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Podcast: Losing the Next Generation of Audiophiles – Roundtable Discussion

The ecoustics team discusses the problems holding back the audiophile community, and the challenges of attracting a new generation of hi-fi enthusiasts.

The high-end audio industry has a problem that has been swept under the rug for decades. Age. The ecoustics team takes a deep dive into the generational issue and why it’s been so hard to attract the next generation of audiophiles. Is it the culture or prices that have made it so hard to attract new blood? 

Sponsored by: Black Circle Radio – All Vinyl Programming Since 2009

Where to listen:

This episode features commentary from the ecoustics team:

Show notes:

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Referenced articles:


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  1. Mike Cornell

    September 16, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    Interesting discussion. I’m not sure I even like the term ‘Audiophile’ any more. To me it denotes that stereo-(pun intended?)type: guy sitting alone in his acoustically-treated sound room, huge equipment rack, garden-hose cables, lifters etc only listening to ‘audiophile’ music as the system is so resolving, anything else sounds like crap, single chair for the ‘sweet spot’. I got into music/hi-fi in the early 70’s (like Ian, at about 13 years old) and a decent hi-fi was simply a way to make my music sound good and more enjoyable. Listening to music was a more communal thing back then, not a solitary pleasure. I think hi-fi companies need to design for the real world, not the listening room. Make speakers that sound good where people put them, not 5′ out into the room. Make equipment that is decor-friendly, that people want to display, and make it easy to set-up/use, so that everyone in the family can enjoy it. (I know, there are ‘lifestyle’ products that fit the bill, but we need more of them). And yeah, if Instagram is where people are hanging out, viewing and learning about music and hi-fi, then that’s where you need to be. Maybe we need a new term, as ‘audiophile’ seems to carry with it a lot of negative connotations. But what that term would be…? Anyway, keep up the great work, guys ‘n gals….you are first rate.

    • Ian White

      September 16, 2021 at 10:28 pm


      Thank you for listening and your very kind words.

      I really hate the term “Audiophile” and have felt that way for many years. When I was a teenager, one of my friends pointed at me when the issue of hifi came up and said “Ask the audiophile…”

      It wasn’t a compliment. It meant “nerd,” “audio snob,” and “dork who sits alone in his bedroom moving his speakers around.”

      I agree with everything that you wrote but I do think companies are trying to build products that work better in the room without having to follow every audiophile rule.

      I’m not convinced that “audiophiles” and “music listeners” are really the same thing because I know plenty of audiophiles who are obsessed with gear and “sound” vs music.

      Ian White

  2. Mike Cornell

    September 17, 2021 at 12:09 am

    Hey, Ian….a couple of points:
    Although I said, and do believe, that hi-fi is a means to more fully enjoy great music, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t into the gear too, though in my case, most of my gear is pushing 40 years old!
    That was a pretty nice system you were gifted! I wasn’t gifted our family stereo, but as it was a Clairtone console,I know the stereo I bought with my savings sounded better. (though when the Clairtone was put out to pasture, I wish I’d grabbed the tube amp out of it)
    I guess part of the reason I enjoy this hobby is that, in addition to loving music, I’ve always loved sound. In fact, one of Steve Guttenberg’s followers that he profiled said that he loved music, but also the ‘sound’ of music. (and I don’t mean the movie!)
    I really identified with that.
    Maybe Dirac will be the answer to speaker placement issues for real living situations.
    As I approach retirement, I’m wrestling with what kind of system I want to see me through my retirement years. Trying to keep it simple (integrated amp – analogue) but being old school, I need tone controls ;-). , a nice turntable, simple streamer and speakers.

    • Ian White

      September 17, 2021 at 7:17 am


      It was. I was 13 and while most Bar Mitzvah boys wanted a new TV, skis, or expensive hockey equipment…I desperately wanted the stereo. My Father upgraded soon after with the a far more expensive system and I was never allowed to touch it.

      I worked from 14 to 19 at the family business and saved every penny for my first “audiophile” system at 19 and new goalie pads.

      I also added hundreds of records and CDs during this period which I still have. My movie obsession started at age 7 but I didn’t start collecting films until I was 17. 3,700 movies later on LD, DVD, and UHD 4K…I’m more of a movie person. Don’t tell anyone.

      I’m working on a similar system right now.

  3. Craig Stenstrom

    September 17, 2021 at 11:46 pm

    Great to see younger music lovers with positive online audio experiences!

    • Ian White

      September 18, 2021 at 2:54 pm


      We’re definitely trying. Our staff is very diverse in their beliefs and experiences and it helps us see where things need to change.

      The industry in some circles is moving in the right direction. In other areas — not so much.

      Ian White

  4. RJ Sen

    September 21, 2021 at 11:32 am

    The term audiophile can be off putting but if you are talking about younger people caring about high quality audio, they don’t. Younger people think, and are told to think that airpods, or anything to do with apple, is the be all end all when it comes to audio. If that is the case and they don’t go beyond just apple products, then you won’t have that next generation of audiophiles.

    • Ian White

      September 21, 2021 at 4:53 pm


      I’m not sure that’s 100% true. Young people are buying expensive headphones, portable headphone amplifiers, and turntables so I don’t think it’s a lost cause. Not yet.

      Ian White

  5. Manny Elgarresta

    September 21, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    I think it also has a lot, and I’m sorry to say this, with the community. I don’t want to make the place, but a visit to one of the more popular audio shops my area is quite the experience. Unfortunately, it’s a negative one. First, you are blasted in the face with cigarette smoke. Yes. Cigarette smoke. In 2021. And the staff is just what everyone imagines. Long haired 70’s time capsules with the stereotypical negative attitudes toward newbies. Not welcoming to the average 25-30 year old millennial.

    Then there is the other side of the coin. On the other side of town. A boutique audio shop that is absolutely gorgeous with wide open airy spaces, wonderful listening rooms and amazing equipment displayed as modern art. In fact it feels like a museum. And the prices are as breathtaking as if these were made by Banksy. Super friendly staff, but nothing for the noob.

    So what do they end up doing? They take their phones out of their pockets, go to Amazon and buy a Sonos or some cheap Chinese knock off for $400 and they are happy. One less audio hobbyist.

    • Ian White

      September 21, 2021 at 4:52 pm


      A lot to unpack here but I agree with you 100%.

      The older traditional stores are very unwelcoming to women — my wife of 20 years has a long list of bad experiences she can detail if one doesn’t think that’s true.

      I grew up at Bay Bloor Radio in Toronto that was a mixture of both types of stores but with a much better mix of products one could afford.

      New concepts like Focal Powered by Naim are a step in the right direction; but I agree that they need some additional products that are more affordable. Naim/Focal are trying to create a welcoming space that is full of things you can try (including headphones) without feeling the pressure of a salesperson breathing down your neck.

      I toured the Focal Houston location and really liked it.

      But I agree…the industry has to change quickly or face much bigger long-term financial issues.

      Ian White

  6. Brian W

    June 16, 2022 at 8:58 pm

    Young people spend tons of money on live music and streaming music. Young people move around a lot. Unless you have the time, space, and money to acoustically treat a room, this high-end stereo equipment won’t be much fun, compared to a set of $600 AirPods Max. Just one person’s opinion.

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