COMMENTS: Has the vinyl boom spawned a new generation of audiophiles? – Nation
If you’re a certain classic, you’ve probably spent a large portion of your disposable income on stereo equipment. Back in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, everyone wanted the highest quality audio systems they could buy for both home and car. The goal is to reproduce the loudest, clearest, most accurate sound possible to enjoy every last bit of the experience from those sounds. vinyl records and CDs.
Stores selling stereo equipment are everywhere. An economical way to spend an afternoon is to hop from store to store trying out your favorite albums on devices you’ve read in magazines like Stereo, Hi-Fi, and Sound that you cannot afford. And of course, no trip to the mall is complete without stopping by to check out the more modestly priced stereo equipment at Radio Shack.
But then came the digital music revolution of the late 90s. There was previous recessionbut this was different.
The convenience of MP3 and other digital codecs cannot be overlooked. Compact discs pushed vinyl to the margins and late Gen Xers and early Gen Y members moved into file sharing, iTunes, iPods, and eventually smartphones. Buying a digital player and headphones comes first, not a standalone stereo system.
Meanwhile, the factory systems that are starting to appear in cars continue to get better and are also more integrated into the car’s electronic nervous system, making aftermarket upgrades difficult. The last car to come with a cassette player was the 2010 Lexus SC430. The in-dash CD player still works, but just enough.
The stage record vinyl is back
Stereo retailers were selling equipment for the whole home and audio was in crisis. Some have been able to adapt by pivoting to the new home theater market, which includes selling multiple TVs and other video products like DVD players. Others retreated, focusing on the wishes of Baby Boomer audiophiles who could afford expensive esoteric gear. Those who can’t compete – everyone from retail stores to big box retailers like Majestic Sound Warehouse and Future Shop – have disappeared while many dedicated audio dealers have gone out of business. .
This is Age of Sound Good Enough. Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z generally agree that as long as their tunes are accessible and portable, sound quality is secondary. Listening to music through laptop speakers, cheap earbuds, Alexa devices, or mono Bluetooth speakers is great. And certainly much cheaper than buying a full-blown stereo system. There are indeed generations of people who have yet to experience their music collection through true fidelity.
However, that may be changing.
After nearly a decade of near-death experiences, people have rediscovered vinyl. Since 2008, we’ve seen double-digit year-over-year growth in vinyl sales around the planet. It has reached the point in some countries where the dollar value of vinyl records sold pales in comparison to the value of compact discs. And while there are indications that CD is starting to regain some lost loveThe main driver of music sales is the venerable vinyl record.
This seems to be creating an interesting knocking effect. If you’re going to have a vinyl collection, you need something to play with. Yes, you can go to Urban Outfitters and get one of those trashy portable turntables (Please don’t; you’re just defeating the purpose). Or you could pop into one of the remaining more upscale audio dealers and pick up a stereo system like the one we used in the ’70s. And that seems to be happening.
One of the most common requests I get from listeners is: “I want to buy a turntable. What should I take? “Others are curious about speakers and amplifiers. Several conversations with audio equipment retailers say that More and more people are looking to two-channel audio systems – device designed for listening to music only. It is possible that we are witnessing the birth of a new generation of audiophiles and people who appreciate music in all its high fidelity glory.
Mark Mandahlson of Bay Bloor Radio in Toronto told me, “We saw a need not only for high-quality sound to listen to records, but also for people to rediscover their CD collection in the modern era. translate and also add streaming to existing hi-fi systems, or build a system around high-resolution digital music.”
Lots of credit (?) have to go to COVID-19. With millions trapped inside and alone for months on end, their music collections became their rock. A TONS of vinyl has been purchased with half of them under the age of 25. When a new record hits the house, curiosity builds about how good the music might sound. Evidence shows that large numbers of these young music fans are buying proper stereo equipment for the first time. Meanwhile, older audiophiles seem to be committing to equipment upgrades – maybe up to 95% of them.
Where do these new audio enthusiasts start?
“Earphone “And we’re especially seeing this at our new headphone bar, where young people regularly come in to try on headphones and earphones and find their favorite sound,” says Mandhalson.
Not everyone moves to full stereo. Bay Bloor Radio is one of a number of retailers that know they need to bring people into this new world. A beginner’s starter system can be as simple as a turntable with a few powered speakers.
This also seems to be a long-term trend. By 2026, the global market for home audio equipment is predicted to be valuable 49.9 billion US dollars. And that doesn’t quite come from buying cheap earbuds and portable Bluetooth speakers for the beach.
Of course, there’s more driving the market than people going back to the kind of stereo system people had in the ’70s. Manufacturers are investing heavily in R&D. Not only is the quality of devices getting better, but there are things like smart homes, voice control, wireless technology, and better streaming solutions. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that exciting innovations – “new functionality”, in industry parlance – have hit the market every quarter.
As someone who still has some equipment that used to be in my bedroom – hi, Akai AP-001C . belt-driven turntable buy at Krazy Kelly’s at the west end of Winnipeg c. 1978 – this news made my heart good. Long-lasting high-fidelity sound system!
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
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