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Are we the last 'Hifi' generation?

Discussion in 'audio' started by RoA, May 25, 2023.

  1. RoA

    RoA pfm Member

    Is Hifi, at least how we know it about to become extinct?

    Looking at the average show goer it seems that many are 40+ ... most probably 50+.

    Are separates and legacy stuff on the way out?

    Streaming, Headphones and phones have replaced the above for most youngen's.

    Sure, there will always be a few that keep on using/buying more conventional Hifi products but I wonder how much longer things like High End shows will exist?
    Charlie_1, Tarzan and Miss Ariel like this.
  2. linvc

    linvc pfm Member

    Interesting topic and I suspect true. I haven't been on this site or the wam much over the last few years but having returned recently I was struck by what seems to me like a much lower level of activity. Hobbies (or obsessions like this) take time and £ - neither of which my 30 something kids have to spare.
  3. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    Yes true, but those 30 somethings become 40 and 50 year olds and then have children, don’t go out as much so then want to improve hifi at home, so I think it’s always going to have a following.

    Retro stuff will Always have a cult following as everthing else in life (TVs cars, household goods) are all becoming sealed up with no ability to repair, so retro gear and it’s hands on accessibility will always have a following too.
  4. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    TBH I hav a slightly different 'worry' about this. A lot of what tends to appear in magazines or in discussions tends to be expensive. Even items many hear wouldn't see as 'high end' may well seem expensive to what have been called 'civilians'.

    Add in that headphones are now more used by people. They can give superb results with modest-priced kit, and set a high bar that a traditional system using speakers in a typical living room to match. And unlike headphones, you can't have just one pair of hi-fi speakers follow you around the home, or reduce noises of cooking, washing up, etc.

    Thus these days any 'hi-fi' is more likely to be having a sound system to go with an HD TV 'home cinema' for films, etc. Not so much for music.

    Does this matter? Dunno. If people can enjoy the music, fairy nuff.
  5. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    No sane person, starting from scratch, would even think about hard copy music - it makes absolutely no sense at all.

    I can see that that person might want impressive speakers, and even amplification, at some stage, but that is it. Everything else - a bit like 8-track, or valve computers, or golfball typewriters are today.
  6. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Not at all. It is all just fashion. The idea of believable music replay in the home is no less valid than it ever has been. The conventional hi-fi market is largely eating itself offering ever more expensive products to an ever-diminishing and increasingly ageing long-established user-base, but the music scene is alive and well. Just so many amazing new music in all genres and on all formats. Those who want high-quality audio in the home have never had more options as the used market is in rude health, classic kit is now largely documented in the public domain and easily serviceable. The pro-audio sector also provides amazing options in the active speaker domain.

    Obviously headphone listening has become mainstream. Everyone with a good smartphone and a £100 pair of headphones has a high-end music system. The love of music has gone nowhere. In the UK there are obviously huge political issues with widespread poverty and a young generation often condemned to staying with their parents into their 30s. That obviously limits options hugely. I suspect things are better elsewhere where housing isn’t so absurdly priced. Sometimes headphones are the only option for folk hence that being the one real growth area in the audio market.

    PS FWIW I suspect if I was a young music fan today I’d buy a pair of Genlec or Neumann active monitors, an SL1200 or Planar 3, a nice second-hand preamp and a Raspberry Pi as a streamer. I’d have little if any need to go anywhere near a conventional hi-fi shop. That would give all I’d need to invest in cool physical media, support bands etc as well as give access to a whole world of music to discover. It actually makes where I started from look like the dark days. I often bought stuff on the strength of an interesting cover as there was no ‘try before you buy’ back then. If your interests were off the radio map then you were totally out on your own. As such (housing crisis aside) I think things are actually really good now. The ability to discover music has never been better.
    Riotvan, igor_xxxx, Toaster and 7 others like this.
  7. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    ^ And Tony doesn’t even stream! So an educated view from someone looking in..

    I do agree. My kids want to hear a specific track so pickup my phone, goto Tidal and search for it.. I was in the car the other day and my 5yo year old wanted the lyrics of a track she was listening to, she said, no joke… “I can’t get the lyrics to work on tidal, can I switch to Roon so I can see the lyrics pls ” and then closed the App, opened Roon Arc instead and did it all.

  8. MVV

    MVV pfm Member

    If I was starting again a decent pair of small actives like AE1s or those KEF things is what I would have and just stream, ideally from a voice controlled thing.
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I do, but I choose YouTube via the TV system. Everything is on there, certainly enough to form an opinion. If I like it I buy a physical copy. I also use Bandcamp, again I buy if I like. The one thing I don’t ever buy is downloads. If a band wants my money give me a nice resellable asset!

    PS I actually installed the Bandcamp app onto my iphone a couple of days ago as I’ve built up quite a catalogue over recent years and I can now stream anything I bought on vinyl there to any of my systems (each hi-fi system is Airplay enabled to some degree). I just don’t feel I need Spotify, Tidal or whatever.
  10. The Moog

    The Moog Active Member

    Absolutely this; the advancement of electronics, materials, and manufacturing has meant that you can have a great system without needing a 'legacy' separates system, either as a set of headphones that connect to your phone, as a single box steamer in your kitchen, or as a minimal set of active speakers. The want for high (good enough?) quality music reproduction has gone nowhere.
  11. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    That’s my system pretty much, Alex (63).
  12. paulbysea

    paulbysea pfm Member

    I remember people saying the age of hi-fi was ending in the 90s. Low-end audio systems are definitely changing again. Entry-level systems and above have changed but are still primarily focused on sound quality and I expect this will always continue. It is important to remember, hi-fi is a niche interest for weird folk like us and there will always be a group of weird folk who think SQ is paramount whilst the majority will be happy with their low-quality audio. Neither group is right or wrong, they just have different wants and will continue to buy product that appeals to them.
  13. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    Agreed, pretty much, except that I have only the barest comprehension as to what streaming really is, and have no desire to know more. I'll listen to anything new via my laptop - usually YouTube, sometimes Bandcamp - easily good enough - great music is great in (virtually) any format.

    I have bought maybe 5-6-7 or so downloads as I reasoned that they would never appear on LP. Maybe 2? 3? have, and I bought them. That actually applies to a tiny number of CDs too - since bought on LP.
  14. John

    John Rack’em Up!

    All my friends growing up had something to play records in a room with loudspeakers. Today kids into music stream Spotify and use quality headphones to listen to music. They seem perfectly happy with a Bluetooth speaker if listening with friends. The idea of a rack of components with large loudspeakers and another source besides streaming has got to be a very very small percentage of people below forty years old. Sonos, Apple, Amazon and Google speakers with voice and multi room capability you would find with the more upscale user.

    The large record collections we have today will be of the same interest in twenty years as a VCR tape collection is today. If it wasn’t for the baby boomers, the market for legacy hi-fi and LP’s would be significantly smaller.
    Charlie_1, Nigel and Vinny like this.
  15. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    But you can get that now from pretty minimal kit, and things are only ever likely to improve. The real limitation is in speakers (if anyone wants to share, or rebels aginst headphones) - each physical size point and driver technology can only achieve so much - to a greater degree, bigger will always be better.
  16. MVV

    MVV pfm Member

    I think if anything young people are more interested in music. The quality of equipment is so high now with a phone you can have sound quality equal to thousands in the 90s for about £300
    Last edited: May 25, 2023
  17. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    Which makes the music free until that point, beyond subscriptions etc.. I am sure that the ownership rate of some portable electronics that are suitable is not linked to being interested in music, or not.
  18. The Moog

    The Moog Active Member

    But that has always been the case, right? Music was previously also free as most people accessed it through their radio, but lots of things could be listened to using your radio, so radio ownership wasn't necessarily linked to be interested in music.
  19. gustav_errata

    gustav_errata pfm Member

    Perhaps the market will pick up again when (more like "if") all the wealth locked up in the baby boomer generation makes its way back into wider circulation.
  20. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member


    There is literally (almost) limitless choice now via the interweb - the radio plays what it plays.

    I have no idea whatsoever how I could find out, but suspect that well over half of what I buy has never been on any radio programme. That could easily be a lot higher than 50%, and I can only ever listen to one radio channel at once.

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