With the advent of mobile devices, is the HiFi disappearing into a niche hole?
Over time, I’ve noticed on my repeat trips to the local electronics stores that there was a diminishing number of tower speakers and integrated amplifiers available on the floor.
Instead, there seems to be a growing number of soundbar solutions with televisions and, in some cases, one or two subwoofers to add some extra bottom end.
This has certainly been prevalent in big-box stores, while the boutique stores continue to offer a wide range of high-end amplifiers, phono/record players, speakers of all descriptions, and other Hi-Fi components.
As a younger man, I loved nothing more than going to the local Hi-Fi store just to try out whatever was new and imagine what I would buy next in my collection.
As a pure audiophile, I’ve always spent a lot of time listening and exploring different brands, components, and speaker configurations.
It’s a passion that only audiophiles truly appreciate.
Like anything in life, you can become interested in this in a way that constantly leaves you in a place where you want to buy more, always upgrade, and always have additions to your system.
It’s really not a lot different from fishing, boating, or cars, for a lot of other guys. And for me, Hi-Fi is certainly only one of my hobbies that requires the need to constantly upgrade and add more to my system. Assuming I can get WAF.
My concern when seeing the big-box stores reduce the amount of Hi-Fi gear in their stores shouldn’t bother me knowing that there are boutique stores available to get what I really want.
My main concern is for audio manufacturers and the artisans and companies out there who spend an enormous amount of time and money on producing and creating incredible Hi-Fi gear not just for audiophiles but for anybody that appreciates truly great audio.
I appreciate the convenience of soundbars, and I also understand that the audio quality for many of them is becoming suitable and impressive enough that the average living room requires nothing more than a soundbar, and possibly a subwoofer.
Many believe that the way the audiophile is dying, but I feel that this is grossly underestimating the passion that audiophiles have for Hi-Fi and music reproduction.
What I would say is that more of the younger generations are taking their audiophilia passions to portable Hi-Fi, as headphones and DAC players and DAP players become increasingly more capable and more technical at producing lossless and high-bit rate, high-resolution audio. And, with people’s lifestyles being more on-the-go, it only makes sense that, if I can take my audiophile experience with me, then why wouldn’t I?
When I grew up, my dad also had a passion for Hi-Fi, and that passion then became my passion for Hi-Fi.
I love nothing more than sitting down in my living area with an audiovisual feast available to me, whether that’s listening to music, watching music videos, or watching movies.
The audiophile experience is something that I find myself wanting everybody in the world to enjoy.
I’ve always had a passion that, if you spend long enough with people and help them to understand the difference between low-quality audio and high-quality audio reproduction and the effect it has on your physical being; it’s hard to go backwards once you’ve had an experience that makes you understand these emotions and physical moments.
Even my wife, recently, on a trip away, when watching a TV in someone else’s house, commented how disappointing it was (they didn’t hear it), to which I said, “Isn’t it great having a husband who’s an audiophile?” And she said, “Yes, actually, I have to appreciate how good it is.”
Where we go from here and where the true audiophile continues to exist over the next 10 to 20 years is anyone’s guess.
The rise in wireless protocols, which are capable of carrying higher bandwidths and more data, makes it possible that the concept of a wired speaker may continue to be phased out, as well as other options that come into play, things we know nothing of…yet.
For now, there are a huge number of us who believe it is still the pinnacle of a Hi-Fi system that it can reproduce the very best audio.
I truly hope that brands like Klipsch, B&W, Q Acoustics, Monitor Audio, KEF, Dali, Elac and others continue to invest in their passive and active speaker ranges and that amp makers like Rotel, high-end Yamaha, Denon, Marantz, and even higher-end brands continue to invest in high-quality amplifiers to allow us all to feel the music and the movies that we watch.
As I’ve always said, you need to feel the music.
In many ways, I hope that the younger generation growing up spending money on headphones, in-ear monitors, and earphones will eventually move into spaces that allow them to have Hi-Fi with a bookshelf or towers and set up listening rooms to take their experience from portable to home-based audio bliss.
So, I don’t think the audiophile is going anywhere. And because the audiophile isn’t going anywhere, neither is premium HiFi.
Finally, as the world begins to pick itself up off the floor and move forward, more and more people will start to appreciate the enormous benefits and the beauty of well-produced music in their lives.
That’s my ramblings done for the day. Share your thoughts below.