Written by 3:49 am Audiophile Music

Better Demo Music Actually Sells True High End Audio

Jerry Del Colliano muses on the relevance of “audiophile approved” demo music verses the music that people actually listen to…

AR-bad3.jpgI just got back from the Newport Beach T.H.E. Show, which
was much improved in its second year. There were many more demo rooms that
there were previously, more manufacturers and even more outrageous gear on
display. Beyond audio, you could play around with exotic cars in front of the
hotel and/or eat from gourmet food trucks while taking a break from touring
what was, for that weekend, the largest audiophile store in the world.  As you might expect, the Newport Beach show
was packed with geeky and nerdy audiophiles who were taste-testing all sorts of
exotic gear that we, the press, get to hear every year at CES. However, most
consumers don’t get to hear $90,000 Focals or the new Magicos or a variety of
Wilsons, tube amps and all sorts of exotic goodies. They seemed pretty content
with the offerings at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach as a whole.

My rant today is about the epidemic of audiophile stores and
manufacturers using lame demo music for trade and consumer show demos. One
audiophile company, MBL, has figured out the solution, but most of the others
are still failing on an epic level. MBL plays their pricey but stunningly
beautiful speakers and electronics at tradeshows at 100+ dB with Metallica,
Nine Inch Nails and other meaningful, popular rock and pop music. The effect is
that they have a line out the door of people who want to come and experience
their sound.

ZU Audio is apt to play some hot tunes from time to time as
well, but nearly all other rooms were playing crap. Jazz at the Pawnshop should
be banned as part of T.H.E. Show’s contract. Same with Jennifer Warnes and a
number of other played-out audiophile standards. Companies should replace weak-sauce
audiophile music with something like Hendrix in the West if you must do a vinyl
demo – and don’t forget to crank it up a little. Respectfully, if your demo
system can’t play Hendrix
, then stay at home, because your rig sucks.

Here’s another idea: play The Wall from a music server or a
disc, as Roger Waters is selling out stadiums in every city in America nearly
30 years after the release of this meaningful record. Moreover, how about figuring
out what kids listen to on their headphones and play that, as headphones are
the gateway drug to becoming an audiophile. Acoustician to the stars Bob Hodas
turned me on to No Doubt’s “Hella Good” as a demo track, which is not only a
hit song, but also a great bass demo with plenty of excellent imaging. People
know the song. Men and women alike dig the tune and it’s Orange County-relevant.
Bob Marley is loved by all generations and can be a good demo. Even some of
today’s hip hop can be fun while showing off the audio gear to advantage.

I am not saying that audiophile music or jazz or classical
don’t have their place, as they absolutely do. The people who make these
beautiful recordings are selling the science of the recordings as their true
value proposition. I am suggesting that what sells real high-end audio is the
emotion of dynamic, meaningful music, whether it’s from a disc or a server.
Reports I’ve read recently suggest that, in the United States, only three
percent of the populace listens to classical music, with jazz reaching four

Michael Jackson’s Thriller (which I did hear
creeping out of one room and bravo to whoever that was) sold nearly 50,000,000
copies. That’s mainstream. The Eagles’ Greatest Hits is right behind Thriller
in sales numbers. Dark Side of the Moon is in the multi-platinum conversation,
too, as is Back in Black. We all know the songs. We know what the recordings
sound like. Audiophile manufacturers – do you have the balls to show people
what your speakers and electronics sound like on music that they know? If not,
do you really think you have the right to charge the astronomical prices that many
companies ask? 

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