Lately there’s been a lot of doom and gloom here and elsewhere
about the limited prospects for the survival of high-end audio as a hobby. Most
of these dark projections are based on looking at demographics (audiophiles are
getting older), and the lifestyle changes wrought by technology. Instead of
relaxing in the evening with a good book and music on the stereo, more young
people choose X-Box and Facebook. That doesn’t look too good for the home team.
So what can we card-carrying wild-eyed audiophiles do to stem
the slow fade of enthusiast audio? Simple – become an audiophile evangelist.
What does an audio evangelist do? Let me give you some ideas and clues.
An evangelist, as defined by Webster’s dictionary is, “an
enthusiastic advocate.” In practical terms this translates into doing and
saying things that encourage people to consider the importance of good sound
reproduction in their lives. Part of this is certainly “talking the talk” –
making sure that when the subject of high-quality sound comes up, you take the
position that humans need their music reproduced well, or it loses it’s ability
to communicate the artist’s intensions. And that doesn’t happen with
low-resolution compressed MP3 music.
But an audio evangelist must do more than merely, “talk the talk.”
They need to make a concrete effort to actively recruit new audiophiles. How do
I propose they do that? By giving stuff away…
No, I haven’t turned into a Trotskyite. But most audiophiles I
know have way too much gear, myself included. I’ve tried to remedy my situation
by giving audio gear away to all my young relatives. At first it was “better”
headphones and in-ear monitors. Then as they move into their own places I’ve
been assembling and giving them a decent audio systems, nothing too fancy, but
reliable and good-sounding stuff that will last for years.
My goal is simple – get my young relatives hooked on good
sound. And just like your friendly neighborhood drug dealer, that first taste
of good sound, at least for my bunch of young people, is free. Next time around
they can buy their own.
And what do I get out of giving away stuff? Well, on a macro
level, if enough of us do this we might manage to keep enthusiast audio going
for a while longer. On a personal level, it would be nice if one of my younger relatives
actually wanted some of my audio gear when I kick off…