On computer audio

To Doug Schneider,

I read your thoughts on the subject [of computer audio] and, like vinyl, it is the new craze to keep high-end audio going. Looking at the sales of downloading music, it is song by song, and sales are lower than expected. Vinyl numbers are very, very small when compared to sales of CDs, no matter the hype of vinyl. I have no problem with either. With so few audio stores left, and buying turntables from online dealers already set up and shipped to you, who is going to replace the cartridge down the road and set the table back up? It’s not like the days when you would just go back to your local dealer and he sells the replacement and sets up the arm for you. You’ll have to ship it back -- I know the odds of shipping damage, and they are high.

Having said that, I think if I were starting out collecting music, I might go the download way, but it would not be any of the audiophile stuff at $30-$50 a download. Talk about a rip off.

I have LPs and 1200 CDs. Do you think I have the time to sit there and download all my CDs onto a music server? Or, for that matter, spend money again to buy them online and download them? Why? I’m sure CDs will go the way of the LP; digital is the future and has been for 30 years now. But the heart of high-end audio is the boomers, and music collectors are the boomers.

The younger generation is growing up with PCs, gaming, DVDs, texting, iPods, and cell phones, just as we grew up with cars, radios, LPs, and dreaming about a great audio system. Two different generations with different wants and needs. The younger ones also care little about the quality [and are concerned] more about just having the music portable and fast.

Until the high end starts to market itself better, and when I start seeing less gray hair at CES, will I then say a new generation is into hi-fi. I’ve got as much music as I need, and I’ll continue to buy CDs and excellent CD players. My current one is the Marantz SA-7S1 and it is just superb. Against my vinyl, it sounds as good or better as long at that CD was mastered with care.

SACD is a niche market for one good reason: Red Book CD mastering came so far during the past 12 years that SACD no longer reigns as always the best sounding. As for the LP reissue, why the same damn titles over and over and over and at $50 a pop or two LPs for $75?!

Yep, I know it is different to be able to point to your screen and play music, but I cannot see why anyone who has a good collection has to go that route unless you can no longer buy CDs, which is not the case and by a long shot. CD sales are down because boomers are aging and they bought much of what they have wanted, unless you’re like me: a collector who continues to purchase on an ongoing basis. But I’m rare in this world. Younger folks don’t need the CD because they only want the hit songs, so they download at $1 per song, which costs more than buying a CD, by the way. This is why our generation knows music history, even artists and songs before we were born, and that will never be seen again, because music was the thing back then.