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"But I like to think that others will have the same opportunity I did to enjoy good sound, and the deep pleasure it's given me over the years. And if we don't attract new blood, fewer people will."

I think they will be just fine. At least for 'personal' listening the average sound may already exceed what we had as young folks. I was pretty old before I could afford speakers that were as good as $50 headphones are now and it was the rare record, especially played on the turntables that were actually used, that could approach a 24/96 digital chain.

If Apple, the worlds most successful electronic toy company and currently a serious arbiter of taste, were to decide that they want to resell everyone their itune collection and move a new generation of players all they have to do is inform the herd that they must have hi-res or surround or something if they want to be 'in', have friends or practice procreating and it will be a done deal. Look at it this way, they've already limited out in the industrial design and size: they're cute as a bug's ear and cool as can be, what's left but performance?

Being an audiophile was once cool and a good system oozed success, virility and sophistication, just look at old Playboys from the 60's. Our time will come again! But it probably won't involve many of the extant 'high-end' folks, most of whom will die off when we do since they lack mind-share with the iGeneration(s). However just because our branch is nearing it's end doesn't mean that the tree will die or that the masses will be stuck with poor sound forever. As memory density and bandwidth continue to increase the value of MP3 tumbles. Why bother, just sell the experience and move on.

Which high end companies are working on useful things? Whose doing personalized pinna programming and headphones with built-in head position sensing so that surround sound is sane at home and on the road? No one in their right mind wants to be tripping over seven stupid speakers all over their room and have one good seat. Couple that with a decent head-mounted display and it's a whole new world. The thing is as we enter old-dufferhood, we really need the same gear. Personal sound can correct for hearing deficiencies, personal displays can correct of vision problems. Both can allow us to enjoy ourselves if stuck in a retirement home, a nursing home or the basement of our kid's place. Who cares about the real environment if you can virtually be at the Concertgebouw or watching reruns of Gilligan's island.

Gotta stop now, need Geritol...


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  Kimber Kable  

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