Rant against the industry with hopes for discussion on positive change

As a 20 year hobbyist who has worked around the industry and made tons of contacts I really worry about the future of this hobby. 

For the last 30 years the industry has catered to an aging  clientele which I can tell you as a used gear guy a large percentage of my inventory comes from audiophiles who have passed away and at 38 i rarely meet people my age or near who are hobbyists. 

The industry is about the shadiest mainstream industry that has fought standards tooth and nail which is why amp and speaker ratings are all over the place confusing and discouraging the casual consumer. 

Millenials and Gen Z have spoken loudly that they won’t support shady business practices however market trends show that like audiophiles they bought a cheap Bluetooth speaker, than eventually a better and eventually a nice one. They want a option that is currently really only available from Devialet and a couple other manufactures. 

Also sales people use the technique that “you don’t know how to listen to music, you need to sit motionless in one spot” music reproduction needs to adapt to modern life where people are living smaller spaces with far more media options than ever before. 

As a guy on the border of Gen X and millennial I’ve built 4 rigs for friends over the years because I always get the response of “I can’t give up a whole wall, that’s insane” 


I would really like to see a company make a 12” and 15” Tannoy gold tv stand with volume control, bass, treble and loudness knobs as well as USB charging with an outlet strip on the back and a shelf for a PS5 or Xbox… that way they get big clean sound for example


What are y’all’s thoughts on ways the industry can still thrive and meet the new demands of consumers while getting good music to more people? Without a new influx I don’t see how the majority of brands and brick and mortars and stay on business due to a decline in clientele


High end audio---or even hi-fi on any level---has ALWAYS been a niche market. Out of, say, a hundred young people I knew when I was in my 20's (in the 1970's), only two other than myself cared enough about having a good system to actually be willing to spend the $ necessary to get one. And of the musicians I knew, none. Zero.

But listening to a complete album was a "destination" activity back then. Music was considered an art form, not mere entertainment. There are young people now who are just as pre-occupied with music as we were then (some of the most passionate make and post videos on YouTube), to whom music is a major focus of their lives. Knowing how to find out about how to assemble a quality hi-fi---or even caring to---just isn't a "thing" for most youngins. When in my 20's, the guys I found myself surrounded by in hi-fi shops were middle-aged professionals. Hi-fi is just not a passion of most young people, and never has been.

It's the current crop of middle-aged professionals who haven't gotten into hi-fi that is the problem. The ones I meet now have ceiling-mounted Bose mini-speakers, and aren't aware of even mid-fi products. They don't see the ads for receivers and loudspeakers they way their counterparts in the 70's did in Playboy and Penthouse (at least that's what I hear ;-) . As for musicians, they listen to music on their computer's speakers. THEY are hopeless ;-) .

If you feel you have the pulse of your generation, stop your ranting-start your own business.

EVERY industry  has a questionable  side. Welcome to reality.

most millenials would not want the product you are descibing

the muillinial mindset is portable and cheap

+1 @tablejockey - This is exactly why I went into business. More people have to help the less aware better understand the wonderful experiences of high end audio.

OP - IMO Too little effort has been placed to help demonstrate the value to others, or to help them find value in it. Obviously the best way to do so is to place people in the listening chair, but even more so it also requires empathy and nurture in helping to guide people wherever they are along their journey, connecting with them and learning about what they currently value and how these value can grow even if it’s just through a forum thread.

Everyone starts somewhere.

In the late 1950’s, from the age of nine to fourteen, my "system" was a battery powered portable Sylvania transistor radio with seven (7) transistors that in the high altitude air of West Texas would pull in AM stations from Chicago, New Orleans, Nashville, Oklahoma City and the Mexican border stations, "Put your hands on the radio and pray with me."

I learned to appreciate all of it, blues, pop, R&B, country and now, in my late 70s, I still appreciate all of it, plus classical, fado, West African and many others.

Yes, I appreciate it more because of my Raven Audio Blackhawk and Reference 3A de Capos but it was the music I was chasing, not the hardware.

Audiotroy - it’s only about getting 1-2% as it’s been forever… currently we have WAY less than that

Table Jockey - No doubt that every industry has a questionable side. Our barely has an honest corner however…


I ran a used gear store selling value and quality in honest business. The cost to open a production facility, set up distribution and marketing etc. is pretty prohibitive even if you have plenty of capital for most projects, it’s much better suited to a company that already has these things in place. 

I’ve worked around this industry for 20 years. It’s just not that easy

They're already doing what you ask for. Active streaming speakers have future fi built in and the young'uns are going for that. Everything you'll need is built into the speakers from streaming to TV along with all the apps they can eat.

Industry is not catering anymore to the audiophile of old, rather, they have their sights set on the present and next generation of listeners. And, they can still sound great since it's a blending or melding of old tech and new.


All the best,

What triggered me to acquire the gear is my education on electronic engineering and general musical education of getting familiar with structure of music and the instruments. All of it was given to me at the elementary school level. 

Today those 'triggers' don't exist. Today education is FOCUSED on Binary vs. Non-Binary where there's nothing scientific at all -- only political.

Veteran 50+ year music lover and hifi enthusiast speaking here.

There are more very good sounding products out there to choose from than ever. From headphones on a smart phone on up. Also more good quality music to listen to for less than ever thanks to streaming. I don’t see a problem. I'm a happier camper in these woods than ever.  The times they are forever changing. Smart people will reap the benefits. Dinosaurs do not stand much of a chance. Ironically I would still love to have a nice Victrola to display as an artifact of the past and maybe even play some 78s on though still.


There's no shortage of theories as to why younger folks aren't interested in "hi-fi" or 2 channel audio. Here's one more. 

I don't know of any folks under 40 (50?) who listen to music as a primary activity. In my experience, it's one of many activities going on at the same time, essentially becoming background music. 

Contrast this to pre-Internet days where listening to music WAS the primary activity. Folks played music and listened to music, and that provided sufficient enjoyment. 

No one has the attention span for that these days, their brains are being bombarded with competing dopamine inputs mostly sourced through their phone. 

They like music, they just want to listen to it while doing something else. And they could care less if it was "Hi-Fi", so they're certainly not going to spend money on it.




I see the younger generation more leaning toward HT set ups. Multi channel systems.

Lots of younger people that want higher quality sound reproduction are satisfied with the new wave of IEMs, including ChiFi, a portable DAC/amp, and a streaming service.  Headphone rigs too.  This is cutting deeper into the 2.1 system market.

@mapman +1


I have been a hard core enthusiast for 50 years. It has always been a niche market. It has always been on the brink of disaster. But the breathtaking increase in products available has been amazing. If this is a dying pursuit, then why so many new brands?

Sure us old farts are dying out. That has always been true… and we are the ones with the most expensive equipment… makes sense. The guys with the Marantz Model 1s, and 1960 Corvettes are dead.

So, I imagine a small percentage of the home theater and mp3 folks will make more money and love music… and pursue the high end. But also, the sound quality for the money is going up, so there may be less impetus for quite as many people to do really high end stuff. But I do not think we are talking buggy whips here.

My own rant loosely tied to the comments about phones and limited attention spans...

I was in a customs line for over an hour recently and some kids were watching TikTok videos non-stop (at least I think that's what they were). 15 second videos of utter nonsense.

As I stood there watching this I thought we're doomed as doomed can be.

For parents, social media is a cheap and easy babysitter. 

No way these kids are going to grow up wanting to sit and listen to an album all at once.

btw too much screen time and not enough sunshine is the root cause of the myopia epidemic and a bunch of other negative side-effects we have yet to fully realize.

Just enjoy the music and don't worry about the industry.

Young people,for some reason ,have very short attention spans. Too much social media out there.They can't put their phone down long enough to sit down at the "sweet spot",and listen to a great album!

Positive change?  For whom?

I can appreciate your comments and I expect the companies to create products based on demand. Some will try to improve existing offerings to appeal to existing customers other will try creating products to attract new clients. 

The evolution of products is continual and i recall the Walkman then the iPod. Powered speakers and sound bars are also being introduced with better and better audio. 

Positive is in the eye of the be holder. There’s a lot of options for music listening and appreciation. 

The journey can be fun. 

In my experience with my younger friends, it's all about instant gratification. Instant downloads and streaming and done. I know a few guys that will go 'shopping' for vinyl but it's not that often. They would rather spend their money (but not much) on headphones, like Beats. Their home stereos consists of hand-me-downs from their parents. They LOVE my system (Luxman, Dynaudio) but its out of reach for them so why bother? There aren't any stores with hifi, or even mid-fi equipment except maybe Best Buy. I always tell them that I'll help them build a modest system, but I've yet to do it. So, they're stuck with Apple Music and AirPods. 

High end audio---or even hi-fi on any level---has ALWAYS been a niche market.


A few years ago, I told a 30 something that I spent a grand on a cd payer and 2 grand on my int. amp. When I mentioned that my speakers set me back $1600,  his TikTok abused mind practically exploded, so befuddled was he. I didn't try to explain that my gear was entry level, foot in the door, next level stuff; he would not have understood that concept. This individual reacted like 99% of the population would have acted - he looked at me like I was nuts! We are a species that the masses are not familiar with, and for the most part have no intention of ever becoming familiar with. Had I mentioned to him what I spent on cables, it might have had to call an ambulance. Sound quality, like proper manners, proper grammar and being discerning about things in general is passe' these days. I caught the HIFi bug at 10 years old and my fascination has never wavered all these years. I bask in the beauty of the music that my system faithfully renders, sometimes so convincing that it transports me like a time machine to, often times, a place far more blissful then where I'm at in any particular moment. Those of you who can relate to how I feel comprise a very small niche group. The modern world, with all the devices, distractions and propaganda media enticements are just too powerful for most people to resist - hence the junk culture that surrounds us and destroys the notion that people can be individualist who chart their own path. Let's hope that this industry can find a way to resonate with the younger demographic, and admit that much of the negative perception toward the hi end audio industry has been self inflicted. For decades!

"I would really like to see a company make a 12” and 15” Tannoy gold tv stand with volume control, bass, treble and loudness knobs as well as USB charging with an outlet strip on the back and a shelf for a PS5 or Xbox… that way they get big clean sound for example."

Are you serious? This would be really poor quality crap. You might as well stream MP3.

Well your not gonna get the next generation to use tidal and ditch Spotify very easily. 

however a quality speaker capable of big sound is pleasing to the ear and the OVERWHELMING amount of music played is MP3 through cheap Bluetooth speakers

usually a better and bigger speaker is more pleasing to the ear, what do I know. I’ve just been in the industry 20 years…

No reason to keep those youngsters around anyway if they prefer streaming and X-boxes. You should be catering to the rest of us geriatric cases instead. We are definitely older and wiser in every way.

A lot of the ,new, generation simply is not interested in (even) decent hifi gear. As an example, the sons (30 and 32) of my partner do not even look at my music room, less spending time there. Altough it would be free of charge. Maybe they will 20 years from now?

So, let's continuing our own journey and indulge ourselves.

Enjoy your weekend, your gear and even more THE MUSIC.

Best, eagledriver

I’m 37, I got my first rig at 26 having previously used computer speakers hooked up to my laptop. I had no idea about hifi, I just knew I wanted better sound and from there it spiralled into the greatest adventure. Unless you first love music, and then want that reproduced as well as it can be hifi will never be for you. Most people ‘like’ music but it’s not their focus so how well it sounds doesn’t even register. In all my time following this hobby I’ve found two people that care about my system and only one of them that had their own. While this blows my mind, it confirms my thoughts that too few people care about sound quality and no amount of marketing will change that. The people that do will eventually seek it out (I originally went to buy better computer speakers and ended up calling a hifi store). I have a listening room and I sit there for hours listening to music as the activity and there is nothing I enjoy doing more - there are some of us under 40 that do! It seems true hifi or the passion for it will always be a subset of true music lovers, but that’s what also keeps it quite interesting. 

I wear aids, but educated self on what my options were....

My pair had there response adjusted to resemble what I felt was close to my hearing as I recalled it.  The aids bluetooth to my phone or desktops, one of which resides in my 'main'....collection.

Win/win as far as I'm concerned.

You can either embrace the future (it's hard to avoid, actually), or stay home and stop bitching.  Light up the sets' and enjoy.  Push the Ds' to 11.

Ones' listening space can be anywhere now.  If it's perfection you seek, you go alone.  But if it's music, and what it can do for your day, go take a walk, a ride, just go there.... ;)



Yeah man...nobody is into toy trains...rare French pottery...stamp collecting...damn young people!

How refreshing...another whining thread about how the audio geek hobby is being neglected...I’ve been into this stuff for many decades and if it’s news to anybody that few others care about it at all, you simply need to get out more. Boomers like me have left these "kids" a world where rents skyrocket by 25% a year and the climate as we knew it is outta here. Get centered, enjoy your system, and embrace what is likely a personal joy...the high end industry has never known how to market itself and that ain’t gonna change.

How many youngsters still play with model trains?

Times, they are a-changin'.

There's two issues.  First the music.  It's synthesized so all the nuance we find so interesting is gone and there's ear buds.  Why would I give up a whole wall and have to deal with annoying my neighbors when I can integrate my music, my telephone and my social life into my phone in my pocket.  When you were in your twenties did you listen to 50 year old music?  Just like MTV killed the record store MTV is dead today killed by the iPhone.

Too bad I'm too old to pick up the good stuff on the cheap in 20 years.

The issue of "attention spans" is a very serious one. The hifi industry is just the tip of an iceberg which threatens humanity.

Why? Because distraction and fragmentation are the enemies of a coherent sense of history and memory. We need both of those to learn from past mistakes, hold our leaders to account, and to trust some of our longer-term methods, such as science.

If anyone wants to see who profits off the destruction of attention, I suggest you read Shoshana Zuboff's book on surveillance capitalism. This is where the money is, short term, and where our undoing lies, long term.

musicians are hopeless!! hahaha!! man is that true!

spot on, @bdp24! im a musician, im 47, been making music since i was a small child, been playing out since the late 80s. made a lot of records on top-tier gear in top-notch studios...and at home id listen to all these records and the rest of em on  my $60 used turntable plugged into salvaged, freebie hand-me-down BPC and basic disposable speakers of the era.

...or beat up car stereo, or walkman, or computer, or phone plugged in to something. 

never occurred to me to do anything else. 

ive always had a massive music collection and never took any interest in good hifi til a coupla years ago. 

got interested in hifi coupla years ago. 

+1 @hilde45 

Couldn't agree more.  This is nearly an analog to PRaT, whereas the Pace of life is nearly "off the chart".  The Rhythm of daily events as I knew them as a kid seems missing completely.  The Timing of events seems to be self-serving for the real decision makers (whomever the hell they are).  Sad commentary.

The high-end will be here as long as we are.  Just like any other group of companies some will grow and change while others fall.  It is out of our hands.




@systembuilder I agree with the bulk of what you are saying about our hobby. The one thing that bothers me about this hobby is however, the listening in the “sweet spot” mentality. While, I understand the concept and have enjoyed listening with my share of beverages locked in on my couch, it is no longer where I want to be. I have an open room house, I enjoy listening to the same critical things coming out of my system I have always, but out and about in my home. Yes listening while doing other things. This make me happy and brings me joy to this hobby. Does that make me any less of an “audiophile” I think not and I really don’t need any salesman telling me how I should enjoy my system. Interesting topic! 

I inherited this hobby from my father. Being right at the edge between M. and Gen X.

1) It’s a solo hobby

2) It requires a good amount of dedicated time

3) It is expensive

4) It requires dedicated space

5) It does not give wow points in the friends circle

Until the kids are self sufficient and excess disposable income is available, which is usually in your 40s it is simple for many not a good lifestyle choice. 

I can listen maybe 2 hours a week which when looking from an investment perspective is not good use of the money invested.

Many here are retired or the kids are out of the house. Completely different perspective and lifestyle.

the phrase "I want positive changes in the industry" - this implies the desire of the seller to sell more and more ...
everything is very simple - if the product is much better than the previous one and at the same time cheaper - a queue of people will form to you ...

In fact, if the playback device has reached a certain ceiling and is done very well - the client will not come back ... he is happy and satisfied.

New clients? - yes, many have already mentioned here - the general level of education and culture of people has fallen - they don’t read anything, they have bananas in their ears ...

what to do ? - "kill" Elon Musk, Tim Cook and Bill Gates - they imagine themselves to be gods and dictate fashion to society ... they are driven by greed and arrogance ... but these were ordinary people (a lot of money was spent on them) they never cared about their soul and psyche (this is a huge work and great knowledge) ... as a result, the devil completely subjugated them - they are puppets and they can destroy the rest.

The industry - like most - is international.  So it’s not US companies dependent on a U.S. market.  Maybe $1 of every $6 is spent in the US.

‘The quality of sound across all media has been steadily increasing with technology.  That will continue.  Cassettes are gone for good.

How people spend their leisure time is constantly evolving.  Otherwise we’d be stuck on fox hunting and checkers.  

How we spend our money is also evolving.  A 2016 survey found that 72% of millennials prefer spending their money on activities rather than items.  


Seems to me like the main reason is how much disposable money you've got and what your priorities are. When I was in my 20's and 30's, I was quite happy to 'make do' with the sound system I had, and concerned myself purely with the music itself.  

A good indicator for me is I have yet to see a pair of speakers in a room after being sent 3 listings per day of homes on the market in my home.  I also rarely if ever see people who have surround speakers where their entertainment centers are located. How can people watch a movie their their TV speakers.  They don't realize how a good sound systems adds and new element of entertainment.  Maybe people look at music as noise.  No wonder this hobby is in trouble.  Why aren't audio companies advertising on TV to grow their business?

Maybe I can offer some items of interest here.

Back in "the day" we were unacknowledged technology enthusiasts. It just wasn’t called "technology" back then. We were the original "early adopters" anxious to gobble up the newest and greatest "technology" of the day. And, we were on top of our game. We knew that a tape running at 7 1/2 inches per second sounded better than 3 3/4. That an elliptical stylus tracked better than a conical one. And, a 15" woofer (all things being equal) made more bass than a 12" woofer. The "cool factor" was thru the roof with our open reels spinning, meters pulsating, and stylus gently dropping to an album. We were smart then, too. We wrapped our intellectual selves around this environment, and due to the lack of complexity of the gear, we had a little headroom (pun intended) leftover to focus on other things -- like drilling down deep into the music. It was a simpler time, and we were the enablers of a new industry that took off like a rocket ship.

It was a simpler time for musicians, too. Young people got together in their garages and played music for hours at a time, They were original, inventive, poetic, and mastered their craft at a very early age. Literally, hundreds of not just good, but GREAT bands came from this era. And, we were the lucky one’s who reaped the musical rewards of their talent.

Today, there’s a lot more going on with young(er) people. So much, in fact, that there appears to be an invisible internal clock that goes off where they impulsively hit a button on the escape pod to abruptly exit the task they are currently involved in. In the book Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology. the author spent 18 months off the grid living with the Amish as a research project for his class at MIT. Among his life lessons was an elevated appreciation of American history after spending months living life very similar to what the founding fathers would have experienced at the time. But, most notable was the agony he experienced when picking beans for hours when he arrived. He couldn’t understand how his fellow bean pickers could laugh, carry on conversations and generally have a good time when picking beans. As time went on, he became more receptive to the tedious labor and found himself laughing and enjoying life with them. Pushing someone to stay with a task well past their comfort level by setting up a disciplined training regimen is lacking in life lessons of today. We don’t have spend hours in a bean field, but a gradient with a simple task might be a good start.

We can’t hook up a digital bitstream to our brains and connect the joy of our experiences to young people. The glorious, impactful, and emotional musical experiences we enjoyed at their age are ours. Not theirs. The "cool factor" of our gear isn’t going to resonant with those commitment to sonic realism is a no-to-low priority.

But, what we can do is provide high quality music in whatever form factor works for them and let them decide their own level of engagement.

You guys do a great job of communicating this to others. Keep it up.

There is not an industry on the face of the earth that is not full of shady companies. The only difference is that this industry is not federal regulated and you better pray to God that it never is. Federal regulations amount to taxes and corporate extortion cost that manufactures must pass on to the customer. We already have speaker wire for over 100k. Now imagine if that was regulated and had to pass through 5 years of testing to pay off ever member of congress to get the stamp. We would be pushing $1,000,000 speaker wire! Point is do your research to find a good company, let the industry evolve and go where it will. Then and most important enjoy the music!

I have meet, enjoyed and learned from many great folks in this industry.  My experience has been very positive.  

I have 2 daughters. They both enjoy music. The 25 yo loves going to live performances. The 21 yo loves listening to music on her devices. Eventually, they will both love to sit down and listen to music in the sweet spot. Then, they will fight about who gets Dad's outdated gear when I have moved into the state of "nothing" . Then, the cycle revives itself. 

Sometimes I wish Apple would buy out Roon, Benchmark, and KEF (or some such trio of software,  electronics, and speaker developers.) Then come up with a HiFi ecosystem that integrates everything at  several reasonable price points for the whole shebang.  It would sound as good as systems costing double those prices today, but with fewer boxes, fewer connections, and a great user interface.

If you hook up a pair of high-end active speakers, a streamer/DAC, and a decent smart television with AppleTV and Apple Music built in, you're just about there already.  But it still would not satisfy most folks on a forum like this one, while  being way too expensive for the vast majority of everyone else.  So there's still a  market for hobbyists with disposable income who are willing to spend years cobbling together complex, expensive systems.  




Then come up with a HiFi ecosystem that integrates everything at  several reasonable price points for the whole shebang.  It would sound as good as systems costing double those prices today, but with fewer boxes, fewer connections, and a great user interface.

I just did a spit take.  

Jeez…..these young ones only care about playing games and all wear head sets. Real music is not even remotely interesting to them.

i am 37. i didn’t start buying better/newer equipment til about 4 years ago. before that it was the pawn and thrift store life, $200 active monitors, etc. my parents’ stereo (where i started) wasn’t special either - i wanted a walkman, cd discman, boombox etc. point being, spending thousands on a home stereo is simply out of reach for most people until they get to a certain point in their careers and their lives more generally. i lived in party houses with musicians for most of my 20’s; as long as we could get loud it didn’t matter much. now i’m a dad and my priorities are different when it comes to playback, and i finally have an income that allows me to buy some pretty nice stuff if i plan carefully.

from my perspective things are improving. there’s a ton of streaming oriented gear coming out all the time, the entry level turntable market is going crazy, cheap bookshelf speakers keep improving, cheap-but-decent quality headphones and dacs sell out the wazoo. people are getting into it. just my .02c on the op. cheers

My peeve, whatever happened to taking a component, speakers, even cables, for a home demonstration/test drive? Also, products you want to hear are not carried in store any longer, or as they now call it..."a special order item".....