Challenges Vote – Community Comments

Vote participants were asked to identify challenges to high-performance audio that were not listed in the vote.  Here are the responses.

“Current/recent music is poorly recorded and/or mastered.  All that compression.” – Clark Johnsen

“Album as an art form is alien to a young person. Also for young artists.” – Atte Loikkanen

“Currently, technology is evolving quickly relative to playing music stored digitally.” – Andrew Fluss

“Making the price of hi-res downloads identical to ordinary-res mp3.” – Jean-Charles

“The quality of recordings/mixes available through most readily available popular music styles has such limited dynamic range and soft clipping to create the perception of loudness. Also, many people listen to audio through OEM vehicle audio systems that have bass-hyped systems or have the audio controls user defined to exaggerate the bass.” – Sean Hanney

“The loss of learning to play music on an instrument due to hearing music.” – Paul Murro

“The quality of mainstream music production has decreased, and the emphasis on rhythm and repetitive beats has made the accurate reproduction of music less significant.” – Bruce McLeod

“Next generation components need to be accompanied by a wealth of knowledge that helps the buyer setup properly both acoustically and electronically.” – Stefan Carvallo, Producer

“The ability of aging, financially well-to-do audiophiles to communicate with the next-generation music lovers.  No matter how much we care, will they hear the message from us?” – Andy Hepburn

“Young people often identify themselves with “new” technologies as the better ones.” – Wandique Silva

“Affordable high end.” – Bjørn Arne

“Hi-Fi stores were part of the problem in many cases.  A new method of exposure must be created.” – Kurt Bauer

“I suspect that even music recorded on CD today is not recorded to standards that allow it to sound better on a “good” system than on portable digital system.” – John Gerber

“The music the next generation actually listens to is either unavailable or on very limited selection in suitable resolution.  This limits the utility of high-end sound to them.  The price and size of gear isn’t a barrier, since there are many options.  The complexity?  No, our kids know more than we do!  It’s the music that’s poorly mastered in CD and none available at master tape quality of stuff they seek out.” – Brent Irvine

“The next generation prefers the convenience of mp3 or streaming music over the sound quality of physical media.” – Al Moccia

“Next-generation music lovers do not develop music appreciation and knowledge of non-commercial types and genres of music such as Classical and Jazz, which would benefit more from a traditional stereo system.  Most of their music uses electronic instruments, is digitally recorded and is mass produced.” – Jose Sandoval

“I regularly buy old stereo components off eBay and craigslist and from garage sales,  put a turntable with a phono amp and attach it to the aux on mini component stereos that have CD and Radio capabilities, add a few good records, and give them as gifts to teenage family and friends.  I have yet to fail in turning them into vinyl, album listening music lovers from the mp3 consumers they had been.  Two years ago I helped convert and old house here in Franklin, Tennessee into a coffeehouse.  I claimed one of the rooms as “The Music Room” and put in an old stereo and turntable, covered the walls with albums hanging from Binder Clips and boxes of old old records, and furnished the room with big comfy old leather furniture.  The room is almost always occupied with listeners.  The stereos and turntables take a beating – and keep needing to be replaced or repaired – but seeing 10-15 teenagers packed in the room listening to Genesis, Pink Floyd, Carol King, The Beach Boys, Split Endz, The Cars, Mike Oldfield, etc makes me very happy.  Once they have access, they are seduced by the magic of vinyl and listening to the magic of whole album listening, not just disjointed jumping around from track to track that is the usual experience of mp3 and streaming listeners.  After a while, they all start wanting to know where to buy albums, how to get a better turntable, how to care for records, how to get and setup a good old stereo, what are the good speakers, etc.  Good music is a very positive drug.  If the audio industry wants to cultivate a “Next Generation” they need to realize that the “drug dealer” business model of “give them a taste of quality product, then edge them along to addiction… they will be chasing the experience the rest of their lives”.  And it is a very life affirming, positive, non-destructive, addiction.” – Paul Hayes

“It is difficult to hear high quality components in a local setting.  To blindly spend money on a component that is high priced is a risk many will not want to take.  Many people are using music as background rather than foreground.” – Timothy Garrand

“Music is too easy.  Most people are lazy and any form of music is good enough.  The challenge is just to get people to realize that slowing down and actually listening is actually worth it.” – Andrew Schenck

“Ear plug “headphones” actually damage your ear.” – Martin Dürrenmatt

“More Classical music, more instrumental repertoire.  Today’s pop music does not inspire good listening and create a need for high fidelity equipment; all you need is a boom box.” – Walter Durling

“We used to have a real audio store in town.  Thirty years ago, they had Friday nights with free coffee and audio nuts would meet there and talk sound and new music.  We took our kids and they loved it.  Now TV, cell phones, and washers and driers are all sold in our “audio stores”. The only thing the staff knows is when they get a break.  Might as well go to Costco.” – Dave Cole

“Next generation audio equipment is much more accessible than high end, high performance audio equipment.” – Michael Marotta

“How many people have actually heard of flac?” – Tarquin Fallon

“Portability.  Like dedicated cameras, the fact that smart phones are ubiquitous, makes most dedicated audio equipment obsolete.  What is needed is a bluetooth type solution that could follow you on/off as you move from car to home to gym.  However, I think this largely negates high fidelity.” – no name given

“A lot of people in their 20 and 30’s are moving a lot and not having an income that would lend itself to easily making an audio hobby manageable.” – Peter Glenn

“In addition to the generally high cost of high end audio equipment, there is very little coverage of the more affordable high end components in the major audiophile publications.” – Stephen Graham

“I put Neutral or Disagree when the problems have nothing to do with “Next generation music lovers” but with music lovers in the past as in the future.  My mother didn’t like the big system my father bought and I had to battle with my wife to put an all tube system with big boxes in the living room (and she put her veto to a pair of Magnepans some years ago).  My son surely will have the same discussion with his wife (or boyfriend or whatever).  I’m sure it is the same with pets, children.  My father in law asked a “specialist” to assemble his system in his house, too much cables, etc.  He is 70 years old.  So that problem has also about nothing to do with the “future” challenges of high-performance audio, but with audio in the past and future.” – Fabien Fivaz

“The biggest challenge is we want it to be as popular as sliced bread.  It’s a niche hobby.” – Jay Valancy

“Many young people have no knowledge of what instruments actually sound like.  Music appreciation classes, if available, are taught by people that wouldn’t know an expressive performance if it bit them.  Young people find the intimacy of popular music heard through Beats headphones to be much more part of the isolated small screen lifestyle that they are part of than a huge conglomeration of difficult to integrate components.  Teaching music appreciation, by stores or manufacturers, is the key to future of the business, even if listening is done exclusively on headphones.” – Parker King

“Do you the younger people today have access to good high quality Hi-Fi to at least have a listen and enjoy the benefits of such a system?” – Michael Pearson

“Decent Hi-Fi blogs are hard to find.  Printed media is irrelevant to the target audience.  Ridiculously high priced items occupy writings far beyond their sales profile.  There is far too much snake oil promoted.  The Hi-Fi language too often used is foreign, even to experienced Hi-Fi listeners.” – Gary Cook

“Getting them to sit down and listen to a high quality, traditional, audio system.  I can only observe my two son’s (26 and 29) and their friends.  They will listen, and are very impressed with the sound, especially their music which I will play for them.  They really appreciate the experience, but they do not have an interest in having their own systems, mainly because of the cost.  In the audio society I belong to, the youngest is in their forties.  Most of us are in our late fifties or older.  The challenge, as I see it, is to get more and more of them to hear it.  Some of them will spring for the cost, and then their friends will hear it and want their own, and so on and so on.  Unless you lose your hearing, it will become a life long hobby that can be improved on as you go.” – Kevin Ball

“The quality of music mastering, aka the Loudness Wars.” – Bill Blank

“The next generation doesn’t fully appreciate the personal pleasure that comes from discovering new nuances in recordings brought by component upgrades.” – Gil Pregent

“Many retailers today are not carrying a wide variety of music genres (on CD, Blu-Ray or LP formats).  Years ago one could find different genres of music at some retail or record stores.” – Christopher Hamby

“Traditional audio components and high performance audio in general is assumed by the lay-person to also be high priced.  A crappy mp3 player included in your fancy phone is seen as “free”, because you already paid for the phone unit.  Also a life-time of “free” mp3s has also made it difficult for me to convert associates to high-quality legally-obtained sources.  Cost is an obstacle.” – Bryan Murphy

“Lack of music education.  No role models.” – Eric McLean

“New music is not being properly engineered and mastered.  It’s done in a way to suit the crap delivery systems of today.” – Richard Crane

“In my locale, the lack of dealers catering to the next generation of music lovers.” – Drew Baumhauer

“There is a language barrier between the audio enthusiast and the audio lay person.  There should be a move to translate from nerd-lingo to popular language.” – Jim Mueller

“Sitting still in one place is a challenge for millenials to do.  Listening to home based Hi-Fi systems require one to sit still and listen.  Taking time to relax is a learned skill and needs to be taught to the next generation coming along.  Instead of scheduling a never ending array of activities from dance lessons to play dates, why not turn off the television and invite your kids to play their music on the big system and let them experiment.  Turn the volume down and then up, front to back, side to side.  Allow them to slow down and listen to the music.” – Dean Brown

“Widespread decline of culture in general.” – Stefano Santi

“Seeing it as separate from home theater.  Not realizing that having a high quality (not necessarily high price) pair of main speakers and subwoofer can provide the best of both home theater and stereo (2.0 or 2.1) music in one system that would work for the whole family.” – Mike Lundy

“The type/style of music I hear (from some of the next gens I am exposed to) may not allow the finer aspects of a quality music reproduction setup to be appreciated.  Loud and boomy always seem to be prevalent.” – Dave Ching

“Imbalance of frequency response in headphones mainly.  Young people turn up the volume to hear the details.  Hearing damage results.” – Dale Thorn

“The problem isn’t that reasonably priced high performing systems don’t exist, but they are incredibly difficult to find and piece together.  The guys reviewing system components make reasonably priced components sound as though they can’t provide a highly enjoyable experience.  They only really gush about the stuff 1% can afford.  The next generation of music lovers listen to music on equipment that is accessible to them.” – William, Production Manager for Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa

“I think one of the biggest issues is that they don’t really know “real” audio equipment exists. Companies such as Bose have constantly pumped out advertising which leads people to believe that it is possible to get “concert sound” out of a shoebox-sized box.  They’ve never heard real audio let alone high end audio and simply don’t know where to get it.  I see the future of audio as high resolution downloads and high end D/A converters. This allows people to have very large collections of high quality music with a minimal amount of space required.” – Gregory Morgan

“Do not compete with faddish gadgets designed to separate young people from their hard earned income.  Begin an education process aimed towards those who have matured enough not to be trapped into the “next big thing” syndrome and who have the income and stability to get into high-performance audio.  Otherwise you’re trying to become something you’re not and risk losing your present customer base.” – Alan Simon

“I feel that a portion of the lack of knowledge comes from a lack of exposure.  Too many next-generation music lovers have never heard, or even seen a high performance audio set up.” – Steven Seals

“Similar to describing wine, the audio press uses language (adverb, adjectives) that are not understood by the average person.  Again, as in wine tasting, the average person cannot recognize or describe the difference they are hearing.  Some form of education would help with this issue.” – Paul Mayer

“High-performance audio tends to be a solitary hobby that is not regularly shared with casual friends/neighbors.” – David C. Snyder

“While somewhat related to cost, there’s a profound slant towards “throw-away” electronics. That is to say this newer generation of music lovers has been breed to just toss things out rather than have them fixed/repaired.” – Ryan Hedrick

“Fitting it into smaller rooms.  The design of a dedicated auditorium for the house.” – Mark Latour

“Retail Store availability and the plague of iTunes are what I think are the two major challenges, followed by price for high-performance audio.” – Adam Brunkhorst

“Interface standards between digital devices do not deliver the best quality.  They were not designed for audio.” – Mike Cox

“After Circuit City stores were shut down because of the chain’s bankruptcy several years ago, Best Buy is literally the only consumer electronics retailer with a truly major presence in the retail market.  Unfortunately, the selection of audio and/or stereo components at Best Buy stores is truly limited and the selection of audio/video components from mainstream brands like Yamaha, Bose, Sony, Pioneer and others can by no means be considered adequate while higher-end products are nowhere to be found.  Curiously, the selection of TVs, DVD players and Blu-Ray players is quite extensive.  While online retailers such as, and do offer a much broader and wider selection, the truth is that nothing beats the experience of walking into a store and actually trying out a piece of equipment before buying it to see how it feels, how it works, and whether or not you like its quality and ease of use.” – Justo Roteta

“Beats By Dre.  More generally, music is now created with the playback medium in mind instead of trying to create a more neutral track. Also, the poor recording quality of the majority of modern music allows for increasingly diminished returns as playback equipment becomes better.” – Matt Emmons

“Question #17 cannot be answered.  It is trivial, anyway.  Drop it!” – Ed Poindexter

“Much of new music isn’t musician driven, but radio conglomerate driven.  We need more conceptual music.” – GM

“Mainstream audio magazines spill too much ink on unrealistic megabucks equipment, thus turning off potential budding audiophiles.  Stop the madness!” – Craig Weston

“To reiterate a point addressed above; cosmetics seem to be the main focus of high end equipment.  What ever happened to ‘understated elegance”?  My guess is that actual selling prices could be reduced by 50%, or more, if the old rule, ‘form follows function’, is the primary approach in the design of audio components.  Often it seems to me that manufacturer and dealers are attempting to make a full weeks target market on one customer.  It is much more difficult to make $1,000 in a single sale, than it is to make $1,000 on 10 customers.” – Jim Romanello

“Don’t forget all the Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii game consoles also competing with high performance audio” – Dave C.

“Online music (streamed or downloaded) is often sold as ‘near CD quality’ or ‘indistinguishable from CD quality’ even if it is lossy.  While this is not the truth, newcomers tend to believe what is written.” – Olav Sunde

“Most parents cannot educate their children about Hi-Fi because they don’t know what H-Fi is. demos in schools can help to mitigate this aspect.” – Erasmo Proietti

“High performance audio devices within reasonable budget are almost never user friendly.” – Dimitris Mastroperros

“We need more entry level speakers that sound great, and do not sound like budget speakers.  For example, Advents.” – Greg Miller

“Many of the “high-performance” audio stores that have stayed open have become relatively untrustworthy businesses.  No demo period, no returns.” – Daniel Mochizuki

“Good music itself has a dwindling audience.  And for what music is popular, Hi-Fi may not be necessary.” – Rajendra Chittar

“The next generation does’t see the need because they don’t listen to Classical, Jazz, or fifty year old rock.  Why have good gear for Justin Bieber?” – Mark La Penta

“The cost of high-definition music, both physical and downloadable, is beyond many, and those who can afford it do not understand or comprehend the value added.” – Rick Ford


Additional Comments

“I used to work in a Hi-Fi store in Vancouver, Sound Plus, which closed in 2007.  My customers were 35 and up with disposable income to spare.  However, the cost/performance ratio is now at the point that very good sound can be had for a reasonable outlay.  My experience is that, if someone really loves music, once they hear a good Hi-Fi, there is no turning back.  There are lots of opportunities to sell Hi-Fi systems to young people.  They just have to be exposed to it.” – Michael King

“It’s not about portability or files versus physical media.  Portable products and files can produce high fidelity.  It’s more about the lack of music as an art form, to be appreciated as an art form.  High end headphones, as an example, can produce a Hi-Fi experience from a digital file that encourages the user to sit down and listen rather than turn on the TV.” – Brian Gray

“Make sure you contribute to making high-resolution music and its playback components more affordable just as computers, cameras, and phones have dropped in price while quality has gone up.” – Jean-Charles Lajeunesse

“I am a young male at the age of 19 who consistently seeks out the best sound quality.  Quite often I am faced with financial obstacles, but I seem to make it happen regardless.  Too many of my peers are either not interested in audio altogether or are SPL focused.  I’ve been exploring ideas to get people involved in it once again but struggle due to the cost-concerned youth.  I’ll be sure to forward this survey to as many people as I can.” – Brandon Black

“Very little attention is given to budget stereo by the audio press so to speak.  The performance that can be obtained by a well matched budget system can be remarkably good.  You have to start somewhere.” – Felix Lillie

“I created a Save the Stereo entry post on a highly regarded audio forum here in Brazil and people are very interested.” – Wandique Silva

“There is an evolution away from crappy formats occurring.  It may take awhile, but at least it’s there.  While my kids may not be buying vinyl, they are music lovers, have good taste, and attend live shows all the time.  They grew up in the presence of good sound.  They prefer convenience now, but I think they will outgrow it.” – Michael Rubey

“I look forward to hearing ideas about how to convince people that music is much more enjoyable through a good stereo system.” – John Gerber

“Good work.  Be sure to focus your energy on the music they listen to in a suitable resolution to gain the benefits of high end gear.” – Brent Irvine

“I was a teenager in the late 70s, and early 80s in Southern Ontario.  There were amazing live music opportunities, amazing stereo stores like Bay Bloor Radio, Lakeshore Audio in Oakville, Fairview HiFi in Burlington, and many others like that where you could audition all kinds of components, relax and enjoy, share and discuss the experience with others that enjoyed excellent audio.  Best Buys and other big box retailers do not provide the experience needed to get a young man drooling over awesome equipment.  Sales people that will sell you a microwave, dishwasher, TV, “audio system”, camera or computer with an equal lack of knowledge, connection or patience, will never provide the same experience, connection, or desire to be part of it.  True stereo stores of the 70s and 80s were the “crackhouses” that created the aging addicts of today. without the opportunity for similar exposure to quality audio for the music loving youth of today, there won’t be older, well funded audiophiles down the road.” – Paul Hayes

“I think it would be valuable if people could go to a website with a reasonably priced suggested system at various price points.  But you have to leave the BS and profit margins out of it.  If you get people hooked on a good basic system, they will likely be hooked for life (like me).” – Timothy Garrand

“Crap recordings aren’t helping.  The recording industry needs to stop producing recordings as mp3s.  You can always dumb down quality, but you can’t add it back.” – Dave Cole

“The question about spouse acceptability of high end audio has not changed.  It was ever thus. The acronym is WAF (wife acceptance factor).” – Craig Sawyers

“High end audio stores are generally only found in larger cities.  People who don’t live in larger cities may have to travel significant distances to go to these stores.  This means they would likely have to put more reliance on reviews and articles in various audiophile publications.” – Stephen Graham

“Where I live the music scene is vibrant, the music retailers seem to be happy enough, and the youth I see ploughing through items for sale at record fair days is very healthy indeed.” – Stephen Dodds

“I think the industry as a whole is starting to wake up and realize that coast is a big obstacle for many next generation music lovers.  I have been unemployed for nine months. yet I saved my government handout and bought a Pro-Ject RM5.1 SE to help enrich my life.” – Michael Johnson

“Maybe there is a useful parallel with the wine industry’s evolution from elitist to popular culture over the last thirty years.” – Jim Mueller

“High-quality components are getting cheaper and smaller and easier to use.  The industry must embrace and promote this trend to younger people.” – Larry Swerling

“I’m interested in hearing ideas from industry persons as to how best spread the word.  Continued advertising in audio journals is understandable but it is preaching to the choir so to speak. What other publications and methods are being considered to spread the word?” – Steven Seals

“Audiophiles could benefit from recommendations and guidelines on safe, friendly ways to introduce casual friends/neighbors (especially those under 40) to high performance stereo playback.  It’s such a thrill to watch someone’s jaw drop after hearing a full stereo soundstage with rock-solid center-fill for the first time, especially when they learn that all of the sound is coming from only two loudspeakers!  Getting past “sound” and enjoying music in this new context takes time, but is even more rewarding.  However, this requires audiophiles to get out of their sweet-spot and share with others.  Safety and common sense, especially around hosting underage teens, is important too.” – David C. Snyder

“I am baffled by the current generation’s hypnotic fascination with all the tiny gadgets, and their rejection of CDs, books, newspapers, etc.” – Ed Poindexter

“Format wars don’t help, PCM vs DSD.  Rally around something and make it cheaper.  24bit downloads are a total ripoff.  I demand to see their costs.” – Mark La Penta


Feedback for Save The Stereo Project:

“I strongly support Save The Stereo Project and urge my fellow stereo industry friends to do the same.” - Gene Rubin, Gene Rubin Audio

“Finally, someone realized that we as an industry need to do something to prevent extinction.  Hope that influential industry members can/will pull together.” - Vade Forrester, Contributing Writer, The Absolute Sound

“I love the idea to promote, reach, and educate not just the audio lovers, but also to advance the appreciation of the music we try to reproduce.” - Ernie Fisher, Editor, The Inner Ear Magazine

"Bravo, Gordon. Your efforts to advocate for quality reproduction of music are sincerely appreciated." - Richard Schram, President, Parasound Products, Inc.

"We heartily agree with the Project. Young people are always surprised when they hear music through our Nola loudspeakers and associated electronics. "WOW!", they say, "I never thought it could be this good!" - Marilyn Marchisotto, VP/CFO, Accent/Nola Speakers

"I heartedly support Save The Stereo Project." - Bill Thalmann, President, Music Technology, Inc.

“This is just the thing needed to promote and encourage the next generation of high fidelity music listeners.” - Craig Sypnier, Owner, Audio Renaissance

“Great idea, I sincerely hope we all can get together spreading the word.  Listening to music is one of the greatest ways to decouple and relax, be it live or from a great music system.” - Peter B. Noerbaek, President, PBN Audio LLC - Montana Loudspeakers

“I wish Save The Stereo Project every success.” - Steve Daniels, President, The Sound Organisation

“High fidelity stereo enjoyment lives on through Save The Stereo Project!” - Adam Johnson, Madisound Speaker Components, Inc.

"Brilliant! The efforts of Save the Stereo Project are timely and much needed. We at Veloce Audio look forward to helping in any way we can." - Mark Conti, Managing Director, Veloce Audio

To read all of the industry and community feedback for Save The Stereo Project, check out the Feedback section.