Where Have All the Audiophiles Gone?

A couple of emails we recently received got me thinking about our current state of audiophile affairs. One, from Paul Thiel of Crescent Springs, Kentucky, headlined “The Great Equalizer,” asks whether the disappearance of standalone graphic equalizers from the home audio market, along with the jacks to connect them, was the result of automated room EQ coming to bear...or perhaps proof that manufacturers were mistaken in the notion that consumers were interested enough in audio to want to tailor the frequency response of their systems.

In response to Thiel’s question, our resident audio historian and audio technical editor Mark Peterson reminds us that the tape loop and pre-out/main-in connections required to hook up even a stereo (much less multichannel) equalizer or other processor disappeared with the advent of multichannel AV receivers, well before built-in DSP and automated room correction came into vogue. It was, he suggests, a financial decision by manufacturers seeking to save cost and back-panel real estate. So this might have been something of a chicken-and-egg situation: Did the demand for equalizers (or home recording) disappear first, followed by the removal of the connectors? Or did the manufacturers’ decision to provide the clearly desirable benefit of surround sound in competitively priced products simply require triage of more esoteric functions (like the hookup of an equalizer or tape deck), and thereby hasten the disappearance of these products?

On the idea that audio manufacturers don’t arbitrarily bite the hand that feeds, we might rightfully assume that sales of these accessory products were waning enough by the time they canned the jacks to suggest that the general public would not miss the lack of connection points. So that got me wondering: When exactly did we, as a nation of music lovers, stop wanting to tweak and tailor our sound to make it just right? When did our collective passion for hi-fi, as we once knew it, begin to fade? When did teenage boys in high school stop wanting the tallest speakers with the biggest woofers, or stop aspiring to a giant receiver with a glowing FM dial and more buttons, knobs, and switches than an Apollo space capsule?

When exactly did we, as a nation of music lovers, stop wanting to tweak and tailor our sound to make it just right?

Was it in the mid-1980s when the CD (with its arguably inferior digital sound quality at the time) came on like a tidal wave and vinyl sales quickly withered? Was it in the early 2000s when Napster and the iTunes Store first popularized, and then legitimized, downloadable digital music files of much less than even CD quality? Was it with the broad acceptance of the iPod and its surgical freeing of music listening from the home environment — the mass market’s ringing endorsement that the gift of music should and would be had anywhere but between a pair of bulky towers or bookshelf speakers, and that cheap earbuds driven by the flea amp in a high-tech pocket player was all that the music deserved?

Which brings me to that second email, titled “Don’t ’Phone Me,” in which Barry Miller of San Jose more or less argues (fairly) that headphones provide a very different listening experience than sitting in a room between two speakers, and dismisses them (perhaps unfairly) as something less than an authentic audiophile experience. I responded by noting the recent surges in high-performance ’phones and passionate headphone enthusiasts, though I wasn’t thinking at the time about what might be driving that growing interest. Or, for that matter, what might be behind the recent renaissance of the vinyl LP — the one source/music format you can’t listen to on a bus or while walking down the street.

Do those trends mean that we are heading back to the good ol’ days, the Golden Age of Hi-Fi? Well, not quite. Irrespective of the fact that virtually everyone (it seems) regularly listens to music in some fashion, the mass acceptance of downloadable and streamed digital proves how few of us really cared to be tethered to a good hi-fi system in the first place. Just as the mass-market acceptance of soundbars today over component home theater systems shows again how, for the majority, convenience and aesthetic considerations trump sound quality every time.

But I do believe that a sea change has been signaled by the younger generation playing and collecting LPs, and the interest in high-performance headphones among people who grew up never living with a component stereo and only knew the white earbuds as their access to the music. My interest in high-performance wireless speakers like those from Sonos and its competitors is driven in part by my desire for products that address those aesthetics and convenience points while, perhaps surreptitiously, reaching out and emotionally engaging the listener. If we can get everyday consumers to stereo-pair a couple of high-quality compact wireless speakers, there’s a chance they just might stop whatever busywork they’re doing around the house and sit down in the sweet spot. And from there... who knows?

mns3dhm's picture

Never mentioned in the foregoing was any reference to the astonishing price increases associated with high end audiophile equipment over the time period you discussed. Thirty years ago high end audio pieces could be had for four figures; today there are many audio components that cost more than a car and some that cost more than a house. In my opinion, that reduced the target audience by an order of magnitude and absolutely killed the boutique audio retailer. The interest in relatively inexpensive headphone sets is a logical response to this - they're cheap compared to the cost of setting up an audiophile system today.

nick4540's picture

Im 38. I use to be into this scene, out of nostolgia (a Stranger Things binge may have contributed, ps this will be relevant later) and I now pity the publisher and its audience.

You seem to have gone from early adopters to living in the past really quick, and its sad to watch. Consumer electronics are consolidated, commoditized mass market junk food now, used by corporations to try to sell us all more junk we just dont want because they enhance our lives far less than they claim to. Technology is following moors law and this magazine has pitched woofers and tweeters as the only solution to the audio quality problem from day one. Where is the real innovation over the last few decades? Electrostatics have been around as long as cones and domes but beyond that nothing. Meanwhile I have what use to be a supercomputer a few years ago in my pocket and have access to virtually all human knowledge and endless entertainment. That device is now so cheap you can even get one free or close to it if you just maintain the internet service which cost less than a tank of gas these days.

Why would someone who grew up watching silicone and software change our world immeasurably ever be satisfied or enthusiastic about what your offering? A big box that is fussy about where you put it, what you connect it to and your proximity to it...those being the same issues my grandpa had with the product...if consistency is quality the industry has solved the problems. You are in the advertisers pockets but you should have been holding them accountable for a lack of innovation long ago. Add an innovation metric to your rating system and there becomes no need to buy a new product a decade later. Atmos is innovations that makes me lmfao.

As for the Vision side of the equation its virtually the same story for the past decade, some variation on the flat panel and? OLED ok thats cool for 1 article the rest is masturbation. And really blueray reviews, really? No mention of genra defining things like Stranger Things and how streaming is eating the industry?

Your editorial director etc should be drawn and quartered immediately if you want to have a future and you should higher people who live in this day and age. "50 years later B&W Reinvents its flagship"... give me a break. The dinosaurs died and so will this king of junk soon.

You are a day 2 company, slow and painful death follow shortly behind. I suspect this is the fate of your readers too as they are likely far past graying at this point 8:::(

brenro's picture

You don't care about the quality of what you listen to or what you watch. Why bother to follow this site? Oh, and spell check is your friend.

nick4540's picture

i came out of nostalgia as stated and you have just proven my point, you are probably over 65 so think spelling matters...spelling has no place in the 21st century sorry. loved how you just waved your hand past the content of the message... you believe that somehow what you have been sold as quality actually is. you care not about actual innovation and will as with all things that fail to evolve be replaced. living in the past is like a dull pencil, there is no point.

sharpen up bud, your going to be erased

Scars's picture

I'm 31 and I think spelling matters, and I think you're perspective on this has a completely valid point. It's not obvious to me why you're choosing to express your point of view in such a hostile manner, though.

I believe that people have always valued convenience over performance/quality for most anything not in their area of interest.

I've spent some money on a good home setup, and everyone who's watched a movie or listened to music with me has been interested in how I put it together. They're all on board for doing the same until they find out the cost, and then weigh that against the bulky speakers in the living room... or they consider the burden of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers... which leads to the realization that they'll be pulling speaker wire... and they're out after that. But we're starting to see more and more wireless surround options, but not at a price point they like.

Most people I know have their jaw drop when they see that I've spent over $5000 in my entire set up (TV to speakers)... and I think I did well for my budget. Those people want a $600 TV and a $200 soundbar if they can get away with it. It's not that they don't appreciate the benefits of a better system, it's that they can't justify the cost.

Physics haven't changes, and so the basic mechanism to reproduce sound probably aren't going to change anytime soon. However, there has been some serious movement in the wireless space, as I mentioned before. It's slow going, but it's going. It's not clear to me what magical innovation you're hoping to see.

Showing up here to unleash this broad attack on a publication geared towards enthusiasts is bizarrely confrontational.

nick4540's picture

first god was everything, then we learned about bacteria, mental health and weather and a round earth...ill leave evoloution out of it to keep the flames low... point is we use things like god to explain what we dont understand throughout history in response to your statement.

physics, i doubt many here are physicists im not (im an engineer), but i know enough to understand just because someone somewhere said physics once is the answer, that you have to back up your statement. use to be electric cars could not go 200 miles on a charge and never would because: physics. turned out the manufactures simply had no reason to innovate until they were forced. self driving cars: impossible right? suddenly ladies and gentlemen those things are all now possible, just took an outsider to force the issue and now there are Tesla's outselling Mercedes s classes, fleets of autonomous cars in Philly and whole countries going green and electric in the next 5 years.

you all need a wakeup call, I want something to aspire to, something of this century and you all seem to be happy with the bill of bs your being sold. since when have polite requests ever changed things?

Scars's picture

Whining for innovation is a bold strategy. Let's see how it plays out.

nick4540's picture

just getting old and bitter or this generation is really as dumb as it seems?

I raise real questions and im a troll, the article asks a question in the title, should we all just eat the soylent?

Scars's picture

You're approach to raising "real" questions looks more like bitching that initiating meaningful discussion. You also seem to be working under the impression that we're all completely satisfied with the current state of the audio/video industry.

News flash for ya: We're not.

You cite strawman examples of how other industries are innovating, and are openly dismissive of innovation in this space (Atmos). At that point, it's pretty clear that you're just an old, bitter person who has all the "questions" but no answers. Which makes you useless noise.

nick4540's picture

is exactly my point, our voice in calling the publisher out on these kind of publications as bad stewards, and the manufactures as corporate interests is the solution. were all hobbyist and nobody says why the hobby is in the state its in. if your not being active members your burying the lead and guilty of negligence. i read several of the comments on these articles before getting upset...and people say nothing about this being the products being stagnant and recycled and no article (clearly have not read everything) on here calls foul ever. atmos as an innovation sure, but sold as the savoir, you cant possibly buy that? this industry/hobby has deep seated issues and people need to speak up on it will continue to...i will sleep well knowing the technology will evolve eventually, sadly publications like this lose all credibility not being better stewards and not speaking up makes everyone here complicit.

prerich45's picture

This is very sad commentary indeed. Much of what you speak of reminds me of a silly little movie called "Idiocracy". A place where spelling doesn't matter, among other things. Innovation is more than making things more compact and "life-style" efficient. Much of what passes for innovation is no more than convenience. Now Legacy Audio's Calibre speaker...innovative. Dirac Live Room Correction...innovative. Small speakers that are wireless but sound worse than wired speakers - but produce "acceptable sound" ...convenient, but hardly innovative.
To be truly innovative - you must exceed the previous SOTA in sonics, while making those pushes in convenience (see Dynaudio, Legacy, MiniDSP, Klipsch, and yes even B&W). I for one, care for quality, as well as innovation - for what is innovation without quality?

P.S. You defeat your own premise by saying that spelling no longer counts - spelling became obsolete because of "spellcheck"...that was innovative (minimized the reasons for misspelling words).

nick4540's picture

you define Legacy Calibre as an example, lets explore just that one...
3 way speaker in a wood cabinet with an AMT tweeter, a 7.5 midrange/midbass and an 8" bass driver... you define a dynamic loudspeaker design which comes from 1925, with tweeter from 1970 in the same wooden box and 3 way configuration that has existed for 50 years...as innovation...


please tell me your not serious. if you had said for example the devialet phantom i may have just applauded you there. sadly you missed the mark on innovation by a half century :'(

p.s. i knew someone would get the reference thanks, truth be told its hard to care enough to edit on a tiny keyboard im talking to...hence spelling if not dead today will be soon sorry to say...also this is a forum not a novel god get a life already with the spelling punctuation angle its played out...almost as much as the Heil transformer design is:)

prerich45's picture

The innovation is in package (they're also a pretty piece of art). You have basically a tower speaker in the size of a large bookshelf speaker. The Heil transformer is indeed old tech, but it has been improved upon greatly. The Calibre shows more innovation (in my eyes) than the latest iPhone.

Tommy Lee's picture

If you are dissatisfied with S&V, feel free to start your own publication...but I doubt you will come up with an exciting new way to reproduce sound or vision, which seems to be what you're bitching about. Innovation in these areas is certainly going on, but always seems to run up against the laws of physics or the iron rule of economic reality, as witness the reader complaining about high prices just as you are complaining about lack of innovation.
Go ahead and invent a way to get 20 hz bass at 110 db from a $20 package the size of a pack of gum. That's innovation! You will get rich. I dare you.

nick4540's picture

they are building rockets at spacex that should be impossible, we have maglev trains racing across europe and asia, super computers in pockets and sunshine and wind powering our cities. somehow asking why cones and domes (which are cheap to make and even more so in china) are the only solution (when a sony tv can have the display panel itself be the speaker today) you think is possible. i know the answer you lack any imagination and buy the commercials and crap you read in publications like this. im calling bs on the lot. china is going to eat these morons alive, if not them someone else will...

prerich45's picture

The Sony Tv...the one where the display panel produces the sound...the $1,000,000 question is this....
Does it sound good?

nick4540's picture

and it wont be found on this website, but a review does exist on other sites of this innovation... and the reviewer said it was much better than traditional tv speakers...

prerich45's picture

It's easy to sound better than traditional tv speakers - that's not innovative. What would be innovative is if they sound better than say...I'll make it easy - a pair of Elac Debut 6's with a powered sub. The laws of physics kind of limit that though.....

nick4540's picture

prove what your talking about is not a limitation of physics or economics, just your limited understanding of whats possible because some foll you chose to follow believes what you believe and no one expects more of the manufactures who cant innovate when they have to pay share holders. there is a reason windows is not on smartphones and Polaroid no longer exists and JCP and sears are dying. i read far more sartre, vonnegut, and technical journals than most have a broad range of musical tastes and have experienced more than you may care to acknowledge. sorry to burst your bias bubble but your buying what the man is selling...and here i thought you all use to be hippies

Tommy Lee's picture

That's a nice idea from 1981, turning rotary motion into pistonic motion for a sub, but it's still a nice big three cubic foot enclosure and there are no distortion measurements or other specifics provided. Hardly an advance like you are wishing for, and the builder still has to abide by the rules of physics. Developing this marginal tech would be expensive, with no guarantee of success in the market.
I'm still not sure what your point is except that you have a chip on your shoulder about the "audio establishment" and you are very pleased with yourself. Please keep in mind that many S & V readers are far better educated than you in both engineering and liberal arts. You're not talking to the general public here.
Also, buy some punctuation. It helps convince people that you are actually literate.

nick4540's picture

what is your point, that was a poc? the electrodynamic speaker was invented in what 1900? there were horses and buggy back then... they thought it was impossible then too...the cone is a horse and buggy technology are you really satisfied with the depth of reporting in this site and the evolution of the engineering at the foundation of this hobby? hobby sites like this create a confirmation bias is my point and spoon feed people what they believe already to be true and never drive progress...as a former fan i have no chip, its remorse that we all lay down in the rut they created.

nick4540's picture

punctuation is a convention, this is a forum, a dialog online not the op ed of the times... im just being earnest to the responses i keep getting on this and only putting up the words because i actually care.

pw's picture

The thrill of getting music for "free" even though the sound quality was lacking enthralled people.. They literally forgot how good stereo can sound.. Add in the iPhone in 2005 and it's very poor sound quality and very poor quality white ear buds and the loss of a generation was complete.. Also electronics is not taught in many High Schools anymore..

drny's picture

Fellow enthusiast please read the comments of nick4540.
He epitomizes mass market appeal to fools.
They go after ease of use and convenience over anything resembling quality.
Of course Nick would be categorized by his own generation as a 'Hater'.
We, baby boomers, just "pity the fool".
Rob and the S&V staff earnestly educate 20-30 something, in the hopes of guiding them to the next level enjoyment of quality audio and film.
I myself continue to be hopeful.
My sons (35,32, 30) seek my guidance on A/V selection, and better yet, rejoice in my hand me down 10 year old $5,000 speakers.
Its more a matter of economics more than anything else.
For $500 you get a similitude of quality audio in the latest smart phone with some silly earbuds.
Its a huge leap up to $5,000 for just a pair of quality speakers, never mind Amps, Processor, cables etc.
My sons (Millennials) are not yet able to afford such an investment (praise God they're raising my nine grandchildren).
However, they have the bug.
Instead of $5,000 speakers they have $500 high quality headphones along with a quality DAC.
Rob asks "Where have all the audiophiles gone?".
I answer: some sit on my living room intently watching and listening in rapture to Bocelli live in concert.
I'm referring to my own ten and eight year old grandsons.
The otherworldly sounds envelops them and they are hooked.
There is hope Rob. Expose them to quality and they will buy.
S&V and baby boomers, we maybe considered dinosaurs, but just like dinosaurs (read Petroleum) the world will sorely miss us when we're gone.

nick4540's picture

you clearly missed the point. 5k speakers are rarely hand craftedd I hate to inform you and are of the same form factor today as the ones your handing down to your kids... why should we keep buying the same thing decades later expecting nothing more than a cosmetic twist one year to the next. that's pure rubbish as well as the notion i cant hear well, as i said i was an enthusiast of this stuff, i have plenty of money (im a software engineer) but i clearly can see what you fail to. your in a bias bubble and the manufactures who are spending more on marketing than R&D have you hypnotized. get woke people

prerich45's picture

Yeah, I can agree that manufactures who are spending more on marketing than R&D have people hypnotized. That's basically what cell phones in general have devolved to - cosmetic changes one year to the next.

prerich45's picture

I have a 32 year old son that has bought a pair of $4000 Greybeard speakers for about $800. I have a 29 that has a Def Tech system, and his son ...my grandson, when he hears Brian Culbertson playing "Together Tonight" or Kirk Whalum playing anything...he stops moving and listens...he listens till he falls asleep. His father says "He got it honest" LOL!!!

wxmanunr's picture

I am in way better position to buy audiophile stuff than I was 15 years ago, when I was truly engaged in the hobby. Nowadays, the price for equipment is insane.

Sceptic's picture

Audiophiles have not gone anywhere. They were a tiny minority of music lovers, are a tiny minority of music lovers, and will be a tiny minority of music lovers.

bigcjm's picture

The main ones wondering where all the audiophiles are at are boomers. Let's just be frank, Boomers aren't exactly in touch with what millennials do and much less what Generation Z does. Headphones took off after the beats headphones dropped a few years back. The Headfi industry shot into the stars after that. So to answer the question. The audiophiles have LG V20 phones and walk around with a pair 150-200 ear phones that look like the same thing you get you will cell phone at a distance. 32 years old I do Hi-fi and Head fi but truth be told for younger folks Hifi is completely impractical. If you're 20 something and in college get headphones. You got roommates because housing costs across the country are through the roof? By head phones. Life in an apartment with paper thin walls, and cant even turn you speakers up? Buy headphones.

Robin Landseadel's picture

"When exactly did we, as a nation of music lovers, stop wanting to tweak and tailor our sound to make it just right?"

Never happened, we simply tweak and tailor in different ways, using different tools. More and more playback is file based, file based playback offers many more way to tailor sound than knarly sounding multi-band tone controls.

"When did teenage boys in high school stop wanting the tallest speakers with the biggest woofers, or stop aspiring to a giant receiver with a glowing FM dial and more buttons, knobs, and switches than an Apollo space capsule?"

When we heard better-sounding, more ergonomic and less junky-looking gear that didn't take over the room— satellites & subs, gear that didn't scream "Teen-Dream-Headbanging".

"Was it in the mid-1980s when the CD (with its arguably inferior digital sound quality at the time) came on like a tidal wave and vinyl sales quickly withered?"

You want cheese with that whine? Have you even heard any post 2010 hi-rez digital gear? Can you actually hearing the baked IGD in all LPs? Off-center LPs, still in production, thank you very much,? Are you deaf? Senile?

"Do those trends mean that we are heading back to the good ol’ days, the Golden Age of Hi-Fi?"

I hope not, modern gear sounds better.

nick4540's picture

+1 on everything Robin just said.

Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.

I've heard it said that Nostalgia is a seductive liar. I must agree.

jagxjr15's picture

The diatribe against conventional audio components is shallow and betrays a deep ignorance of history, and, in particular, of human cultural evolution, in the anthropological sense.
My response to your position would be that the newest and most convenient technologies do not necessarily produce a better result than older technologies. Can you honestly say that a 5.1/7.1/11.1, etc., setup with an uncompressed digital source, Trinnov electronics (very new tech, BTW) and modern CAD-designed loudspeakers does not provide a better experience than listening over earbuds and a smartphone?
And what about 'natural' language, which you are only too happy to employ, and which is a very ancient technology? Do you reject 'natural' language because it is old? I would recommend you do some careful reading of Marshall McLuhan, or Leslie White, to name just a couple of authors who might 'learn' you some history.

nick4540's picture

words which as part of language are technology. one that has evolved and is not old at all. new 'code' gets loaded into the lexicon every minute, and still academics select a handful (250 new words in 2017 so far) to formally recognize to insure there relevance. you see even Websters acknowledges things change, my question is why can you?

11.1 speakers, sure they can sound good. but why do i need to replicate the basic configuration of a theater from 1970 in 2017? my point is apparently misunderstood so i will state it simply. technology is evolving but major advances in this industry are not keeping pace. while i would have to acknowledge the best audio experience i had was listening to headphones (best ever was a holographic audio demo that lived a disney mgm for years) I have had great experiences with multi channel too and owned great equipment. my problem is there is no breakthrough. everyone i know is voting with there dollars as did i and jumping out in favor of livable and appealing solutions. im simply sending a warning that the very premise of the article is condescending to readers like me who care but also expect manufactures to respond with compelling products not newly polished turds which are last years parts bin with a contoured box and new finish. that's bs, and not progress. and im sending a warning to the publisher, who in case your not paying attention to the business side of the hose has been passed around several times over the recent years and has dwindling readership. a warning that if they stay in the pocket of those few advertisers they are doing the hobbyist no favors while they claim to be 'TEN: The Enthusiast Network'. i am far from enthused.

why did it take a small group of guys working outside the industry to give us Wave Field Synthesis. when will you hold the manufactures to a higher standard than repackaging year to year. when will you allow for an audiophile to be something other than your own model of one. when will you move this hobby into the 21st century?

jagxjr your choice in car is so appropo and the perfect example of a manufacture who recognized the technological transformation taking place in its own industry. Jaguar announced all new vehicles from 2020 will be electric. lets hope as they were late to the realization that it is not to late for them (they have some fetching designs since being bought by and india company btw, a sweet sweet irony i think) and lets hope SV, HK, ML, BW, Bose...all the big manufactures in this industry come to the same realization before some dark horse comes in and wipes out everyone.

jagxjr15's picture

Your run-on, poorly structured sentences are like verbal diarrhea or vomit. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to learn how to write. You seem to believe that you are so intelligent that the rules do not apply to you. I've got news: you're not, and they do.

New terms are invented, but the structure of our 'natural' languages changes very little over millennia. This is one factor that inhibits human progress.

From Leslie White's work, it would seem that cultural evolution occurs at a pace and in a way that we humans facilitate and enable, but cannot control. The steam engine could not be invented until its cultural precursors existed.

If you are so sure that the industry is "not keeping pace", then invent something yourself.

There are big advances, but you are not aware of them. Trinnov Optimization is one, another may be the very new Yarra 3D product. Your comments do apply, however, to the 'high-end' home audio industry, which is still playing LPs and is obsessed with 2-channel audio. Most of the products in that side of the business, I would agree, are warmed over ancient technologies, priced into the stratosphere for a captive audience of wealthy, self-congratulatory idiots.

S&V reports on currently available HT products. Their aim is not to invent the products themselves.

Wave-field synthesis is being used in three products of which I am aware, one being the aforementioned Trinnov Optimization, the other two being the Smyth Binaural Emulator and the very new Yarra 3D product.

nick4540's picture

core speaker uses it and is the first speaker im aware of. i have one it is amazing

jagxjr15's picture

The Mass Fidelity Core is, apparently, a very modest application of wave-field synthesis, which in no way compares to a really good (or even a fair-to-middling) surround setup. From the Sound & Vision review: "While no match for a discrete surround-sound setup (duh), the sound was many cuts above what the TV can do on its own, with respectable oomph and breadth". It's not a breakthrough product.

nick4540's picture

as an example of wave field synthesis. and the first consumer example i can see im not sure we agree on the definition of breakthrough. we all know how technology progresses these days after all. a 6 inch ish square that replicates the stereo effect of true much larger separates and amazingly that effect can follows you around using processing no one has made work anywhere else... that is a departure from anything available today and i tip my hat to the engineers for at least introducing wvs to a product that was a pretty sudden and dramatic development.

perhaps though your missing what is even more noteworthy than there use of WFS, they were a kick starter project and funded by the public...truly a hardware startup. that should give any hobbyist goose bumps...some people came together imagined a product no one was producing and after getting tired of waiting for the innovation to come from industry they just did it themselves...that is truly noteworthy and inspiring and gives me hope that this industry has a future.

that story should have been a feature here and would have made a great series...since they were not capable of advertising though im not surprised.

jagxjr15's picture

There are much more sophisticated products using the same technology, most notably the Smyth emulators and the Yarra 3D. And Trinnov uses lots of advanced acoustics to remap (electronically relocate) speakers, including Fourier and Bessel functions.

Also, there are many kickstarter-funded tech products, including the new Smyth A16, and the Yarra.

This is my final reply to you. You have little or nothing to say and you are barely able to say it (learn English!) and these replies to you are a waste of my time.

prerich45's picture

I have no problem with much of what you have said. My system is a combination of new and old tech. Playback is file based from a 20TB NAS (files are losless), PC based with a DIY external DAC. Speakers...Infinity Prelude P-FR's, I've found no need to change these. MiniDSP for the subs, and I can create my own FIR filters with my PC using convolution.

One thing that I've learned though, in order to reproduce dynamic range to scale, you need speakers designed to do such. Tiny sats can run out of gas when playing movies at reference levels.

Robin Landseadel's picture

I bought my first "real" stereo [AR-3's, AR amp, AR 'table, Shure 91 cartridge] back in 1973, been involved with digital audio since 1987, computer audio since the early 1990's.

No question that the bleeding-edge [I.E.—that quality of consistently making your computer crash and spit out silver drink coasters] of computer audio circa 1995 was simply being able to produce a playable, home-burned CD. Interconnects/speaker cables with genuinely frightening prices started to appear. Plenty of commercial projects were sourced from the lowly DAT recorder. The LP was declared dead five years previous. And I turned 40. You have to buy your CD burners as an accessory now, like I did then. I do needledrops of LPs/Cassettes for various clients, some asking for CDs, though some request other forms of digital storage. We're in a new world now.

The biggest innovation I'm engaged with now consists of DAPs, portable digital audio players, file-based playback, previously unimaginable quantities of storage, playback of all sorts of different music files, from low-grade MP3 to high-rez 24/192 FLAC and others in between, on pocketable portable devices. I got a Fiio X1, cost me $75 new. It sounds better, playing back redbook ripped to Apple Lossless, then playback of the CD itself on any of the other playback devices in the house. Note that the Fiio X1 appeared in 2014, the other digital playback devices in the house are older. This is disruptive in a very good way.

Yes I have LPs, thank you very much. On a good day, with the right pressing and the wind behind you, they can sound very good. Most days aren't that good and neither are most pressings. And there's no such thing as a 5.1 LP. Using an old Technics direct drive turntable with a Shure 97 cartridge, I transfer to a portable recorder capable of 24 bit resolution. Yes, it sounds much better as a recorder than my old DAT machines, the quality of the pressing is a much bigger limitation to sound quality than the medium those LPs are being recorded to.

My best system isn't a stereo—it's a 5.1 system with three subs, Bluray, DVD-A, SACD playback with the rest of the usual suspects. You want 78s? We got an old Gerrard turntable for that. Infinity floorstanders [Primus 360, 250] + center channel [C25], Onkyo AV receiver. I'm an audio cheapskate, it's all used from thrift stores and set me back less than $500. Managed to find an old Oppo "Universal" DVD player [also plays back SACD/DVD-A/MP3] for $30. The whole megillah sounds at least as good as my friend's $5000 [Arcam/Paradigm] stereo.

What strikes me now, as then, is the notion that file-based playback using solid state file storage is ideal. Back in 1995, I dreamt of 40 GB of storage—hard drives were going for around $500 a gigabyte back then, I worked my way up to 2 gig to edit recording projects using Sound Designer II, a two channel program from those folks that brought us Pro Tools. Now I've got the freeware Audacity, 2 TB hd storage [$80] plus two 1 Gig backups and a Samsung DVD burner that set me back all of $28. But what really kills me about all of this is the storage for the Fiio X1, a bottom rung DAP that can take a 128g micro SD card.

Digital gear in 1995 was getting better, but if one had invested $4000 in a good turntable rig and knew what they were doing, that person would most likely be getting better sound from LPs than someone with cost-no object CD playback. 20 bit recording was only just available, all of the projects I worked on were 16/44.1 record/play. There were various kinds of portable/on the road digital players, but they were somewhat bulky even if they took up less space and were more durable than cassettes.

But file-based storage circa 2017 means that an object the size of the fingernail on my pinky can store 500 albums of music in a high-quality format. Because of the low power drain and the extremely small size of the circuit [along with all improvements in sound that come with the lower noise and wider bandwidth that 24/192 record/playback imposes], the level of jitter goes down, the level of clarity goes up, low-level resolution appears on recordings I had assumed for all these years were compromised by virtue of being early [1980's] digital recordings. Given the choice of playing a CD or playing back its file on the Fiio X1, I'll choose file playback because it sounds better. Being more convenient doesn't hurt one little bit. I know full well that there are DAPs way more sophisticated than my el-cheapo X1, I know where audio's future lies. Streaming audio is in its early stages, but it's also ubiquitious.

The future isn't digital, that's the present. But it seems like Old-School audiophilia is about denying that we are already living in that digital future promised thirty years ago.

prerich45's picture

My best system serves two purposes. It's a 7.4.4 system, Infinity P-FR mains, Infinity Overture 1 as a center and front height, surrounds are Infinity QPS-1's, Rears are Infinity FPS-1000's and rear heights are Infinity P-QPS. I have 2 SVS subs and 2 AE subs for LFE.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

A couple of colossal jerks on here. Sad really, because there are better ways to get a point across than to insult literally everyone that follows this website. And you expected intelligent discourse after that?? Did the responses surprise you? You lost everyone, including me when you called readers dinosaurs. Everything else sounded like "blah blah blah".

nick4540's picture

a rare spotting, quick catch it while there is still an example in the wild: Jonasandezekiel

Tommy Lee's picture

Innovation in electronics and storage media will continue fairly rapidly, but the actual delivery systems (speakers) are much tougher. The need to move a serious amount of air to reproduce low frequencies is a huge stumbling block when it comes to miniaturization and convenience. I think the major advances will come as a result of research into psychoacoustics, which will improve our understanding of how we perceive sound. A lot of research is also focused on room/speaker interactions that color sound and make reproduced music less realistic. One example is the Dayton line-array speaker (reviewed in S&V) here : ttp://www.daytonaudio.com/index.php/epique-by-dayton-audio/epique-line-array-s...

Thousands of engineers and others are working every day to improve sound reproduction technology because there are huge financial rewards to be found, and when those advances occur S&V will be anxious to report on them. Throwing BS at these professionals and their industry without understanding the practical and scientific limitations they operate under is as useful as the barking of an unattended dog next door.

prerich45's picture

Excellent post!!!!!!

nick4540's picture

quit repeating the junk you hear, you lack any imagination. this is an engineering problem not a physics problem. you do the hobby a disservice by creating a tribe around what is a commodity product. expect more from these big players. sony managed a panel of glass that acts as the speaker, did it break the laws of physics? and that was probably not even trying hard its been on the bench for years but they have to get there investment out of that magnet design from 1995 so you dont get the new stuff. you are the perfect example of why A/V is not interesting to read about and the authors of these articles are just here to spoon feed your bias loop.

you are hopeless

Jonasandezekiel's picture

No, you're actually the hopeless loser that wastes his time harassing hobbyists and audio fans. You talk a lot of crap, but you have NO IDEAS OF YOUR OWN. You say everything sucks, audiophiles suck, audio as we know it sucks, BUT THAT'S IT. All talk, no game.
All until you find your next group to harass online.
You're a troll, and that all you'll every be.

nick4540's picture

dont worry fella, it'll be over soon... we are all right here...there there.

you can wave your hand at the context of the message but at least try a little harder to form an insult that is at lease fun to read.

Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong:)

Tommy Lee's picture

You keep bringing up the Sony TV that uses it's screen as a speaker-do you not realize that S&V tested that TV? The screen speaker is a gimmick, perhaps it can be improved but it's currently not anything like audiophile quality.

You seem unhappy about the state of the world, even more than you are upset about innovation in the audio-video industry. I am also unhappy with these things, but I fail to see how bitching about it in this forum will help. With your insight and abilities ( I assume) perhaps you should get a job in this area and change the world.

nick4540's picture

I use to, i returned out of nostalgia and this headline caught me as condescending, reading the content only irritated that raw nerve. that is how i ended up in this rabbit hole.

I love the world i live in.

the world they author paints and this magazine (based on looking bact to the last few pages of headlines) is one that reminds me why i stopped coming regularly and why I have no reason to return soon.

what was a hobbyist publication is now a dull vehicle for pushing ads. the corporate changes here at TEN clearly have had no benefit in the quality of the product and has only served to insulate the manufactures and tell a self selective audience what it already believes is in fact true.

SV is an opiate for the readers who want to make the industry great again without any innovation.

to that I say bollocks.

nick4540's picture

Tommy, thanks for the inspiration I have taken your advice and just purchased the domain and intend on indeed creating a forum and blog highlighting my frustrations.

My goal would be to grow large enough for a company like ten to notice.

So thank you cor the constructive advice, it was perhaps the only one here... i just wanted to tell you for the record if makesvgreatagain ever get circulation you were its inspiration.

nick4540's picture

i just purchased makesvgreatagain and will be starting my campaign of influence directly... you have been warned...

Tommy Lee's picture

Sounds like a great idea-good luck!
There's nothing wrong with calling for more innovation in audio, just watch out for your more aggressive tendencies. No reason to turn people off.

nick4540's picture

go read the financials of any of the majors...i did, want to know how much harmon is spending on research? nothing, they have no research expenses. the only engineering they do is on how to package what exists none of these guys is working on the alternative. rest assured some one will sadly the revolutionary idea will likely not come out of an existing company and likely not from america.

you are all well trained consumers, thank god there is a conscientious generation coming up fast who now outnumber the baby boomers...it gives me hope

Jonasandezekiel's picture

You've read the financials of all the majors? Really??
Again, you're all talk, all whine ask the time, all name calling 24/7, but not a single useful solution. That's a troll, dick4540.

nick4540's picture

yes, see since this hobbyist mag only skims the shallow surface reporting what its told to and my interest are deeper i did. its very easy in this day and age to pull the quarterly statement of any of the public ones to hear from them directly not there marketing department. they tell you outright everything you need to know about how they perceive this business, where they are investing next and whats going away.

this category is now called lifestyle and is only growing due to headphones and portable speakers (oh and some car audio) so you had better get active or get extinct.

DRF2B's picture

Agreed with Tommy Lee on the speaker technologies: one set of laws no one can break is the laws of physics. Sound travels as a mechanical compression wave. Creating those requires energy. Speakers are inherently limited by simple physical laws and what we have works well. Cones and domes may not be new anymore (or electrostatic panels, for that matter) but they move air, keep distorion low, and allow for a dedicated vibrating surface that holds up well under continual motion. The military has been doing research on tactile transducers for decades. They're not there yet.

Number two: mp3 files and cheap earbuds aren't the only culprits for what Rob is pointing out. We have to look at the music itself. Popular, radio-friendly music - which targets the mainstream, by definition - became increasingly bland and formulaic during the same period of time that compressed files and cheap earbuds began to dominate. Simple beats, repetitive rhythms, and algorithmic melodies took over top 40 stations. Recording quality suffered too, as there just wasn't as much stuff to record. Subtle details in instrumentation and vocals just weren't there. When the lead singer of a popular rock band can publicly admit that he writes songs to maximize sales...the motivation to spend time and money to connect with music declines.

I am encouraged by the resurgence and growth of quality personal audio, though. And I think more mainstream artists are beginning to layer their songs with more fine and subtle details once again.

And finally, let's also remember that music enriches life. The proliferation of digital music distribution and playback isn't ultimately something to be feared - it allows more opportunity for all that life enrichment.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Can people just ignore the troll so he will go away?
Don't feed the trolls!

nick4540's picture

when will you understand your definition of audiophile needs to be updated? when will this magazine provide actual hobbyist something compelling to read? when will the manufactures provide more compelling product?

these had better get sorted or indeed this publication and its tribal members will go the way of the dinosaur.

if you choose not to evolve and dinosaur isn't to your liking, then what do I call you?

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Dick4540....you have all the answers, even though you seem to be keeping them to yourself. Everyone sucks, the audio world is intentionally regressive, and you're the smartest guy in the room to fix it all. Is that pretty much it?
I'm happy where I'm at audio-wise, because no technological advances actually deliver the goods.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

One thing is true about dick4540, he likely is a millennial. He whines about everything, blames everyone else for his problems, and offers nothing substantive for solutions. Textbook millennial. Or, alternatively, he's just a troll.

nick4540's picture

it was calling you a philosoraptor wasn't it that is where i lost you...

just know when you all turn to oil the generation will use you to power the future which will be all the brighter for it can not exist without your passing.

rpi philosoraptor, rip 8:::(

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Oh...I see what you did there!! "Philosoraptor" More snarky mind-fluff from the troll, with again, nothing really said.

Oh how clever you must think you are! But not very smart.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

You see dick4550, when you pull back the curtain, all you really are in the end is a troll that needs to compensate for your self perceived weaknesses by calling others names.


nick4540's picture

The second comment in this comment section is mine, it was considered and I have been responding to vapid readers like you ever since... To be clear you devolved this conversation to name calling not i. which i am ok with, what i will not tolerate is the utter lack of imagination you employ...

Jonasandezekiel's picture

I have however, found what I think is the reason for the cause of the audio malaise that dick4550 is whining about.
It's dick4550! Problem solved.

I eagerly await his next penetrating insight, but I think he would be better served by finding the nearest recovering narcissist chat room.

nick4540's picture

its dick 4 5 4 0 good sir, please keep your high minded name calling straight.

and indeed, hats off to advancing the conversation in bot context and originality. you really turned the tide there on the way the readership is going to go for this magazine and the wooden box + speaker industry is gonna bounce right back now that you have arrived to save the day.

vapid, simply vapid

Jonasandezekiel's picture

I devolved this into name calling?? Can I read back the title of your VERY FIRST garbage post on here???

"This publication is a dinosaur and so are it's readers"

You are a lonely narcissist and you are infecting any positive inertia in this discussion. You are the problem, NOT everyone else.

nick4540's picture

not a name its a metaphor used here in reference to the readers and mag. since you are less than informed here:

noun: metaphor; plural noun: metaphors
a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
"“I had fallen through a trapdoor of depression,” said Mark, who was fond of theatrical metaphors"
synonyms: figure of speech, image, trope, analogy, comparison, symbol, word painting/picture
"the profusion of metaphors in her everyday speech has gotten pretty tiresome"
a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, especially something abstract.
"the amounts of money being lost by the company were enough to make it a metaphor for an industry that was teetering"

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Dick4550....no one, least of all me cares about your point of view. You're an infectious narcissist, and you've ruined what could have been a good thread.

You're going through a lot of trouble to save face. No one cares narcissist.

nick4540's picture

Every devil I meet becomes a friend of mine
Every devil I meet is an angel in disguise

Steady now I feel your ghost about
I'm not ready for the dead to show it's face
Whose angel are you anyway?

take your own advice buddy... you hippocrate hippies never fail to disappoint

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Hippie?? Lol.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Good song though.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Dick4550....You are the one equivalent of the drunken opinionated loudmouth uncle that always ruins holiday parties.
You think you know everything, yet really, you understand nothing. You over compensate by calling people names and asserting that you have all the answers, and yet, when you look closely, you've said nothing substantial.
Some people perceive this as knowledge, but really, it isn't. You may not even have a decent audio system. I question if you're really a hobbyist at all.

This is all sport for you, narcissist4550.

nick4540's picture

Dick4550 (ps again its 4 5 4 0) and i'm the loudmouth who ruins the party?

There can you see it, that light at the end of the tunnel now... just go to it everything will alright... on your way out this ones for you...

I said there's prophets in the graveyard
(now I walk in beauty)
Prophets in the graveyard
(beauty is before me)
Prophets in the graveyard
(beauty is behind me)
(above and below me)

You are the prophet in the graveyard my friend this conversation is already dead.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Dick7649....it should be profits in the graveyard.
And I'm 45. Healthy as a horse. And I don't wish death on anyone, but I see you're not above doing it. You've scraped the bottom. No surprise. Narcissists will do anything, including the real nasty stuff, to win any perceived slight.

nick4540's picture

you are far to literal. get a clue

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Where to next dick66883, Crochet.com?? Maybe put some of those sweet little old ladies in their place? Talk about how knitting hasn't changed in decades, and call them all dinosaurs?? Maybe throw in a couple of ten dollar words to make you feel superior? Lol.

nick4540's picture

i just purchased the domain and will move my energy there. no use saving the dinosaurs in a comment forum here when your all going def from old age and loud music.

over the next year i will vow to make sv great again from the outside.

thanks for the motivation, i have a feeling its gonna be fun...

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Bye bye dick21444

Jonasandezekiel's picture

"Over the next I will vow to make sv great again from the outside" "thanks for the motivation"
Just like a true narcissist!! Goodness, that guy was so painfully transparent. Was he for real???

nick4540's picture

in quality, readership and fellowship

i can see right through you and all i see is a fossil

Jonasandezekiel's picture

As long as you're not involved, I think everyone will be just fine.

nick4540's picture

you realize this was the most engaged comment stream of any article published in the last year...the author likely will be getting a high five for finally writing something people commented on.

and your welcome

im out

Jonasandezekiel's picture

And it was all because of you, right Mr. Wonderful?
The thread sucked. It sucked because they left the door open and let you slither in. You ruined a good topic. Good riddance.

nick4540's picture

Jonas and ezekiel = awful derivative emptiness

if your gonna paint me as one I figure better give you something to support your argument and embrace the role... fine im a narcissist

this publication is still never going to survive another 2 years

Jonasandezekiel's picture

What a TEXTBOOK narcissist!!

nick4540's picture

about the hobby, as you are about being fixated on me...

maybe things would be different for then

Bigmule1972's picture

Why do these forums bring out the “inner douchebag” so well?

I’m sure, at least I hope, your behavior is different in real life.

I just happened to read a few of your comments and Wow, if your comments represent only 10% of your reality then I feel sorry for your family.

As the song goea...
“...Please don’t dominate the rap Jack. if you got nothing new to say...”