Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by leedswillprevai, Jan 3, 2007.
The end of seperates ?
No, I don't think so.
People are not buying seperates for Hi-Fi systems, but there will still be a market for a dedicated Home Cinema Amp and DVD player.
Cassette decks are a thing of the past. A mate recently bought a NAD cassette deck off Ebay for £4 And that was so he could transfer some old recorded radio (pirate) shows to CD. Nostalgic reasons and all that!
I have been using Home Cinema Amps as the amp for my Hi-Fi for the last 5 years. I have a midi system in the kitchen, but as my main system, god forbid!
Seperates have had their day and are becoming more and more specialist. Yes AV amps are selling fairly well but for every av amp sold i would put money on hundreds with not thousands of all-in-one systems are sold.
that article is from december 2003, and obviously well outdated by then as it mentions minidiscs. the authors previous column in november 2003 laments the demise of the 8 track and 78 rpm phonographs. i would expect his december 2006 column to complain about the lack of new movie titles appearing on betamax in blockbuster
This has always been the case. When I worked in hifi, over a decade ago now, the midi-micro systems sold at least ten to every one seperates system. And that was because in the shops I worked for that sold midis, we still pushed the seperates. In the chain stores they probably sold, even at that time, a 100 midis' to every one seperates. Nothing has changed on that score. The market share, if memory serves, was roughly 80% packaged systems to 20% seperates at that time. Throughout my time in hifi it fluctuated between as high as 90% share for packages down to 78% as an all time low. These are industry figures - from memory.
If anyone can provide more accurate ones please feel free.
Seperates has always been a niche market, going back even to the 70's, so I can't ever see that changing. One way or the other.
I guess your right, it has always been a niche market.
Its a shame but like it or not the average joe can't tell the difference between cd and mp3 or are just not aware there is. This is why sacd/dvd-a failed to badly.
Computer/internet music is the future lets just hope there is still a niche for us. FLAC/lossless downloads anyone!!
A couple of things worth adding to this...firstly,SACD and DVD=A not only failed due to the reasons above,but also due to the apalling marketing strategies used,and the equally dire choice of source material coupled with poor remixes in many cases.
Dual-disc did little to help and introduced many problems of it's own,leaving even those who would have been keen to take the plunge wondering if it was in any way worth it.
Computer and internet sources may well be the way of the future(if indeEd not now as well)but if iTunes is the current standard,with it's low bit-rate and compressed content,then any who like full range source material are going to be seriously disappointed....I much prefer to use Apple lossless with my iPod than to download from iTunes for that reason.
Storage is relatively cheap,and bandwidth is readily available for high rate source downloads...it's a pity a few providers can't cater to the audiophile market as well as the lowest denominators.
This is a good point Alex. It further illustrates the point though, that even with downloads, high quality (lossless) is seen as a niche or 'audiophile' market.
How sad, when we look back, that because of the marketing hype of digital media ('indestructible', and even more foolish, 'perfect') we are now in an age when the golden opportunity to produce, and give genuine high quality sound to the masses has been long lost. As soon as those master bunglers Philips used the word 'perfect' they killed the Golden Goose. From then on the 'masses' thought (erroneously) that all digital equipment and media would give them 'perfect sound'.
I've lost count of the amount of times I was told by customers there was no point in buying seperates, because after all, if a midi's got a CD player then it's going to sound just as 'perfect' - for much less money. After a while you just gave up trying........ as try as you might they were rarely persuaded other wise
How can you convince people that lossy downloads, DAB etc are pretty crap, when they've been convinced for over twenty years now that anything with the buzzword 'digital' in front of it, is flawless..................?
At the same time the point over hi-res (and it counts for re-masters too) is well made. The amount of naff sounding hi-res discs I've bought now, is frankly quite worrying considering the cost. Again, you have to wonder at the choice of material that has been selected. Surely it would have made more sense to persuade current artists to release on hi-res before re-issuing the back catalogue of 'classics'?
To top that it appears that the average quality of cd sound appears to be dropping. More and more cd's i buy now-a-days have heavy dynamic noise compression making them sound almost life less. I got into hifi to reproduce that feet tapping effect you get when you listen to a good band, but no matter how good my hifi is it can't fix rubbish source material.
It has actually been said many times before that for poor cd's a poor hifi actually sounds better than a decent one.
The budget end of the market was shrinking at the time of that article and has continued to shrink. Ask any hifi dealer and they will tell you the same.
Pioneer haven't made a decent stereo amp in about 2 decades. No wonder you aren't selling any.
Remembering back when........HiFi only became really popular with the mass market in the early 70s. Before that time it was very much a hobbyist thing amongst DIY kit builders. There were only a few full time manufacturers in the UK such as Quad and Meridian and they were usually cottage industries that produced highly priced equipment for a limited number of people.
I can remember how the Japanese and some european manufacturers started producing cheaper products built around receivers, while companies like B&O took care of the asthetic high end. I bought my first amplifier in 1977 (A&R camridge A60), this was probably the first of the new breed of cheaper mid market separates, followed by Musical Fidelity with the A1, the Mission Cyrus 1, Naim Nait etc and the pace suddenly picked up and it was a fashion and lifestyle statement to own a hifi system.
These days the emphasis is on PC technology, portability, games, multi media useage, home automation, discrete products for the mainstream.The rise in home cinema systems almost mirrors the hifi explosion of the 70s. The hifi separates market is now frequented by those few who remember the golden days of hifi and the occassional new buyer. Unless new products are bundled with something that gives added value I cannot see there being another wave of hifi buying in the short term, its more or less going back to where it was before the boom as each generation takes less interest in the high fidelity aspect.
The music industry has already realised that the market for its product is now going to be via download with the remaining older population continuing to buy Cds at an ever decreasing rate.
I think, in time we will see the rise of a new hifi community as manufacturers and the music industry look to sell a premium product in an ever more competitive market place.........expect hifi ipods and premium quality downloads which may, in turn produce a new wave of separates buyers.........but I cant see there being a direct future in SACD/DVD-A discs except as multi media, multi channel products. It can exist quite happily as SACD/DVD-A and people will buy the discs because they also play on standard red book players, but it is not seen as a desirable product for the majority of the population.............hell, Im an audiophile and I see little advantage due to the lack of media, the additional cost of buying a dedicated player, the format confusion, the generally poor quality of recordings and remasters and the extra costs of buying the new discs (never mind the cost of buying you whole collection again).
The A60! Ahh, that brings back memories......
The whole hi-fi scene has long been the reserve of a relatively small band of individuals looking for something better than the mainstream had to offer. First, they sought alternatives to the 3 in 1's of the 70's, then the 'package systems' of the late 70's early 80's, then the ubiquitous midi/micro/mini of the 80's-. These hardy souls became almost extinct many times during that early period, and it was the CD generation that gave them an unexpected boost. But sadly, as above, the manufacturers over-egged CD and by the mid (early?) 90's the seperates boom was over. Since then it's chugged along, but due to a lack of innovation, poor software, and just greed really, it's slipped right back to it's pre 80's market.
I think it will carry on, in a reduced form, serving the 'purists' but again, I see this happening in an ever dwindling high street sector, as the demand for 'value' put's more and more emphasis on the internet buyer. This of course has it's own downside, as buying hi-fi blind is not a smooth move.
On the downloads, I feel you're being a bit optimistic there Karkus. There already are 'purists' among the downloaders, using lossless formats, but even they aren't interested in the hi-fi seperates market. In the US they are already a reasonable community, and as the US tends to lead on things like this, perhaps a modest indicator, but by comparison with the majority of downloaders they are an even smaller slice than the current seperates market. I doubt somehow that the manfacturers are going to cater for them. Or should that be us - in the future?
I suspect the lossless format community to increase dramatically if the music industry can crack down properly on pirated music downloads. If you are willing to pay for each track, you are right to start demanding higher quality files. This could in turn lead to a resurgance in the demand for higher quality digital server-type sources like we saw for high-end CD players and DAC's in the last decade. This too will undoubtedly lead to the age-old wars about "digital is digital on any machine" and "jitter has no effect", etc.
Many proper music fans are already splashing out on better and better sound cards for their P.C.'s to try to get back that quality at source. Bring it on, I say!!
If you just want a copy of the song and are happy to steal it, you're unlikely to whinge too loudly about the quality.
Always the optimist I think downloads are really in their infancy, with the advent and acceptance for HD TV there will probably be an interest in the musical equivalent. Its likely that downloads of lossless HD material will become the norm and a premium high definition music download would probably be more acceptable to most buyers.
I suspect that hifi will be centred around active speakers with digital amplifiers fed wirelessly from a source.
It would be difficult to imagine exactly what the source would be, but think on this..........
In a conversation I have recently had with a leading light in memory chip design, I was told that silicon is on its way out as it is not good enough for the next generation of memory chips. One of the big problems is attaching the leads to the substrate and this is limiting the speed and effective size of the chips. The next generation of memory will have layers less than an atom in thickness !! This means we are talking about quantum physics and chips that are in a vertical package instead of horizontal........and how do you get rid of the leads you might ask.........zero connection technology, make of that what you will ! But imagine a time when you can just grab a handful of components and some form of interface all without any form of circuit board or wiring !! You can distribute components anywhere you like or just stick em all in a baccy tin ! They are already well on the way to 160Gb single chip memory and that is only a few years away, the new (none Silicon) technology will allow this to grow to Terrabytes per chip !!
There was a great article in hifi choice (of all things!) on this issue a few years back. I think, if memory serves, that they are looking at 'organic' materials to use as gates rather than the current silicon. As you say, they are looking to take the size of chips down to unbelievably small when they do!
Yesterday's BBC news had a feature about plastic chips that have just been developed in Oxford. Basically flat plastic screens which bend easily and are very strong. They said it was Goodnight Silicon! And goodbye plasma screens too.
That quote was from 2003. Interestingly since then Mr Bamford has moved to pastures new and Lo and behold, look what Pioneer have gone and designed!!
The stereo amp market is healthier than people give it credit for- tough but stable would be my diagnosis. The seperate under the most threat at present is the standalone CD player. DVD players, squeezeboxes and iPod docks are all multitasking and making the plain old single disc spinner look a little old hat. Hell even turntables are a growth market. More people care about sound quality than prophets of doom give credit for, they just care about it in slightly different ways- witness the rise in sales of high end in ear phones and the ever increasing capacity of DAP's- I refute that this is not being driven by people exponentially increasing their collections, it is instead a reflection of the requirements of storing better quality.
The guy I was talking to mentioned carbon..........which I thought was quite funny, seeming that life is actually carbon based so maybe biology will play a part. He did not elaborate on the design, but its interesting to note that this is all happening in China and in Shang Hai to be precise. This is the new Silicon Valley and he mentioned that it is far vaster than anything that has gone before. Cutting edge seems to be Samsung and Toshiba and I have noted that product design of Samsung products has begun to leap forward.
Interesting Ed! Any idea how that A9 sounds? Hopefully not as screechy as Pioneer's budget AV receivers?
The new amps are meant to be pretty good all told but I have yet to hear one. Bristol perhaps .
That article was funny. Especially John Bamford's Quote:
"Mr Bamford disagrees. "DVD has changed everything," he said. "Home cinema is taking over. There are DVD players that make CD players sound pathetic."
DVD players that make CD players sound pathetic? I would like to know which ones they are, especially in 2003 when this article was written. In my experience very few DVD players make good CD players, and those that do are far more expensive than comparable CD players.
Funny old world audiophilia Newman, Ive found 2 that sound perfectly acceptabel to my ears.
PS Alex, I would say SACD & DVD-A failed spectactularly due to their pushing of 5.1 music, as a result the assembled stereo hifi fans said "yeah right your arving a larf intcha ?". Shame though as if they had pushed the stereo angle, more people would have adopted them, including myself a lot earlier than I did.
Doing a bit of reading about John Bamford...........remember what I said about HD tv downloads and HiFI IPods !
It certainly made my mind up.........five point bleedi' one. Oh let me quickly sum that one up.....thats five Neat Ultimatum MF7s (which you normally buy in pairs, so one would be used to keep the door open) and five Naim 135 mono blocks and then a high end 5 channel pre amp with off board power supply and then all those cables
But, heck, never mind the cost what about trying to arrange a room around that lot.......not much WAF, well actually not much HAF and then to top it all.......
It took me around 2 months to carefully move the speakers and sitting position and took several attempts to build various acoustic absorbers and reflectors...........so five speakers
So what is being offered is a chance to re-buy all my CDs that were recorded in stereo and have been digitally altered to give 5 channels and its going to cost more, oh yes and your not sure which format if any is actually going to be around in few years time..........do me a favour.
Better quality.........thats vinyl is that !
Karl, I have never been surer that it will be a STEREO carrier, be that :
CD, Vinyl, DVD-V (trust me), Radio be that Digital Freeview, DAB or FM, oh and dont forget MP3 or any other PC based stereo carrier. Before I forget and having just watched Jools Hollands Hogmany bash on Freeview PVR through my stereo system on digital TV.
Stereo. (full stop). (been saying it for years). (full stop)
However, they said that about the A400, and that was the most overrated lump of all time!
Wouldn't argue Ed, that articles like that are 'doomy', in particular, as those who work(ed) in the trade know, seperates have never been 'big' when compared to the market as a whole.
Totally agree on that one!
The only thing that baffles me CJ, is the people who still rave on about 5.1 discs and re-masters as if they are the best thing ever, and go all, 'we are not worthy' whenever one of their fave bands is re-issued on them. Is my hearing going, am I going batchy (don't answer that!)? As I listen to these discs, and think, yes........and?
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