Discussing the Future of High-End Audio

While at AXPONA 2013 in Chicago, we attended the seminar, “Editors panel: Discussions on What Attracted Us and How To Attract A Younger Audience For The Future” with John Atkinson (Sr. Editor, Stereophile), Jason Serinus (Writer, Stereophile), Robert Harley (The Absolute Sound), Jonathan Valin (Sr. Editor, The Absolute Sound), and Ed Momkas (Writer, Dagogo).  Scroll down below the picture to read a quick summary of the panel’s suggestions:


The Major Points:

Is the audio industry doing enough to spread awareness of good sound?

No. Right now there is no push to market outside of the industry. One solution may be for high-end to establish a trade association to help increase public awareness and marketing. High-end needs to be advertised on music sites and other related venues to expand it’s reach.

Currently it seems that the mainstream media doesn’t portray audio in a favorable light. It’s rarely covered in the news and when there is coverage, it is portrayed as a freak show. To make it an appealing “news story,” it must be sensationalized. The media takes the easy way out, which is to cover the one set of $100,000 speakers at a show, and call it extravagant and ridiculous.

Is there a way to write articles so that they are more appealing to a wider audience?

Not without other consequences. The trouble is that it is essential to have a niche. Having a specific niche creates a community. If you are too wide with your appeal then no one is interested. You will be more successful catering to your current audience than trying to expand so no one does.

Does high-end audio need a re-branding?

It seems like it. Calling it high-end as well as the sensationalized media coverage suggests that it is snobby and elitist. It seems to be all about how expensive the products are. However, in reality, high-end audio is more about intent than price. It’s the intent of getting that “live” sound. It is the intent of the designer to create something artful and high quality. Yes, that can cost a lot of money, but it stems from a genuine place of being passionate about music.

Where will high-end audio be in five years?

It’s tied to music which will never go away. Music is a renewable pleasure like food. You can constantly have a new experience with it, so it is here to stay. Portability and personal listening are emerging values so it is likely to focus on size and headphones  Computer audio is more mature and easier. Higher resolution will become the norm instead of the exception with cheaper and bigger hard drives.


What do you think is the solution to this PR problem? What would you suggest as an alternative name for “high-end audio”? Comment below to add your thoughts.


  1. Stop whining and change, we have to earn the right to ask the younger customer to spend their money with us. They have a lot more stuff to keep them entertained now. The don’t think Corvettes are cool either. Take it to them and stop acting like grumpy old folks with an antique hobby in the attic.

  2. A good niche might be actually affordable hardware that sounds good. I don’t mean $2k speakers or $1k integrated amps. How about someone actually finding and praising components that sound great at less than $500 such as has been done for some of the newer DACs. Many younger folks recognize and appreciate good sound, but just can’t fit anything mid-fi or above into their budgets. I fully understand that the extravagant pieces will always be benchmarks and need to be covered in the press, but their market is miniscule compared to that for a $250 DAC or $500 set of speakers.

  3. Dealers need to learn how to promote their goods to a wider group of consumers. Of course that would mean getting off their lazy asses, so that’s not going to happen. People do audio, instead of working for a living.

    1. Albert,I agree 100%! I would have started putting a high end system(within my budget)together at a much younger age had I known what was out there.I always wanted the best sound possible ,but was not exposed to much of what one would see in say,Stereophile untill my mid 40s ,,when I broke down and bought a computer.I had to put out quite an effort to locate the stuff! It wasnt like the dealers were advertising! I believe most of the music loving public has very little or no idea,how good music can sound.Most people think a Bose HT is ,,High end! I think it is the industries fault ,more folks are not aware of what they could have as far as a nice 2 ch. system that would sound so much nicer than a one box HT.

  4. The term used by Stan “TRUE AUDIO” sounds great. But whatever the name, price and value matched to exposure will make the biggest difference. People pay for what matters to them.

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