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  1. #1

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    Default The death of the home stereo system

    Interesting article.

    Quote Originally Posted by http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/27/tech/innovation/death-stereo-system/index.html?hpt=hp_c2
    (CNN) -- For many years, it was a rite of fall.
    You moved into your dorm room or new apartment. You started unpacking the car. And the first thing you set up in your new place was the stereo system: receiver, turntable or CD player, tape deck and speakers.
    The wires could get tangled, and sometimes you had to make shelving out of a stack of milk crates. But only when the music was playing on those handpicked CDs, mix tapes or (geezer alert!) vinyl records did you move in the rest of your stuff.
    Daniel Rubio wouldn't know.
    To the 23-year-old, new dorm rooms and new apartments have meant computers, iTunes, Pandora and miniature speakers.
    "All I had to bring was my laptop. That's pretty much what everyone had," says Rubio, who attended Emory University in Atlanta and now works for a local marketing and communications firm. "It was actually pretty good sound. It would get the job done."
    "Get the job done"? That sounds like the white flag for an era that used to be measured in woofers and tweeters, watts per channel and the size of your record collection.
    Indeed, the days of the old-fashioned component stereo system are pretty much over, says Alan Penchansky, an audiophile and former columnist for the music trade publication Billboard.
    "What's happened in the marketplace, the midmarket for audio has completely been obliterated," he says. "You have this high-end market that's getting smaller all the time, and then you've got the convenience market, which has taken over -- the MP3s, the Bluetooth devices, playing on laptops."
    He wishes more people knew what they were missing. At its best, he says, audio reproduction has "a religious aspect."
    "There's a primacy to audio," he says. "It's a form of magic."
    Wires and jacks
    Of course, new technology changes things all the time. When was the last time you bought a roll of film for your camera?
    Still, for a long time -- and for a certain, often youthful, audience -- the stereo system was a point of pride.
    Greg Milner, the author of the audio recording history "Perfecting Sound Forever," remembers the process. There were components. There were boxes of tapes and CDs. There might even be some vinyl.
    It could be a pain, no question. The equipment was heavy. There were all those wires, plugs and jacks -- Line In, Line Out, Aux, Phono, CD, keeping track of the positive and negative strands of speaker wire. It was an effort just to break down and set up the stuff, never mind moving it.
    Milner, for example, grew up in Hawaii, and when he went away to school in Minnesota, he had to figure out what he was going to do with his system.

    Whole stores were once devoted to stereo components. That hasn't been the case in years.
    "I remember agonizing, what do I do? I can't take my stereo," he recalls. "There was this thing that, looking back on it, took up a ridiculous amount of psychic energy."
    Audiophiles vs. AM radio
    However, he observes that the history of audio technology has often been one of convenience.
    Even in the '50s and '60s, when stereo sound first became widespread, the audiophiles had their hi-fis -- and the younger generation listened to tinny AM radios and cheap phonographs.
    Indeed, music styles had a lot to do with music consumption, he points out. Audiophiles listened to classical and jazz, music from clubs and concert halls. On a good system, you could hear every pluck of a violin pizzicato, every inflection of a jazz singer's vocal, recreated in your living room.
    The kids, on the other hand, listened to cruder rock 'n' roll.
    "The seeds of the decline of what it meant to own a stereo were planted way back then, because the original audiophiles were people who were baby boomers' fathers and mothers," he says. "As rock 'n' roll starts to become more of a thing, a lot of that stuff is produced so it's meant to be heard on AM radios."
    A Phil Spector Wall of Sound production -- in glorious mono! -- would probably have driven a hi-fi enthusiast up a wall, says Milner.
    The mass market moves on
    In the '70s and '80s, the twain did meet, for a time. Rock and pop music production techniques improved. At the same time, grown-up baby boomers, now working adults, invested in better audio equipment, all the better to listen to Steely Dan's "Aja."
    There were whole mass-market stores devoted to audio gear -- Sound Trek, Hi-Fi Buys, Silo -- and no issue of Rolling Stone was complete without several ads for turntables, cassette decks and equalizers.
    But technology marched on, and so did change. Some was for the sake of convenience: Cassettes had more hiss and less range than LPs, but were more portable -- especially when listening on your handy Walkman or boombox.
    However, we also started focusing more on visuals. Penchansky traces the decline of the stereo system to the early '80s rise of the music video, which brought visuals to the fore. Suddenly, the concert hall in your living room -- or the audio imaging in your head -- was gone, replaced by surrealist pictures overwhelming the television's tiny speaker.
    That branch of consumption has helped lead to the home theater.
    Penchansky has nothing against HDTVs and 7.1 systems, but believes that, for the most part, it's a "sonic compromise." With a pure audio system, "There was no way that television, even today, simulates the realism of visual experience the way (good) audio can simulate an audio experience."
    Sure, technology has adjusted.
    New materials and processing technology have improved the sound of small and inexpensive devices, says Patrick Lavelle, president and CEO of the consumer electronics giant VOXX International, which manufactures such brands as Klipsch, Acoustic Research and Advent.
    Headphones and an iPod
    And there's still a consumer market for good audio, adds Geir Skaaden, an executive at the high-definition audio company DTS. The top-selling products in Apple Stores, after Apple's own devices, are headphones, he says. (DTS recently introduced technology for an immersive system called Headphone:X, intended for mobile devices.)
    Still, convenience still rules. Which means it's out with the component stereo system and in with the computer.
    That suits Rubio, the Emory graduate, fine. He grew up in a house with a component system but doesn't believe he's missing anything.
    "All you need is a good pair of headphones and an iPod and that's pretty much it," he says.
    Milner, the author, can't question his decision.
    "Now, why even bother?" he asks. "If you can take your entire music collection and more in something that fits in your pocket, why would you not do that?"
    Music is like candy, you have to get rid of the rappers to enjoy it

  2. #2

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    If I could put my "entire" collection of music into my "pocket", I think I'd need a few years on a therapist's couch to recover such an "act". lol

    All I have to say is that "collecting" vintage equipment has never been as "good" as it is "now" that most youngsters are toting ipods and ear buds around! Let them hear MP3s I say! Well, not really, I'm not that cruel. In fact I'm trying to put a vintage system together for my 16 year old. An old LAB TT, a JVC stereo receiver and an old set of JBL bookies that I've modded to run a VIFA soft dome instead of that "horrid" cheapo 1/2" pure titanium headache that was in them. You'd be "surprised" what an old set of JBLs can sound like with a "good" tweeter. Those 6 1/2" coated woofers that JBL put in there are pretty competent performers!

    There is of course an adapter for her ipod. But I encourage higher resolution downloads there. And it goes without saying that I've given her access to all of my classic CDs/LPs/cassettes of 60's-70s music (the 80s are better "forgotten" for the most part!). And, frankly, the cool kids in her generation are NOT listening to many oldies besides the classics above.

    cnh
    Last edited by cnh; 09-30-2013 at 12:56 PM.
    Onkyo TX-SR 805 System #1 HT AVR
    Office Two Channel: LSi-7s (Nakamichi CA-5, NAD 214, Pioneer BDP51fd)
    Vintage Polks: Polk Monitor 5As, Monitor 7Bs [HK 730], Monitor 10As [Marantz 2265], SDA-2Bs [Jolida JD-303, Jolida MV-MK4]
    Headphones: HD600, Q701, ATH-M50s etc. Bravo Audio Ocean amp., Onkyo P-304, Adcom GFA-555, Technics Direct Drive TT

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  4. #4

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    you're*

    and my bad :(
    Music is like candy, you have to get rid of the rappers to enjoy it

  5. #5

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    The industry talking heads are always declaring the death of one thing or another. The death of vinyl, reel to reel, cassettes, cd's, SACD's, AM radio, CRT TV's, VHS, tube gear, you name and the industry will supply a tombstone for it. Problem is, all of this is still around in spite of their forecasted demise. All sucking up a certain percentage of the industry which I'm sure someone is trying to narrow that down. Some of these formats are actually growing too.
    I pay no attention to articles like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by exalted512 View Post
    you're*

    and my bad :(
    nope its all good just thought I'd share.....

    pardon my ignorance but what is you're*

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    All I have to say is that "collecting" vintage equipment has never been as "good" as it is "now" cnh
    Oh yeah? It was MUCH better 15 or 20 years ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George Grand View Post
    Oh yeah? It was MUCH better 15 or 20 years ago.
    It was better 5-10 years ago. $5 bought a lot of gear at a garage sale. Same stuff now shows up
    for $200-600 on CL instead. 15-20 years ago I was still running that gear!
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson

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