Less and less hifi mags in stores?

 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4441
Registered: May-05
Is it just my local Barnes & Nobles, or do they all have less hifi mags? Haven't seen any of the British mags except Hifi News in quite a while. Haven't seen Stereophile for at least 3 issues now. The only two left at the 3 Barnes & Nobles I somewhat frequent are The Absolute Sound and Hifi News. Very strange. I'm not much of a fan of the magazines, but they provided a way to pass time while my wife shops in the mall.

I really liked Hifi Choice. I'd have gotten a subscription, but being a UK mag, I don't think that would hVe been possible. I liked their blond shootouts. I found it interesting when a designer preferred something else to his own product. That happened 2 or 3 times that I saw.

Just wondering if this is just in my neck of the woods or if it's that way everywhere.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1439
Registered: Oct-10
The printed magazine will soon be a thing of the past Stu. Everything is online now.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14463
Registered: Feb-05
There will always be magazines in print. Most mags are online but that will change as well. I accidentally subscribed to Stereophile online a couple of years ago and I pretty much hate it. Much prefer to read the print copy. The HiFi rags have always been scarce here.
 

Diamond Member
Username: Wingmanalive

Www.stainles... .ecrater.com

Post Number: 24811
Registered: Jun-06
It's a digital world guys. We are inevitably stepping into the paperless future. Everything you need is only a click away, be it news, weather, online banking or checking the temp in Uganda. Also done from one hand held device.

Art, I side with you on my preference of media format but simply have to assume its' future is solely digital. Even in the can today, ppl are taking their Iphones with them instead of the paper. It's their instant connection to the world today.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1053
Registered: Dec-06
We have quite a good selection at the bookstore in these parts. I haven't noticed a big drop off, but I haven't really been paying attention either. I think most of them are still there. The one I've noticed that has been missing is UHF, but I know they are still doing their thing. Their release schedule has never been consistent so it's not a surprise that they aren't on the shelves at any given time.
 

Diamond Member
Username: Wingmanalive

Www.stainles... .ecrater.com

Post Number: 24812
Registered: Jun-06
Even my place of business is going "green". No more bulk storage of countless files of endless folder after folder after folder. Store everything in PDF format on a server and you eliminate the need for all that mass storage of paper files.



Problem with that? All your eggs in one basket. When our corporate servers encounter a problem it affects 10,000 (nationwide) employees and their ability to do their job.


Then you're stuck with a MAJOR SNAFU. 50 geeks are then given the "Fix it NOW or else" speech.


Can be fun to witness, mostly just annoying lol.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16214
Registered: May-04
.

For decades Dallas has been a wasteland for information that doesn't originate in the nouveau riche of Dallas, they love to read about who's up and particularly about who's on the way down among their own. For the last twenty years there have been no independent bookstores left in the immediate Dallas area so the flow of outside information is often strikingly poor. Even finding a New York Times is extrememly difficult.

All that is to say this is not a town that allows easy judgement when it comes to what we might be seeing in a big box like Barnes and Noble now that Borders has gone the way of Pacific Stereo and Tweeter in Big D. On the infrequent ocassions when I've called to see if they have a magazine in stock, their computer files are woefuly inadequate. Apparently, it's pretty easy to walk out the door with a magazine unpaid for. Magazine shipments comes in daily and there's no guarantee that a magazine that arrived on the 15th in May will not show up until the 25th in June. Once you have tastes beyond the largest sellers focussed mostly on celebrities or (Men's) Health the possibility that you might find what you are looking for is limited to five or six copies of most magazines. In the audio magazine category that even extends to Stereophile and TAS.

On a lucky day you might see a copy of HiFi+ simply because it is now owned by TAS. What HiFi and maybe a Grammophone in certain stores are possible but HiFi News hasn't been regularly available here for years. Last time I read a copy of HFN I couldn't have cared much whether I ever found it again. It had sunk to such a level of non-information that I actually griefed for the old HiFi News and Record Review of the '80's with John Crabbe's hyper-informative columns.

I guess the good news of sorts is that with the exception of what HNFRR used to be I don't miss these magazines. Affordable Audio had developed into a group of reveiwers using mostly midfi gear to review products that deserved better. The DIY mags had become mostly ads for transformer and tube retailers. TAS had long ago lost their way when it came to actually telling you anything you should know. Stereophile now has a group of reviewers who I assume have been hand picked by JA and having had some contact with these guys they are mostly still either in awe that cables can make an improvement or they are convinced any cable or other tweak over "X" price can automatically be written off as snake oil. While JA's measurements are still informative, the rest of Stereophile has become a series of ST ranting about Musical Fidelity's business practices and then praising the gear. Other than AD's comments - which have centered on the ever higher priced and inaccessible gear - the bulk of the reviewers have difficulty finding any equipment that isn't the best they've ever had in their system, probably because it literally is.

RIP interesting and informative audio journalism.



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1440
Registered: Oct-10
I like printed mags too Art, but kiss 'em good bye. To be honest, I'm surprized they still exist now.

Paul, you hit the nail on the head. My paystubs, W2s, etc are a bunch of ones & zeros in cyber space. Many of the mags I enjoy as well. The cd, wii game disc, blu-ray, record? They will all be gone soon.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1054
Registered: Dec-06
Remains to be seen. As long as there are enough people still demanding hard copies, they will still make hard copies. Of course companies have largely gone paperless internally, but that's not the same thing. That is driven by things such as reliability and cost savings. These aren't things the average book or magazine reader cares about because it does not really apply to them. Could I get books cheaper if I ordered them in electronic format? Probably it would be cheaper per book/magazine, but there will be a higher upfront cost for the hardware, and I just don't care to read a book that way. I don't think anyone really knows for sure when physical media will disappear. It probably will eventually for the most part, but that could take a hundred years and none of us will be around to see it.

We currently have the means to do away with printed books and magazines, and also physical media for music. But far as I know, every book or magazine that is created has a print version, every album still gets stamped a CD copy, and hell they are pressing vinyl again for even just marginally popular pop/rock artists, let alone genres such as jazz and classical where vinyl is surely a bigger deal. That said I think the whole vinyl revival thing has been exaggerated, but this is all still pretty impressive. And at least 9 out of 10 people that I know (and probably closer to 10 out of 10) actually still read books in paper form.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1442
Registered: Oct-10
Well, time will tell. So, rather than debate this endlessly, let's just wait and see.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14464
Registered: Feb-05
Any of you folks reading Stephen Mejias "Entry Level" column. Often fun to read what stuff he's carrying on about.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14465
Registered: Feb-05
As an aside, I'm not sure what earning level you folks are at but where I work only one of my colleagues has an iPhone or anything like it and they all still read the printed word but the one person with the iPhone...he is also the oldest person working in the office at 61.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4442
Registered: May-05
I wasn't trying to get into a debate of printed vs downloads, not that I'm complaining about it. My local stores carry tons of magazines - watch mags, guns and tactical (for lack of a better word for hick stuff), stamp collecting, photography, and on and on. It's not a lck of interest I'm print IMO, it's a lack of interest in hifi. There's tons of music and instruments mags there.

I'm not the biggest fan of the hifi mags. I think most are too far up the manufacturers' rear ends to be totally honest. I hate that everything new is the holy grail and/or is jaw dropping. They've forgotten the working class hero, and instead focus on gear that is a substitute for their 'short comings.' But I digress. That's not what I was really after here.

Are these mags going away a predictor for what's to become of this hobby? Or is it the mags have now taken the hit that the manufacturers are supposedly taking?

If there's no McIntosh amp or the like on a cover of a magazine in a mass-market place, where is anyone outside of this niche going to see one? What's going to expose new people to the hobby?

My first exposure to hifi was a magazine in a doctor's office back in the early 90's when I was still in high school (graduated in '94). That's were I first saw tube amps. I though 'what the he'll is that?' that's the first time I saw planar speakers. I thought 'How's that thing make any sound?'

I was (still am) really into music. I always wanted a great stereo. Had no idea anything outside of what the big box stores were slinging existed. I figured it doesn't get any better than my old man's Marantz 2220B and Fisher speakers that were almost as old as I was.

Then I remembered a few mom and pop shops that sold stereos. That exposed me to more of what's out there. Had it not been for that magazine that I honestly don't know which one it was nor what the gear was, I'd have went to Macy's and bought an Aiwa shelf system to replace the one that broke after 2 years.

Love them or hate them, I don't think anyone has anything to gain by the hifi mags disappearing.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4443
Registered: May-05
And another thing...

Why can't any manufacturers advertise outside of the hifi mags? If niche and upscale companies like Oris and Breitling can, the hifi companies can too. Yeah, they've made a name for themselves over the years, but that's exactly how they did. The average Joe can't afford a Rolex Oyster, yet they all know it exists.

Take Men's Health. There's so much expensive gear advertised in there that the average person can't afford. But the ones who can are exposed to it and most likely do buy it. NAD or Cambridge advertising there or in a similar place would get a ton of people interested IMO. Most people realize that Panasonic and the like are disposable, overpriced junk. A change of pace would work pretty well IMO. Worked for Bose.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1055
Registered: Dec-06
I've made that point before. I don't understand why some of the bigger high end manufacturers don't advertise on TV and radio. Dealers too. We do have one or two dealers in this area advertising on the radio. I think more of them should. It's like these people open a store (often in obscure places) and just expect people to find them.

Most people are happy with low bit rate mp3's. The hifi companies need to target these folks with mainstream ads that tell them music can sound so much better than that. If you can drive just 1% of these people into a hifi store then that would create lots of selling opportunities. 9 out of 10 people haven't even heard of NAD, let alone Naim, Krell, or Mac. 9 out of 10 also think that Bose is high end. Why the speaker companies have allowed that mentality to take hold I will never understand.

Back in the '70s there was a lot less to occupy people's time. TV was still fairly young, there was no Internet, etc. With a lot more competition now you have to fight back a little to maintain a certain amount of market share.

You can blame the consumer too. People willing to settle for crap. Whenever I buy something, be it tires, a vacuum cleaner, whatever, I do my research. I want to ensure I get a certain level of performance, features, and reliability, and I'd rather spend a little bit more to get something that gives me that. When I first caught a glimpse of hifi, it wasn't because the hifi companies reached me. It was me looking into what kind of audio system I could buy, and me finding them.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4444
Registered: May-05
I truly think more and more people research what they buy. Every website that sells something has a review section. Hifi brands are just not it the masses' consciousness for some odd reason.

Yeah, there's a lot of other distractions out there, but stereos in general should be a good selling item. People want surround sound. Bose is proof of that. Why are they cleaning house? No one else is stepping up.

NAD is owned by a conglomerate. They've got money to dump into advertising. Put Katy Perry next to an NAD system in a magazine ad, and they sell their entire year's run in a week.

As stupid as it sounds, why hasn't Best Buy advertised Magnolia stuff?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14468
Registered: Feb-05
I think NAD is the worlds top selling HiFi (if you don't include Bose). Not to worry about their sales. In the past I've seen HiFi advertised in other print mags. Certainly in music mags like Gramophone, Downbeat and so on. Who knows...?!?
 

Diamond Member
Username: Wingmanalive

Www.stainles... .ecrater.com

Post Number: 24814
Registered: Jun-06
Every form of advertising has agendas. What makes researching anything on the net more valuable over printed media is that you're not subjected to the blind censorship. The game hasn't changed between the paying advertiser and the engine that gets its' word to the consumer, only how the consumer can arm themselves against bogus/inflated tech info spec'd on printed ads. Bose is simply an example of marketing over engineering. It's the same in most, if not all, industries. Get exposure. If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance then you baffle them with your bullshit.

They spend millions to cover up their products' weaknesses with market saturation and bold, beautiful graphics, back by half truth data.

As an example take car audio. Those educated in the subject know that it's not what you spend on R&D that sells your product but what their target consumer base will be influenced on. After all a hot chick in a bikini will sell anything lol.

Yet it's the underground companies, honing their focus on educated research, quality materials and reliable production that wow us at the finish line. They would rather spend that $50,000 on their product's development than paste a billboard off a California freeway.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4445
Registered: May-05
I agree with what you're saying, Paul. However, the hifi market seems to be shrinking at a good pace. I genuinely font think it's due to a lack of interest and/or money. Music is just as popular as it's ever been, if not more IMO. Hifi companies are just not household names. Companies like McIntosh and Bryston are on the same level in quality and craftsmanship as Breitling and Rolex IMO. Not everyone can afford one of those, yet they advertise to the masses. Just as the hifi companies don't and won't compromise quality for the sake of churning out more product, either do they. They started out as small companies who were innovative and cutting edge, and kept that legacy going while marketing themselves into household names. If they didn't, I highly doubt they wouldn't be struggling to keep their doors open today. They were enthusiast's companies who went as mainstream as possible while not changing what they were built on.

If hifi companies want to keep the hobby going and get the next generation or two on board, they should follow suit. Rolex and Breitling's advertising not only helps them, but it keeps interest in their field. Oris is another example, but they're far easier for people to attain.

All I'm saying is if the lower end companies like NAD and Cambridge advertised a little in mainstream media, they'd bring in the next group of people into this hobby. God forbid if McIntosh advertised and sold more gear. It would ultimately need less mark-up on each unit to cover their expenses. But what do I know? I have no formal business training whatsoever.

I think Men's Health would be a great place to advertise got these guys. They've got a wide range in age, their readers are generally more educated than average, and are probably financially more affluent than average. Reading my copy today, there's ads for Breitling, Raymond Weil, and one or two others. I'm sure they did their homework on subscribers' demographics.

Art,

It doesn't surprise me that NAD is the highest selling hifi gear. They've been a gateway drug for a ton of guys like us. I've also heard that B&W is the largest hifi speaker company. But then again, who is either company competing against? There's a lot of hifi companies out there, but does any one of them really have a strong market? NAD should make an answer to the DAC Magic, bundle it with a 326BEE and some PSBs, and advertise the system to the masses. That'll give the Bose machine a run for their money. Sell it in Magnolia and have them advertise too, and hifi's back IMO. Ah, it's good to dream. I guess that's why I'm not a big shot at a company.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4446
Registered: May-05
Oh yeah...

And put a nicer faceplate on their gear while they're at it!
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1443
Registered: Oct-10
Stu, a bad economy is bad for wants. Most of us are focussing on needs. Hi fi is nice to have, but a lot of people are either not able or not willing to spend that money. Most of us are saving whatever money we can incase we lose our jobs or other financial issues arise. I think that is what is hurting the hi fi market more than lack of interest. I know a guy who not to long ago was about to replace his $3000 system with what would've been about 10 to $20,000. He had a nagging feeling that he'd better not buy it. He got laid off just after deciding to wait. He's glad he didn't spend that money on a new system. At 62, he went from making $60,000, which is pretty good for South TX, in a local company's IT dept. to making about $26,000 doing bank security. That money allowed him to sure up some loose ends. He also traded in his Infinity G35 for a Chevy Cobalt. This move, although heart wrenching, was brilliant IMO. The G35 was paid for and worth more than a brand new Cobalt. The dealer had to pay him the difference. In addition, the Chevy gets much better gas mileage. Provided the security job lasts him 3 years, which it certainly should, he'll retire then. Will he go for high end at that point? Unless the economy is extremely good by that point, I highly doubt it.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16216
Registered: May-04
.

"God forbid if McIntosh advertised and sold more gear. It would ultimately need less mark-up on each unit to cover their expenses."



Uh, no. Selling more gear is not going to bring down Mac prices. In the twenty five years I sold Mac there was never a surplus of Mac. There were always generous close out deals on the end of the model run Yamahas, Pioneers, Sony's, etc. High end manufacturers do not run their business on a mass market model. If they did, they wouldn't be high end manufacturers. There are no six month model changes for Mac, Bryston, Magnepan, etc. This is what drives the close outs on the mass market products. Mac sells everything Mac builds and they do not require higher inventories to lower their prices.

More importantly, your comment suggests Mac - and all high end gear by extension - is overpriced due to its position in the "enthusiast" market. Once again my experience tells me this is not only incorrect but also naive. This line of thinking perpetuates the oft-heard line that high end gear is "high end" simply because it is overpriced and, if it were sold at the margins and prices of, say, Denon, then the company would have broader appeal and still be profitable. After looking at dealer's cost books for a few decades, this couldn't be further from the truth. Would you say a BMW is overpriced and could easily be sold at the price of a Chevrolet? I doubt it, Stu. You make the point there are high end enthusiast lines in other markets. They are there not because of price alone. Most people in the Western world know the name Rolex, but is that from Rolex's advertising? Probably not any more than "Coke" is well known for being a high end beverage. Could it be that Rolex is the equivalent to good but certainly not the best? What is "the best watch"? Maybe a line you've not heard of because they don't advertise and instead put their money into their products and their business. Should they then advertise just to lower their profits/selling price? That appears to be what you're asking the high end audio manufacturers to do. I ask, why should they if they aready sell everything they build and can successfully remain in business with that business model? Should a doctor see more patients in a day just to lower their operating costs?


Mac gear is sold to the dealer at a lower profit margin to Mac than is Yamaha if you consider the cost of the raw product. What Yamaha's retailer's cost includes is their cost of advertising added to the cost of the raw product. The mark up from dealer's cost to retail on Mac is lower than is the mark up to retail on a Yamaha. The available discount on a Yamaha is far greater than is the allowance on Mac - or any other high end line for that matter. I've seen the selling price of mass market gear drop beneath the previous dealer's cost when the companies are blowing out gear.

Taking your logic, you wish to add cost to the bottom line of McIntosh and then believe that will actually lower their cost to produce the gear? How does that work? Do you believe a Mac dealer will lower their profit on Mac gear if Mac advertises? That's not exactly how a good business plan works. Yes, what Mac and virtually all audio manufacturers will do is pick up a small portion of the tab should a dealer run an ad or produce any advertising material - say, a flyer sent to past and present clients announcing a Mac clinic - but the bulk of high end gear ads are still picked up by the dealer. But let's say Mac paid for ads and drew prospective listeners into the store. Mac is still not cheap, mass market gear. So, when a new Mac prospect walks into a dealer's shop and listens to the music Mac gear produces, how many of those prospective new listeners do you suppose would walk out with Mac gear in their trunk? My guess would be none. Most people cannot afford Mac gear, that's all that needs to be said about that. The small percentage of potential buyers for Mac all know about Mac. I say that from experience, I never had anyone who could buy Mac who didn't already have some idea what Mac was before they ever asked for an audition. You only buy Mac or any other brand of high end audio if you can afford Mac or any other brand of high end audio. Otherwise, you buy Yamaha, NAD, Rotel or some lower quality product - many of whom do have the advertising budgets to hit mass market media. I would say a McIntosh ad is good only to stir up a bit of interest in your shop but not in selling Mac and certainly not in lowering the profit margins of Mac. My proof would be the near non-existent sales of new Mac gear during a Mac clinic. Mac owners brought in their old gear to be checked but seldom did they actually turn into any new Mac sales. That was borne out in any number of old time Mac dealers sales sheets and was eventually a large portion of why Mac clinics went away - they weren't profitable to Mac or the dealer and actually made for a congested store full of tire kickers none of whom were interested in actually buying anything.

To assume the vast majority of audio buyers would buy McIntosh should be obviously wrong. They can't afford it. To assume a company such as ... oh, let's say, PrimaLuna should advertise in the hope it would reduce high selling prices by adding to their total sales numbers while at the same time adding to their bottom line cost is not logically correct. Yes, on the face of it you would think if PrimaLuna advertised more people would know about PL and, therefore, PL would sell more gear. Unfortunately, in the world of audiophile marketing where you are appealling to a very small 1-2% of the entire audiophile buying possibilites, it doesn't work that way. When a company such as PL is looking for a dealership which can carry their line, they are most often deciding which stores already sell gear which might appeal to the potential PL client. In other words, PL doesn't pick the shop selling Kickers and Pioneer HT receivers as their main lines. They would more likely pick a shop which is selling Mac and then expect the store to introduce a client who might be not quite in the ball park of affording Mac to the PL line as an affordable and totally reasonable alternative given the money - or audio tastes - available to the client. Those few buyers who come in asking about PL are not potential Mac buyers at that time. Those same customers who walk in looking for PL already know where to find PL. Trust me on this.


I agree the high end market is being diluted and there is a problem introducing younger customers to what we consider to be a high end market which is dominated by two channel gear and all of which requires the owner follow all the rules we know will allow the gear to perform at its best. But IMO the problem here is not one of the high end manufacturers not advertising in Car and Driver and certainly not one of excessive profit margins being sucked up by the manufacturer or the retailer. If you would care to discuss what is driving people into low fi gear, then the thread will follow a pattern of what most new buyers are being told they should expect from audio devices. It's not high end sound and it never has been.

Consider this logic for a moment; Bose. What is Bose? Most of us do not consider Bose to be high end gear. Anyone who is versed in high end gear will look at the actual parts employed by Bose and think they should be using better parts in more innovative ways. Most of us would not be happy with the sound quality we hear coming from a Bose product and certainly not for the money spent. Our final decision would be what is voiced on this and numerous other forums with great frequncy; Bose is overpriced for what you get. So ask yourself, what the Bose customer is buying? Advertising, my friends, advertising and name recognition. Bose is putting their bottom line costs into advertising to broaden their market by being the "Coke" of audio. Here's why a scheme which starts with a line such as Mac advertising to bring down their (excessive) profit margins doesn't work. If you put your bottom line on a course to advertise to the masses, then you produce what the masses will accept - Bose and Coke. If you are Mac, Bryston, PL, etc. manufacturer or dealer, you allow a potential Bose buyer to hear your product on display in the same shop with Bose and let the customer decide which is better. If the customer trusts the sales person and their ears and if they know the sound of good live music, then they can decide which components do the better job at reproducing good music.


Unfortunately, most customers have no idea what good live music sounds like nor do they trust their ears since they've never been asked to do so before. Trusting a salesperson?


That's a tough one today and most people trust what their friends and Consumer Reports tell them more than they trust their ears or a salesperson. And their friends and Consumer Reports tell them to buy Bose because it's a name they've heard of. This is all a Catch 22 that ends with high end audio advertising not increasing the number of sales and not lowering selling price unless they want to compete with Bose. Does anyone think Mac considers Bose their primary competition?



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2369
Registered: Oct-07
Jan, your BMW example is pretty good.
In about 1970 I TRIED to get my dad to buy a BMW 2002. You may remember the little roller skate on wheels. Well, they cost about 3000$ and my dad said no way, I gotta have that wagon!
Well, correcting for inflation, you don't get anywhere near the 17,000$ mark for a new one. Why? Well, the reason is content and perceived value. Just like any piece of hi-end gear.

I don't think the problem is 'advertising' but rather simply the size of the market. Indeed, at T.H.E. Show, I spoke with a journalist for about 45 minutes. I listened LOTS and asked a few questions. One thing he said was in effect, when a reviewer calls a piece of equipment a 'bargain' it is not necessarily a good thing. It's all about perceived value. You want 'value', NOT a bargain.
If Mac made a 2nd line......with near-identical sonic perfomance to the original and skipped the trademark dial and had it made in Asia and sold at at Costco, I don't see it going anywhere. They'd wreck there own name.

BTW, the Mac I saw at the show was demo'd with Martin Logan 'stats. Nice.

Consumer reports MAY be good for something. I look at the 'frequency of repair' data and try to stay away from the Lemon end of the scale. OR if you want to buy a toaster on wheels. They are good for the 'car as appliance' review.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16217
Registered: May-04
.

"If Mac made a 2nd line......with near-identical sonic perfomance to the original and skipped the trademark dial and had it made in Asia and sold at at Costco, I don't see it going anywhere. They'd wreck there own name."



Mac tried such an experiment in the mid 1970's; http://www.roger-russell.com/stech.htm For many reasons the Stereotech line never "ruined" McIntosh but, then, there was only ever one Stereotech product produced. Dealers and clients alike made it known the Mac brand was not to be f*cked with - even by Gordon Gow.



Consumer Reports tells you only their experience with a product while it is in their possession. A line such as Mac wouldn't get a very good rating from CR since they are not in a position - nor do they care - to judge the long term reliability and longevity of a product. That many Mac products have appreciated and certainly none have depreciated over the years means nothing to CR. If I was not selling the sound quality of a Mac, I was definitely selling the long term investment in Mac. "Investment" in any product is not what CR examines. Therefore, a Pioneer HT receiver that might last three years is just as good if not a better "value" in CR's estimation as a Mac. When I worked the floor at Pacific Stereo back in the '70's, there were few things that could cause an entire salesstaff to be in need of a restroom as desparately as a customer walking in from the parking lot with a stack of CR's in hand.

.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2371
Registered: Oct-07
CR compiles data from users of certain products. This data may or may not figure into a buying decision for me. Certainly NOT in the phto / stereo line, but I'll take reliability data into consideration when looking at toasters, blenders or even automobiles.

For reliability I believe a large enough data base on a particular manufacturer or even a specific product or line has some validity. Weigh such data carefully. NOT taken into account are such factors as the Bryston 20 year warranty or some other companies reputation for superior service.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1444
Registered: Oct-10
I haven't read CR since the early 80s. Do they even discuss Mac, Bryston, B&K, etc? I didn't think the folks at CR even heard of these brands.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16218
Registered: May-04
.

Ya' know, leo, like anyone else I hate it when stuff breaks. I particularly hate it when stuff breaks because it was cheaply made. But I don't remember ever looking at the reliability ratings in CR when I was buying a toaster. Ya' pays your $29.95 plus tax and ya' takes your chances is my motto on toasters. I save boxes, packing materials and sales receipts for the first 30 days.

Is there an American made toaster nowdays? I thought toasters were one of those things that all came out of the same factory and they stick one name on them on Wednesday and some other name on them on Thursday.

Are there such things as "toaster enthusiasts"?


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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2373
Registered: Oct-07
Toaster was just a talking point. It is my example of an appliance which should just WORK. It is part and parcel to the CR philosophy.
If you are going to spend a larger sum on a major appliance, I'd recommend at least being aware of the 'frequency of repair' ratings. Some 'fridge brands were running 20% and I took them off the list. I realize that buying a new appliance is in some ways a crap shoot, but you also hope for it to break under warranty, if it's gonna happen.

And yes, by my definition there ARE toaster enthusiasts. They drive Accord and Camry. Plug 'em in and they work. Near zero involvement by the driver. Start 'em and they run, doing exactly what they were designed to do in the least obtrusive fashion. Just like a toaster.


People who are involved with hi-end audio are nearly polar opposite. Many are involved with various fine-tuning projects. Everything from positioning detail for speakers to all sorts of room modifications and dedicated electrical lines. They want better and forget the cost. If they were driving people, they'd want something distinctive and special, maybe a little (or lot) sporty. Something of more than casual involvement. I used to own an S-2000, a very demanding beast. I drive something almost as quirky now, but not from the performance end of the line.

I don't think there has been a US made toaster since somewhere between Ike and Reagan.

And No, Super, I doubt CR has ever tested anything other than Mass Market stuff. They've not even mentioned cameras in the same exaulted pricing. Like 40,000$ worth of Hasselblad Digital. (lens extra)

Jan, you have to remember you are somewhat unique. I suspect your system is fairly stable for long time periods. You've made all the changes very thoughtfully and rarely on a whim. The speakers go.....THERE....because that's where it works best.
I'm not a changer, either, and I have precise measures of speaker position, but that's where it ends. If I went off the deep end of perfection, I could drive myself loony. I'd say my system in MY room was every bit as good as most of what I heard last weekend. Some systems were better, some just made me want to listen all day, but when all is said and done, I can't go down that path.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1056
Registered: Dec-06
I figured maybe Breville or Kitchen Aid are made in a more established economy, but from a quick search online it would appear not. It's funny, your comment on Rolex being good but not the best, and some other company being #1...well, a company I never heard of, called Dualit, is perhaps the only company making toasters in the U.S. And they are pricey.

Going back to cars, I guess BMW and Lexus and the like are the Kitchen Aids, while brands that you almost never see advertise (Ferrari and Bentley) are the Dualits. Thing is, most people have heard of Ferrari and Bentley, and they probably do advertise some outside of car magazines. BMW and Lexus are what most people would consider high end, and while they may not be the highest of high end, they are probably on par in the auto market with where Bryston and Mac are in audio. A major difference is that BMW and Lexus do a heck of a lot of advertising. There are probably many ways Bryston and Mac can similarly advertise that would not dilute their respective brands.

It would be nice to see the hifi segment trying to create more awareness about the benefits of their products. Increasing awareness for brands like NAD and Cambridge at the very least would help the industry in the long-run, and would help even players like Bryston and Mac. But I guess the industry is firing on all cylinders and they don't need to create greater awareness of the fact that, well, they even exist at all.

I'm not sure that most folks can't afford a Mac. Well, that may be true, but it doesn't mean they can't afford a nice system. I doubt any of us are rich. It's all about choices. People certainly drive nice cars, they go on vacation, buy 50" TVs, etc. I do none of those things. So cut back on that, or instead of buying a $30,000 car, settle for one that costs $25,000 and put the money saved into a very nice system. It'll last longer and need less maintenance, and as you alluded to it will also depreciate less. But in order to buy nice audio you first need to want it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1321
Registered: Jul-07
The car analogy works in some ways, but there are differences that are relevent to this topic as well. People "get" the concept of a Ferrari. They know what to expect, without experiencing it. IMO, most people don't "get" what they get in a $3000 amplifier with no features when they can have a $300 receiver that's loaded with 'em. I've met thousands of people professionally and personally and I can count on one hand the number of people that give a crap about anything other than basic audio. High def'n video, everyone gets. High def'n audio, noboby cares.

The market is very small, and online content is marginalizing much of the paper products. It will never replace it entirely IMO, just as Kindles will never completely replace books, but it will get harder to get over time.....along with newspapers.

I would be quite happy if the flippin' flyers that fill my mailbox were replaced with electronic versions though. A waste of paper and ink. It would frighten us all to know how much of our forests are used to produce printed content that NEVER gets read.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1058
Registered: Dec-06
I think that's my main point. Out of hundreds of people, only a few will care. Some of those probably assume that if you want high end then it must be Sony (they have such a good reputation for TV after all). People don't get what benefits hifi can offer (unlike a Ferrari). Does the hifi industry not deserve some of the blame for this?
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1324
Registered: Jul-07
Do you think an ad in a magazine will cause them "get it" Dan ? I don't. The rest of my family tolerates my hobby.....and God knows I've tried to get them to understand.....but nope, they don't have any more appreciation for it than they did 20 years ago. They love music, they are just not fussy at all about what they listen to it on.

It's not the gear they don't get, it's the requirement for it at all. If you can't tell the difference between a $300 amp and a $3000 amp, why would you spend the money ?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16220
Registered: May-04
.

"Jan, you have to remember you are somewhat unique."


Why, leo! what in the world ever made you think I was not aware of that fact?












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Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1059
Registered: Dec-06
Chris, I just think the various players can do more to generate exposure. Someone may or may not be able to hear the difference between two components, but it would be nice if they had the desire to try to hear the difference by going to a store to listen. It would be nice if they knew audio existed outside of Best Buy. This is where a little marketing would be useful.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1445
Registered: Oct-10
Thanks Leo, that's about what I thought.

Dan, one of the reasons I joined this and another audio forum is because most people I see everyday either have no interest in hi fi or don't know what it really is. Most them think my Denon receiver is high end. Very few of them have heard of Mac or Bryston, fewer still know the difference between Mac and Denon. One guy I see around could easily afford a high end HT system. Does he have such a thing? No! Why not? Because he thinks his Sony HTiB is "primo deluxe" as do most of his associates. This guy probably can't distinguish between Sony and Mac.

My wife and sons are perfectly content to watch TV, movies and concert dvds through TV speakers. "As long as I can see it and hear it." they say. Explosions, helicopters, crashes and other dramatic events through the single driver Sony speakers in the TV! That's what makes 'em happy. They think I'm crazy for wanting it to sound as real as I can afford to make it sound.

The bottomline is that those of us who care about sound quality are a rare breed. We always have been and always will be.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1060
Registered: Dec-06
Doesn't mean you don't try to reach out to the broader market, James. If people haven't even heard of brands outside of BB, and we aren't talking Ferrari level here (more like Buick to Mercedes), then the marketing sucks, plain and simple! You'll never reach those who can be convinced to buy hifi but are not interested right now. Yes, they are out there. You convince them by luring them to a store and doing well done demo. Not everyone will bite but some will. I don't buy the idea that every single person who could ever be interested in hifi already knows what Bryston is and already owns a nice system.

Whatever happened to actually trying to sell a product? It seems this industry isn't interested in growth, rather they are content to just hang around until the last audiophile on the planet passes away, all the while bemoaning the computer generation as the reason hifi died.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16223
Registered: May-04
.


"It's funny, your comment on Rolex being good but not the best, and some other company being #1...well, a company I never heard of, called Dualit, is perhaps the only company making toasters in the U.S. And they are pricey."


Today Dualit produces a range of kitchen and home appliances which remain firmly rooted in the values Max set out for the company in 1945. It is run by Max’s son, Leslie and is one of a handful of successful, independently-owned British manufacturers.

Dualit Limited
County Oak Way
Crawley
West Sussex
RH11 7ST

Telephone: +44 (0) 1293 652 500

Fax: +44 (0) 1293 652 555

Email: info@dualit.com


Telephone: +44 (0) 207384 2476

Email: dualit@hillgatepr.co.uk


"Going back to cars, I guess BMW and Lexus and the like are the Kitchen Aids, while brands that you almost never see advertise (Ferrari and Bentley) are the Dualits. Thing is, most people have heard of Ferrari and Bentley, and they probably do advertise some outside of car magazines."



They also race. Possibly, if Steve McQueen or James Dean had raced a Bentley, they wouldn't need to advertise at all. Might I suggest numerous well known names we typically associate with "high end" have been more often introduced to us by Hollywood than by advertising. Anyone not know what make of automobile James Bond drove in the original (Sean Connery) movie series? Today product placement is high dollar stakes and a well placed item will easily be seen by more viewers - if even for only three seconds - than any magazine advertisement can reach. One thing about print advertising is, to be effective you must hit your "target" audience. Let's say Mac and Rowland Research advertise in Town and Country magazine to hit their demographic financially; http://www.townandcountrymag.com/ How many subscribers to T&C do you suppose do not already have some idea of what Mac gear is? I'd say of the male readers, most. Rowland? I'd say one look at how a real world Rowland system needs to be set up and most T&C readers will be looking for the whole house system with speakers in the walk in closets. Pick most "high end" friendly magazines and the story would be the same. I really cannot tell you how many half way decent to very nice systems I've installed in multi-million dollar homes where the most basic instruction was, "No equipment should be visible". I suspect most of you remember me telling the story of placing the McIntosh/Double Advent system in a gi-normous room and being told the speakers couldn't go in "that spot" because they would block the view of the Picasso.



"BMW and Lexus are what most people would consider high end, and while they may not be the highest of high end, they are probably on par in the auto market with where Bryston and Mac are in audio. A major difference is that BMW and Lexus do a heck of a lot of advertising. There are probably many ways Bryston and Mac can similarly advertise that would not dilute their respective brands."


Rule No.1 of North Dallas (and a lot of other cities with wealthy clients); you are what you drive, where you live and eat. I have delivered equipment to townhouses with nothing in the fridge and not much more than a chair and a bed. There would always be BMW's, Mercedes', Lexus, etc in the parking lot. Thing is, you can't drive a Mac power amp around town and, if you tell someone you spent "XXX" dollars on your hifi, they consider you to be a goof with totally screwed up priorities.



"I'm not sure that most folks can't afford a Mac. Well, that may be true, but it doesn't mean they can't afford a nice system. I doubt any of us are rich. It's all about choices. People certainly drive nice cars, they go on vacation, buy 50" TVs, etc. I do none of those things. So cut back on that, or instead of buying a $30,000 car, settle for one that costs $25,000 and put the money saved into a very nice system. It'll last longer and need less maintenance, and as you alluded to it will also depreciate less. But in order to buy nice audio you first need to want it."


True, but is owning a nice hifi really going to get her to come home with you? Or impress your boss into giving you that next promotion? Priorities, Dan, priorities.





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Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1446
Registered: Oct-10
Dan, there is certainly truth in what you say. However, out of all the people I speak to on a regular basis, very few even want to talk about audio. Nevermind trying to get them to go to an independant high end retailer with you. Most people that I know who are into this stuff, like me, discovered it on their own. The barber I went to in the 70s & 80s had a nice system in his shop (though to look at what he had, one would wonder how he got such great sound from it). He also had copies of Stereo Review in his shop. That is what sparked my interest. No one took me by the hand and led me to the waters of hi fi. In my experience, most people are very resistant to being "fixed" as it were. They don't see themselves as "broken" or as "seeds of hi fi appreciation" waiting to be planted, watered and nurtured to fruition. Ever have someone try to change your religion or even improve what you practice? To many people not already into audio, trying to get them interested is like trying to convert them. Think of it like a hobby that you don't have an interest in. Are you not more likely to get an interest given the chance to explore it on your own? Shirley got the bug for hi fi because she was at a friend's house and he had music that she liked on (good luck finding something she DOESN'T like) and she liked how it sounded on that system better than on hers. Once she expressed interest, THEN he exposed her to better stuff than he could afford. Now she is persuing a high end system. Companies that make high end gear know darn well that the market for their products is restricted to those who can both afford it and have an interest. Mac's sister companies are Denon and Marantz. Don't you think Denon & Marantz are pushed a lot more than Mac for one or more reasons?
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1061
Registered: Dec-06
So Dualit is English! Guess I should have checked it out myself. Someone said they make toasters in the U.S. Perhaps that part is right, despite being English owned.

Sure there are hurdles, Jan. But I'm not sure that you try to appeal to the ultra-wealthy where image is everything. More so the middle class who could be in the market for an amp ranging from a $300 NAD to a $5,000 Mac. The ultra-rich audiophile is probably buying a $30,000 amp I've never heard of. I think the audio forums are mostly made up of middle class folk who enjoy the hobby and listening to audio whenever they can find an evening of peace. The idea should be to cultivate more of them, and most of them start at the bottom so why not start there.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1062
Registered: Dec-06
No one took me by the hand and led me to the waters of hi fi. In my experience, most people are very resistant to being "fixed" as it were. They don't see themselves as "broken" or as "seeds of hi fi appreciation" waiting to be planted, watered and nurtured to fruition. Ever have someone try to change your religion or even improve what you practice?

No one is suggesting such tactics. Just to do what every other industry does, and advertise a little. When so many people have not heard of brands like NAD, Rotel, Cambridge, PSB, and Paradigm then they are simply not reaching a very wide audience and there is much untapped potential. Just like Shirley realized a system can sound great, she could have realized that at a good dealer. What if she didn't have that friend to show her his system? Then I guess she wouldn't be interested, because she's sure not going to hear about Rotel from a Rotel commercial. Word of mouth only goes so far, you actually have to know someone and they actually have to convince you. That is what a marketing department, and retail establishments, are for.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1447
Registered: Oct-10
My suggestion Dan, is let a person express interest first. Have a friend over sometime. One who thinks his/her Sony shelf system is the creme della creme of audio. Have music, preferable something said friend likes, playing when she/he arrives. Don't say anything about the music, the system or audio in general. Let your friend show an interest and go from there. Trying to make an audiophile out of someone not interested is like twisting her/his arm. Once I started talking to the barber about his system, he talked to me about it and all things audio. Up to that point, he'd never uttered a word about the subject.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16224
Registered: May-04
.

"The car analogy works in some ways, but there are differences that are relevent to this topic as well. People "get" the concept of a Ferrari. They know what to expect, without experiencing it. IMO, most people don't "get" what they get in a $3000 amplifier with no features when they can have a $300 receiver that's loaded with 'em. I've met thousands of people professionally and personally and I can count on one hand the number of people that give a crap about anything other than basic audio. High def'n video, everyone gets. High def'n audio, noboby cares."



In my current profession I go into, maybe, a dozen homes a week. I can count the number of homes that contain what I would graciously call "hifi" on one hand and still have enough fingers left over to hold a soft taco. I'm in one this week with a 1975 HK stereo receiver (nice receiver for the day), a Marantz semi-auto table with an ADC cartridge (how many of you remember ADC cartridges? I had one in the '70's - an ADC XLMIII was top o'the line for the day.) and a pair of low end Polk speakers all sitting in a cabinet crammed with books. The only seating position is on the bed four feet away. Music is mostly played back through the computer. I go into house after house and, other than a big TV with maybe a cheap receiver, there is not even a table radio in the house. There's only one room in my entire house that doesn't have at least one music source avaiable. There are a few iPod docking sets around these homes I go into but even those are rare.

Now what expectations would those people have for a decent audio system?


"Out of hundreds of people, only a few will care. Some of those probably assume that if you want high end then it must be Sony (they have such a good reputation for TV after all). People don't get what benefits hifi can offer (unlike a Ferrari). Does the hifi industry not deserve some of the blame for this?"


No, I don't think so. You can't out-Sony Sony. For the size of the actual company that Sony is, their influence on the audio markets over the last forty to fifty years has been huge. Sony is all about smaller and more convenient and Sony dominating the market. What does that have to do with Audio Research and Wilsons? Neither of those companies can out advertise Sony - or, now days, Apple. So here's what you need to remember; we are discussing an "enthusiast" hobby.

Sixty to forty years ago there were a lot of people who wanted good audio in their home because; first, it was their link to the outside world, and, second, they were interested in the evolving technology - possibly, because they had learned some electronics in the military or watched their dad build a Dynaco amp from a kit. That generation is dying off. When I was a kid it was all about who had the best system - even if they were all crap at the time we were all excited when the first system without flip out speakers and a flip down turntable showed up - and what we were going to buy next. I don't think audio systems have that same hold on the imagination that they did back then. Today you can blast loud rock through headphones and a compressed MP3 file makes it all sound OK since there's no dynamics. You can watch a movie on a 2" screen on your phone or on your netbook. And you can do it anywhere and get your music in a few seconds from the web. Small and convenient.

So let's go back to the individual who sees an ad in a magazine or a product placement in "House" or "Green Hornet". They come into a shop wanting to know about Bose or whole house systems or MP3 players or whatever. Maybe they wander into the shop to kill some time while the wife shops and they're finishing their ice cream cone. In Best Buy they get taken to that gear and they either buy it or they don't because the price is OK. In a high end enthusiasts' store they (hopefully) meet an audio "enthusiast" who suggests they listen to something more interesting - probably what's playing in the front room of the store. They either get the idea or they don't. But the "enthusiast" is their first and most important contact with high end audio. If they can catch that customer's interest, then the hobby grows. If they blow them off, then the hobby dies. IMO that's the way high end audio has worked for decades. It's no different for most other "enthusiast" hobbies. Either you get caught up in something better than your phone for taking something more than a "file" or you don't. If you do, you will end up in a high end photo shop and not Best Buy or Walgreens. Enthusiasm spreads like herpes from one individual to another.


"It seems this industry isn't interested in growth, rather they are content to just hang around until the last audiophile on the planet passes away, all the while bemoaning the computer generation as the reason hifi died."



In some cases, yes, and in others, no. Computers have replaced audio for many reasons as the link to the outside world that was once the province only of audio gear. It's very difficult for a high end audio company to be competitive in the computer generated music world. Most high end companies have never developed a business plan that says if you don't get your new product in the stores in the next two months, it will be obsolete. A product like a Rega Appollo or Saturn is very rare in that they have stayed competitive for a few years now. How many years did Rega spend working on those players? While there are a lot of people still playing amplifier or speaker of the month, for the most part products from many high end companies rely on longevity and consistency of the brand. People buy Mac or Audio Research in part because they can buy a product that appeals to their sense of continuity. A new Mac looks like an old Mac in the same way a new Mercedes E class looks pretty much like an old Mercedes E class. When was the last time you saw a Jaguar coming down the road and you didn't know it was a Jaguar product? Isn't it Piaget who runs ads suggesting they are the "heirloom" product? IMO you guys sort of need to recognize that not all high end audio buyers go about their purchases the same way you have.

Come in the store asking for McIntosh and maybe you leave with Rowland. There will always be that 1-2% and there will never be more than that 1-2% who are going to buy the high end audio products. Having sat down and talked and talked about where limited monies might best be spent with advertising, hitting the target is always upper most in the effort to get some results from the money spent. Most print ads have at best a 1-2% return on the investment and that's just to get someone to respond, it's not to actually sell anything. With those figures staring at you, you do not take a scatter gun approach to your advertising spending.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16225
Registered: May-04
.

"I think the audio forums are mostly made up of middle class folk who enjoy the hobby and listening to audio whenever they can find an evening of peace. The idea should be to cultivate more of them, and most of them start at the bottom so why not start there."



If they're already on the audio forums, don't you think they haven't already heard about better audio products?

If so, how'd they find out? That's the question you need to answer. This is a 98% male dominated hobby. And, like the Republican Party, it is - from my experience - a predominantly white, male hobby. Why? Answer that and I think you'll have way more to go on than guessing at what McIntosh and Bryston should be doing.




Tell you what, Dan. You suggest there are some "hurdles". Before we get all gassed up here about how the guys that have been running these businesses for the last fifty years aren't going about it to our satisfaction, why don't we - meaning "you" - gather some actual facts. Make a suggestion for a specific magazine or venue that appeals to "middle class folk" who might be convinced through an advertisement they need a decent hifi. Contact that possible advertising location and report back to us what it would cost to run an ad you think would be eye catching enough to make it worth the while of a company such as Bryston or Rega just one time. Then pick a company like Bryston or Rega and contact them to find out what they alot per year for their total advertising budget. Include the cost of the person (or people) who will create the ad and prepare it for print because they have to get paid too, you know. Photograpy is going to come from where? Stock company photos? Or, are you going to have something done with some gal in a bikini? Kind of give us a break down of how you would go about this should you be given the power of the purse for a high end audio company. I think that would make for interesting reading. Otherwise, just saying you think someone else should do what you want them to do isn't getting us anywhere really.

Then, come up with a suggested ad to run. I've done this and it's not all that easy to do an effective ad. Think about it and tell us what the ad would look like and what the copy would say if you were going to run this in a 'middle class folks" magazine. Pick any product you like and come up with an ad for us to think about. How's that sound?

Anyone else care to come up with some suggested ad copy for those middle class folks to read? What's likely to get them in a store?


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Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1448
Registered: Oct-10
So you see Dan, the high end sector does not appeal to the masses. Most people I knew in NJ and have met here in TX can't even appreciate Denon, Onkyo or Pioneer. Let alone Mac or Bryston. I can't tell you how many people I know who have no system at all, get music off their pc, have an iPod exclusively or have a $25 Durabrand system from Wal-Mart. Most of these folks are quite satisfied with what they have. Those that ain't often can't afford better and are thankful for what they have. Out of those who are satisfied with said systems, the vast majority hardly ever listen them. I know it's hard to imagine anyone not appreciating sound quality and accordingly, getting as close to high end as they can, but most folks just aren't that interested. Others think their Bose wave radios are the top of the heap. Go figure!
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1063
Registered: Dec-06
My suggestion Dan, is let a person express interest first. Have a friend over sometime. One who thinks his/her Sony shelf system is the creme della creme of audio. Have music, preferable something said friend likes, playing when she/he arrives. Don't say anything about the music, the system or audio in general. Let your friend show an interest and go from there.

I respectfully disagree, James. It isn't my job to sell people on hifi. Other people get paid to do that. And I won't go to the trouble of doing a hifi demo ambush (is that a fair word?).

I think we need to determine exactly which hifi companies we are talking about here. I have largely suggested NAD, Rotel, Cambridge, PSB, Paradigm and the like. Bryston and Mac have been mentioned too, but their approach would no doubt be different. Like I said, most of us start at the bottom, so that's the former group, not the latter. A group, I might add, that sells a relatively large amount of entry level gear (and home theater too).

I just find it surprising the amount of people who have no idea these brands exist. And if they did, and understood they could be buying a superior product both in terms of build and sound quality, maybe that would get more people to walk into their local hifi dealer. The idea is to drive traffic to these stores, and open people up to a different world. Maybe they don't buy now, but they can buy later. I don't see how running a bunch of magazine ads in TAS will grow the market. That might grow your own market share, and even then probably not by much.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1449
Registered: Oct-10
I don't think ambush is the best term here. Not that it offends me, I just think of it as more subtle than that. This is about exposing a person to audio rather than springing a trap. If you did what I suggested and this friend never showed any interest, then this person like most is not candidate for moving on up. If Shirley had not heard her friend's system, she still ended up hearing mine while she was here. If her interest hadn't been sparked in NJ, it would have been here in TX. I have exposed a few people to audio like this Dan and only on a rare occassion does it spark interest. Most men show a little interest in the system, but they are not even buying what I have, much less a high end system. In fact I can think of only one guy who did get into it. He liked how his favorite album, "Kind of Blue" sounded on my system. He eventually got a Bryston amp, Avant Garde speakers and other high end gear. If turning on the few would be audiophiles like this is a trick, it's one nice trick IMO.

What seems to be the problem with advertising high end gear is that if you publish ads in magazines that the average person reads, on TV or basically anywhere that Average Joe will see it, most people will simply ignore it. A person who has no inclination to persue hi fi is not going to do so because they see it plugged somewhere. Presentation without demonstration, is conversation. IE: if a person doesn't experience it somewhere, he/she may never realize a desire to have something better than the $25 dust collector of a system. No, it's not your "job" to promote this hobby, but if you really care about whether it lives or dies, you might want to try to expose people to good audio equipment. Who knows? Perhaps when it's time for you to get a new amp or if I am ever in a position to buy a nice integrated, we might have ourselves to thank. IE, it might be because we "ambushed" people with audio, that companies making high end gear are still in business.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1064
Registered: Dec-06
Jan, as fun as that exercise sounds I think I'll pass (yes, I'm too lazy to do all that). I acknowledge that you may be bang on with your analysis and with that in mind I should probably stop putting forth my argument. After all, these business people are not idiots and if they aren't reaching out to the masses then there must be a reason why.

Though I can't say that I truly believe that NAD, Rotel, and Cambridge (along with other entry level brands) are all spending every cent they currently take in (allowing for a reasonable profit), with nothing left over to advertise. I don't see that the technology in speakers, amps, and even CD players is so dynamic that it involves lots of R&D; nor that these companies purchase such expensive parts (especially when buying bulk) that this eats away at their budget.

I do however believe these companies may be very conservative in their advertising decisions, opting to put money into a good website and to advertise towards audiophiles through audiophile publications and online. There are probably repercussions in cutting back on magazine and online advertising (bad reviews even??? or just being ignored at the expense of other products). An almost sure loss in market share due to reduced advertising towards a group receptive to your ads is probably less appealing than forgoing something that has not really been tried before and involves much more uncertainty, even if the potential payoff is bigger. Take the sure thing that involves less cost, rather than blow a whole bunch of money on something that is more uncertain.

I wonder if any of these companies is public. It sure would be nice to see their financial statements. I can only find two on a quick check: Harman and DEI Holdings (the company that owns the Polk and Definitive brands). Not the best companies to look at, though Harman seems to be doing very well lately (can't say it's all home audio, as they are a lot more diversified than that). DEI clearly isn't doing so hot.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1454
Registered: Oct-10
That's a big part of such advertising decissions Dan, reaching the people who WILL buy. If all of these high end manufactures advertised to people like me, they'd have spent a ton of money just to have a bunch of folks looking at those ads saying "I wish!". If they advertise to people with the coin, but no interest, they'd have a bunch or folks possibly giving their ads a quick glance at best as they flip to the ad about Tiltliest's newest golf ball or something else they like.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1065
Registered: Dec-06
That goes for most advertising, James. They still do it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1455
Registered: Oct-10
Yes, they still do it Dan and high end companies don't. Why do you think that is?
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2377
Registered: Oct-07
So, how DO you get more people interested in hi-end audio?

I just came from dentist. I asked him....he pretty much obviously has the coin. Nope, no interest. He'd rather have the latest 3-D Plasma TV. And this guy IS a hi-tech person. He can make a crown IN-HOUSE in an hour using a system which images than grinds the crown from a ceramic blank. The crown? needs no adjustment after checking it out. It looks exactly like a perfect tooth.

Wil hi-end ever go mainstream? Of course not. Look at the difference between who goes to a car show....many car shoppers and enthusiasts.... Than look at the crew that shows up at a hi-end audio show. IF my sample of 1 is valid, it's mostly MALE. A smattering of wealthy Asians, a few wealthy looking types with bored looking girlfriends or spouse and the rest, like me, just lookin'. Age distribution? I saw few below about 35 years. Most were 45 to 60.

It takes money to get into hi-end. Those with upgrade fever may even be keeping the used market churning. A recent college graduate with 50,000$ in loans and no job prospects beyond 35,000$ a year? I'll take the IPod, please.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16228
Registered: May-04
.

"Jan, as fun as that exercise sounds I think I'll pass (yes, I'm too lazy to do all that). I acknowledge that you may be bang on with your analysis and with that in mind I should probably stop putting forth my argument. After all, these business people are not idiots and if they aren't reaching out to the masses then there must be a reason why."


Through a search engine ...

How much do magazine advertisements cost?

Answer:

a full page 4-color ad in GQ costs $82,507 per issue if you order it for 12 issues That would be about $980k per year
; http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_do_magazine_advertisements_cost







National Magazine Advertising
Setup Process Design
Setup Cost $1,500-$20,000
Cost of Media $3,000-$25,000 per full-page ad per issue
Cost to Continue Cost of media + agency hourly rate
Demographic Served Anyone reading the magazine
Definitive ROI Tracking? No
Pros Exposure
Cons Expensive, wasted impressions on unqualified customers
http://www.webpagefx.com/blog/business-advice/the-cost-of-advertising-nationally -broken-down-by-medium/#mag


Even taking the lower cost projection here, with production costs and a four issue run, that's about $100-120k out of your advertising budget. Looking at that cost I have no idea which magazines you would be getting into. But, if you wanted to target that GQ sort of audience, you're going to pay for it. Cut that down to a six issue run to make it possible to just get your name recognized, allow for a bit more per issue cost while adding in one time production costs and I doubt that advertising in a magazine such as GQ would actually bring in sufficient numbers of new client sales for Mac to raise total volume enough to actually lower costs. Figure that 1-2% (at best) return on your investment and how many new unit sales would that project out to for a company selling $10-30k systems?


Despite all that, let's say a company like Mac or Audio Research ran an ad campaign in GQ. What would you suggest the ad be? How would a print ad for an amplifier or speaker company get across the idea this was an important purchase for someone who is probably content listening to music over their iPad and some $50 computer speakers or headphones?



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1328
Registered: Jul-07
Then you have to figure out what message you want to get out there. What compelling offer are you going to make if you're Mac ? The fundamentals haven't changed much over the years.....there aren't new models every year with cool new something-or-others. They don't do the SALE SALE SALE thing (which would kill their margins anyway), they aren't new players that need to get their name out there to the audio community.....so what would be in the advert ? Just a pretty amp and a tag line ?

Of course, I'm not a marketing guy (gross understatement alert!) so I'm sure brighter minds than mine could dream up something catchy.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1456
Registered: Oct-10
You got yourself a good dentist Leo! I agree completely that high end will never go mainstream. If the majority of people don't even want a system like mine, they sure don't want a $50,000+ system. The guy I mentioned with the Sony HTiB that he thinks is so great drives a Mercedes and wears clothes that are well outside of most of our budgets. Don't try to tell him that there is something better than his $300 Sony theater though!

I would never bring my wife to an audio show. She actually prefers to listen to music on my $50 boom box and hear movies through TV speakers! My sons are not much better.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1457
Registered: Oct-10
To get right down to it Dan, I have been to numerous places where one has to wait for what ever service is provided at said location. Dr, dentist, lawyer, barber and town hall are just a few. Out of all of them, the barber I mentioned and the pediatrician I took my sons to NJ were the only 2 that kept hi fi mags to read while you wait. I was the only person I ever saw at either place pick up and read them. Hi fi mags were the ONLY kind the barber had in his shop. Most of his customers brought their own mags or books to read. I never saw or heard any other customer show any interest in his system at all whatsoever. The kids' dr had mags on many other subjects. People read those. I had to dig to the bottom of the pile to find the hi fi mags. In other places, mags about every other subject were present. People, Cat Fancy, Dog Fancy, Golf Digest, U.S. News & World Report, Life, Popular Photography are just a few of the many that were present and read. People at the kid doc and barber shop thought I was weird for reading about audio.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2381
Registered: Oct-07
Good question. IF you're a Mac / Bryston / or AR. level company with some advertising $$ to burn, and want value what DO you do? Well, you can't sell sound without hearing it. So unless you can actually lure someone in for a demo...in which case all bets are off, you must sell some intangible benefit or prestige factor. The 'your life will be better off with good music played thru our equipment'....approach.

Selling cars? appearance sells. any visual media will work. Ever LISTEN to a TV ad for cars? They all sound like a Ferrari. Nobody goes looking for a fridge to boost prestige or as a lifestyle choice....except perhaps Viking buyers or hi-end Bosch.

You've got 2 different groups. The EyeCandy / possession group and the SQ group driven solely by what their ears tell them.

Mac really hit on a gold mine with the blue / meter look. Pass is distinctive. Burmeister? Chrome and more Chrome (cleaning nightmare). I'd never seen MB before last weeks show, and must admit the clean white look is killer, even if the amp is as large as a steamer trunk. The owner of an EyeCandy system was assured it was tops.

The SQ folk could care less. Appearence is 2ndary to performance. If the spouse will go for it, even the listening area may have some strange treatments. The system may be eclectic but the SQ upside potential is awesome.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1066
Registered: Dec-06
Again, it seems everyone has Mac or Audio Research on the mind. Let's start with NAD and their ilk. You don't have to be wealthy to buy a NAD integrated with PSB speakers, so you can target a much wider audience. Getting people into stores that sell NAD would also ensure they see the higher end brands (some of which might even be owned by NAD). Offer an upgrade program and give them a reason to consider buying up when they've got more money.

Again, 9 out of 10 people probably don't even know about entry level hifi, or hifi dealers. As someone in the marketing department of a company like NAD, would you consider that a good thing? I don't see how getting the NAD name some more mindshare is a bad thing. You'll never get a person into a hifi shop that sells your product if you never get onto their radar nor even try. If you do then you've got a shot. The attitude espoused in this thread is completely defeatist. If the likes of NAD do not have the financial means to run some mainstream ads and come up with something creative (that's what marketing people are hired to do, btw) then I guess that's that and I'm wrong. But I suspect there is more they could do, if they weren't quite so conservative. It's not like the only ads we see on a daily basis are from multi-billion dollar conglomerates who are selling products that 9 out of 10 people desire plus are affordable, yet this seems to be what you guys are suggesting is a requirement for running a mainstream ad.

I'm not arguing that hifi can become mainstream, all I'm saying is that surely they can take some chances at growing the user base and educating the public on the benefits of a product. Again, pretty standard as far as Marketing goes.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1459
Registered: Oct-10
Well Dan, if you really are convinced that high end companies should advertise to the main stream market, then you should contact the heads of their marketing departments. Discuss your ideas with them and see what they have to say. If nothing else, you will probably gain some understanding of their marketing strategy. You might not agree with them, but it's not your job on the line if such ads fail to yield results.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4449
Registered: May-05
I'm gone for a day and I miss all this.

Dan,

You're making my point for me. Exactly what I'm thinking, yet you put it much better, so I'll leave it at that, more or less.

High end hifi will never be mainstream. High end anything else won't either. It just seems like everyone in this hobby is so afraid of a few companies getting their names out there, manufacturers included.
Here's a great example of what I mean...

A few years ago, I posted about Magnolia in Best Buy carrying Martin Logan and a few others. One poster said 'great, now I can hear Puff Daddy being cranked on Martin Logans pushed against the wall.'. What's wrong with the masses hearing Martin Logans? Do you really think the masses seeing and hearing anything higher end than the norm is bad for the hobby? Only if you're an elitist doucher IMO.

As far as McIntosh getting their name out there...

I've met several people who've lived in Binghamton. Not a single one heard of McIntosh. One is a friend's father. He owns 2 houses (4if you include giving both of his sons a 25% downpayment on a $500k house).

He has an extensive vinyl collection, and my friend recently bought him a Sony TT to play them on. He and his wife go out to concerts all the time (along with Broadway). He knows live music. He loves music. He had no clue McIntosh existed until I mentioned it. And he lived in Binghamton for 25 years.

Shouldn't McIntosh and others try to reach out to a guy like that? He's not into movies and TV either.

Then there's a former athlete of mine. His father is a contractor in Manhattan who's built several skyscrapers. He has an Amex Black card. My former athlete went to concerts in NYC every weekend. He owned a Sony stereo that he listened to everyday. Shouldn't a hifi company try to reach him?

He bought a Naim system after I told him about my favorite shop. It was a Nait 5i/CD 5i and can't remember the speakers, but why should I have had to tell him about what's out there? He can afford anything he wants. Good thing he found out for himself that Bose sucks. But he thought Sony was as good as it gets.

There's plenty of people out there that would appreciate a good stereo. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant. But if a few companies bothered to try to get their name out there and actually create a market again, we would all have a few friends who get where we're coming from with all this. Other than my former athlete, I know one person personally who has a system better than what Best Buy's slinging. He was a music professor at a college I used to work at. I mentioned him and my pointing him in the Rega direction here before.

I just don't get why there's really no one trying to get more business. I guess they've got their excuses.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1067
Registered: Dec-06
^ Exactly, Stu. Examples of people you've turned onto hifi, something that the hifi companies are supposed to be doing.

On the train ride home I mulled this over. I've got a few ideas, one of which is killer in my humble opinion.

Now, for some reason we've all focused on magazine ads in a publication like GQ. There are many more options. TV ads, billboards, ads on a bus terminal, etc. You just have to use your imagination.

Here's what one ad can be based on:

NAD - Real HiFi at Real Prices
www.nadelectronics.com

A bit more fleshed out:

Your iPod is great on the road. At home you should hear what real music sounds like. www.nadelectronics.com
NAD - Real HiFi at Real Prices

Pretty simple and to the point. Gets the message across in basically one line.

Now, how about doing a deal with some golf courses? Put a NAD/PSB system inside a clubhouse at a large and popular course. I don't play golf so I don't know if these places like to have some music playing. If not then fine, but if so it will provide some music for the clubhouse, but also allow people to listen. NAD and PSB flyers can be nearby for those interested in learning more. Volume can be controlled as I doubt they want a rock concert happening in their clubhouse.

Here's the killer idea:

How about doing a deal with HMV? HMV here in Canada is our main music store. They sell videogames, music CDs, and DVD/Blu-Ray movies. You wouldn't put a system in every store, but what about their superstores in major cities? In Toronto the HMV superstore is three floors. One entire floor is stocked with music CDs. They even have a vinyl section.

NAD and PSB pay for a bit of space to set up a demo room. HMV could sell the gear. Limit it to the entry level amp/CDP and speaker in the lines to protect the dealer network if that's important. "Want a NAD C355 - that's further up the line, you'll have to contact a NAD dealer. Here's a list of ones nearby."

NAD/PSB could ensure the system is set up properly, and people could listen and hear what a great system sounds like. Helps CD sales if people do get hooked, helps HMV if they can move some systems, and needless to say it gets the NAD and PSB names out there. They will be seen by a hell of a lot more people than they currently are. What does either HMV or NAD/PSB have to lose?

I chose NAD/PSB, but frankly it could be any of the entry level hifi brands. It would be a better fit than a golf course as you'd expect to hear music at HMV.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2388
Registered: Oct-07
I can hear it now.....'Well, man, it sounds OK, but where do I plug my IPod in?'.

Seriously, though, I think Dan/Stu are on to something.

Ya' still gotta get all major buying decisions past the uberfurher...and contend with WAF.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4450
Registered: May-05
What would be a good McIntosh ad?
A very simple one -

A picture of a Mac system or just an integrated like the MA6900 on a plain background. Have the company logo above it, and "Handmade in Binghamton, New York since 1949." On a bottom corner have "For a dealer near you, visit www.mcintoshlabs.com"

None of the absurd ads like others do in Stereophile, et al. I think 99% of the ads in those mags are ridiculous.

A company like NAD and PSB could get a little edgier and try to bring in the younger crowd along with the rest. Possibly get a musician endorsing the product. Without Dr. Dre, would Beats by Dr. Dre get any attention?
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1461
Registered: Oct-10
All of your ideas sound great to me Dan, they really do. However, if you talk to the marketing guys at Nad, they might have tried things like that. Picture a golf club's 19th hole. They may very well have a real audio system with a sign up that says some sort of ad slogan about Nad and perhaps the speakers used. So here come the golfers. They've been out in the sun all day playing golf. They're a little tired and all they wanna do is sit back, drink and talk about whatever's on their minds. How likely is it that even one of is going to be paying any real attention to the music? I can assure you, it's about zero.

There was an avid golfer I knew in NJ. He had a big house, a Caddy, SUV for his wife, Camero for his son, swimming pool, etc. The home screen on his PC was a golf course and whenever he closed a program, the program would roll up into a golf ball and a club would hit it and you'd hear the sound of the club hitting a ball. So what was his idea of an audio system? An RCA boombox.

Face it guys, audiophiles are a rare breed. There just aren't many of us around and there aren't very many potential audiophiles out there. I fear Dan and Stu, that two of you are destined for a very frustrating experience if you try to change this fact. I don't blame you. I wish more people were into this stuff too, but they're just not as sad as that is. I know by now I must seem hopelessly cynical on this subject, but at least by talking about audio in here, we know we're not alone.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1462
Registered: Oct-10
To further illustrate my point, one of my current neighbors banks at a credit union in the city. He said that last year one branch raffled off a blu-ray play with 3 movies. Another raffled off a flat screen TV. Now, we're not even touching on any kind of audio/HT system here. Each branch raised a few hundred for the charity over about a month. This year, both branches he goes to are raffling off grills. In just one week, one branch raised a couple thousand! If, instead of a tv & blu-ray player, they tried to raffle off a Nad amp, how much $ do you think they'd have raised?
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1068
Registered: Dec-06
If the audio companies thought like you James, and they probably do, then I'm not surprised audiophiles are such a rare breed. Again, I'm not saying they will ever be mainstream, but if you don't promote your product then you shouldn't be surprised when it's ignored.

In your raffle example, the NAD would not have raised much money. In part because no one has a clue what NAD is or why it's worth owning.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1463
Registered: Oct-10
The problem here Dan is not how audio cos think or how I think. It's how the general public thinks. Less than 1% of the population of the free world is interested in hi fi. It bothers me to no extent that there are people I see everyday who could easily afford a $1/4 millon system and don't even want a $1k system, but that's how it is. Just like you, I wish there were more of us, but there just aren't. Yes, I think we should try to expose people to audio, but not hit them over the head with it. I feel that my approach is a good one. Someone comes over, music is on. If the guest shows interest, great, if not, oh well. Better luck next time. People tend to be more receptive this way. There is nothing in it for me other than the possible joy of seeing another person adopt audio as a hobby.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1069
Registered: Dec-06
At this point we are kind of going around in circles. Your method may work, but it's on such a small scale. How many people will you convert to high end over your lifetime? An ad can reach 1000x more people than you personally can.

And an ad from an audio company is no more hitting people over the head than is an ad for a car or a new food product or whatever. The beauty with running well placed ads is that you reach a lot of people. Whoever is interested will pay attention and seek out your product, whoever isn't will turn away from your ad and focus on something else. It's pretty much up to the viewer. If other companies said "let's not hit people over the head" then we'd never see ads. But that isn't how things work. The other thing is that people do no view ads as hitting them over the head. Ads are a part of everyday life. I'm not saying NAD should resort to telemarketing!
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1465
Registered: Oct-10
Yes, we are going around in circles and yes ads can reach a great deal more pairs of eyes than the number of pairs of ears I can reach. How many people have I personally turned on to audio? ONE! How many people get into audio because of ads though? Most people won't even pick up a hi fi mag in the dr's office, let alone read an ad for piece of gear.

So with that, I can only tell you this. If you are really interested in persuing this idea, you should talk to the heads of marketing at cos that make hi fi gear. Listen to have with an open mind rather than assuming that they are giving you excuses. Do NOT get your hopes up. The chances of them advertising as you suggest is slim to none. Even if 1 or 2 companies does so, the number of audiophiles worldwide is not going to increase significantly. I promise you that. I sincerely wish that it would. Again, at least we, they few, the crazy, the audiophiles can meet here to talk about this hobby.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2390
Registered: Oct-07
The only trouble I see with traditional advertising of hi-end is that you can't HEAR IT.
Hearing is believing.

At least in car ads, they can 'sell the sizzle'. Smoking tires or fancy maneuvers or a warehouse full of groceries and kids. And don't forget the Merc or BMW ads that all sound like airplanes taking off.....prop planes, not jets!
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2391
Registered: Oct-07
It is rumored that T.H.E. Show up in Orange County blew threw the 5000 name tag holders they had on hand by early Sunday.
Wow, that would barely fill the Bleachers at a Yankee game.

Don't forget EVERY one who bought space at that show is right now doing a Cost / Benefit to see if the time/money spent being there gave ANY return on investment.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1466
Registered: Oct-10
Exactly Leo! You can't hear it!

One must also remember that the marketing guys went to school for marketing. The same strategy that moves a given type of vehicle is not going to move $5k+ amps.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1070
Registered: Dec-06
Well, people sure aren't going to hear it if you don't try to pique their interest and get them into a store that carries your product. <--- another reason marketing guys went to school, to figure out how to sell a product that isn't necessarily easy to sell. After all, if all a company should market is stuff that is easy to sell, why even require good and creative marketing students? Why even require marketing, period?

You guys talk like this is impossible based on the very limited anecdotal experiences in your own personal lives. When did you last see an attempt to sell hifi to anyone but stuffy audiophiles? How can you be sure it won't succeed? The idea is not to turn half the U.S. population into audiophiles, it's to drive traffic into hifi dealers, and create a bit of awareness of a few brands on the level of NAD or Cambridge. Is that really so crazy?

I can't really put it any better than that, so if we still disagree then I guess we'll have to agree to do so.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1467
Registered: Oct-10
Ok Dan, you're the guy who believes it can happen. Go for it! Please prove me wrong! I gave up on average Joe and his wealthy counterpart yrs ago. I can assure you of one thing though, I have had loads of experience trying to even get someone to discuss audio just a little. I have a list of such experiences mile and miles long. Let me tell something Dan. The one golfer I know thinks I am crazy for not only hating golf, but for caring about sound quality. This guy would buy a $1million golf club if someone made one to his liking. Yet he won't even spend a couple hundred to have a just barely decent system.

So, I do encourage you to try, but be prepared to be very dissapointed. Again, I sincerely hope I am wrong. You'll be my favorite audiophile in the whole world if you're right!
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4451
Registered: May-05
Your premise that it can't effectively be advertised because it cant be heard is severely flawed at best. One needs to look no further than Bose to disprove that notion.

I think you're not truly understanding what Dan and I are getting at. The point isn't to convert the masses to high end owning audiophiles. The point is to inform the masses that there's more options than what's on the floor at Best Buy.

My (and I assume Dan's) point is that the audio manufacturers and dealers are doing the hobby no favors by not trying to reach a broader audience. If they don't seek the next generation of customers, they'll go the way of the horse and buggy IMO.

To bring the thread back to the beginning, the hifi mags not being in places like B&N does no one any favors. The gear is practically non-existent any where else. Without gear on the cover of a magazine on a rack in a store, where else are they going to hear about it?

People trash Bose, and for many good reasons. However, they're the only ones who keeps 'good sound' in the public's conscious. And if you font think there's any significant market for good sound, stop by a Bose store. They've got customers. They sell far more inventory than any brick and mortar store I know of.

And no one is talking about bombarding the public with ads. I'm talking about a few print, tv, and radio ads. Ever see a hifi shop advertise outside of the hifi mags? I know of one in the Albany, NY area. Interestingly enough, they're the only one in that area that's been around for any length of time. Many have come and gone. A lot of them carried higher end stuff too. That place recognizes that NAD and Cambridge are their bread and butter. They carry Sony, and when customers come in looking for it, it's demoed directly against a hifi brand of equal cost. They don't sell very many Sony units compared to hifi brands for obvious reasons.

In their ads, they mention Sony first, to get some attention, followed by NAD, Cambridge, McIntosh, and B&W. Everyone in the area knows the name Hippo's. And the salesmen wear polo shirts and aren't pushy in any way. No uptightness. They take pretty good care of their customers after the sale too.

I bought everything from them when I lived there.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4452
Registered: May-05
Long story short, there is a market for good sounding gear. The build it and they'll come approach isn't working. The ones who'll go out looking for customers will do well. The ones who don't will eventually fall by the wayside IMO. Too many manufacturers and dealers are too content with sitting on their backsides and complaining that no one likes good sound anymore.

B&W selling the Zeppelin and Zeppelin Mini is a good start. At least that gets them some exposure. I've seen a few people buy them in the Apple Store. Hopefully they'll like what they hear and look into what else B&W makes.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14475
Registered: Feb-05
Personally I see a lot of efforts by manufacturers to reach more folks. Folks just aren't reaching back. No matter where I talk about music and hifi the only folks who are interested in more than the typical pop culture BS are folks who are already interested in something other than pop culture BS. On this I understand where James is coming from...that said one can't give up.

We have audio retailers who advertise on radio, TV and in the paper. They talk about every format (in down to earth terms) that you can imagine and still can't get any interest.

Audio is and always will be a small niche market.

Still there are kids here that are interested in music and stereo. Every time I go into my local record store there are 20 somethings looking through the records. There are enough to keep one local record dealer just 3 record deals from bankruptcy (I mean that as he had to sell his home last year just to keep his business going, he rents now) and not enough to sustain one single credible audio dealer within 40 miles. My friend who was a dealer in the area for 30 plus years just retired (again one step ahead of bankruptcy).

Not sure what to make of it all as I see more variety in audio than ever before but it's more differences without distinction that distinct differences and the gap gets narrower and narrower.

Still the best is head and shoulders above the mundane and the mundane becomes more similar to each other. That said the mundane is quite listenable whereas only the best of the best is not so esoteric as to only appeal only to a few who's taste the designer catered to from the jump.

Just my opinion, YMMV!
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2396
Registered: Oct-07
My closest hi-end guy had a room at T.H.E. up in Orange County. He is small, but man, what a selection and a great knowledge base.

I don't know that Bose is the best example. Everybody KNOWS that Bose is 'the best'. I get laughed at for sneering at Bose fans....even after I say that I'd love to demo them a real system.

Same goes for the gas BBQ fans. Nothing'l convince them that real charcoal or one of those Traegers is the way to go......

But yes, Dan/Stu, I get it. It may end up to be a chicken / egg problem. How do you generate the customer base to generate the revenue to generate the customer base to generate the revenue?
I don't know how to break into the 'loop'.

As kind of an aside, car guys have had some upscale results advertising various hi-end names as in-car stereo. ML, Bose (I know) and at least one other whose name escapes me at the moment. An ADDITIONAL selling point for someone already interested in an upscale car. tip the balance? I doubt it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1330
Registered: Jul-07
It may well be that the marketing dept's of the major brands are adapting to the tools and technologies now available to them. Perhaps they've determined that internet advertising is a far more precise and less costly means of reaching prospective Customers....as compared to an add in a magazine. On the internet they know exactly how many people viewed the add, how many clicked on it, how long they stayed there, etc. It's difficult to get any business intelligence from a magazine article or some other common traditional advertising method.

I don't know this of course, just speculating. The question of who to market to is again a cost/benefit consideration. Am I trying to sell to existing audiophiles (get them to buy MY product instead of the other guys) or am I trying to convert a non-audiophile and then get him to buy my stuff. I'm sure many of the companies have made a business decision on which way to go based on what theyve been effective with in the past.....and of course, non of us know those numbers.....which is why we can only go round and round. One question at hand is, how much does it cost them per acquired Customer to go after existing audiophiles vs aquiring the converts. The other question that comes to mind is, why are we assuming we should be converting anybody ? Why do we think someone should not be happy with what they already have ? We've become a society of unhappiness because we always seek something more than what we have. If someone is dancing to the music already, why do we want to take away their boombox ?
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2398
Registered: Oct-07
Good points, chris.

I addressed the cost per customer question in a prior post......I'm sure the bean counters are looking over sales numbers after T.H.E. Show to see if they got a 'bump' out of it. All advertising is analyzed for impact. The way they figure out which is which is by devices such as 'Enter Code X35 when ordering'. Well, X35 means the ad was in Sports Illustrated. Each mag advertised in has its OWN code so they can trace who saw what when where and perhaps the important WHY! That's why radio guys say 'enter my name (John) when ordering for our special discount'.... Well, the discount may or may not be special, but entering the name tells the company the how successful the ad was.

You're also correct in the fact that targeted ads aimed at particular users are becoming the norm. My computer and by extension, Google, know more about me than I do. I'll NEVER get ads for girl stuff or hair care products. (I'm having a bad hair life)

I think converting the non-audiophile may be primarily the religious converting urge in all of us. How can a non-audiophile properly enjoy life?
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1468
Registered: Oct-10
Well said Chris!

Dan & Stu, now is the time to talk to the marketing guys. If you can sway some of them to advertise as you suggest and a year from now, interest in audio as a whole as increased by even 1%, I will consider myself proven wrong. I will celebrate your success.

I know darn well that no one is talking about turning the masses into audiophiles. Yes, it's about reaching the few, but again, presentation without demonstration is conversation. Even Bose knew this when they introduced the wave radio. I don't know (or care) if they still do this, but at that time Bose allowed people to audition the wave in their homes for 30 days before buying it. Who is going to pay $350 for a table radio $500 for one with a cd player without hearing it 1st? So, to say that notion that people won't buy it if they don't hear it 1st is "severely flawed at best" is like saying it's foolish to expect the sun to set tonight and rise again tomorrow. I've lived a lot of years and the sun hasn't failed me yet. Who is going to buy a system costing between $5000 and $250k w/o hearing it first. When I bought my $50 boombox for work, I listened to it first. Ok?
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1071
Registered: Dec-06
Stu didn't say that, James. He argued that you can advertise effectively without people needing to hear a system. Not that they'd buy it without hearing it. Big difference! Bose is a great example of this. Most people know the name Bose, and what they make. People want to buy Bose products in part because they associate Bose with high quality. Of course, that's a mistaken assumption, but that's what is happening. It shows that people are interested in quality, they just aren't aware of all their options. And who's fault is that?

In Toronto there is one dealer that advertises regularly. Bay Bloor Radio - they've been around a long time and seem to be doing well. Being in a rich area doesn't hurt I'm sure. And they are the one high end store that sells Bose. They focus on HT a lot too. But the point is you can walk in and hear Naim, Arcam, Totem, KEF, etc. We may have one or two other dealers who run ads, but I tend to only hear BBR ads.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14479
Registered: Feb-05
"It shows that people are interested in quality, they just aren't aware of all their options. And who's fault is that?"

In my opinion it's theirs. Just because high end audio manufacturers don't advertise in a way that some of us view as effective does not abdicate the buyer from any responsibility relative to research. It doesn't take but a few minutes online to find where one can call or visit to start asking questions. Problem is folks want it to be easy. They are relieved to know that Bose is there for them. All the less work for them. No research to be done as Bose has done it all for them through successful marketing.

Bose has also targeted both halves of the household. Their systems are small and unobtrusive leaving whichever half of the household that is more interested in aesthetics than sound happy.

Bose has done more than just advertise they have researched and successfully targeted the entire family. At one time nearly every manufacturer followed suit and attempted their hand at the lifestyle market only to be paddled by the Bose machine. Some are still at it, I wish them luck...

Many have gone back to what they do best which is to sell hifi to that small segment of the market that is their bread and butter.

The HiFi gospel won't be spread through advertising IMO it will continue on through those folks who love music and through happenstance.

Folks just happen to know someone who has a system and "man does that sound good"...moments of discovery through experience it seems is more often than not how this starts for many of us. Advertising only interested me after I was on to this stuff, how about you?
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1469
Registered: Oct-10
Between posting, I sincerely hope you guys are calling heads of marketing and talking to them about this. Telling me or any other op here what a great idea it is to plug high end on tv, radio and pop culture mags does not prove your point.

You must remember, high end audio cos thought of placing ads in the same media long before you did. There must a legit reason why they didn't do that. My guess is that they already know that they'd spend millions only to make a couple thou in sales, if that. If these companies are currently or should become in danger of going out of business, miss placed ads that'll be ignored by 99% of the population are not going to save them. I can hear my wife now. "Look honey! McIntosh is advertising in 'Good Housekeeping!" Uh,....yeah! Uh huh. Sure!

I spoke to some marketing experts today. I simply asked them if they thought hi fi should be plugged in the general media. All of them, 2 of which are audiophiles said "NO!" They site same reasons I do.

Yes, most people had heard of Bose before the wave came along, but they still provided the customer with an out.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1470
Registered: Oct-10
Also, read Art, Leo and Chris's posts more than once each.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1471
Registered: Oct-10
Advertising only interested me after I was on to this stuff. How about you?"

DITTO!
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1072
Registered: Dec-06
Well, advertising never did interest me. I'm talking about it because Stu brought it up. I have opinions on it but after this thread I will go back to barely ever thinking about it.

Besides, how could I be interested in hifi companies and their advertising before I was turned on to them? I didn't even know they existed, which is precisely the problem.

I do agree with Art that this is partly the consumers' fault. I made that point a little earlier. But it's also partly the fault of the industry.

James, I'm not going to bother calling any companies. I don't expect they will want to take advice on how to run their operations from someone who appeared out of the blue. One more thing, James...I noticed your threw around the millions of dollars for advertising. How much do you think a joint campaign with a retail store like HMV would cost? There are benefits for HMV as well...could be they'd give NAD/PSB the space they need at no cost.

There are lots of opportunities for creative and effective campaigns if one thinks outside the box, but a website redesign and another ad in HiFi Choice is a lot easier.

I don't think we will ever see eye to eye on this. Most in this thread assume 99% of the public will never get hifi and therefore it's a waste to even attempt reaching them. I think Stu and I see that this hobby is such a niche thing partly because of the level of unawareness out there, and that if you could just get these people in for a demo you'd get many of them buying hifi. Even if they aren't buying a Mac, they might buy a Cambridge 550R and Monitor Audio Bronze speakers. Modest by any measure and not a much greater expense than buying a Sony receiver with Bose speakers. But that one interaction might lead to a sale of a Mac amp down the road.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14482
Registered: Feb-05
"Most in this thread assume 99% of the public will never get hifi and therefore it's a waste to even attempt reaching them."

Not sure that's true, Dan. I certainly don't think it's a waste to try and reach them. We simply view the "how" to reach them differently. I see it more as a grassroots kind of thing and I think you feel that the manufacturers/dealers should be doing more to reach out and educate or seduce more folks into this hobby. In truth it's probably a little of both.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1073
Registered: Dec-06
I agree, Art. The grassroots thing will always be a big part of it, and will probably apply to its greatest extent for the higher end stuff (Bryston, Mac, Naim, etc.). I just think there would also be benefits from reaching out to the broader market, and trying to articulate why someone might rather own Monitor Audio Bronze rather than Sony or, if they've got the money, Monitor Audio Gold rather than Bose. I agree that people should find out their options on their own, but if they aren't going to do that then I think you have to find them.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1472
Registered: Oct-10
"James, I'm not going to bother calling any companies. I don't expect they will want to take advice on how to run their operations from someone who appeared out of the blue."

Exactly! They've got! However, I still think you should call them and ask questions. You have nothing to lose and possibly a little understanding to gain.

I was refering to the kind of advertising you seemed to be suggesting all along. That kind is neither free nor cheap. What you're suggesting now might be cheaper, but free? I kind of doubt that. The next question is, how many people are really going to see such ads and end up buying? Very few if any at all. In any case, I would imagine these companies thought of it already and if it was cheap enough, even tried it.

Again, while it's not any of our jobs to expose people to audio, no one can obligate us to do so, I believe whole heartedly that this the best way. It will only yeild 1 audiophile per 100 exposures at best, but that's about the best way. What does it cost? A cup of coffee? A glass of wine? A beer or 2? What are the results? A pleasant evening with a friend. One in which there is about a 1% chance that an audiophile will be born thereby enhancing your friendship. That to me is worth more than can be measured in dollars and cents.
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