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    Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

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    denny9167

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    Age : 49
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    Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by denny9167 on Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:42 am

    I was having a long conversation with a fellow Dynaco enthusiast yestersday,who lives in the Dallas Area,and we were discussing the current state of High-End audio,and what has happened over the last 20 years or so. Most of the shops we used to browse have,for various reasons gone out of business,or moved to another city. There are only one or two left that I know of ,when there used to be at least 5 or more at one time. They were fun at the time to browse,but I began to notice a disconnect in their marketing strategy,what was happening? Well they were dissing part of their customer base.They were forgeting what their industry was all about,HAVING FUN and meeting new people who loved and enjoyed doing what they loved to do,listening to music and engaging each other in the Science of High Fidelity,it's about fellowship with one another,it became a business of profit margins,well you know THE MONEY!!! this of course
    drove prices higher and higher,making the consumer base smaller and smaller,and let's face it, only people with 6 figure incomes could afford to buy the hype they were selling for the most part.

    Well to get off my soap box now,and get to the point at hand,I believe right now that things are changing for the better,to get back to the gentleman I was discussing,He and his friends get togther often just to do what I said earlier,to have FUN!! Listening to old records and talk about gear,particularly Dynaco gear. This is what it's all about,strengthening friendships and learning something in the process, and I'm thankful for Bob and the others for this forum,to keep this going. I love being an audiophile again,and remeniscing old times with my uncle who got me started in this really fun hobby,and to my other uncle who was an electronics technician,teaching me how it all goes together. Thanks again.

    harpy

    Posts : 94
    Join date : 2012-02-04

    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by harpy on Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:48 pm

    We had 4 or 5 high end audio stores in Columbus, Ohio and are down to one as well. Most of those went during the recession. I think home theater had a lot to do with it too. Most of our audio stores jumped on that band wagon and thrived. Instead of selling 2 speakers they could sell 5 plus a subwoofer. They also added the new HD TV's and video like dvd player which took up a lot of floor space, plus most made a lot of money wiring and installing home theater in new McMansions. The only store that resisted home theater and focused on two channel audio was the first to go. They had 100k Wilson Watt Puppy’s (and everything in between) that were fun to listen to and he took the time to talk audio, but I guess that wasn't profitable.
    The only audio store that is left does mostly home theater with one room dedicated to hyper expensive 2 channel. I go in from time to time to look at their used equipment, but when I ask an audio question they seem a little put off answering it. When someone drops 5k on some home theater speakers they will chat up a storm. To me the audio store of old is gone and will never be back.
    What got me back into two channel were some Dahlquist DQ-10's after a disastrous decision to get into budget home theater. I really am more into the Science of vintage High Fidelity. I love stuff I can tinker with. I just became a Dyaco owner last week with some Mk-IV's (probably a poor choice for those speakers). One doesn't work right, but hat part of the fun (at least to me). Forums like these, with the knowledge bring, they are a god send.

    j beede

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    Location : California

    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by j beede on Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:03 pm

    denny9167 wrote:I was having a long conversation with a fellow Dynaco enthusiast yestersday [...] They were forgeting what their industry was all about,HAVING FUN and meeting new people who loved and enjoyed doing what they loved to do,listening to music and engaging each other in the Science of High Fidelity,it's about fellowship with one another,it became a business of profit margins,well you know THE MONEY!!! this of course
    drove prices higher and higher,making the consumer base smaller and smaller,and let's face it, only people with 6 figure incomes could afford to buy the hype they were selling for the most part. [...]

    Interesting. I would say that audio (mid-fi or high end) has always been about money. I see that as a good thing. The composition, performance, recording, and reproduction of music are all "for profit" industries, aren;t they? I am only too happy to support these industries and hope that they are indeed profitable--so they can continue to provide the software and hardware that we all enjoy. I suspect that those audio salons of yesteryear closed or moved away because they couldn't make their rent simply by providing a convenient meeting place for enthusisats. Like any other retil establishmnet, they needed revenue to survive.

    denny9167

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by denny9167 on Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:27 pm

    j beede wrote:
    denny9167 wrote:I was having a long conversation with a fellow Dynaco enthusiast yestersday [...] They were forgeting what their industry was all about,HAVING FUN and meeting new people who loved and enjoyed doing what they loved to do,listening to music and engaging each other in the Science of High Fidelity,it's about fellowship with one another,it became a business of profit margins,well you know THE MONEY!!! this of course
    drove prices higher and higher,making the consumer base smaller and smaller,and let's face it, only people with 6 figure incomes could afford to buy the hype they were selling for the most part. [...]

    Interesting. I would say that audio (mid-fi or high end) has always been about money. I see that as a good thing. The composition, performance, recording, and reproduction of music are all "for profit" industries, aren;t they? I am only too happy to support these industries and hope that they are indeed profitable--so they can continue to provide the software and hardware that we all enjoy. I suspect that those audio salons of yesteryear closed or moved away because they couldn't make their rent simply by providing a convenient meeting place for enthusisats. Like any other retil establishmnet, they needed revenue to survive.

    You have a point,but there is a way to strike a balance between the two. One of the things I was trying to point out that you don't diss a customer,or assume they don't know anything about audio,just because they don't have $100,000 to put down on a system.

    denny9167

    Posts : 152
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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by denny9167 on Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:28 pm

    harpy wrote: We had 4 or 5 high end audio stores in Columbus, Ohio and are down to one as well. Most of those went during the recession. I think home theater had a lot to do with it too. Most of our audio stores jumped on that band wagon and thrived. Instead of selling 2 speakers they could sell 5 plus a subwoofer. They also added the new HD TV's and video like dvd player which took up a lot of floor space, plus most made a lot of money wiring and installing home theater in new McMansions. The only store that resisted home theater and focused on two channel audio was the first to go. They had 100k Wilson Watt Puppy’s (and everything in between) that were fun to listen to and he took the time to talk audio, but I guess that wasn't profitable.
    The only audio store that is left does mostly home theater with one room dedicated to hyper expensive 2 channel. I go in from time to time to look at their used equipment, but when I ask an audio question they seem a little put off answering it. When someone drops 5k on some home theater speakers they will chat up a storm. To me the audio store of old is gone and will never be back.
    What got me back into two channel were some Dahlquist DQ-10's after a disastrous decision to get into budget home theater. I really am more into the Science of vintage High Fidelity. I love stuff I can tinker with. I just became a Dyaco owner last week with some Mk-IV's (probably a poor choice for those speakers). One doesn't work right, but hat part of the fun (at least to me). Forums like these, with the knowledge bring, they are a god send.

    It is very rewarding!!

    denny9167

    Posts : 152
    Join date : 2011-05-09
    Age : 49
    Location : Texas

    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by denny9167 on Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:29 pm

    denny9167 wrote:
    j beede wrote:
    denny9167 wrote:I was having a long conversation with a fellow Dynaco enthusiast yestersday [...] They were forgeting what their industry was all about,HAVING FUN and meeting new people who loved and enjoyed doing what they loved to do,listening to music and engaging each other in the Science of High Fidelity,it's about fellowship with one another,it became a business of profit margins,well you know THE MONEY!!! this of course
    drove prices higher and higher,making the consumer base smaller and smaller,and let's face it, only people with 6 figure incomes could afford to buy the hype they were selling for the most part. [...]

    Interesting. I would say that audio (mid-fi or high end) has always been about money. I see that as a good thing. The composition, performance, recording, and reproduction of music are all "for profit" industries, aren;t they? I am only too happy to support these industries and hope that they are indeed profitable--so they can continue to provide the software and hardware that we all enjoy. I suspect that those audio salons of yesteryear closed or moved away because they couldn't make their rent simply by providing a convenient meeting place for enthusisats. Like any other retil establishmnet, they needed revenue to survive.

    You have a point,but there is a way to strike a balance between the two. One of the things I was trying to point out that you don't diss a customer,or assume they don't know anything about audio,just because they don't have $100,000 to put down on a system. They weren't all that way mind you,but a few tend to be exclusive.

    denny9167

    Posts : 152
    Join date : 2011-05-09
    Age : 49
    Location : Texas

    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by denny9167 on Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:37 pm

    One store that I missed the most was Preston Trail Audio in Dallas,they had super customer service,and would let you listen to any system,I remember listening to the Infinity IRS V's playing some Nat King Cole Masters in Mono,a breath taking experience. Audio Concepts is a nice store,I've bought a few items from them,they are very courteous too.

    Luddite

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by Luddite on Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:08 pm

    denny9167 wrote:One store that I missed the most was Preston Trail Audio in Dallas,they had super customer service,and would let you listen to any system,I remember listening to the Infinity IRS V's playing some Nat King Cole Masters in Mono,a breath taking experience. Audio Concepts is a nice store,I've bought a few items from them,they are very courteous too.

    Haven't been to an "audiophile" store in over 15 years, but back in the 70's, I would occasionally drop-in at Hillcrest Hi-Fi (on University), or Crystal Clear Audio (on Henderson) but I mostly hung out at Dean's Audio (on Crown, near Royal Lane and I-35) in Dallas. After awhile I even "worked" there part time (as a trade-out for some equipment). Among other items, I bought a pair of EV Sentry III speakers which I enjoyed for several years. Dean had a quad system at his home based on (4) EV Patrician speakers, and (2) Marantz 500 amplifiers. I don't remenber the preamp, but the sources included a HK/Rabco turntable and a couple of Crown 844 4-track reel to reel tape decks. This was a quite impressive system as I recall!

    These days nearly everything in my system (mostly Dynaco) has either been built or refurbished by me. I'm working on a new PAS preamplifier at present.

    Best Regards,
    Charlie

    kaner

    Posts : 88
    Join date : 2011-09-20

    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by kaner on Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:05 pm

    Here in Milwaukee the last high end store was bought up by one of those low end furniture stores. Even before that they were drifting toward flat screens and surround sound. I'll blame it on the ipod! My oldest is now a freshman in college and last year we toured several college campuses. Walking through the dorms at the University of Michigan I figured out what was so different from my college days, it was SO quiet! Saturday afternoon and all the kids were hanging out in their rooms listening to music (nothing new there) but instead of "stereo wars" they each had their earbuds in.


    Bob Latino
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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by Bob Latino on Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:14 pm

    One of the biggest reasons that caused the slow death of the "Hi-Fi salon" with their inflated prices was the emergence in the late '90's of INTERNET based sales. People could now buy used items (on Audiogon or Ebay) that were like new and in proper working order for maybe 60% of the inflated Hi-Fi Salon price. I haven't been in a Hi-Fi store for almost 20 years. Why should I when I can shop online for lightly used items owned by people who change their audio gear about as often as they change their shorts.

    The internet also allows small "cottage industry" individuals like Roy and myself to get out to people all over the world. I think the "salons" were slow to react when internet sales became a force in Hi-Fi sales. They doggedly tried to attract customers BUT - the customers were smart enough to shop online and get pretty much the same item for a lot less money.

    Bob

    denny9167

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by denny9167 on Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:15 pm

    kaner wrote:Here in Milwaukee the last high end store was bought up by one of those low end furniture stores. Even before that they were drifting toward flat screens and surround sound. I'll blame it on the ipod! My oldest is now a freshman in college and last year we toured several college campuses. Walking through the dorms at the University of Michigan I figured out what was so different from my college days, it was SO quiet! Saturday afternoon and all the kids were hanging out in their rooms listening to music (nothing new there) but instead of "stereo wars" they each had their earbuds in.


    Your right on that it is definately a different enviroment now then it was when we were younger. I would add one more thing to your blame list,SOCIAL MEDIA!!. There's nothing inherently wrong with technology,but the negative side affects are definately there. Instead of person-to-person conversations,and contact it's person-to-computer,or some other media device. You could look at it this way,a person has all they need in one package: their movies,pictures,music,and contact with there friends,what's the need of friends actually getting together and listening to their music collection,or browsing photo's and playing games.

    kaner

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by kaner on Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:20 pm

    I think you're on to something. The crazy thing is that kids are still listening to really good music. I asked my son to show me his playlist, picked out "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd and had him listen to it on my ST70, You should have seen his face. He had no idea how that song was meant to sound.

    Newportcycle

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by Newportcycle on Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:46 am

    I think the personal face to face contact thing is overrated, these kids are the way they are because thats how they were raised, always with their ass on the road to do something, baseball, soccer, this thing, that thing, no time to sit and relax, its no wonder they gravitate to a device which allows them the convenience to carry all their entertainment with them. I bought an Ipod touch a year ago and love it, it's got my music, video, internet access, I can even "facetime" with my grandkids nice device. Highend, nope, but with a good set of earbuds not the worst Ive heard. I have been to a few of the high end stores over the years and found either I would be ignored almost completely or I would end up talking to someone who was out to impress me with so much audio jargon the conversation was one way and pointless. I think Bob has hit it close to home for me; internet sales with one caveat, and that is the regional audio shows. I can go to a regional high end audio show, the last few years living in Baltimore, I've attended the DC Audiofest in Rockville, MD, and got to listen to, look at, and chat (if so inclined) with manufactures or their represenatives of some of the best audio gear available. As Bob pointed out, the internet has made available such a wide range of choices its almost mind numbing. I can purchase refurbished McIntosh (of which I'm a huge fan, cause I cant afford new) for 50% of retail, I can purchase custom designed components, ie M-125 amps (thanks Bob, maybe someday), I can purchase DIY speaker kits from speaker designers (GR-Research, Danny Richie), I can get on a forum and get advice from Nelson Pass, the possibilities are endless. Retail stores are hard pressed to compete with that and too slow to adapt. Its a complex issue as most things are after the sound bite, as for it being a bad thing, not sure I agree, its just different.

    baddog1946

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by baddog1946 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:29 am

    I can get more information both technical and anecdotal from this internet forum and a host of free DIY and other threads without the hassle of having to go to a store with a few keystrokes than I can from any single retail source.

    Hi end stores are there to do one thing SELL, SELL SELL! here on the forum we share and help each other so why should I let a sharp dressed pitch man possibly trying to sell me something I don't really need?
    A lot of the hi end audio retailers only have a brand or two they specialize in.
    The net on the other hand has it all at my fingertips not to mention tons of free and objective opinion to tell me its worth.

    Main street retail and bricks and mortar operations are doomed by this insurmountable mountain of info and free expert advice available at your finger tips 24/7.
    The fact I can go to Bob or Roy about their products anytime even from my remote location in Costa Rica is priceless to me and is a huge part of me being able to stay engaged in my DIY passion and the dividend of the many other sources of info available on the internet is irreplacable.
    Remember also that most technological development is driven by military funding and it appears later as trickle down to the consumer.
    I point to the SIT transistors Nelson Pass uses and most tubes were creatures of the military. Not a bad thing but a fact.
    BTW
    That's also why we should all work in our own small way to keep the internet open and free. The slow creep of we currently see all over the globe to limit or restrict the internet by or narrowing the window or shutting down a lot of free and open information exchange is happening every day.
    A new type of cornering market is being played out with the death by a thousand small cuts technique so you never notice its a problem until its too late. Guys like Bob and Roy and us in turn will soon be getting taxed for doing online business and that's the least of it.

    kaner

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by kaner on Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:56 pm

    I think another byproduct of the hand held music phenomenon is that people don't even get a chance to hear hi end audio anymore. The convenience of an i-pod is fantastic, but until you hear a great amp driving quality speakers you really don't know what you are missing. That's where the loss of a high end retailer hurts.

    I certainly remember having salesmen at those stores look at me in my college days knowing full well that I couldn't afford most of the stuff they were selling. And I've also heard the sales pitch from the supposed hifi expert. But I did pick up what I could here and there and built a system.

    I would not trade that for the free exchange of information and the ability to access all types and grades of products that the internet provides. In fact, without the internet I most assuredly would not by enjoying my tube amp.

    Now it's up to us that have experienced that clear, fall out of your speakers vacuum tube sound to offer up a listen. To me, once you've heard your favorite tunes at that level of quality, it's hard to go back to an ipod and earbuds.

    mantha3

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by mantha3 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:26 pm

    Some high end is still around... Some doing well. Decware out of Ill is doing great. Great quality stuff. I'm looking at buying a top end buffer from Purity Audio... The Purity Audio Harmony Buffer.

    I think you have to do the shopping online like you did when you got any of the Tubes4hifi stuff.

    I agree the market has shrunk from the years past... Just different type of commerace

    mantha3

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by mantha3 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:52 pm

    PS - Someone is talking passive pre's on another thread on this forum. I had Lloyd at Mapletree audio build me a gem of one. That guy is booked out months right now.

    PS#2 - Best amps for the buck come from Tubes4hifi.com right now.. I got stupid and paid way too much for a pair of Mcintosh MC75 60th anniversary monoblock amps... I compare these to my ST-120 and I can't say either sound better.. slightly different. both are unreal good options. The ST-120 is just a not the same price wise. It will be interesting to see where Mcintosh is in 5 years.

    Different times and different places people are going for gear.

    j beede

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by j beede on Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:43 pm

    kaner wrote:Here in Milwaukee the last high end store was bought up by one of those low end furniture stores. [cut]

    Ouch! I bet Dave Holmes (Audio Emporium) and Jon Spelt (Ultra Fidelis) would hate to hear you say that!

    Eric345

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by Eric345 on Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:01 am

    In Toronto there is still 4 or 5 high end stereo shops left, the prices of course are off the wall. To walk in to these shops you feel under dressed without your tux. There is however a thriving second hand industry going on here where you can hang out and listen to mildly used high end equipment and vintage hifi all at reasonable prices. Lucky for us retired enthusiast ex hippies from Yorkville.

    baddog1946

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by baddog1946 on Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:54 am

    We may be heading back to the golden age of DIY for new reasons. DIY was the layman's way to enjoy high end audio in the 50's and the internet of the day were books and magazines where you could find mail order products. However at today's astronomical prices for hi end HIFI we are seeing a renaissance in DIY as one of the practical ways to get our hands on good gear at reasonable prices.
    With the internet vendors are available to everyone and you can shop and compare with a few keystrokes. That can't be beaten by any one store front operation. The internet is there instantly for everybody we can count ourselves very lucky to have it.
    There will always be visionary, dedicated and talented people like Nelson Pass, Broskie, Mottram and a few others around able to make a living from their own inventive powers and they are the leaders who inspire and sustain us in the DIY world. The internet has provided them with the venue to do so.
    In the current austere economy we all make do and as always "necessity is the mother of invention" may it ever be so. The death of hi end bricks and mortar retail shops was inevitable.
    When times change and the economic climate improves new high end audio devices become available as a natural by product of that new environment and we will see current nascent technologies emerge like high quality hand held devices.
    BUT! it is always hard to replace a good idea or technology that works like vacuum tubes and vinyl. Still the outlook for them remains bright and we will no doubt see more new tubes, hybrid designs and no doubt new ways to get transistors to sound like them. Nelson Pass has gone a long way in that direction and he is very generous to the DIY community and a true DIY enthusiast.




    denny9167

    Posts : 152
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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by denny9167 on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:23 pm

    baddog1946 wrote:We may be heading back to the golden age of DIY for new reasons. DIY was the layman's way to enjoy high end audio in the 50's and the internet of the day were books and magazines where you could find mail order products. However at today's astronomical prices for hi end HIFI we are seeing a renaissance in DIY as one of the practical ways to get our hands on good gear at reasonable prices.
    With the internet vendors are available to everyone and you can shop and compare with a few keystrokes. That can't be beaten by any one store front operation. The internet is there instantly for everybody we can count ourselves very lucky to have it.
    There will always be visionary, dedicated and talented people like Nelson Pass, Broskie, Mottram and a few others around able to make a living from their own inventive powers and they are the leaders who inspire and sustain us in the DIY world. The internet has provided them with the venue to do so.
    In the current austere economy we all make do and as always "necessity is the mother of invention" may it ever be so. The death of hi end bricks and mortar retail shops was inevitable.
    When times change and the economic climate improves new high end audio devices become available as a natural by product of that new environment and we will see current nascent technologies emerge like high quality hand held devices.
    BUT! it is always hard to replace a good idea or technology that works like vacuum tubes and vinyl. Still the outlook for them remains bright and we will no doubt see more new tubes, hybrid designs and no doubt new ways to get transistors to sound like them. Nelson Pass has gone a long way in that direction and he is very generous to the DIY community and a true DIY enthusiast.




    You make some very interesting observations George. I'm also of the opinion that many of the high-end manufactures and dealers are really at fault for the way they have marketed their products. They should have realized early on that the extreme mark-up in prices would eventually isolate these products ,and the interest in hi-fi along with this, from younger generations. Meaning how would an aspiring Student in college,let alone one that is still in high school,even be able to afford high-end equipment,when there is cheaper more affordable gear available out their. But I do believe things can change.

    The high-end market is paying the price, Many companies are merging or falling under completely,once all these baby boomers are no longer around,there will be none left to fill the audiophile void.

    polarflux

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    Re: Why High-End Consumerism is Dying?

    Post by polarflux on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:21 am

    You make some very interesting observations George. I'm also of the opinion that many of the high-end manufactures and dealers are really at fault for the way they have marketed their products. They should have realized early on that the extreme mark-up in prices would eventually isolate these products ,and the interest in hi-fi along with this, from younger generations. Meaning how would an aspiring Student in college,let alone one that is still in high school,even be able to afford high-end equipment,when there is cheaper more affordable gear available out their. But I do believe things can change.

    The high-end market is paying the price, Many companies are merging or falling under completely,once all these baby boomers are no longer around,there will be none left to fill the audiophile void.
    [/quote]

    I agree, high end audio priced itself so that as a real income has dropped a continually smaller segment of their potential market is still able to buy their over priced gear. Add to that that everybody now has a 500 - 1000 dollar computer + cell phone + ???, which all seem to require regular replacing, and there is no wonder few can afford nice audio gear. All this is beside the fact that music is now distributed through the internet in a form that does not lend itself to playing with any sort of fidelity without a decent DAC. Everything has changed. But I still hold out hope. Things tend to come back and there continues to be demand for hi-fi quality audio. There are many musicians who know what music should sound like, and thanks to computers folks can put together a seriously good sounding studio in their home. Plus, there has been a huge explosion of sound creation tools over the past 15 years or so. I would say there has never been more music out there to listen to. So I think it is just a matter of time before a critical part of the masses realize their earbuds have been underperforming and start thirsting for quality again.

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