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  • RIP Audiophilia

    Very interesting and thought provoking article on the audiophile industry compared to former years. I found this quote very applicable: "The days are long gone when the average, determined audiophile could keep up with the cutting edge." It's amazing how fast companies are changing over their products to keep up with the newest and latest of other manufacturers. It is a wicked and vicious cycle, often feeling that a customer's product is now "outdated" since it is a previous model. I feel the digital and rapidly changing product life cycles of all electronics has done a disservice to the audiophile community. Stick a "mk 2" on a product and now a a previous model is obsolete - slashed prices and then flooded on the used market. I hate to say I bought into the "newer" is always better, leaving one to have to change their gear every two years to keep up. In today's economy, especially among millennials, this will be a big deterrent and obstacle for the audio community. I do think that high-end reference systems can be attainable, but is not easy based on the marketing tactics of the industry, limited quality and ethical dealers, the huge used market that will only continue to grow, and growth of social media where it becomes increasingly harder to have an honest conversation with others in the industry. There are exceptions, but for someone trying to get into this hobby, I think it is a challenge.


    I even thought about giving up the hobby at one point this past year. It wore me out and became less enjoyable when I first got into this hobby. I don't have a local audio dealer, which makes it even harder. For example, I bought a high end brand product brand new, which retailed for close to $7k, which was an import. It went to the US distributor to my dealer and then to me. The remote control only worked a few feet away. I had to pay the shipping back to the dealer, close to $100, and he tried to make the distance better but couldn't. The company ended up stating that that's how far the remote works. To me, that it is completely unacceptable. But what am I to do? Buying a $7000 unit, I expect the remote to work more than a few feet. I wouldn't have bought the unit if I knew that going in. Even $200 electronics have better remote range than that. Situations like this drive me crazy in the industry, when customers save and save for a product and incidences like this happen. Any thoughts? Here is the link to the above article.

    Read more at http://www.stereophile.com/content/r...iofTkI1g9fZ.99

  • #2
    I have been lamenting and reflecting a bit in concert with the article and your post. I teeter totter on this subject a bit. That said however, I don't really think our hobby is dead. One can still put together an unbelievably good and even great sounding system especially if Vintage is in the mix for a "reasonable" cost. The reality is that there are a lot of people in this world that have the money to buy the upper 10% of what is offered in Audiophiliadom such at the new 685,000 Wilsons or the new 50,000 phono preamp etc, etc. That is why there are Ferraris and Lambourginis sp? and Bentlys sp?,,,I can't afford any of them either but there are many that can..Is a Bentley better than a Camaro or an Acura or BMW? Depends on the means of the beholder?..If I look at myself in a mirror and be honest, my system is above the means of probably 80% of the potential population who may be interested in this hobby...There was a time I could not afford any of it....So I think it is really all relative....There are millionaires and billionaires that have to have something to spend their money on...Am I jealous, hell yes...But then there are the other 80% that are jealous of me...We all have our levels of comfort and it is human nature to want the best...In this hobby fortunately the most expensive isn't always the best....Sometimes not even close.

    So for all the new Audiophiles and would be audiophiles, the dream is still alive. We just have to play in the sandbox we are comfortable in.
    Primary 2 channel stuff: Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3, Pass Labs X600.5 amps, Aerial SW 12 subs, True Sound Works Ultimate Apogee Divas, Dunlavy SC4s, VPI HRX Reference w Avenger mag drive and Reference footers, Gimbal Fatboy, Yamaha GT2000 for Mono, Miyajima Kansui, Miyajima ZERO, Fidelity Research MC-201 & 202, VPI ADS, Vendetta Research SCP-1, Audio Note UK- 3.1X II balanced DAC, Meridian Sooloos, Western Electric Speaker wire, mostly diy balanced interconnects, Furutech Power Cords

    Comment


    • Analog21
      Analog21 commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't think the hobby is dead either, and probably my wording could have been a lot better. But the changes over the past few years are evident. Models are changing faster than ever, fewer retail stores, more online scrutiny, more used products flooding the market, etc. Customer service on the thousands of dollars spent should be much better IMHO. Not sure how the ship gets turned around in today's more complex environment, but at the very least, there is a lot of positive and negative regardless. I wasn't at the AXPONA show, but also heard there was a bit of a verbal rumble as well.... Always will be good and bad, so hard to make sense of a lot of it all.

  • #3
    Nice article. But here is where I think Audiophilla is impacting its longevity. The constant broadcast of equipment that cost more than 80% can afford in magazines, online forums , trade shows etc.. Sure its nice to talk about it, but to have a publication consume 80% of what's in print on equipment that the normal Audiophiles cannot afford is missing the mark on keeping the hobby going and its turns a lot of people off. And then we have the snobby sale personal at some actual stores and then at shows some newbies say WTF is his ( vendor rep) problem, can't you play my music or answer my question..

    As the old guard of Audiophilia dies off and goes to the big turntable in the sky, it will happen, all that's left is DACs, streaming, hi-rez and headphones and smartphones with earbuds,.

    I think Steve in another post said it best
    " Lower Cost - High Value audio. Its out there waiting on someone to report on it for the normal folk,.

    Chris
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

    Comment


    • Analog21
      Analog21 commented
      Editing a comment
      Agreed! Had a bunch of dealers put down some of the gear I had numerous times when inquiring about a couple of products. Whether it is a sales pitch for their products or more of an arrogance, it frustrates me quite a bit. For example, I previously owned the Sonus Faber Olympica III speakers and another dealer said to me "those aren't real Sonus Fabers" until you get the Amati line.... Let's just say it was in a derogatory tone, and that has happened numerous times before. And I wasn't even inquiring about speakers with the dealer!

    • Letsmakeadeal
      Letsmakeadeal commented
      Editing a comment
      CPP & Analog

      No excuse for any dealer like that but ironically I can remember back in the early 70s when I was in college and the exact same thing was going on with dealers...Same complaints, same arguments...

    • Steve Lefkowicz
      Steve Lefkowicz commented
      Editing a comment
      Shortly after I bought my Linn in the early 1980s, I wanted a new preamp to replace my Sumo Elektra. Stopped in a dealer to check out the conrad-johnson PV-5, which was at the top of my wish list. They asked me what turntable I had. I told them "a brand new LP12" and they said "a better preamp would be a waste of money until you get a better turntable." They then tried to sell me the same table I had decided against over the six months I spent shopping before deciding on the Linn. Never put a foot in that shop again, nor ever recommended it to anyone who asked me where to shop audio gear. They have been out of business for many years, but I still have the Linn.
      Last edited by Steve Lefkowicz; 05-03-2017, 07:30 PM.

  • #4
    For those who pursue a "hobby" that must entail THE most cutting edge equipment, there will always be a seller willing to take your large amounts of cash. Sellers in audio as elsewhere will always compete with other sellers for your money, using familiar and time-honored sales techniques. Nothing wrong with any of that: aggressive commerce is OK by me. However, for many of us the pursuit of music (and the playing of music) is not so much a hobby as it is a way of living: a crucial part of how we experience each day.

    Excellent equipment can bring us closer to enjoyment of music, and for many of us that is the point of acquiring and using audio gear. Like others, I will admit to nerding out on the science of audio and appreciating fine industrial design---often a feature of top flight gear---but those aspects are incidental supplements to my main event: which is musical and not merely "hobbying" my way to the most expensive iron.
    Lyra Kleos SL, Dynavector XX-2MKII, VPI JMW 10.5i, VPI Aries, VPI SDS, ModWright PH-150 Reference Phono, Sony HAP-Z1ES server, McIntosh MR80, McIntosh C2300, McIntosh MC352, Vandersteen 5A, PS Audio P10, Bright Star Audio Rack of Gibraltar. Cables: Shunyata Cobra Ztron IC, PS Audio Statement AC, Synergistic Research AC, Harmonic Tech Silver Phono, Cable Research Labs Silver IC, Audioquest Gibraltar bi-wire.

    Comment


    • #5
      The article is correct that "audiophilia" as we have known it over the past 40 or more years is indeed dying. There are few B & M stores left and as we age out we are buying less gear and music.

      But the future is full of new audiophiles. As I've said before, the younger generation(s) are listening to more music than ever before. They are just mostly streaming and beginning their musical quest with headphones.

      Like us they are listening on the go (the Walkman and Discman have been replaced by the smartphone), in their cars (no more 8-tracks, cassettes, or CDs) and at home. Most can't yet afford high end but they can do very well with modestly priced entry level stuff handed down by their parents or discovered at Best Buy. Eventually, the passionate music lovers will move up to the high end like we did.
      Thiel 7.2s, Manley NeoClassic 250s, Wadia 850, MIT Oracle V3 speaker cables, MIT MI-350 Oracle interconnects, Black Diamond Racing Shelves and Cones in a dedicated room with ASC Tube Traps, Room Tunes and 3 X 20 amp dedicated circuits.

      Comment


      • #6
        Audiophiles have always made up a very small percentage of the population. Few people care if they have high quality music in their home, and fewer still buy a system thinking they might need to upgrade it anytime soon. One issue the industry has always had is the admittedly necessary focus on constant upgrading. To tell someone who isn't already a dedicated audiophile that the money they spend today will just tide them over until the next upgrade simply turns people off.

        it is also more problematic in digital audio. New formats, changing standards, fear from seeing how video/hoe theater technology changes and makes old systems obsolete. Hard to convince anyone to sink a lot of money into a new playback system if they are concerned about the format being viable in a year or two. DVD-A anyone?

        We would much better if we were more geared to the idea of a long term purchase. "This amp or those speakers will last you 20 years" has probably always been true, but the audiophile hobbyist probably thinks about upgrading three or four times in that time frame. Fine for them, but to the 99%, it seems senseless.
        Steve Lefkowicz
        Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
        -
        Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
        Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
        Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
        Speakers: Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
        Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
        Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
        Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
        Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
        Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by Steve Lefkowicz View Post
          Audiophiles have always made up a very small percentage of the population. Few people care if they have high quality music in their home, and fewer still buy a system thinking they might need to upgrade it anytime soon. One issue the industry has always had is the admittedly necessary focus on constant upgrading. To tell someone who isn't already a dedicated audiophile that the money they spend today will just tide them over until the next upgrade simply turns people off.

          it is also more problematic in digital audio. New formats, changing standards, fear from seeing how video/hoe theater technology changes and makes old systems obsolete. Hard to convince anyone to sink a lot of money into a new playback system if they are concerned about the format being viable in a year or two. DVD-A anyone?

          We would much better if we were more geared to the idea of a long term purchase. "This amp or those speakers will last you 20 years" has probably always been true, but the audiophile hobbyist probably thinks about upgrading three or four times in that time frame. Fine for them, but to the 99%, it seems senseless.
          Wrong. Probably 20 times.
          Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

          Comment


          • #8
            Originally posted by mep View Post

            Wrong. Probably 20 times.
            explain...and remove your industry insider/reviewer hat for this
            TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | B.M.C. | Boulder | Magico

            "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

            Comment


            • #9
              I had many hobbies in my lifetime
              raced cars and bikes
              now I am
              old and race rc HELI's
              i have had hi fi all of my life
              there is always new but I have to say now it's beyond crazy and I feel many of the ultra hi end is pride of ownership rather that be proud and enjoy it.
              What I always did is get off the train and all is well.
              In rc forums every month there is a new product to buy and try. I don't post or go on them unless I need info.
              At one time I posted on many forums for two reasons
              one was I enjoyed the knowledge second if anyone has read a few of my posts that seem like I am from
              mars lol. It was to improve this in myself. Point is this place is informative but does not mAke me feel crazy that I have to have a new product. The lack of advertisers is a big part. But when I read about some who has his speaker for years and it's been ten years looking for a New preamp. That makes this place home.
              analog stuff.
              otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 made new by soren
              otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 1/2 combo made new by soren
              sota sapphire used eminent tech ver 2 arm
              new sota nova table has magnetic levitation platter and full speed control and latest motor same arm as above
              thorens td124 sme ver 2 arm
              thorens td125 sme ver 2 arm
              kenwood direct drive sme ver 2 arm
              phono preamp Ml no 25 all re capped
              speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
              mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
              digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
              Dacs lampi various

              Comment


              • #10
                I will box myself into a corner with some of you that tirelessly defend the High-end audio industry no matter how far off the deep end its headed. The ever increasing cost--disproportionate I might add--is a big factor, as they say in my business "its not about the money, ITS ABOUT THE MONEY."
                these are two provocative reads that are somewhat related to this topic.

                http://www.ultraaudio.com/index.php/...al-improvement
                http://www.soundstagehifi.com/index....and-cartridges
                TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | B.M.C. | Boulder | Magico

                "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

                Comment


                • Guest's Avatar
                  Guest commented
                  Editing a comment
                  ... It's about the margins.

              • #11
                Sorry, but that article didn't make a lot of sense to me. Chasing "the best" has always been an expensive proposition and an elusive, frustrating process for the well-heeled, the spendthrifts and the lunatic fringe. I suspect that the vast majority of Stereophile readers in the '70s, along with the readers of The Absolute Sound, did not own equipment comparable to that regarded as "A+" or "Editor's Choice" but viewed those products as aspirational. There were far fewer choices then too. Look at the variety of serious turntables, tonearms and cartridge available today compared to 1970 or 1980, when vinyl was still a mainstream medium and hi-fi was still flourishing.
                I haven't done the math, but I suspect inflation only answers part of the reason why "top tier" hi-fi today is so expensive. I think part of it is also the "monetization of everything." Things cost more because once you get beyond the price-sensitive products and shoppers, pricing becomes pretty arbitrary. And the "competition" at the highest end has nothing to do with price or value, because it doesn't have to.
                The break through of quality sound in modestly priced digital gear has almost nothing to do with the death of "audiophilia." I think there are more people, with more money, than ever. I think what's changed may be the market itself. I haven't purchased an audio magazine in years. t I see an enormous amount of skepticism on the part of consumers and interested parties on the chat fora--perhaps most of those people aren't real buyers, but I don't know many folks that buy into the hype and marketing that is commonly associated with the retail business of hi-fi. In that sense, "audiophilia" is almost like wearing a badge that says "Gullible consumer." Perhaps it is a function of age on my part, but my aspirations at this point have less to do with the latest shiny bauble and more to do with set up, room and how the overall system in the room behaves with a wide variety of recordings.

                Comment


                • mkuller
                  mkuller commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Back in 1977 when I first discovered high end audio and the underground magazines, the best equipment was affordable and you could aspire to own it. KLH 9s, stacked Advents and Dahlquist DQ-10s were not that expensive. Today prices of the best have skyrocketed and appeal to people who collect luxury items to show off as opposed to audio hobbyists. Fortunately, there is trickle down of the technology in audio.

                • Bill Hart
                  Bill Hart commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Fair point re the Dahlquist- I remember the launch and the dealer who sold them in Pittsburgh was a big advocate of the KLH 9. But the latter was over a grand a set, and double sets were the ticket; add some Marantz 8 or 9s and you were looking at some big bucks. Ditto Levinson's original products. By today's standards, these things almost seem cheap, but depending on your age-- I was in college in 1972- most of this stuff was beyond my means. I did run stacked Advents with a ... wait for it.... Phase Linear 700 in around 1973. But, I quickly got converted to the tube/electrostat thing, and ARC stuff wasn't cheap for the average Joe. I think it is all relative.

              • #12
                Kessler really put it all in perspective. Very sobering...
                Primary 2 channel stuff: Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3, Pass Labs X600.5 amps, Aerial SW 12 subs, True Sound Works Ultimate Apogee Divas, Dunlavy SC4s, VPI HRX Reference w Avenger mag drive and Reference footers, Gimbal Fatboy, Yamaha GT2000 for Mono, Miyajima Kansui, Miyajima ZERO, Fidelity Research MC-201 & 202, VPI ADS, Vendetta Research SCP-1, Audio Note UK- 3.1X II balanced DAC, Meridian Sooloos, Western Electric Speaker wire, mostly diy balanced interconnects, Furutech Power Cords

                Comment


                • #13
                  The aspect of the Hi-End dealer --- guess its in the Animal bloodline to get the sale at all costs--frankly this aspect occurs in almost all sales/commission/etc orchestrated outlets

                  It just niggles when one comes upon it face to face. Unfortunately we pride ourselves on the status in this hobby with at least some nous and cred--having today the Internet/Social

                  Media --and of course FORUMS like this one--which offer all one can find if one searches prudently

                  Case in point I recently enquired re availability and price at a Dealer/Importer of a Power product .

                  I wrote suitably correct and amiable Email requesting Price /ect as above( The dealer was in another State and I wanted some clarification before the travel side).

                  he replies with the RRP--fine

                  I politely replied with " thank you is that you BEST price for a cash buyer"--and I mentioned I was a member of an Audio Forum-(Name with held- which he posts on also )

                  Then the S**t hit the fan!

                  His reply was --"what are you a F****king Joke and that forum is an ill informed lot"

                  Basically I feel the Forums/Net/ SM/etc seemed to have alienated the Dealer/ Customer relationship

                  I wonder why?---maybe they've been hiding something from us all these years.

                  I must admit feeling of trepidation when I step foot in a showroom now--sad-- am I the Roman slave and must face the Gladiator?

                  like I said above --"Why is this so today ?"

                  Socrates

                  Comment


                  • Guest's Avatar
                    Guest commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Too many are too quick to take their complaint or question to the forums first. Or too lazy. There is a segment of audiophiles who always have some kind of problem with this or that piece of gear and turn to forums first for resolution. It is easy to see how this has soured dealers and manufacturers committed to having a dealer network. Dealer support builds (or breaks) customer longevity.

                • #14
                  Originally posted by Rob View Post

                  explain...and remove your industry insider/reviewer hat for this
                  I got it, just a joke about how often audiophiles would want to upgrade over a 20 year time frame.
                  Steve Lefkowicz
                  Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
                  -
                  Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
                  Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
                  Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
                  Speakers: Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
                  Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
                  Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
                  Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
                  Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
                  Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

                  Comment


                  • Rob
                    Rob commented
                    Editing a comment
                    i was still riding a major caffeine buzz at the office, I see that now

                • #15
                  Perhaps not representative of the audiophile archetype, many members on this board don't strike me as upgrade, gotta have it folks. Look how much adoration there is for 30-40 year old Japanese turntables.

                  Comment


                  • Rob
                    Rob commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I for one was a "gotta have it" type way back in the day and blew a large wad for a 20 something year old. I now use 20-30 year old gear mixed with newer stuff in part because 1)you get jaded over time 2)you realize a lot of current gear is just old wine in new bottles (see number 1) 3)stop reading what JV or this or than person thinks 4)trust your own ears for goodness sakes.

                  • rockitman
                    rockitman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    It's a happy day when you can get off the equipment centric bandwagon and just focus on the music.

                  • Guest's Avatar
                    Guest commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Rob ... old wire with new bottles :-)

                    Christian - it can take a while to *stop* listening to sound and start listening to music. The reviewer's bane if you will. But of course you're right.
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