Have you noticed? The good “old Hi-Fi system” is once again very trendy ! There are even numerous new records and record players around. To be correct though –I would like to mention that both of them were never really gone or extinct – it was just that the vast majority of music consumers were simply not interested in them anymore.
Unlike in the field of photography – where camera manufacturers are constantly on the quest for ever higher resolution and the addition of even more Megapixels – we in the music industry experience the exact opposite when it comes to digital music (maybe we don’t trust our ears?).
Music got more and more pathetic in the last few years – it was reduced to a tiny amount of data, was nearly compressed beyond recognition and even their output devices shrunk from speakers of the height of a man, as they used to be, to buttons on the menus of tiny mobile phones. The “rest” is done by small, mostly ear wax covered “in ear” headphones. And because small to tiny details of the music got lost during this “slaughtering” process – those actually important details were just left out from the beginning onwards in the forthcoming music productions – basically “de-composed”. So the music did not only get “smaller” – also the quality really suffered.
Although – if we want to believe the findings published by renowned pollsters – most people love music. Music “comes” – according to various surveys – right after sex. Other survey results put cars on position 2 and music on 3, but as a “representative of music” I am allowing myself to say that music has a special “position” when it comes to sex. The same could be said about a car – but then again, even in the car the right music is an important factor.
But anyhow – music has a high significance/value for us human beings, and despite this – the Hi-Fi was for many years something for freaks, yesterday’s people or a handful of nutcases who seriously thought they knew it all. But now it is totally “en vogue” again, the trend is set – the good old Hi-Fi is back again – and it can even look fabulously good. You might now ask yourself why?
The answer is pretty simple – a better quality will always win in the long run – especially if it was available already anyway. The iPod, the iPhone, iTunes and a hectically spinning Apple-World have delivered a significant contribution to this new and in the end positive development. Heaven and Hell thanks to Apple.
The immediate availability of any kind of music of any artist you can think of was the booster detonation for a new and ongoing enthusiasm for music and the technology surrounding it. Never before has the access to music been as easy and global, as mobile and as cheap. This apparent blessing changed quickly into a curse for the artists and their producers and record-labels. But his is a different story altogether.
The generation 20+ grew up with the iPod during puberty and growing into an adult – and for a long time young people have not questioned the playback quality of their music playing phones at all. The iPod, MP3 and a few skinny playlists were considered the ultimate in music – bang – basta – BUT – big mistake!
To stay with the previous example –puberty is also the start of rebellion and first doubts, new wishes and higher aims are developed.
An old proverb says: Better is always the enemy of the good!
But what happens when the better seems so much better in such a surreal way? What if you feel nearly robbed of your youth as a young human – maybe because you have never before experienced music in such a enthralling, detailed and big way (although you could have…).
Cars are always a good example for developments and changes. Cars have without any doubt become better, safer and faster within the last 70 years. Most things have become better within the last centuries and each technology has outdone itself in its own way. Only when it comes to the sound quality of music, funnily enough my grandparents – the great-great-grandparents of today’s generation 20+, had the better sound, the bigger Hi-Fi and possibly even the most fun in their house.
I for myself still own those records whose covers and music remind me of the first kiss, the first love and the first lover’s grief. How grotesque is the thought of a now adult person who nostalgically looks at an absolutely non-charming USB stick – remembering his or her first love in life. That just can’t be right! Youth and music are interwoven in a formative and inseparable way – and interestingly enough – the love for specific artists and/or music styles stays on for life.
The most impressive experience for today’s kids would most probably be an encounter with the bombastic sound of a historic cinema sound system – huge walk-in horn speakers which were able to entertain and enthral up to 3,000 people in a movie theatre – and that with the rather tiny amplifier power of 2×4 Watt (and less). With this we are going on a journey through time which takes us 80 years back – right into the 30’s of the last century!
Yes, that’s right: it has actually been that long that “a good sound was no longer a secret”. From there on it was a continuous boom right into the late 70’s – both technologically as well as economically. A proper Hi-Fi with big amplifiers and magnificent speakers was part of the wish list of each and every boy and man – as Hi-Fi was in the firm hand of the male population for quite some time. The downfall of good sound quality of music was sealed with the start of the new millenium – from there on it went rapidly downhill.
A while ago I had this strange but nevertheless good feeling when a youngster, who seemed very interested, asked me about record players with this fascinated expression on this face.
“Is this a record player – and how does it actually work? Can I listen to it?”
Obviously I showed him – no question! I nearly felt as if I had actually invented the Rock’n Roll – but – the time was well invested – and I was able to pass on the virus – the enthusiasm for good music and sound to this young man. The number of young people longing for records has multiplied significantly over the last few months – and that’s only the beginning. The kids call listening to a “dignified Hi-Fi” appreciative as “old school” – sounds a bit “worn out” but is actually a great compliment.
Interestingly enough, the taste in music of the young generation seems to change with it. Progressive rock from the 70’s, Blues, Jazz, Jazz-Rock from Miles Davis, BB King, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, etc. are all back again – and a good turntable seems to be part of any kids room again.
In the home-decor parts of those Home&Living magazines, record players, amplifier and even speakers have found their way back into the spotlight. When it comes to sophisticated living and the “individual style” – the formerly disdained Hi-Fi modules are a must.
Even TV ads are impossible to think of without the “cool” record player – doesn’t matter if it is fashion, furniture or softdrinks that are being promoted – the record player and Hi-Fi are always present. And so these current changes are nearly resembling a reincarnation – a fabulous hobby seems to have its survival sorted – Hi-Fi’s fascinate and enthuse again – and good music as well as superb sound finds open ears.