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Are we the last 'Hifi' generation?

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

  1. daytona600

    daytona600 Registered User

    Future will be one box Streaming systems / Streaming active speakers & almost none of them will be made in the UK. Tidal/IPad/Streaming will be the standard
    Traditional Multiple box systems will still be niche
  2. ricko01

    ricko01 pfm Member

    We can talk about youngin's lifestyle, competing interests for their entertainment money etc but I think the "cost of ownership" (or lack there of) of music today means there is a lack of respect (for a better word) for that music.

    When I started collecting vinyl back in 1970, in my country an imported album (which was 80% of the market) cost $40, which is ~$700 in today's terms.

    But putting aside this extreme example, it must be recognized that physical media cost proportionally was a reasonable amount of money for any youngsters during the period where a hi-fi system was at its peak. In my first job, I started on $5000 before tax and vinyl was $30 so when I could afford an album, it was cherished.

    We had none of this, on the go, omni-present mobile phones so our music playback experience was centered on a home stereo system.

    Thus was born, in some of us, the desire to maximize the sound of our hard earned black and silver discs because as time went on, our collection had cost us $1000's, $10,000s or more to buy.

    Now with the entire world of music available for $10 per month, streamed to your phone over headphones, as noted there is no skin in the game, music is just wallpaper.... so no desire exists to maximize its reproduction.

    There will of course be outliers but the trend is HI-FI as we know it will die along with the generation that it influenced.

    The other thing, which may or not be related is music today (as seen from an historical perspective) is a bit bland. if you look at the period from say 1960 to 1990, the number of genres that were born (and died) that we as music consumers lived through was massive.

    Today and over the past 15-20 or so years, a small number of genres dominate and due to the internet and its ability to influence, generally only a small number of acts (typically singers, not bands) dominate.

    Thus if music today is homogenized then the desire to maximize its playback potential is again minimized.

    Maybe related, record companies do care about traditional A&R, they just look at what new artist is trending on social media and take it from there. No slogging through dive bars in back streets looking for new talent.

    And finally, with the world having gone so PC or its younger sibling woke, many of the bands/artists we grew up with would never get signed today cause they would be considered too offensive (just like many books, TV shows and movies of yore).

    The above is not a "ok boomer" rant...I aint knocking youngin's... its just the way the world is turning at the moment.

    RJohan and Mr Pig like this.
  3. kernow

    kernow pfm Member

    Owning any sort of physical media is dumb nowadays, it's a ritual, nothing more.

    There's more genres of music now than there was in the 70s,, it's just noone wants to listen to dire straits over and over
  4. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    This is simply not true IMHO. The thing that has changed is music is now democratised and decentralised. Trends are no longer defined by middle-aged white A&R men at huge record labels and major station radio DJs. That’s all boomer generation stuff. Old people music. The creativity is in the hands of the artists and exists far outside the reaches of the charts etc.

    Now is a great time for music. It is all the better without the corporate curation of past generations.
    gustav_errata, Toaster, CTank and 2 others like this.
  5. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    Wow! Where was that Peter?
  6. ricko01

    ricko01 pfm Member

    New Zealand.

    We had local record pressing plants that "needed" to be protected. So if you were buying top 40 stuff... its was pressed locally and so was cheap but more non-mainstream stuff had to be imported so the import tax was huge.

    In my first school holiday job I earned $1 an hour. After two weeks I had $80 and brought two records, both imports: Chuck Berry London Sessions and Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers. Still have them!!!.

    Durmbo, Mr Pig and paulfromcamden like this.
  7. ricko01

    ricko01 pfm Member

    But...... people of REAL talent cant break through cause there are so many channels AND maybe not every person of REAL talent has the social media skills to promote themselves... so much "noise" out there.

    And you cant tell me that the way streaming companies pay artists is fair.Much press coverage on this.

    Not every old skool A&R person was middle aged but putting that aside, cause it cost REAL dollars to sign, record and promote an artist, they typically signed acts with great skills (song writing, musician ship). Punk was an exception but its roots were as a social movement thus it got traction that way.

    There are examples today where record companies will not promote an artist's newest single until it has xxx number of streams on social media or visa versa wont sign an artist until such a threshold is reached. They wont take a "risk".

    Summary: if the A&R men were so crappy why is the musical legacy of 1960 - 1990 so strong. Cant have it both ways.

    maxhifi and Mr Pig like this.
  8. hockman

    hockman pfm Member

    If we are talking about ridiculously-priced 'high end' bling hifi then yes, I think their days are numbered. But I am optimistic that younger people are still interested in good music and good reproduction, just not in overpriced out-of-reach gear. They'll start off with cheap streaming and head phones but eventually may end up with a decent set up of reasonably-priced components once they have more disposable income. The bling hifi IMO deserves to die out; much of it disgusts me (both in performance and price) and I am an old guy who has been in the game for a long time.
    marshanp likes this.
  9. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    Most here are focusing on the gear, not so much on music format. For *costly* high-end gear, I believe they will still exist but perhaps moving closer to a smaller niche market. As for music format such as LPs and CDs, I share the same sentiment. As time progresses, everything is made smaller and space saving. Minimalist is the keyword. 50 or 100 years from now most LPs will probably end up in landfill as digital music will take over. By that time, engineers may have made a breakthrough as digital music sound better than vinyl. Even though that might not happen, the focus or interest of the future generation will likely be everything minimalistic as ultimate sound quality takes a back seat.

    Who knows, there won't be box speakers anymore in the future as sound is reproduced from small devices hidden somewhere in the room. The tech will take a long time to be developed though.
  10. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    What makes you think that as I don't see any evidence?
    allthingsanalog likes this.
  11. RoA

    RoA pfm Member

    I guess one indication of this could be show attendance age which seems to be overwhelming on the more mature side.

    Saying that, not everyone attends shows, least of all probably folks with a lot of money and that probably have private high end consultations but it does give at least an idea of demographics.
  12. sideshowbob

    sideshowbob Champagne fascia aficionado

    IME teenagers who are really into music still buy vinyl. Not in anything like the numbers they used to, obvs, but enough to keep it going for the foreseeable future at a sustainable level.

    New electronic devices of all kinds are expensive, and getting more expensive. A lot of affordable hi-fi is now priced at a level that actually makes it not particularly affordable for most people. That's definitely a problem.
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    It would be interesting to contrast and compare pricing to our era. To my mind the classic starter but really good system of my era was something like a Rega Planar 2 (still in its wood trim!) or 3, an A&R A60 and a pair of Mission 700s or Ditton 15s. in 1980 money that could be had for less than £500.

    I’d say the same system today was a Planar 3 or SL1200 Mk7, a Rega Io and whatever are a nice two-way stand-mount speaker from Richer Sounds for a couple of hundred quid. Add a Raspberry Pi (if you can find one!) as a streamer and that’s probably not that different price-wise in real terms.

    PS I just had a quick look at Richer and the white-face Mission 700 is back! It’s £1500 though (with stands), so in a very different market position. There are a whole raft of cheaper options though, e.g. I’d rate the JBL Control 1 at £99 as a perfectly acceptable starter speaker.
  14. sideshowbob

    sideshowbob Champagne fascia aficionado

    You're missing out the fact that housing is immensely more expensive than it was when we were young, as is transport, education, etc. Plus the precarity of many younger people's jobs. Hi-fi is an expensive option for young people who are paying massive rents.
    Alex S, kernow and gustav_errata like this.
  15. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    I guess it depends on which teenagers you're talking about. Not much drill gets any sort of physical release never mind vinyl.

    P.S. This week I have been mostly obsessed with TeeZandos tracks.

    Jlc likes this.
  16. Yomanze

    Yomanze pfm Member

    The enthusiast market will always be here in the UK, selling small numbers of boxes for high prices, but the consumer market is going in favour of phones and headphones or earbuds.

    At least we have Japan though, where HiFi is very much alive and well.
    allthingsanalog likes this.
  17. gavreid

    gavreid pfm Member

    It seems like speakers are the costly element today in terms of a good but cheap pair to hang off a decent amp and deck - the money's in the cabinet, I guess. Even little B&Ws are £500 quid, the Rega Kytes are about £400 I think and they've ditched the wood completely. The popular Kefs come in at a a grand too!
    Sloop John B likes this.
  18. JezmondTutu

    JezmondTutu pfm Member

    Money spent on home pc’s, AV and digital camera’s started killing the specialist hifi industry in the mid to late 90’ with people spending money on other stuff and losing interest in hifi. Lots of people flogged turntables and other kit in exchange for convenience. Many really good dealers went to the wall.

    Since then the market seems to have improved hugely & not just because of people buying streamers and DAC’s. Surprising given there are so many more things you can spend money on. It’s great news and hopefully an interest in specialist hifi will remain.
    gavreid likes this.
  19. Mick P

    Mick P Retired and content

    I think Richer Sounds are a good indicator of how the market is moving and they are certainly giving the traditional hifi dealer a run for their money.

    I recently purchased a Sonos Amp from them which is basically a self contained wifi amp and a pair of third party speakers for which the overall cost was about £1k which included some decent speaker cables for my place in Spain. The amp is just 8.5" square and 2" in height and takes up hardly any space. The speakers are Dali Oberon 1 bookshelf speakers as recommended by Richer Sounds. With this I can pick up thousands of radio stations and use Spotify etc. I could, if I wish, connect up a TT but I can't be bothered with that.

    The advantage of this type of system is that I could upgrade either the amp or the speakers separately which is a major advantage for those who want to keep their speakers for many years ahead. In theory I could sell on the Dalis and replace them with Shahinian Arcs or whatever as it delivers 125 wpc.

    It sounds very good but obviously does not compare with the top end stuff such as Naim or similar but we are not far away from lower prices for better wifi kit and there are hundreds of thousands of traditional speakers that will be around for years to come.

    There would be nothing to stop anyone from connecting a top end wifi amp to a pair to say a pair of 15" Tannoy's and they would not need to buy another CD or LP ever again.

    The main obstacle to this is that the old chaps tend to like collecting loads of CDs and LPs but younger people prefer to pay a monthly subscription for unlimited music choice which makes wifi based systems the almost certain winner in years to come.

    I think hifi will still be around in wifi form but the days of loads of black boxes and special stands that occupy space will be soon be a thing of the pasts

    I am now seriously thinking of selling my Garrard 401 TT with the Naim Aro etc, plus the CDS3 CD and the NAT01 tuner and buying a Naim XDS2 or similar and just slot it into the 52/300 plus Shahinian speaker system.
  20. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    There are still good really cheap speakers out there, e.g. I’ve heard various little Q-Acoustics sounding great, and IAG really know what they are doing at the budget end too (e.g. Wharfedale etc). There’s a lot of stuff on Richer under £250 I’d expect to be pretty decent. I wasn’t joking with the £99 JBL Control 1s, they are decent, I’ve heard them lots in art gallery installations etc (one of my friends was AV tech for the Tate), and from there lots of Q Acoustic, Wharfedale, Mission, even Fyne and Klipsch under that budget. I’m sure it will all be made in China, but we are talking what would have been the Videotone Minimax price level in my day as a young audio buyer.
    gavreid likes this.

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