My dad just showed me this article at lunch today. It is great that such an article was written, but when an article describing high end audio uses $450 turntables being sold at select Urban Outfitters as an example, it makes me wonder about the research. It read more like a lifestyle/interiors piece. It seemed to emphasize slim design over great sonics, but it's a start though, and that is encouraging.
I just think it's pretty cool that the NY Times devoted so much space to an article about our hobby. Yeah,..... a $450 Music Hall table may not be your idea of "high end," but at least millions of the newspaper's readers now know that high end audio exists. As I see it, anything in the main stream media that talks about our hobby in a positive fashion is a good thing !
What goes around, comes around. I think most kids see iTunes and other sites as nothing more than a way to store music just for the sake of storing. This all came about as a result of file sharing and illegal downloads and with what one could get away with. A natural progression, if you will.
Once the trend was recognized and then legitimized, and then co-oped by industry, it was inevitable. Now, we have the come around, the recognition by some that there is better sound out there.
Hopefully, articles like this will help spark some more interest and this new generation will take notice and maybe seek some of us out for advice, or at least, a listen. :-)
All the best,
The 'audiophhile' guy in the article that has the three sets of Bang & Olufson speakers had better hope he never finds out about Audiogon. That will certainly be his ruin, it sure was mine.
The Times article is typical lightweight fluff designed to fill some pages with a "general interest" level of fashion news. Again, the "high end" dealers and manufacturers have absolutely no idea how to get young people or ANY people interested in this hobby beyond "preaching to the choir."
Wolf, very well put. I will ad that those with a true interest will find it on there own.
Very true Garcia. Good stuff as usual.
Okay... so then how are we going to introduce the "twenty and thirty somethings" into our hobby ? There needs to be a way of reaching out through the main stream media and trying to get the young folks interested. Mitch, you're poking fun at the guy's B&O speakers,..... Wolf, you're saying it's lightweight fluff,.....and Iso, you're agreeing with Wolf. I think you guys are looking at things the wrong way. I've already had four neighbors who know I have "a real high end system" call me after reading the article and asking if they can come over and listen to music. Maybe one of them will then spend a grand on some nice NAD (or similar) electronics and PSB (or similar) speakers and put together a nice entry-level system. That's how more folks will get into our hobby and maybe eventually buy the kind of gear we now adore.
So, think about it.. I think we should applaud the NY Times for this article, and hope that our hobby starts, once again, to attract the younger generation. I remember when I was in my teens and early twenties, and I would go to Tech Hi-Fi (remember them ?) and drool over the sound of music that was being played through their many systems. Well, these stores are now few and far between. Kids can't just go and hang out and listen anymore. Maybe we need more articles like this to spread the word.
Okay,..... I'm done preaching for now. Time to open a nice bottle of Shiraz and listen to some music. Hmmmmm, maybe some Joni Mitchell, Dave Brubeck, and Steely Dan tonight ! Happy Listening to all my fellow Audiogoners !
Okay... so then how are we going to introduce the "twenty and thirty somethings" into our hobby ?
Give them the opportunity to hear their music on your system. Let them *hear* what is possible. Music lives much better than it reads.
Adam, you've got me wrong. I was not making fun of the guy's B&O speakers. There were two or three guys mentioned in the article. I merely identified him as the owner of the B&O speakers. I pointed him out because he was obviously the guy in the story with enough discretionary income to venture into the dark side, and an obvious music lover. I am not an audio snob by any stretch of the imagination. I make fun of audio snobs.
My point is simply that the High End dealers don't care. There are 2 well known high end dealers near me in the Boston 'burbs and neither one has an email list of clients who might be interested in something. Like music reproduction and its beauty...live little show in the "salon?" No no no. Manufacturer's product seminar or little meet and greet? HA. My local tire shop does a better job of reaching out to potential clients. It amazes me, it's strange, and beyond these little rants I sort of don't care that much, but I feel better having ranted.
"Okay... so then how are we going to introduce the "twenty and thirty somethings" into our hobby ?"
The New York Times article reads like an infomercial. In order to get more people of any age interested in high end audio the price must become more reasonaly.
Just face the fact they we are dying breed and this whole nightmare will be done in 10-15 years. I use to care about this hobby living on forever. Now I really hope it dies.
"My local tire shop does a better job of reaching out to potential clients.
Yeah... mine too Wolf. The vast number of neglected opportunities is mind boggling. One small part of a very large image problem is that dealers don't really want to be bothered with the curious. When visiting an upscale salon for the first time, its just natural for a newbie to be somewhat awestruck, and want to touch and hear everything... especially the big system in its own room that he cant afford. A good salesperson needs to be patient and understanding. This isnt to say that he has to be infinitely accommodating, but some finesse is important. I cant tell you how many guys that Ive advised to go to a high end salon instead of a Best Buy type place, who came back to me saying they walked out feeling like assholes. These were guys who were willing to spend enough money to be treated respectfully.
Example: Goodwin's High End has some nice salespeople as part of their "credo", and when I asked one of these guys how to find out about upcoming manufacturer's product rollout gatherings (you might notice these on their website), he said "well, we don't have a mailing list or email list"...it's 2013! Goodwin's is a shrine to high end and known far and wide for having the latest and greatest stuff, and even audiophiles are left out, making even less sense...very weird. Most people around here who aren't audio geeks (meaning 99% or more of everybody) don't know Goodwin's exists. I imagine their Magico and Boulder customers might get a call from a sales dude if something interesting shows up, but overall it's just lame.
I remember what got me interested in hifi back in the early seventies, (visiting stores like Music Craft in Chicago) was being able to spend countless hours in them listening and talking to salesman that had opinions and knowledge to share about audio products. For me it became an activity something I actually did at least once a week. They all wanted me to buy something but they also allowed the freedom to move around, sit and listen, ask questions repeatedly never making me feel as though I wasn't worthy of their time. At my current 59 years of age it is awesome to me that I still have this huge desire to participate in this hobby and I am certain that having those hobby sessions in those stores were probably the most influential part of this. If I had the financial capability I think I would open a place where this would replicate what these stores in the 70's gave me even though I think it would take some patience and time to be successful.
Wolf_garcia - Goodwin's deals with a select group of clients. If they send out emails to everyone who signed up those Magico and Boulder demos would be overrun with people, most of them not interesting in actually buying. If you do business with them, you will get to come to those events. Their lack of emails seems to say they are happy with their current level of communications. I buy occasionally from them at their low end, but realize I am not their prime target. So, I understand them not reaching out to me for demos of products I am not going to buy. As with a lot of high end dealers in all sorts of fields, you need to establish yourself with them before they invite you in. I will say they have been more than gracious with demos and loaner gear when I have been interested in their products.
I do business with Audio Video Therapy (former Ensemble folk) in Nashua. They have vendor events and open houses. You can get on their list. Different level of product than Goodwin's, but it is at the level of what I buy. They even provide food and drink for their events.
I get that. That's the definition of business elitism, and I understand Goodwin's is happy with their current level of grey haired 65 year old wealthy lawyers from Wellesley (I sort of fit that demographic although I'm not a lawyer). My point is more about younger audio fans not being marketed to, and that's just lame and very shortsighted. I doubt that Goodwin's would be overrun with people if they emailed general announcements, and I can bet they will eventually be overrun with empty space if they don't.
Wolf - if you have hair you are ahead of me. Congrats.
I think Goodwin's clientele is a combination of Wellesley types, people with trust funds and people with money from around the world. They do not want to be in the entry level, lower mid range market. They are really an outlier in the audio business. And most young people cannot afford Goodwin's equipment, just like they cannot afford a Ferrari or a McClaren. But, when I first walked in off the street I got a good reception and was treated very well. But, I also think I got one of the sales guys who is most open to walk ins. If you you do not already have someone there to work with, I can provide his name.
I agree that the entry level, mid-range stores need to do more to attract customers. AV Therapy does have open houses. As far as I know Natural Sound does not. Not sure about Fidelis.
To Phaelon's point, if I have someone interested in getting past the Best Buy experience, I take them to a local dealer I know. That makes the introduction a lot easier. I show that some equipment (including the high end stuff), let them listen and engage the sales folks as my friends get more comfortable. But I am also very comfortable at these places. If you have seen the ads on TV of the guys "caught out of their comfort zone" that is what often happens when people walk into higher end shops. They often don't know what to ask. I agree that sometimes sales people are not as helpful as they can be with those people. But I have also seen them be very patient with new people. But, taking people in really helps the situation.
I liked the kid in the article who said that once he heard a good stereo he couldn't stand to listen to his ipod any more. A true convert!
The first hi-end manufacturer to get gear into Starbucks might just break the log jam.
I'm glad that my thread has initiated some really good discussion.
Erniek ..... your experiences (and age) mimic my beginnings in our hobby exactly. I spent countless hours "just hanging out" in local hi-fi shops listening to music and picking the brains of the shops' owners and sales staff. I was always welcomed with open arms and found that the folks who worked in the shops were eager to teach me and allow me to spend as much time as I wanted simply listening to music with a big fat grin on my face. After four or five years of "I'm just looking and listening," I finally bought my first "high end" system ..... Mission 717 speakers with a B&O Beogram 3404 table and a Yamaha receiver. Boy oh boy, that was a great system, and although I've been through a lot of gear over the years and am now very happy with what I have, there was something very special about my first kit. And I owe it all to all the great hi-fi shop folks who allowed me into their shops knowing I wasn't ready to buy anything and even encouraged me to just hang out and listen.
I think the end of days prognostications are pretty premature. In all reality there are a lot of subcultures that are getting 20 & 30 somethings into higher quality music... For example, the "pitchfork(.com) hipster crowd" is pretty into turntable based audio, and a number of decent quality manufactures (e.g., Rega, Pro-ject, Music Hall) know how to get money out of those folks. Similarly, the hip-hop crowd cares a lot and Beats audio has been able to sell a ton of "high-end" headphones to this group. Of course the audiogon crowd will scoff that this isn't truly high end, but in the end, this is how the interest in quality audio starts. Those products are the gateway into high end, and most young people simply don't have the cash to spend yet to sample anything else. At some point these folks will have money and grey hair and will be spending $500 on a cable that may not produce anything more than a placebo effect, just like everyone on here now.
$500 dollar cables have helped me retain my hair. Not sure how, but hey.
A rig does NOT have to be expensive to make music, it merely has to be demonstrated to the "great unwashed" that great sounding music is available to everybody who might care even a little, and my gripe about "audio salon" culture is that it ignores this in large part by not trying much to engage people not already signed on to this stuff.
During my (mis)guided youth, there was no place in the world that I rather be than a nudie bar. Eventually, if a guy puts in enough time into these places, he gets a pretty good feel for the business. I came to to understand what appeared to be two different business models at work. In one model, a girl works the room, making the rounds endlessly, asking every customer for a drink or a dance. The fives and tens pile up and she makes a living. In the other model, a girl hates working the room and is only there to meet Daddy Warbucks. She will make the rounds with just enough enthusiasm to keep the management happy, but the last thing she wants is to be occupied with a small timer when someone she thinks she could cultivate into a cash cow walks in.
I think a similar dynamic takes place in high end audio, where a salesmen might be reluctant to be tied down to a guy who walked in with a cool grand burning a hole in his pocket and consequently miss the opportunity to sell a big baller.
I do hate it when greated by nude salesmen in an audio shop.
Wolf - LOL. Now that I think about it, wasnt there some sleazebag dealer in New York who used to have strippers hostessing in his joint? He used the girls in his ads too.
Wolf- according to Carlos Danger, that's how NY'ers 'roll.' :)
Phaelon, spot on analysis and my observations as well as I used to go to the same haunts. Later on in life, while at a jazz club, I spotted a former dancer working the men at the bar and when our eyes met, nothing needed to be said, I smiled, looked away, and she went back to work. At least it was a better place.
All the best,
You have met the enemy, and it is YOU!
Fidelis had an open house in June featuring wilson Audio speakers. I got a postcard from Goodwin last year or so for the Sony speaker demo. Emotiva did a roadshow in Boston in June too. Stores do send out communications and let you know about their upcoming events, you just have to keep an eye out for them.