High End Audio-Gaining Higher Ground?

This is a spin off from a meeting held by audio designers where the primary discussion was about high-end audio and how to get the younger generation interested & involved in high-end audio. One of the speakers mentioned that his son was not the least bit interested in his rig and if something was to happen to him, his son stated it all would be put up for sale on Ebay.

I thought it would be interesting to put this discussion forth to this audio community and to get opinions on the above subject. Are audiophiles a dying breed and what could rekindle this hobby for all new generations.
I don't think its a lack of interest in high end audio but more a lack of appreciation of music by the younger generation.
If you listen to todays music, it becomes obvious that no matter how good the system, it will still sound like crap.
High end audio is not fading but rather quality music.
Today's fast pace life styles are far too happy with downloaded music on their iPhone played through a pair of overpriced Beats headphones.
Before we can bring high end audio back, we need to bring quality music back.
If you look at what is happening in the independent music scene, the trend has been towards the LP for a long time (about 20 years).

The issue has to do with how relevant high end audio is, and the conditions that exist here in the US; after being at the Munich show, I can tell you that things are very different in Europe!!

Here in the US, there is a big push for digital and has been for a long time. It is that that is killing music, not because high end digital sucks, but because low end (mp3) sucks. In essence, people don't want to listen to it as much and an iPhone with ear buds is sufficient.

But kids do recognize that there is something more which is why the LP does so well in the underground, from which most music innovation arises. It would be a mistake BTW to assume that all of it is poorly recorded.

We are active in the local music scene and I think any audio manufacturer should be to cultivate the next generation.
how about making it easier and more affordable? That might help.

Problem is, kids get much better music and sound quality VALUE!!! out of the various portable devices and services available today than they likely could with a traditional hifi. And that is assuming that they they would know how to get the sound they want out of it.

Injecting the sound directly in one's ears is a much more practical and efficient process than listening in a room on speakers. Unless of course one really values room acoustics, soundstage, imaging, etc., which most do not.
Talk to anyone of any age, and they'll tell you the same thing, "I don't care. My this-or-that sounds good 'nough to me. I'm not trying to recreate a concert hall in my home." And most people, especially those in their 20s and 30s, don't have the space or the dollars even if they did care more.

What's far more important is music education. It starts at home, gets traction in elementary school, and takes off in high school. When was the last time your kids heard a symphony orchestra? A piano recital? Pop music is easy and automatic, but there's a gigantic world of music far beyond the top 40 chart. Expose them. You can't be expected to appreciate good sound if all you know is the sound of over processed pop. Open their ears to Music, then you can talk about audio.
The industry destroyed itself. Its their own fault. Look what they did with video. The major formats went from VHS to DVD, and now to Blu Ray. Why did people buy DVD's? Because the picture quality is better than VHS. Now everyone's buying Blu Ray's because the picture quality is better than DVD. The video industry sells new technology based on better quality. Same thing with video games. Playstation 1, 2, 3 and 4. With each new generation, the quality is better. Not so with audio. The industry is focused on selling features, not quality. The audio industry makes such stupid decisions, it looks like they're trying to put themselves out of business on purpose.
One of the speakers mentioned that his son was not the least bit interested in his rig and if something was to happen to him, his son stated it all would be put up for sale on Ebay.

As a father of 3 sons ages 30, 27 and 23, I can fully relate with that line. My boys always thought my "obsession" was a frivolous waste of time and money. I'm sure that all of my gear would be sold within a month should I become incapable. Times have changed, values have changed.

As with any other complex issue, there is no one clear cut reason like poor recordings, as Response34 suggests. Surely poor music quality is one of the issues facing the younger generation, but so are shorter attention spans and lack of income. The world is much different now than it was 35 years ago. Things move much faster, and money is tighter. I was in much better financial shape when I was my children's ages than they are today. The middle class has eroded greatly over the last 30+ years. Today, my sons have their plate full just trying to get by, none of them own a home, and all are college educated and working in their fields.
Looking at how the prices of high end audio have skyrocketed in the last 10 years, this is no surprise, as the top 1% gain more and more at the expense of the rest.

Multitasking and time constraints is another big reason. Today's younger generation is not as likely to sit and listen as we did years ago. There are so many other entertainment options available today versus 30+ years ago. Not only do my sons have zero interest in expensive audio toys, but none of their friends have any interest either. They do listen to music, but they find no difference between expensive gear and an iPod for the music they listen to. Plus, they tend to multitask while they are listening too, playing video games and/or social networking while listening through their ear-pods.

Every generation is different, there is no right or wrong way to live. Maybe NOT spending $100K on a system is a GOOD thing for many of today's youths. Hell, had I foreseen the prices of systems today 40 years ago, I probably would have chosen another hobby for myself, LOL!!
I don't sell high-end, but I sell vinyl and have huge underaged crowd visiting my store and buying records. The youngest one is only 9 y.o. I remember most of them and their parents, but it's getting harder and harder to remember because it's increasing.
Vinyl is great start into this area, because music is what actually counts. The best music is still released mostly and mostly again on vinyl.
As to the REAL high-end, I don't want to teach my kids to buy $2000 wire or $4000 isolation platform and test it how it sounds. If one parent's kids saying it's insane, than they're 100% correct and wise and one of the cases when parents should listen to their kids.

P.S. Totally agree with Zd and Mapman
There will always be a market for good music and good sound.

What constitutes "good" though will always vary widely and be mostly a matter of personal opinion. There is little concrete to support the case that high end audio is "better", but there is no doubt some will have very high standards compared to others yet each will still slay the beast their own way, usually on a limited budget.

So things like cost, efficiency, scale, features ALL matter. Just differently to different folks. The stereotype audiophile is truly a dinosaur, set in the ways of the past while the world changes around them. No kid wants that. Maybe when they get older, and listening habits change, some might come around a bit.

My daughter plays violin in school orchestra and has a fantastic ear for music. My son loves things unique and of good quality. Both listen to music often. NEither could give a rat's arse about my toys, as best as I can tell. Nobody but me even has any clue how to work it all.
No. High End Audio is not gaining Ground. High End Audio was never better. just different. Folks just tried to chase the sound of yesterday with aging hearing problem. I'm one of them.
Young adult have better ear for all sound of music, they are enjoying the music of today going forward.
There is no different between audio and video technology. They all get better yearly.

High End Audio IS a total dead end. The ony way it can go forward is to DIE.
The current crop of high end manufactures sell to an ever decreasing crowd of old fools.
Eventually the last old fool will die, aand so will high end Audio.
What young people do may eventually be the equal of High end Audio, but not in the form it is now.
Some of the manufactures may survive who also are suppliers in the music industry. All the rest will vanish.
Hi end audio will always be around. How many times have you all heard it was going to go the way of the large reptiles of eons past? and yet it is still here. The same is said about high end cars, art work, furniture, etc. Just because a few kids and a lot of adults don't know or care doesn't mean it is going away. As the statement says, you typically get what you pay for. There will always be someone that goes to a concert, either amplified or unamplified, purchase the music, take it home and state that it sounds like crap. Not all the time, but it does happen. Then that person will want to know why and guess what? That is how it starts. Make it less expensive? sure why not? but, I believe that audio equipment is just like the automobile industry. There are really low end cars, mid level cars, high end cars and stupidly high end cars. Just like audio equipment. Yet, Ferrari's, Porsche's, Mercedes SL 65's, etc. are still going strong. Why? many reasons. same as for high end audio. 1) Some people really know and appreciate what properly recorded music is suppose to sound like and will hunt for the equipment that will as accurately as possible reproduce that sound, 2) Some people just want the best period, even if they never listen to it. I'm sure there are many other answers to add. But all one has to do is look around. Clothes, well you can shop at Macy's, JC Penny's, H&M, Walmart, etc. But, if you can afford it and appreciate good quality clothing, well, what would you buy? Remember, I said, if you can afford and also "appreciate" Which some simply cannot. Do you appreciate a good quality watch? Have they stopped developing high end watches because people have cell phones? Absolutely not! Breitling, Rolex, Patek, etc. Are going strong. My point is that the audio industry isn't going away. It evolves like any other industry, but there will always be some out there that want that "real sound". Using quality machines, that aren't made of plastic, that do the job correctly. I have no problem with extremely expensive equipment. Same for houses, cars, watches, etc. I know what I can and can't afford, and what lifestyle I want. People find out this stuff as they grow, mature and learn, and if they don't, well....My daughter appreciates the difference between a Toyota and a Mercedes SL. She can see the cheap plastic, poor quality construction, etc. But, she also knows that you get what you can afford, until you can afford better. She's a dancer and is now 24 and has been dancing since she was 4. Ballet, Modern and Jazz. She would come into my listening room as a kid and not say a word and simply dance to my music. Wonderful. She went to college and came back listening to Jazz music and bringing friends over to listen to their music on my system so they could hear the difference. Sorry for the long response, but the industry isn't going away. Certain manufacturers may, and the state of the art will continually improve. Hopefully, so will my income so that I can buy those darn Audio Research REF 250 amps. Anyway, sit back and enjoy
I have to ask - when you guys talk about "high end", what exactly does that mean? I'm not asking to be argumentative, I'm asking genuinely, as I've seen these types of discussions but I don't know how to put them into perspective. Does "high-end" mean $10,000 systems? $50,000? $100,000? I completely appreciate that the answer is going to be nebulous, and may mean different things to different people, but there has to be some kind of baseline...where, once you spend $xxxx, you are officially "high end". I'd like to contribute to the thread, but need to understand the lay of the land first, so to speak.
I don't usually agree with Elizabeth but this time she is right on the money!
well from a 33 white male I don't see audio ever being more then a very esoteric hobby.

Listen its way to expensive for the vast majority of people. I buy used and people still think I am crazy. younger people don't have this kind of money period. I know doctors and lawyers who are so far in debt that I have more disposable income making way less.

Also you can barely hear Hi end audio anymore. Very few stores and the ones that do have Hi-FI carry only a few brands. Sorry its hard to justify buying something when you have no ideal what the market can offer at different prices points.

In addition the Hi-Fi stores I have been to have been very off putting. Very unwilling to show a younger person different systems and what is available. Rude and just not interested because I only bought $2000 dollar speakers. This is crazy. Treating todays customers like crap means you won't have them as older customers when they may have more money.

People are super busy having time to listen to music when there are 100 plus tv channels and the internet full of social media and information is unlikely. People don't put music ahead of these other forms of entertainment.
Very good indepth answers above, too bad you guys weren't
present at this particular meeting with the so called
reknowned audio engineers, it would of made for a much more
interesting session.

Bcgator, that is a very good question, I'm not sure what
constitutes a high end system, that would be an excellent
thread to initiate on it's own. Ask a question here on
audiogon what is the best preamp, amp, and speaker
combinition you will get a hundred different answers. I
suppose if you have been listening to a table-top radio for
the past few years anything above that could be considered
higher end. Lets go with that analogy.
I've worked for fifteen years in a college arts program with bright young people whose lives are devoted to the arts of all kinds and I've met very few who had interest in our audio passion. Jmcgrogan2's response is pretty much spot on in my opinion. Young people's lives are an exercise in constant multi-tasking and the concept of sitting in one spot doing one thing - listening to music - strikes them as very odd. I work at a state university, not an ivy league school. The majority of our arts program students are so swamped in accumulating student debt they can't conceive of the time they'll be able to buy their own home much less afford a good audio system to put in it! I seriously think the rapidly escalating cost of college is going to negatively affect many aspects of our economy as discretionary income shrinks because of ballooning student loan payments. I know far too many people in their thirties with advanced degrees and six figures of student loan debt.
Agree with jmcgrogan. The 1% conspiracy to extract as much profit from every body while dumbing them down with endless tasks, taxes and rules has succeeded.
"High End" is pretty much a marketing term for traditional hifi gear and components that target peoples desires to have the best possible sound in their homes.

The term is a lot of the problem. PEople will always seek high quality sound with their music, just to different degrees and in differnet ways to adapt with modern lifestyles. Just look around you and you will see that modern lifestyles are increasingly mobile. Great mobile sound can be had for a pittance in comparison to "high end audio".

It's merely natural selection at play and guess who is the dinosaur and going to lose? Or at least never grow beyond a boutique industry that largely targets wealthy gullible fools? There is a niche for everything I suppose...

High End Audio needs to cut through all the BS and just deliver the goods in a manner that works better for everyone. THen we will all live happily ever after.
I think of "High End Audio" ambivalently.

It has admirable goals yet often questionable methods.

Its like atomic power, which has a lot to offer, but also spawned Godzilla, just like High End audio has spawned entities like MAchina Dynamica. :^)
Mapman, It's all good, but BS is most profitable and more BS implies to more profits. Profit is addictive! What you need to do to get more profit? Throw more BS and see what happens. It's just reality. If one BS doesn't work, think of another one and so on and so forth.
BS is part of any BuSiness.
"High End" has everything to do with *intention*. It is not about marketing or price.

I've noticed a myopic viewpoint here. Go to the Munich High End show and see if you still feel the same way. What you will see there is families with baby carriages and about 4x as many women as you do at shows here. Overall, a lot more kids. There is actually something we are up to here in the US that is causing the mainstream of the market here to be males over the age of 45!
I have two girls, one in HS and one in college. Both love music and spend much time listening and discussing music. They have been with me on many vinyl store trips and have come to really like artists that they have heard me play. They will request I play different tunes on my system for them but they listen from an adjacent room. They like the music but don't thirst for the high fidelity like we do.

I am kind of glad that they focus on the musical and lyrical content.
I'm intended to use and purchase only solid OAK furniture for my dwelling for various reasons.
A marketting price for high-end furniture is important. It also substantially more pricey vs. composit furniture, but money spent for value and built quality.
If audio or any high-end isn't about value and built quality, than it's going to dissapear with last adict living as mentioned by previous posters.
i have been doing the rounds recently investigating valve amps. i have found some dealers to be quite insular, to look down on modern dance music and generally exhibit the kind of attitude that would keep young folk from becoming customers.
Very interesting topic indeed. I have three points, first in regards to comparison with car brands and the idea that Toyota is poor quality as compared to Mercedes. You confusing grade with quality, without a doubt a Toyota is of lower grade than Mercedes, but it would it would be difficult to prove that Toyota is of lesser quality. The Toyota was delivered exactly to spec, meeting all the criteria that the owner purchased no more no less. The fact that the Mercedes has wood trim instead of plastic does not impact the quality of the Toyota.
My brother once owned Range Rover, the best car ever he swore, all the luxury you could ever want. But when you open the passenger door the door gasket would fall off, if you opened the glove compartment you couldn’t get it closed again. That is poor quality, who cares whether there is wood trim on the face of glove compartment, if you can’t close it!
I think this misunderstanding of quality applies to audio too. An Ipod provides lower grade playback, but there is no doubt that the quality of the device surpasses most of what is produced and called high-end.
The next point is regarding the next generation, I consider myself younger than the average audiophile. So to some degree I am part of this next generation. I also have two young boys (1-1/2 and 5) and since the day they came home from the hospital they have listened to music. My five year old is an opera fan and bugs me to turn on the system to listen his favorites. Hopefully this trend will last. There is a lot of positives from this hobby and I try and encourage my kids to listen and appreciate the music and understand how it gets to their ears. I am not worried that there will not be an “audiophile” or music loving audience in the future.
My big concern is on the supply/technology side. What are the manufacturers and designers of today doing to ensure that the know-how and experience of the last 70 years is being passed on? Who is going to be designing and building the amps and turntables of the future? If we as the audience are asking will there be a future, do you think there are many kids coming out engineering school saying “I want to design tube amps, for the only three audiophile that are left!” It is one thing to be passionate about coming home at the end of the day and listening to your favorite music, but is a whole other thing to have the passion to devote your career to what appears to some to be a dying industry.
Ralph (Atmasphere), what are you doing, who is going to take over once you retire?
The issue I have with high end is mostly with the retail end of things. They barely do anything to promote music (ever see a small concert at an audio salon? No? Me neither), and apparently are happy with business as usual...I asked somebody at Goodwin's (nearby extreme high end shop) if they could put me on the email list for upcoming demos...they said they don't have an email list. I've mentioned concerts coming up in my town that audio sales dudes are oblivious to, modern concerts I've mixed recently in other towns with major jazz dudes they haven't heard of...it's amazing. There seems to be no promotion of the experience of "active listening," and I can bet that if you ask residents of this crowded area I live in if they've even heard of the two local high end shops, 99% would say no. You get what you've earned I suppose, and that's a shame.
I don't know what will happen to high end audio, but the thought of it continuing as we know it seems unlikely. Two reasons which have to do with the median age (between 55-60) of hifi enthusiasts come immediately to mind.

As I'm about to turn 60 I can still remember sitting around with my buddies, listening intently to albums. It was a social event. I also recall sitting alone listening to music, and I know my friends were similarly engaged. When I was home I was much more interested listening to music or reading than watching tv. Music was a major part of our lives, buying albums, reading music publications, trading albums, it was what we did. And I wasn't part of a small minority in my age group.

Now I watch my grandkids interact with their friends. It ain't the same. They are gathered around the video game console or immersed in their cell phones. Nothing wrong with their behavior, just different than my experience.

The other missing ingredient is the local hifi shop. I now live in Indianapolis where there are only a few hifi shops. And what these shops specialize in are upper level gear. My first system consisted of a Harman Kardon receiver, BSR turntable and Tech Hifi store brand speakers. That was heaven to my teen ears. It was also fun shopping and picking it out. Not sure my seventeen-year-old grandson could find that same experience. Without these specialty shops to browse/drool over sparkling new equipment, the seeds aren't planted.

Of course these are only two of the reasons high audio as we know it seems doomed. The music experience along with an abundance of dealers were a major influence on my early years as an audiophile.

"06-19-14: Noromance
Agree with jmcgrogan. The 1% conspiracy to extract as much profit from every body while dumbing them down with endless tasks, taxes and rules has succeeded."

Now I've heard it all. With that attitude, you'll never have anything and it will always be someone else's fault. There's plenty of money out there. If you don't have any, you're the one to blame, not some fictitious 1%. If you are looking for a good conspiracy, try UFO's.
In the context of the entire population we audiophiles are barely a rounding error -- maybe one or two percent of the population at best. I think we're predisposed genetically to appreciate quality recorded and reproduced sound and that percentage will probably remain constant, so to me "converting" people outside this small population is a fool's errand. Unfortunately, and as pointed out by several above, behavioral, technological, and societal changes will probably prevent a good portion of the new 1-2% from ever hearing a good system to plant the seed. Which is sad since good quality sound is probably more affordable now than at any time I can remember.

Every generation probably says this about the next and maybe I'm just getting old, but I feel a little sad for my kids and the world they're heading into. Younger folks can't seem to stop to enjoy or appreciate anything (except maybe for video games), and even if they do they're compelled to whip out their phones to video it or text someone else about it. Just take a look at the crowd during a baseball game. Pure inner enjoyment and satisfaction seem like they're dying in the wake of constant multitasking and voyeurism, which don't really lend themselves to high-end audio. And with technology in our lives increasing at an increasing rate it seems like this will only get worse. Ugh.
Remember the Star Trek The NExt Generation episode called "The Game"?

Very prophetic, not just about the possible effects and impacts of addictive games, but how technology really does seem to be overtaking and wearing us all down, hopefully not for the slaughter.
Soix, I'm with you. When I look at my grandkids, I'm constantly baffled that all these guys want to do is play video games or are constantly texting someone. Maybe we'd have been the same way IF we'd had all the electronic stuff to play with that they have. I remember crystal sets and when the hottest high-end gear was all mono. I'm dating myself, of course.
Elizabeth also hit it on the head!
It's over. We are the last of a dying breed.
SAles trend data for key "high end audio" companies would be a good indicator of where its heading. I'd look for units sold more so than revenue. Never seen anything like this though. Pure "High End Audio" operates under the radar of the financial industry as a whole it seems. Are any listed on any stock exchanges? Sony, Yamaha, and other big Japanese makers do not usually get the high end audio seal of approval, but their trends are probably what matters most over the long haul.

How about a new high end audio stock market? A little government regulation would help keep everyone honest. There is NONE in pure high end audio. Just look around and extrapolate what that probably means is rally going on....
Sell it all...buy a guitar and join a rock n' roll band.

Harman Int'l trades on the NYSE and has doubled over the past year.
For me, whether the High End is gaining ground or dying is irrelevant. It would only matter if my livelihood was based on this industry. Otherwise.....I got my gear, I got my music, it's absolutely essential to me and my life but as to whether or not anyone else 'gets it' couldn't matter less to me. When I was a kid I absolutely skeeved shellfish. My father was fanatical about lobster and crab but I was too squeamish and couldn't handle it. He'd just shake his head and tell me that I didn't know what I was missing. When I got older I came to love lobster! I feel the same way about quality sound reproduction, if people can't find their way to appreciate it, that's THEIR problem! The industry will never completely disappear, at least not in my lifetime so I'm good!
I'm intended to use and purchase only solid OAK furniture for my dwelling for various reasons.
A marketting price for high-end furniture is important. It also substantially more pricey vs. composit furniture, but money spent for value and built quality.
If audio or any high-end isn't about value and built quality, than it's going to dissapear with last adict living as mentioned by previous posters.

That is why I say intention. I've had a lot of time to think about this as if first came up for me almost 25 years ago. High End audio is all about the intention of the product to be high end. Its not about price- quality has to do with quality, not price. Its not about performance (as much as we like to say that it is), as many products that have no high end aspirations can outperform a number of high end products, yet when we look at them, we can tell the difference because the intention is obvious.

High End audio will go the way of the dodo when high end cars are gone. The same type of buyer operates in both markets.

Ralph (Atmasphere), what are you doing, who is going to take over once you retire?

If a buyer does not appear the company goes to its employees who are well-versed in the product. But even after retirement I expect to be busy. Watching the grass grow sounds like it could be boring...
High End gear is audio gear that is built to sound better than mass market audio gear. Mass market gear is the stuff you can buy at Walmart, RadioShack, Best Buy (except for their Magnolia stuff), etc.

There is no hard line between mass market and high end gear. There is a grey area where people will disagree about which category a given component belongs in.
Ask virtually any young person to name a high end audio manufacturer and most will answer "Bose" nuff said. I do agree with with Elizabeth for the most part but high end audio won't completely vanish but just become increasingly more and more of a niche hobby as the middle class muppets continue to be fleeced
Thanks to those who responded regarding my question about what defines "high end" in dollar terms. I understand, it's all relative. With that in mind, I agree with previous posters that many high-end companies will go out of business, but that's par for the course in most industries. How many automobile manufacturers existed in 1915?

What will maintain "high-end" audio into the future is the same human longing from which high-end audio was born - the desire not just to have music in one's life, but to connect with it. A person could take the position that there's no point in buying physical artwork anymore, when you can hang a high-definition screen on your wall that rotates through digital images of thousands of pieces of art for a fraction of the cost - but there's something about being up close to an original acrylic on canvas, the smell of it, the depth to the brush strokes, and the way it changes at different lighting angles. It's very organic, the way it affects the senses, and humans have been drawn towards objects of creation for thousands of years for that reason.

The average 18 year old may not appreciate an original Monet today, but there comes a day when they not only appreciate it, they seek it out. It brings us down to earth, like a good cup of coffee, or the smell that hits you when you walk into a florist's boutique.

It's the same with music...high-end audio isn't about the coolness of the devices, or the spec sheet - it's about letting us be right there as a musician's fingers glide across a guitar's nylon strings.

In fact, given what the millenial generation is about to go through, regarding debt overload, social upheaval, geopolitical turmoil, I see them (re)discovering a love for music reproduction as a way of escaping and finding their own sense of organic peace. Humans have loved music for centuries, and that will continue - and technology that gets us that much closer to the origin of the music will always be in demand. JMHO.
I've had reasonably decent audio/video equipment since I was about 30 years old, which is when the first of my four children was born. Three of them are now grown and on their own. I don't know why, but none of them has ever shown any interest in audio equipment at all. Also, they don't have much discretionary income, so it is just as well.
I would echo the remarks of Response 34. Talent has run out or is in hiding in pop music. Compare today's artists with Paul Simon, Chicago, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac. As a youth, why would I build a quality system to listen to Katie Perry? The only way the Grammy's can get any ratings is to get the old timers back to perform.

Also with Darkstar 1, dedicated audio stores were a magnet for youth and an informal education. Now too many competing devices.
There are many good bands out there today but it seems for the most part we're shielded from it for some reason. Perhaps not enough advertising money in it for that demographic? I'm fortunate to live in an area that has a member funded radio station (wfuv) which exposed me to many excellent bands and artists I would have otherwise never heard of. I've long ago had it with the classic rock stations. There is also another station in Westchester county which is privately owned that is very good as well
I tend to think these type of stations are few and far between limiting us to what advertisers and promoters want us to hear
My response to a few good points above...

Yeah, high end stereo stores suck. They will die off completely over time. Online is the future source if all high end audio. 5 years ago it was hard to buy any high end audio online. Now there's lots of it available. It will continue to go that direction.

No good modern music??? I laugh at that. We are experiencing an explosion of superb new music. More available than ever before. PM me if you want to be on my free email list for new notable music.

I agree completely that young people already have a cheap option for excellent sound quality. It's called an ipod. An ipod actually sounds very very good. Even compressed 256k mp3s sound great. And if you invest $90 in a decent pair of earbuds it can sound excellent. That's the ugly truth.
There are many good bands out there today but it seems for the most part we're shielded from it for some reason. Perhaps not enough advertising money in it for that demographic? I'm fortunate to live in an area that has a member funded radio station (wfuv) which exposed me to many excellent bands and artists I would have otherwise never heard of. I've long ago had it with the classic rock stations. There is also another station in Westchester county which is privately owned that is very good as well
I tend to think these type of stations are few and far between limiting us to what advertisers and promoters want us to hear

I agree with Metman. There is a ton of really good new music. I am truly sorry if some have not found it. I completely agree that its harder to find. I too have turned to radio. Here in New Orleans I listen to WWOz and it has turned me on to so many new artists as well as older groups that I would have never heard in multiple genres of music. They also play vinyl which I love.

I do agree with others that most of main stream music is really bad. I can name some main stream bands that I enjoy but the list is short. I have no explanation for this. I think music sales seem to be generated off a very youg crowd and it shows. Its not even college kids as much as 13 years old.
So my 15 year old son had a bunch of his friends over for a birthday party. What did he do beforehand? Pull out a bunch of his albums (yes, vinyl) and laid them out so that they could choose what to listen to while they hung out and played video games. Gorillaz, The XX, Green Day, Coldplay, etc. He was interested in music from the time he was born, and I did my best - giving him my Dad's old Technics table, Infinity bookshelf speakers and Yamaha receiver. I bought him some of the records, and bought him a Project Debut Carbon when his older table died. My Dad did similarly for me - in fact, he bought me those Infinity speakers for my 13th birthday (some 35 years ago). I'm sure in part I'm just lucky. My daughter couldn't give a lick about a stereo... but she plays piano and sings beautifully. She gets songs stuck in her head and has to play them.

Separately from my personal experience, I've been hanging out on the Facebook vinyl communities - Vinyl Addiction, Vinyl Junkies, etc. I'm surprised at how many women are there, and how young they are. One really smart, active poster has to be about 16 years old. She's awesome. Most of the people there are resurrecting old mediocre tables and receivers - or maybe considering the Project Debut Carbon or Music Hall but are afraid of the prices. They're buying lots of thrift store and Craigslist vinyl. Great music from the 70's and 80's for $2 or $5 a pop. Jack White's Lazzaretto just broke a 20 year old record for vinyl sales in the first week. Many of these folks will step up to higher-end audio if there's a path for them. The future is good.

Do I have concerns? Well, yes. High-end companies keep going higher. $20K components, which are now common, are not exactly a stepping stone. But... For every Ferrari that a 20 year old lusts after, 10 VW GTI's will be sold. Artists are having a hard time making money on streaming music, but for fans finding great music has never been easier. It's not what it was once, but it is what it is now.
Enitely too much snobbery in it's current state. I would assume most if it will die off and then encounter a renasance at some point in the future.
There is and always will be a level of snobbery in the high end for any industry or product. But, I believe that real appreciation outweighs the snobbery. My original post discussed Toyota vs Mercedes. That was not to snub Toyota or to uplift Mercedes, but to draw attention to the fact that there is a difference in quality and attention in products. A timex vs a Breitling. Pretty much every product has a low end, mid, and high end. You can see it everywhere. There are snobs out there. My definition of a snob isn't someone that knows and appreciates quality, equipment and "high-end" items, but to me someone that knows what they like and doesn't like isn't a snob. The snob is a person that tells you what you like. Early in my life, I didn't like wine at all. But, later in life I found out why. It was because I never really had a good glass of wine. Parties, weddings, etc. they served to me, pretty bad stuff, (to me). So naturally, I thought all wine was bad. But, with education in wine, wine tastings, and participating in the industry, I found that there is some really good wine out there. Snob? not at all. I now know what I like and don't like. Life is too short to drink bad wine. Same with music and music equipment. Life is to short to have my ears hurt. But do I force my opinion on others? absolutely not. I let the music speak for itself. My equipment isn't the absolute best. Far from it. But for me, my history in music and appreciation in music and quality electronics, I can say that I'm there. On Audiogon, I don't tell others what they like, I do however, suggest that they try some equipment and most importantly take that equipment home for an in-home demo in their system to hear for themselves. I believe personally that "high-end" audio is actually gaining ground. I hear more about vinyl and vinyl playback now than a few years ago. I do believe that audio stores and dealers/salespeople can be a little more inviting and open and less critical and closed in their response to potential buyers. I see advertising for walmart, Costco, Sears, etc. but no advertisements for higher end audio. So how would younger, less educated potential buyers find out? Best Buy's idea of having Magnolia Audio in their stores was a very good idea. People drift into the Magnolia Audio portion of the store and just look and listen. I guarantee that many walked away with a better idea and impression. Look at Beats audio. Got the attention of most young people. It's "cool", so young people flock to it. Why is Grado, and other's not doing the same thing with young popular musicians, actors, etc to help draw attention to their products? That is the mistake High-end audio makes. They discount the younger crowd. Listen to Beats headphones vs a mid level set of Grado (just an example). No contest. An they cost pretty much the same.

do enjoy
High End audio is NOT the music business which is actually doing fine...big "gate keeper" labels are having to adjust or die, but independent musicians are figuring it out...online concerts, live shows to sell your swag and CDs...all good. Ever know somebody with a record contract? Ask 'em if they made any money. As for the argument that new music isn't as good as Fleetwood Mac (!), I can say from my experience over recent decades as a live sound mixer and concert producer that anyone who thinks today's musicians aren't every bit as brilliant as the over hyped stuff from the past simply isn't getting out much. Still plenty of lame stuff to go around of course, but I've been astonished at the extremely high level of musicianship and beautiful writing created by scores of young artists that most so called "music fans" can't be bothered to search out (local "coffee house" concerts or house concerts is where you should start, just don't ask the sales dude at the audio "salon"). The jazz scene is also kicking ass, and you should be sad if your ass isn't one of them getting kicked.