What Happened to Hi-Fi

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macrojack

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #140 on: 11 Jan 2017, 11:11 am »
Something else I have noticed about this discussion is the repeated references to the glory days of hi-fi. Those days were a blip. Owning a hi-fi was a de rigueur status measure for a time and that was followed by the Reagan era penny stock go-go economy, another moment of status-seeking. These were fad moments, high points, not the norm against which today need be measured. Owning a hi-fi system such as what we grew into will be very rare in the not too distant future. Those of us who still see a pair of floor standing speakers in the living room as normal look like the furry dice on the mirror crowd to "normal" Americans. We are the anomaly, not the iPhone listener, but us. And we are dropping in number now, prior to the next big taking. Once that has settled in, and the repercussions are widely felt, the number of potential buyers will be near zero. The poor and determined amongst us will scavenge their way to satisfaction and the wealthy will purchase what they want as usual. They are not so likely to buy in, however, because there will be no status or adulation obtainable. What kind of system do you think Trump owns?

CanadianMaestro

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #141 on: 11 Jan 2017, 11:36 am »
Something else I have noticed about this discussion is the repeated references to the glory days of hi-fi. Those days were a blip. Owning a hi-fi was a de rigueur status measure for a time and that was followed by the Reagan era penny stock go-go economy, another moment of status-seeking. These were fad moments, high points, not the norm against which today need be measured. Owning a hi-fi system such as what we grew into will be very rare in the not too distant future. Those of us who still see a pair of floor standing speakers in the living room as normal look like the furry dice on the mirror crowd to "normal" Americans. We are the anomaly, not the iPhone listener, but us. And we are dropping in number now, prior to the next big taking. Once that has settled in, and the repercussions are widely felt, the number of potential buyers will be near zero. The poor and determined amongst us will scavenge their way to satisfaction and the wealthy will purchase what they want as usual. They are not so likely to buy in, however, because there will be no status or adulation obtainable. What kind of system do you think Trump owns?

Who knows? Ask him. He has no time for hi-fi. His entertainment comes from ego-boosting and tweeting.

I prefer to belong to a select (and shrinking in size) group. That owns great audio gear, and certainly not for "status symbols". Face it, how many people besides the owners get to see/hear audio gear? Unlike cars and jewelry....I estimate the total # of friends/guests who have seen/heard my home system is fewer than ten. Honestly.  :nono:

JLM

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #142 on: 11 Jan 2017, 12:34 pm »
macrojack,

Trump listens only to himself.


CanadianMaestro,

Yeah, few outsiders appreciate/understand audio.  AV guys have a wider audience because more folks like loud special effects and big screens.  And frankly audiophiles spend ridiculous amounts of money on gear (as much or more for 2 channels without a picture compared to AV that more people enjoy).  For some reason audiophiles grasp for the nth degree of fidelity yet can't agree on the best approach (tubes/solid state, digital/vinyl, and various speaker design concepts).  Little wonder few outsiders appreciate/understand audio.


gnostalgick

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #143 on: 11 Jan 2017, 01:07 pm »
  I see a few people have mentioned how the younger generation generally uses music only as background. I'd just like to add that its not their fault. Music is used as background at almost any & every store or restaurant you go anymore (if not, there's either a tv on, or no one's shopping/eating).  Its like its not allowed for there to be silence in public places anymore. For all the disparaging of texting there's been, at least its quiet.

  It's been said that hi-fi is supposed to strive to be comparable to the live performance. Unfortunately the sound at most 'pop' music concerts is pretty dismal. A dynamic range compressed mp3 isn't that far off from either a seedy bar/club hosting an up and coming act, or too close/too distant seating at a sold-out stadium event. Hence a phone & cheap earbuds, or bluetooth speakers are, sadly, good enough hi-fi for most people, almost regardless of age.

James Tanner

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #144 on: 11 Jan 2017, 02:03 pm »
  I see a few people have mentioned how the younger generation generally uses music only as background. I'd just like to add that its not their fault. Music is used as background at almost any & every store or restaurant you go anymore (if not, there's either a tv on, or no one's shopping/eating).  Its like its not allowed for there to be silence in public places anymore. For all the disparaging of texting there's been, at least its quiet.

  It's been said that hi-fi is supposed to strive to be comparable to the live performance. Unfortunately the sound at most 'pop' music concerts is pretty dismal. A dynamic range compressed mp3 isn't that far off from either a seedy bar/club hosting an up and coming act, or too close/too distant seating at a sold-out stadium event. Hence a phone & cheap earbuds, or bluetooth speakers are, sadly, good enough hi-fi for most people, almost regardless of age.

Hi GN

Some good points there.  One of the benefits I have had in my time in this industry has been the ability to be present at a lot of recording sessions including all types of venues - Jazz, Classical and Pop/Rock/Folk.

Bryston is one of the few companies that has been able to survive in both the professional and Consumer market places and as such has given me a little different perspective on the way music is recorded. So I have been fortunate enough to sit directly in front of (both on the recording floor and in the control room) the Jazz group or Orchestra or Rock ensemble  and been able to listen to how things sound in the real live environment (sound stage) as well as the control room and how those recordings sound when you take the CD or Digital File home.

I agree with you that most live performances (especially rock) suffer from what can actually be captured in a quality recording session. That's why in my case my audio system reflects my experience with that sound at the recording level and that tends to be my goal when assessing audio gear.

james

CanadianMaestro

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #145 on: 11 Jan 2017, 02:42 pm »
James,

Which is consistently better-sounding for you -- the soundstage (concert-style venue) or the controlled studio setting?


undertow

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #146 on: 11 Jan 2017, 03:18 pm »
Hi GN

Some good points there.  One of the benefits I have had in my time in this industry has been the ability to be present at a lot of recording sessions including all types of venues - Jazz, Classical and Pop/Rock/Folk.

james

Digital has gotten much better over the last 10 years. Vinyl was best between around 1975 to 1990 for the best of the best recordings.

Some new vinyl from pop, rock band albums are very good sounding, but most still don't match up to the best vinyl from the early 80's when it comes down to quality sounding pressings, I am not talking about musical content.

The shift in digital media storage, and devices geared toward playback are still needed, and gave a boost 10 years ago.

The Vinyl "Revival" over the last 5 years probably seriously is the only thing that truly bumped up more time for high end to figure it out, and it came at a time they needed it desperately! This is what has kept audio or even high end on the map period. Not big speakers or amps.

I have this image in my head of all the big name guys scurrying around finding their schematics stashed in a file drawer somewhere from 1979 to rebuild, and reissue those phono stages now!


CanadianMaestro

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #147 on: 11 Jan 2017, 03:30 pm »
Speaking of convenience and the decline of HiFi, check out this story...

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/music-streaming-knowledge-obama-1.3929344

charmerci

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #148 on: 11 Jan 2017, 04:43 pm »
As for sound quality, it recently has taken a hit because of mp3 and the loudness wars but because of cheaper, faster computers and their chips, I think close to perfect recordings will eventually happen with the loudness processed in for low budget players.

NIGHTFALL1970

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #149 on: 11 Jan 2017, 05:19 pm »
Error.

NIGHTFALL1970

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #150 on: 11 Jan 2017, 05:22 pm »
macrojack,

Trump listens only to himself.



Another example of why he won, and Dems are STILL clueless.

charmerci

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #151 on: 11 Jan 2017, 05:53 pm »
Uh oh. Politics. Trash bin time?  :shake:

NIGHTFALL1970

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #152 on: 11 Jan 2017, 05:55 pm »
He started it. :lol:

charmerci

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #153 on: 11 Jan 2017, 06:17 pm »

timind

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #154 on: 11 Jan 2017, 07:41 pm »
Stick a fork in it.

This thread and hi end audio are done.

vegasdave

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #155 on: 12 Jan 2017, 06:23 am »
you're preaching to the converted, friend......must've missed the gist of my message.  :green:

ok haha, yeah that went over my head so to speak....:D so what is the gist?

assafl

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #156 on: 12 Jan 2017, 09:29 am »
IMHO - the trend that killed the audio market was subjectivism. The start was late 70's. Pure, 100% snake oil.

* Directional cables????
* People poo-pooed parametric equalizers and then bought "network" interconnects????
* Cryogenically dipped "whatever"????
* Zelkova tree stands (what the heck is a zelkova tree)????
* 100W class A amplifiers (really????) and single ended Triode with 300B (and to think Western Electric were so proud when they got rid of that awful garbage)???
* Weight rings for your CDs????
* Bybee quantum filters????
* How much does a boulder amp weigh??? And one could get probably 15 amps from Crown at the same price...
* "Objective" style fake ranking - e.g. putting a Arnie Nudell designed 2 meter high multi-unit line array with a small D'Appolito "monitor" in the same list (and giving the former 100pts while the latter only 78pts - Huh - how do you even build a room where you could compare the two)?????
* "Audio grade" capacitors, resistors, inductors and 110v outlets...

And some things just sound like snake oil (but might not be). Like diamond or beryllium loudspeaker cones (albeit the latter - TAD and Focal drivers are very nice).

It was the industry's fault to play along. Instead of insisting on focusing on quality and circuit topology and measurements (and playing along with magazines like Audio and the good writers) - the marketing departments were happy. Let's hide the designers (any time a designer talks sales plummet - remember Dave Wilson saying he doesn't have to listen to a speaker? the same was with Martin Logan's designer... I am not sure it ever fully recovered), cryogenically dip the IEC cable (bought in China but added zelkova tree weaving around it) and say that violins sounds like the weep of a weeping willow on a starlit night.... And ask for more money.

Subjectivism is a double edged sword - it promises a lot - but overused - it brings a pile of skepticism into the mix. A health mix of objective discussion (e.g. measurements, discuss the topology e.g. Bryston's quad complementary output stage...) and subjective assessment ("I like this amp even though it had a higher THD+N") - really kept the skepticism at bay. 

The younger generation is a better customer - and they got fed up with the meaningless mumbo jumbo and the appearance of snake oil. So they (still do) spend a lot of money on Bose and Sonus and small loudspeakers etc. But steer away from - what they see - as the snake oil peddlers.

If the Blameless amplifier (to borrow Douglas Self's term for a good amp - one that just amplifies) is the epitome of the Hi-fi market - unfortunately very few makers outside the pro-audio industry are actually there - and these true Hi-Fi manufacturers are hard to find in the pile of high-end garbage. Bryston is right there - IMHO guarded against the snakes by maintaining a firm leg in the pro-audio side.

Of real Hifi - all that is left is the DIYAudio site and random posts on a few engineering sites (like EEVblog). And some sites like Jan Didden, Siegfried Linkwitz, Lynn Olson, and few other old timers. Head-fi used to be good 10 years ago but is now inhabited mostly by subjectivists (who kowtow to any fad) to a fault.

BTW - Subjectivism is now doing the same to the high end wine market and the watch industry is undergoing similar trends. As are the upper scale cars (mainly the mass market ones like Mercedes and BMW - making tiny "cheap" cars now...)...

CanadianMaestro

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #157 on: 12 Jan 2017, 12:12 pm »
ok haha, yeah that went over my head so to speak....:D so what is the gist?

floor speakers beat headphones for imaging, no contest.   8)

Armaegis

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Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #158 on: 12 Jan 2017, 05:21 pm »
* Zelkova tree stands (what the heck is a zelkova tree)????

I'm not depending any of the other stuff, but just wanted to point out that Zelkova is actually a type of tree:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelkova_serrata
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelkova
I don't believe that it has any special properties in regards to audio, but it's a pretty tree nonetheless.

floor speakers beat headphones for imaging, no contest.   8)

For imaging I'd argue that it would come down to the quality of each, though good speakers will likely do staging better.

Johnny2Bad

Re: What Happened to Hi-Fi
« Reply #159 on: 13 Jan 2017, 01:39 pm »
Johnny2Bad

Just to clarify nobody complained about an Audio Research preamp at 15,000. It was used as an example to a question about how could you build a component with features, and quality at a lower price point.

Hence the example was used that a 2 channel / Tube audio research amp has less actually technology in it than a smart phone, HDTV, and $300 dollar sony receiver combined.

Point was that it is a hard sell today... And it was also stated that "Maybe" this would be a product line more feasible at 4000 to 5000. But justifying it at 15,000 will be very hard to sell into the "Next Generation".

Also, fact is packaging, and shipping etc... on any of these items would be the same in reality for most companies.

But again those that love big silver faceplates, the glow of tubes, and somewhat better sound quality will pay up for this, however what is "Reasonable" was the question. Is 15,000 for 4 tubes, and an isolated power supply worth 14,000 more? Guess there are those that will argue it one way or the other!

Just as side note I was not around in the 70's, but I can tell you this my mother never paid more than about 3.99 to 5.99 an album, even most still had price stickers on them! So not sure where they were being sold for 13 or 17 bucks unless they were MOFI or something?

They were 1.99 in 1960 and under $5 through the 1960's. When I was in High School (1969~73) and travelling to the record store every Saturday they were about $8 to $13, depending if you shopped at a Record Store which offered a discount, or a Department Store, which didn't.

[As an aside, I earned my Record Money by working at a service station, pumping gas. Yes, I cleaned your windows ... all of them ... and checked your oil every time you visited. By Grade 10 (or if you are an American, "the Tenth Grade") I was working full time 4pm to midnight Tuesday to Saturday, while attending school full time and maintaining a B to A- average. School was relatively easy, as I was allowed to "work ahead" of the class, so I was done the year's work by February or so and didn't really have to attend most classes, although I did have to be there for attendance at 10:30AM and 1:15PM every day, while French and PhysEd were mandatory every day. All my English, Maths, and Sciences would be done though.

I was paid $1.15~1.25 an hour and the full service price for 90 octane regular was about 48c a gallon, or 10.21 cents a litre].

By the end of the decade, 1978~80, they were about $15 with a typical discount from the Label's MSRP of about $17. A Direct to Disk or Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab album sold for $25~40.

The inflation rate in the 1970'S was high; distributors released a new price list every six months and inflation was in the double digits; by the early 80's a mortgage in Canada would cost you 20~24% in interest. That means prices double every 3 years and a few months.

A common news story of the day referred to the number of people who were locking up their homes, leaving the keys on the kitchen table, and walking away, simply defaulting on the mortgage.

The above is all in $Canadian and reflects the Canadian economic reality. Prices, and inflation, were lower in the US, although from their perspective, still high for both.

The remarkable thing is album prices and CDs did not rise in price as much as everything else during the last 30 years, from the mid 1980's on. Cassettes, CDs then LP records were the most to least expensive to manufacture (about $2.50, $2.25 and $1.50).

The Audio gear itself, did rise in step with inflation, and were it not for economies of scale, the emergence of an electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the Far East and improvements in efficiency brought on by the Digital Revolution, would be even higher in cost today than they are.

Today vinyl is considerably more expensive than CD/DVD, cost of which hovers around $1 a copy.

* At 20% a given value doubles every 3 years 7 months 6 days.