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Old 11-29-2007   #1
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Default Retiring Baby Boomers Fuel Two-Channel - Sales Surge in 2007

Make no mistake, the audiophile business was created by and thrived on the economic power of post World War II Baby Boomers. Fueled by the musical renaissance of the late 1960s and 1970s, the demand for increasingly accurate and realistic music reproduction became more and more important to this large demographic as they aged. By the 1980s a man's stereo system was nearly as much of a societal status symbol as his car he drove. And as Boomers made more and more money, the gear pioneered by the early works of audio designers like Dan D'Agostino, Mark Levinson and Bob Carver (to name just a few) made for an entire luxury goods category.

Roll the tape forward to the advent of home video and the ensuing long term popularity of home video – specifically VHS tape and ultimately DVD – and the world of audiophiles wasn't quite as happy of a place. By the Millennium, gone were the glory days of status-symbol speaker systems and big amplifiers parked on the floor of your living room having been replaced in affluent people's homes by flat HDTVs, in-wall speakers, touch-screen remote controls, home automation and beyond. Additionally factor in the failure of both SACD and DVD-Audio, a long running drought of creatively important popular music and the rise of MP3s and Internet sites like Audiogon that offers audiophile gear at prices lower than most dealers can by them for - and you can clearly see serious trouble for the audiophile business in the twenty first century.

Not everything is as bad as it sounds in 2007. With decades of dreaming of owning that Audio Research tube preamp or a Linn LP12 turntable – more than one audiophile company is reporting a spike in their two-channel sales despite the downturn in the housing market, a slumping Wall Street and $4.00 a gallon gasoline. Some suggest, the Boomer audience, now reaching their early sixties, are finally getting access to the retirement money that they have saved for decades and that is part of what is fueling their audiophile dream purchases. Others suggest that Boomers who saw huge gains in real estate in recent years as well as even bigger gains over the past three decades are often downsizing their family homes to smaller (and many times more than one) homes which can leave discretionary funds to buy some of the more luxurious audio and video goodies.

Questions abound if this spike in audiophile sales is sustainable when music is sold to the masses on low resolution downloads or 25 year old Compact Discs. The answer is 'yes' if the Boomer's children, Generation X, can be sold music in a way that is meaningful to them. Unlike the generation below them (Generation Y) who are now in college, Generation X is a lot more like their parents in terms of the ways they consumer luxury goods. If record labels ever realize that Blu-ray and HD DVD can provide copy-protected HD sound and HD video that competes with HD video game systems and popular home video titles – you could see a significant and sustainable growth period in high end audio in the next twenty years. If selling low-resolution audio is the future of the music business, their future is even more ugly than the labels think and without great new music or remastered back catalog titles – audiophile sales will surely suffer even more severely going forward.

The big question about future generations being posed actually reaches past the Boomer-like, Generation Xers, all the way to Generation Y and teenaged kids called the "Millenials". With a culture of short-attention span entertainment and disposable, hand-held devices driving social networks that pride themselves with the idea of taking away creative control from the record producer or movie director – will entertainment be completely revolutionized 25 years from now? Or will the tech-saturated kids of today revert to more analog, more organic pursuits as they age and increase in financial prominence? If Generation X is any guideline for the generations below them, this prediction is completely possible. While Xers are definitely connected to the Internet and many new media, they are also driving the "green" movement and have been the power behind local, sustainable farming as well as artisinal winemaking and Eastern health trends like yoga and Pilates. Time will tell if the younger generation will follow in the footsteps of the generations before them.

by: Jerry Del Colliano
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Old 11-30-2007   #2
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Default Re: Retiring Baby Boomers Fuel Two-Channel - Sales Surge in 2007

SACD and DVD-A have both died as new mediums because the baby boom gereration and the other generations also decided to choose simplicity (MP3) over hi quality.

The new status symbol is the IPOD, especially the new IPOD Touch.

Last edited by xorbitman; 11-30-2007 at 05:53 AM..
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Old 11-30-2007   #3
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Default Re: Retiring Baby Boomers Fuel Two-Channel - Sales Surge in 2007

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Originally Posted by xorbitman View Post
SACD and DVD-A have both died as new mediums because the baby boom gereration and the other generations also decided to choose simplicity (MP3) over hi quality.

The new status symbol is the IPOD, especially the new IPOD Touch.
I disagree. Most baby boomers do not even know what DVD Audio or SACD is!!!!
They never chose iPod, it was poured down their throat with strong marketing to poorly informed consumers. Can you say Bose?

The reason high quality audio solutions died was because of competition between themselves, lack of remasted music that baby boomers wanted to hear, and a lack of support from hardware vendors for the new formats.

I do agree that good audio quality is less important than bragging rights over how many songs one can fit on an iPod to the x generation, and many baby boomers but if this conclusion was entirely true, CD's would be dead too!
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Old 11-30-2007   #4
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Default Re: Retiring Baby Boomers Fuel Two-Channel - Sales Surge in 2007

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Originally Posted by AVRevForum.com View Post
The answer is 'yes' if the Boomer's children, Generation X, can be sold music in a way that is meaningful to them. Unlike the generation below them (Generation Y) who are now in college, Generation X is a lot more like their parents in terms of the ways they consumer luxury goods.
Actually, Gen Xers are generally regarded as being born from 1964 to 1980. So, while some of the later ones are likely the children of baby boomers, the bulk of the ones born in the 60s and early 70s are NOT. Gen Y (aka "boomlets") is usually considered those who are the children of boomers.

How ironic that Gen X, the missing/invisible generation, is mistaken as the children of the overbearing baby boomer generation that came right before it. The baby boomer-centric view of the universe strikes again. Ugh.

JW
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Old 11-30-2007   #5
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Default Re: Retiring Baby Boomers Fuel Two-Channel - Sales Surge in 2007

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I disagree. Most baby boomers do not even know what DVD Audio or SACD is!!!!
They never chose iPod, it was poured down their throat with strong marketing to poorly informed consumers. Can you say Bose?

The reason high quality audio solutions died was because of competition between themselves, lack of remastered music that baby boomers wanted to hear, and a lack of support from hardware vendors for the new formats.

I do agree that good audio quality is less important than bragging rights over how many songs one can fit on an iPod to the x generation, and many baby boomers but if this conclusion was entirely true, CD's would be dead too!
I'm glad that you disagree however I am a baby boomer born in '56 and almost all of my friends know what DVD-A and SACD is...in fact they even know what HDCD is too. I have owned many stereo systems in my life so far. I started in the '70s with a Marantz receiever, Cassette Deck, Benjamin Elac Turn Table and Shure Cartridge. In the early 80's I switched to a Harmon Kardon Receiver that was probably running in Class A as it was so hot you could almost fry eggs on it if you left them on there long enough! LOL! After that in the mid 80's I had a NAD Integrated pre-amp with a Rega Planar Turntable and POLK RTA-20 speakers...they were the top of line then. I traded in my Rega tone arm for a Grace tone arm made from Carbon Fiber when hardly no one even knew what carbon fiber was. I also had a Shure cartridge which I later switched to Grado which I still own today...as a musuem piece. Later I bridged my NAD to MONO and added a Second Nad amp and a Proton Tuner. After that it was Parasound and Yamaha....Not long ago I upgraded to Pioneer Elite (as a processor) and Paradigm Studio Monitors with AC3 and DTS THX capablility. I am using a Museatex Meitner 100 power amp for my center channel (bi-Amped) and a SimAudio Moon amp for my fronts. My next aquisition...I will be moving my Pioneer Elite upstairs to my living room as a companion to my 32" Samsung LCD HDTV with Totem speakers. I will be selling my Paradigms and starting over completely in my Hometheater system and will be looking for new components. My speakers will also be TOTEM's. My monitor will either be a top of the line Panasonic Viera or the new Pioneer Plasma 50". I have also been a musician since age 7 when I started piano lessons and have over 40 years experience in this area. I have a setup that includes Korg, Yamaha, Rolland, M-Audio, Boeringer and a new Mac. During the 70's I worked in Radio both at the University level and later in the early 80's I was a professional week-end DJ on the graveyard shift with a local popular Radio station here in Montreal and I used to do mobile DJ services. Today I have a software company that specializes in QA and I am a MFG rep in the industrial electronics business (My fulltime job since "95). I understand the concepts of Marketing almost as well as the next person however I have to disagree with you regarding having IPODs shoved down one's throats. Trust me...a product will not succeed if it had no appeal no matter how good it is. Finding the right balance between price and performance is a key to successful marketing strategy! Case in point: Look what is happening with the Sony Playstation 3. We all know it is the superior gaming system however the price is/was prohibitive...they should have come out with a unit based on the popular DVD format with a migration capability to BLUE RAY....but that's Sony. Blue Ray is hanging on however will it also go the way of SACD and Betamax? SACD failed not only because of a unified standard....it failed because of a lack of demand for the discs. Most consumers like me that have CD collections numbering over 500 cds (in my case over 1000) were reluctant to throw it all away to start over with SACD. Secondly regarding BOSE....carefull what you say here....they mfg some of the best OEM automotive systems out there. Acura TL and the Nissan Maxima have fantastic sounding BOSE systems. Apple did not use BOSE to creat the marketing campaign. It was the CHASM Institute that created the whole IPOD image......oh and BTW you'd be amazed at the quality a regular CD can reproduce if engineered properly! Most pop stuff is purposely engineered for the FM/Automotive market as it is overly compressed, filtered, limited and then engineered to sound best in an automotive environment! (Garbage in/Garbage out)

Last edited by xorbitman; 11-30-2007 at 11:33 AM..
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Old 11-30-2007   #6
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Default Re: Retiring Baby Boomers Fuel Two-Channel - Sales Surge in 2007

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Originally Posted by xorbitman View Post
Case in point: Look what is happening with the Sony Playstation 3. We all know it is the superior gaming system however the price is/was prohibitive...
The Cell processor while in theory is powerful, in practice it's actually not capable of what the 360 is. I've got many programmer friends and they all say the PS3 is a nightmare and the Cell sucks. Somewhere I saw a programmer for I believe THQ who does work on both post a detailed difference in capabilities graphics wise between the two systems and the 360 is hands down the superior. While the BD disc can hold more data it can't get the data off the disc as fast as the 360 can. The DVD drive in that 360 spins at speeds much faster than the BD disc. It's one reason the unit is so damn loud.

I wish I knew where that post was it's actually rather informative.

Still on subject most baby boomers did not know enough about SACD.

I know a Boutique store here who did it's best business in 8 years this last year. So they don't see a reason to change anything.
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