best theater sound we've ever had a chance to experience; however, on the listening side of that coin we are listening to the worst-quality recordings we've ever had to deal with, in terms of music. How stupid is that? Audio Equipment: I think it's about time that we have better- looking products. I want cooler, sleeker-looking products that do not have a crappy, plastic feel. I feel no need to keep to the concept of "boxes," and I want beautiful curvature to my equipment. And I want this design mentality from all brands. Not just the niche high-end, but from Sony, Yamaha, Denon, Onkyo, etc. I would like to see cooler-looking speakers that don't cost an arm and a leg, and I want to see it from every major brand. No more boxes! Nobody wants them, and no one should make them. I want to see more manufacturers embrace the individual cabinet/driver concept, and I want to see it done affordably. I also want to see people embrace audio components in the home and maybe it's about time that we spent some time doing some critical listening with the family, instead of watching the tube as a family. These are the things that I want.

Lucas's picture

I hope to see hi-fi stores still in operation. I hope people stop buying hi-fi gear online and support their local stores.

Dismord's picture

Nano-engineering to produce an ultra-miniaturized storage medium that is totally analog.

JS's picture

More active crossovers. Less nonsense in high-end audio.

Jason Buttrey's picture

I would like to see a new analog audio format that would surpass anything seen so far. Why not update analog for the 21st Century?

Vlad's picture

Live-quality music at home, probably computer-based, like in Star Trek: "Computer, play Vivaldi..." No more sweet spot, the music sounds fantastic everywhere, irrelevant of room acoustics.

Mikael Johnsson, Norway's picture

I would like to see some new inventions in tube and IC technology—100% developed and specialized for audio use. Man, the tubes used today are 100+ years-old designs. The audio industry is really slow to catch on, and that's a pity. Audio should really be at the pinnacle of technology development. Instead, we get yet another $2000+ USB DAC, gold-plated iPod docks and whatnot. Speaking of iPod docks, when it's a major breakthrough to get a digital signal out of an iPod we really need to look into ourselves and ask if we couldn't expect more from manufacturers. A couple of thousand years ago we had what was called a transition from mythos to logos, it was a time when mythical thinking was replaced by theoretical thinking. Sometimes I wonder if audiophiles really have made that transition, and if they had, how would it affect progression in the industry, and how could that make us excel as paying and demanding customers. The truth is that technology is waaay beyond what the audio industry could cough up per today. Take the i2s digital interface for instance. One manufacturer uses mini din connections, and another one uses HDMI. There is such a lack of standards. Another thing holding us back is the general uncertainity about digital media and the role of the Internet. I think the content industry as we know it will have to die, the sooner the better. When we can finally move furthur to music formats ideal for user friendliness and supreme audio quality. The future should be now! Sadly it's not. Check out Intel "Light Peak" technology. That's what I call progress. I could use that between my laptop and my DAC.

Tim Bishop's picture

As much as I love analog, I would like to see digital go on to perfection. If it could finally exceed what analog can currently do, then DSP could also go to its logical conclusion. What would that be? Well, for starters, one could sit any where in the room and yet be in the sweet spot. You could choose where to sit in a concert hall and feel like you are really there. 3D sound could be truly tailored to what you like. Audio restoration in digital could eliminate distortions and, in archive cases, reverse aging or or tape erosion. Storage would be infinitely better and album art could achieve new heights with digital display.

Nathan's picture

I'd like to see more people enjoying their music in hi-fi.

tzed's picture

If I had any idea what was going to happen in the next 20-30 years in audio, I'd start a company to do it and get rich. Since I don't, I'll leave it to the experts to surprise and delight me.

tjn's picture

The end of DRM.

Nodaker's picture

I'd like a chip inserted in my brain with an input to download music at will. The musical experience won't be through the ears, it will be in the mind. I will be able to listen anywhere I go because, unless I specifically engage the sharing function, no one else will hear it. Heavens to Betsy, this will be a digital medium—obviously. Fremer will probably have some type of mechanical device implanted because it will feel better to him.

Jimmy's picture

Completely wireless A/V equipment—perhaps integrating A/V features into a PC. The demise of all record companies, so that everyone can download what they want to listen to for a flat rate (ie, $29.99/year) with the best possible sound. I hope this gets sent to Santa!

Computerman's picture

An affordable computer with state-of-art digital amplifier included—the consumer would just have to hook up the speakers and take care of acoustics to get nice sound.

Dave Bennett's picture

Higher resolution.

Lee Scoggins's picture

More higher resolution recordings. I really don't care about delivery or format if we get more hi-rez.