Where will audio be in 10 years?

In honor of CES and some other emerging trends in electronics, where do you see the state of audio in the next ten years?

I see the audiophiles and the "general public" with two different systems. The audiophile will have, similar to today, separate components that will probably incorporate a CD-like player using blue laser technology to produce higher rez audio and video on the same disc. All the separate components, including amps, speakers, etc. will be connected via one cable of some high speed variety (HDMI ?).

The non-audiophiles will probably have a fat looking "receiver" which will have an amp/preamp and a giant hard-drive device incorporated in one box. On that hard drive will be audio (MP5:-), hi-rez video and whatever else (games, pictures, etc) all connected to a flat panel TV, that doubles as the computer monitor, attached to a speaker system. Of course it is all integrated with the internet which is where you'll order your music and movies instantly, on-demand.

What do you see the future holding?
brickwall crossovers. only the desired freq will make it to the individual drivers. flat responce plus or minus .1 db. that will be us non-audiophiles.
Probably very similar to today, socially. The gadgets will change, but there still will be audiophiles and the general public. The two groups won't homoginize, nor vanish.
I think someone will build a DAC to enhance MP3/X compressed data. Therefore, digital sources may change.

Hopefully recording engineers will figure out better ways to record music, video, and combined audio/video material to enhance our home audio/theater systems. Which of course will have way more speakers than any one room has today.

It will be interesting to see how DSP will advance over time. They are already making more advances recently than over the last ten years combined.
I think vinyl will continue to (re)grow.
Just better analog playback.
There are plenty of lp's out there, there are new ones every day, and they are retro and romantic.
They still offer the best.
Hell, most music is inherently analog.
vinyl will still around. CDs will still be around (for backwards compatibility). We see some sort of Hi-Diff "DVD" on a 5-inch polycarbonate disc of some sort. Low rez downloads will still be prevailent. We'll see high-end players for the low-rez media, much like we saw audiophile cassette tape decks from Nakamichi and Tandberg back in the day. SACD will fill the same niche today that reel-to-reel does.

There will still be a definite cleavage between audiophiles and the unwashed. So I agree with Jmcgrogan2 on that.

Solidstate will likely erode mindshare and market share in favor of digital amps. Tubes will still be around though. As will SETs and horns. So not everyone will be use HDMI Treyhoss!!

The interesting thing to watch may be speaker technology. Will <$4k (in 2005 money) speakers in 2015 be better than what we have in 2005? I suspect it will be more of the same. Efficiency, reasonable size, reasonable cost - pick two.
SACD and DVD-A will add another 500 titles by then, and re re re-lease another Rolling Stones set. While saying that it will still be the next best thing.

I'll still be listening to vinyl.

Wireless,all in one electronics, small& stylish. More for decor and invisibility than sound. Much as we like to hate Bose they are in touch with the trends. They are almost there today.
Kinda the same, but different.

CDs will likely be around almost exclusively just for compatibility, and in some circles will be (semi-)revered much like vinyl is today and for many of the same reasons. They came from back in a time when things were simpler and more pure...

Vinyl will also still be around and even more of a niche/status thing than today. Given the oil supply & demand and the world's economics in 2015, the costs of raw materials & processing will likely drive the price of vinyl-based audio to semi-stratospheric levels (think $50-100+USD per, and that's not even for the decent stuff). The relatively low information density of vinyl, the mechanical wear, etc. and (mostly) just the economics will all conspire to drive it further into cult status (Just how many of us will pay $100 or $200 per LP and how often? All that equals very small niche).

Audiophiles will still prefer their good old setups w/ pre/pro's and separate big amps and transports and whatever, but the complete digital on a (couple of) chips world will be the near-audiophile pinnacle. Again, the economics of what can be done, the small packaging w/ high SAF and smart(er) power usage, etc. will expand the audio capabilities for much more of the population than niche audiophilia. Those small all-digital receiver/whatevers will be a significant advance in audio for the masses (and be sold in much larger numbers than audio sells today).

Content storage is one area where things could be interesting. Blue-ray/holographic storage or whatever quantum leaps replace those things could deliver whole libraries or collected works in a single sleeve - and at high information levels without such huge compression losses. Fiber to your door & ultra-high bandwidth wireless could let you put your (or your subscribed) library online so you could listen to your stuff anywhere without carrying all that content.

Speakers are still the wild card. Plasma & LCD and other thin video technologies will drive lots more research & corresponding development in similarly thin on-the-wall drivers (maybe each w/ its own sub?). Interchangeable in-wall "plug-ables" w/ standardized form factors could emerge. But, "ya canna' change the laws of physics, Jim" so speakers will still be speakers (unless holographic or ultrasonic or whatever drivers make the great leap forward). The above comments on DSP & multichannel stuff are probably right on - the audio industry would want to push more MC stuff so they can sell more stuff.

Which all means the coin is still up in the air on SACD and DVD-A: are they a part of the path forward or are they gonna be today's equivalent of 8-tracks?

Put it all together and the 2015 audiophile will lust after digital/active speaker systems. Each transducer is actively/ideally/digitally powered (sorta like a conventional active system) and your sooper-YPAO/MCACC/whatever lets you tweak each driver in your listening space to audio nirvana. And the best part is that the all-digital ultra-wideband wireless interfaces will help somewhat lower the volume level of the "discussions" on ICs and speaker cables and the like. Unless, of course, Monster and all the cable companies get a constitutional amendment passed still requiring cables everywhere. And you don't have to cryo the air in your living room, do you?

(Wait! Think about the demographics, dummy. The real $$$ will be in inserts/implants/somethings that reverse the ravages of age and restore audio acuity for all to the levels of 20-year-olds. And use the disposable contacts model so you sell more than one pair per person. ;~)

One thing that surely won't change is that a certain segment of the population will still (always?) be insisting that ABX is a curse word and proves nothing...

And just one last point - any/all guesses here are guaranteed to fall far short of the reality in 2015.

(© 2005 Mr_HoseHead and HoseHead Prognostications Ltd. All rights (and lefts) reserved... :~)
non hard-drive memory, as in memory 'sticks'. I heard that Apple is going to introduce products along these lines this year. the fewer moving parts, the better...

and yes, I too will still be loving my vinyl/tube setup.
more junk from bose that dazzles the public & more goofy words made up from high end reviewers to describe how gear sounds.

in 2105 everything will be a giant killer!

Audiophile gear will still be around as will the mass market gear also...both will be better, but theirs will become even less expensive while ours becomes more expensive.
Source will be a mass storage device--probably physically minute with massive capacity. The exact configuration would be impossible to predict, because this end of the audio chain is subject to Moore's Law.

All music will be downloaded; no one will make discs anymore (except possibly vinyl, although that too may wither as the generations that grew up on it start to croak).

Digital music will be available in a variety of resolutions, however. People willing to pay more for hi-rez will still be able to feel smug about it. (Thank goodness! Otherwise, what's the point?)

The digital signal will be delivered direct to your speakers (wirelessly, of course), where signal processing will allow optimization for your room/set-up.

Bose will still be overpriced, but its low-end products will blow away anything today's audiophiles are listening to.
Babbleson writes: "Digital music will be available in a variety of resolutions, however. People willing to pay more for hi-rez will still be able to feel smug about it. (Thank goodness! Otherwise, what's the point?)"

Should have done your research first. We smugly buy RCA Living Presence SACDs for less than the cost of a CD.

Robm: We know you like vinyl. You remind me of guys in high school that keep repeating how much they like football and girls. BTW, there will be at least 500 SACD released just in 2005.
I think digital amps will certainly have matured to the point where they could compete with some of the very best today - offering incredible dynamics and (hopefully) not sound thin or lifeless sound during low listening volumes.

It seems if Blu-ray or DVD-HD replaces the DVD of today, there would be similar technology at use in music playback so one player would be able to handle music or movies (or the integration of both).

Speakers will be limited by the laws of physics, which has been pointed out, but perhaps will incorporate several technologies. As gmarcotte mentioned, filters may be good enough, spohisticated enough and small enough to send different frequencies to different parts of a speaker. For example, low frequencies to a sub, highs to a ribbon and everything else to an electrostatic panel. Using a "room optimizer" of some sort would help integrate all of these different sounds and eliminate phase problems, etc.

The "high speed" cables I was thinking about would be used to carry a signal from source to pre then through the above mentioned crossover, direct to the digital amp. Only from that point on would we see traditional wire. I think HQ wireless sound on par with today's finest wire is more like 20+ years away. Using this type of connection should/could eliminate many of the challenges inherent with current cable design.

I'm just guessing of course, but anything that would increase the realism of the sound and picture, add extra convenience and reduce the size/quantity of the equipment is progress in my book.