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Are "boomers" the key to high resolution audio? I think so...


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#1 of 139 Lee Scoggins

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Posted November 30 2003 - 10:23 AM

I reflected today on two articles I read in my new copy (Dec. 03) of The Absolute Sound. One article was from David Kawakami, head of Sony SACD project, and the other was Bob Stuart of Meridian Audio, inventors in part of key DVDA technology.

In the first article, David discusses the view that baby boomers are likely buyers of the new improved sound. A large segment of the US population is aging and Sony feels that these people have the disposable income and interest to spend time on music for pleasure and its nostalgic benefit. David sees an MP3 world among Generation Y that over time graduates to the more expensive yet far better sonic quality of high resolution audio. He also slams the music industry for suing filesharers-the only major label critic I have seen on this point...

Bob Stuart discusses the merits of DVDA but then goes into some detail about the value of the multi-media experience and the Home Theater niche.

It seems to me that both men are on to something here. Maybe hirez will exist as a more permanent, stable niche that encompasses both audiophile and home theater fans but is distinguishable by one major characteristic age!

Maybe the best end run for a major label is to educate and develop the market for hirez and work to get people to pay extra for better quality content (maybe more content as well-such as bonus tracks, video, etc.) than maybe a legal $0.99 download or illegal file share.

So for all our at times contentious arguing here, maybe the question is not:

Will hirez overtake redbook CD?

but rather:

Will people move from MP3 to premium paying hirez customers?

What do you think?
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#2 of 139 Jon_Welker

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Posted November 30 2003 - 12:12 PM

Too bad David and Bob are too busy trying to get '70's musice re-released on multi-channel audio to miss the the younger crowd who is interested in these hi-rez formats, and wish there would be more contemporary artists released on SACD and DVD-A. I'm 28, and I know there are a lot of other members on this forum in the same age range as I am who are audio enthusiasts and HT buffs, and feel the same as I do. It's a crying shame that I've had this capability (multi-channel audio) since last spring, and only have 5 discs (2 DVD-A; 3 SACD). And, of those 5, only 3 are discs that I would consider have a younger fan base. It's not only the baby boomers who can afford this capability, but there are many younger folks who have the disposable income for this as well. Here's something else to think about, how much does this technology and hooking it up, and fully understanding how it works, confuse baby boomers? I think they need to widen the target market, and start releasing discs aimed at a younger audience. Just my thoughts anyway...
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#3 of 139 Lee Scoggins

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Posted November 30 2003 - 01:15 PM

Quote:
wish there would be more contemporary artists released on SACD and DVD-A


Well the picture is certainly improving...there are releases from many popular artists in hirez like Flaming Lips, Beck, Deathcab for Cutie, Ludacris, etc.

Quote:
I think they need to widen the target market, and start releasing discs aimed at a younger audience.


Maybe so, but it appears from reading David's comments that they are working on the boomer audiophiles first and slowly widening out.
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#4 of 139 Blake G

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Posted November 30 2003 - 02:39 PM

This is long, and might get a little /ranty/...
and it is all in MHO.


I feel that the key to getting either of these formats to the masses is one thing and one thing only -- surround mixes released day and date with a comparable price tag. You have to understand that people (kids?) from 25 on down are driving the music industry now, whether you like it or not. Let look at the top 10 albums for 2002, in terms of sales. Both DVD-A and SACD had decent market penetration in 2002, and it has only gotten better this year, so they (the music companies) have had a whole year to get off their asses and get some of this stuff released.

as per soundscan with the number of albums after

1.the eminem show 7.61 million
2. nellyville 4.92M
3. let go/avril lavigne 4.12M
4. home/dixie chicks 3.69M
5. 8 mile soundtrack 3.5M
6. missundaztood/pink 3.14M
7. ashanti/ashanti 3.10M
8. drive/alan jackson 3.05M
9. up!/shania twain 2.91M
10. o brother where art thou soundtrack 2.74M


Out of those ten albums, you have two that have been released. That is pathetic. I have a feeling that the numbers will be even worse for this years list.

Like it or not, if the new eminem album came out on either sacd or dvda it would do more for these formats than anything else to date. I love pink floyd more than most, I even have the *original* dark side album tattooed on my shoulder blade, but I could only muster a little excitement for the DSOTM mix -- I have been listening to it on a quad-sourced DTS cd for a couple of years now.

I am platform agnostic, I used to own a Denon 9000 and a Sony 555ES, now I own an Esoteric dv-50, which is a pretty good player by all accounts. There are things about both technologies that I hate -- and to be honest, I cannot tell too much of a difference on my system between *quality* releases. Crap, however, still sounds like crap, be it 1 bit or 24 bit.

I wish that they could take the (IMHO) best features of both formats, which I see as the following:

SACD: Ease of use
Apparently better for archival purposes (I have no idea if it really is, just that that was what it was initially developed for)
DUAL LAYER HYBRID TECH -- the key to the whole enchilada if you ask me.

DVD-A: You can play the surround mix on any dvd player. Great for getting people excited about something.

On the average persons system, they cannot hear the difference between 16/44.1, 24/96, 24/192 or 1/2.82. I believe that is true. We are not the average here. We never will be. What you can hear a difference is when it goes from 2 channel to 6 channel. That is the difference maker, IMO.

Laugh all you want at the latest Britney album, or the new Jay-Z, but know that if one of the two of them were to come out on dual layer hybrid SACD or the new (is it even out yet?) flipper DVD-A and get the artist to promote it a little would do more good than bad -- can you imagine all the 11-15 year old girls wanting 'Super CD' players for christmas?

This is my take,

Blake

#5 of 139 Carl Miller

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Posted November 30 2003 - 03:50 PM

I don't agree with this theory, and frankly, I just don't understand why it's a mystery to the music industry.

Which age demographic spends the most money on music? The 13-25 segment.

So why is the music industry pushing 35 year old albums to a bunch of baby boomers in an effort to make hirez take off?

It seems pretty simple to me. Put out new music in hirez, and if there's an interest in it amongst the 13-25 year olds, it will succeed. If it's not good enough to get them to spend a few extra dollars of theirs or their parents money per disc on the format, then it's not good enough and will fail.

I just don't understand the strategy here. The music industry is trying to generate interest in hirez by marketing toward boomers so that what? A bunch of 40 year old parents will come home with DSOTM on SACD and somehow this will convince their 13 year old kids to ask their parents for an SACD player for Christmas?
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#6 of 139 Seth--L

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Posted November 30 2003 - 04:38 PM

I highly doubt "that baby boomers are likely buyers of the new improved sound." Having parents in this demographic, as well as most of my friends' parents, I doubt they will ever buy into hi-rez despite being technologically adept and financially well off. When it comes to audio/video based entertainment, most do not feel the need to buy expensive equipment. Their 15 year-old stereo and 32" inch TV get the job done. The last time that they purchased more than 5 CDs in one year was in the early 90s. They much rather spend money on expensive vacations abroad, excessive cooking equipment, dinners at 5-star restaurants, and SUVs (though if my dad's next car came with a SACD or DVD-A player as a standard feature, he'd probably buy into the format, but only because it was forced on him).
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#7 of 139 Brian+H

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Posted November 30 2003 - 06:19 PM

Again, it's the business mentality: cluelessness.

Put out Britney's new album on single inventory sacd.

Put out Christina A's next album on sin. inv. sacd.

BOOM! Kids are goona get to know about the damn format!

Warner makes money if they capitalize on that strategy.

They'd be askin their parents about it just like sayin they want the latest album from (insert unknown band name here)
parents wouldn't know sacd from Adam, but they'd look into it.
Make sense? Why is that so hard for suits who make millions a year to figure out. That's what's so frustrating to me!

I suppose boomers are a nice niche market, but come ON!
Ignore 12-18 year olds?? Why?

It makes ZERO sense, and I should add makes fewer cents, too.

Kids are so into music whether it's bass in the backseat, or a portable cd player in their room.
It's a huge base that's being ignored, and it's stupid.

Will people move from mp3 to premium? 'People' meaning mostly teenagers? Yeah in about 10 damn years! Why not go for the kids NOW?
Parents today tend to spoil kids and get them what they want.
How about a 200$ hi-res player to play Britney or Christina on?

Does that make too much sense?
Don't you see the logic hole here, Lee?

#8 of 139 Glenn Overholt

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Posted November 30 2003 - 07:12 PM

No, boomers are not the key, but somewhere along the road, somebody has been sidetracked.

First, if you'll find the infamous 'RIAA' thread, we really shouldn't be listening to them. This is the same 'outfit' that prices CD's around $18. Even after they get caught for price-fixing and lose, they appeal it.

And they still think that 'teens' are the major purchaser of music? Well, the kids have all grown up and the market should be aimed in the demographic with the most people. And they wonder why CD sales are down?

However, if you're thnking baby-boomers, then they have just messed up again. You can say, true, the baby-boomers still have their vinyl albums, and thus have no need for SACD, or whatever else they think that they are trying to shove up our asses, but a lot of these 'boomers' have changed to CD too. The records have aged, just like VHS does.

A CD (unscratched) provides a clear stereo sound that rivals the vinyl, and it has the 2 channels that they grew up to know and love. After all, you don't listen to a band by standing in the middle of the stage - you stand in front of them, and your two ears pick it all up. What would they want with anything that did something other than that?

What if SACD turns into the new 8-track? They aren't that stupid. They are going to have to convince them that any format other than CD is the way to go, and will be around at least until they die.

Glenn

#9 of 139 Lewis Besze

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Posted November 30 2003 - 09:54 PM

Quote:
Will people move from MP3 to premium paying hirez customers?
NO!
Why would they it's on the net and many time it's free.
The boomers are over 50 now,I think if there is an age group that into these formats are the 30-45 mostly IMO,but I wouldn't speculate what type of music they like.[not Britney or Eminem I hope]

#10 of 139 Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 01 2003 - 12:42 AM

Quote:
So why is the music industry pushing 35 year old albums to a bunch of baby boomers in an effort to make hirez take off?


I think many here are missing my point. The point is that the industry sees that boomers are a segment growing fast and they have a lot of disposable income. They are thinking that getting a niche among these boomers who can spend extra for better sound and older albums that are in part on hirez already is a good thing. The idea is to create a premium category that may only be 15-20% of the total music buying public but represent a disproportionate share of music buying.

Quote:
Yeah in about 10 damn years! Why not go for the kids NOW?


That's what we are saying...that people will move up as they get older and have more income. Why not go for kids now? Because it is too hard to compete against MP3 on sonic or cost value with this age group.
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#11 of 139 DavidLW

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Posted December 01 2003 - 02:17 AM

My take is that the music industry wants to makes more money
re-selling you the music you already own. They made a ton of money when people converted their collections from vinyl to CD. When you think about it, you already bought the right to own the music and then they made you buy it again, for more than you paid the first time. Why should the music industry release any of the new artist on the new format now. They just wait awhile and make you buy it again later. The movie industry does the same thing. Ever hear of box set, director's cut, re-mastered, superbit, etc. etc.. (Don't even ask me how many version of the original Star Wars Trilogy I own in LD. And I'll buy the DVD's if they ever come out))

Demographic wise, the people most likely to go Hi-rez are the people that are into HT and High End Music. These are people with quite alot of disposable income. Most people in their teens and early 20's have other things to do with thier limited income than to spend $25 or so on a Hi-rez disc. That's why the average age of the person most likely to "steal" music over the internet is in the early 20's.

Remember, Hi-rez version of a recording is nothing new. Us baby boomers remember the likes of Mobile Fidelity, Nautilus, Super-Disk and other half speed master disk on vinyl. Most of these disk were bought by people with High End systems. The average Joe balked at paying the extra $5 or so bucks.

And as for releasing B.Spears, C.Aguilar, Jay-Z, Dixie Chicks, N-Sync and the likes on Hi-rez format. Give me a break, MP3 is about all the rez they deserve. Anymore is a waste. Who out there needs 5 channels of Hi-rez to realize B.Spears can't sing.

#12 of 139 Mike Broadman

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Posted December 01 2003 - 02:34 AM

What about Gen X-ers? Not only are we all grown up with many making a decent living, but a large number are still single.

#13 of 139 Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 01 2003 - 02:42 AM

Quote:
They made a ton of money when people converted their collections from vinyl to CD. When you think about it, you already bought the right to own the music and then they made you buy it again, for more than you paid the first time.


I politely beg to differ with this statement from a business standpoint. First, many things get paid for in different forms. Since the music industry is innovating and offering consumer value, I think its entirely proper for them to charge money for the change from LP to CD and from CD to MP3, or CD to Hirez...

Also, you are not purchasing the right to own the music on any and all formats, just whatever it is offered on. There are fair use rights but these relate to backing up music collections for personal use.

Finally, in most cases nobody makes you buy anything, you choose to because there are new features. Even LP owners can buy plenty of titles.

I think its great that movie and music (and other) businesses keep reinventing their catalogs as long as the consumer benefits.

By offering hirez, the labels can get more profits by offering boomers, high end types, and HT fans more for their money.

Quote:
Most people in their teens and early 20's have other things to do with thier limited income than to spend $25 or so on a Hi-rez disc. That's why the average age of the person most likely to "steal" music over the internet is in the early 20's.


That's why they are focusing on boomers. Posted Image

Maybe the answer is that Super Audio gets to be hypothetically speaking 15% of the market and 25% of the revenue dollars. If losing sales to MP3s (and this could be contested well) is causing delcines, this niche producing revenue is likely to be viewed favorably. The more it gets established, the more it may attract younger kids, particularly those fans of 60s and 70s music. We are also seeing a lot of new music in hirez.

Maybe the industry should recognize the different formats cause great confusion for the consumer and they should try to reach (1) one standard hirez format, or (2) including both formats on every CD and DVD player so it becomes less of an issue.
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#14 of 139 Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 01 2003 - 02:46 AM

Quote:
What about Gen X-ers? Not only are we all grown up with many making a decent living, but a large number are still single.


Good point Mike. Those of us like you and me definitely fit into the plan. Anyone willing to spend extra for better soundn will definitely be attracted to the new formats. And that only helps...we are almost like pre-boomers. Posted Image
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#15 of 139 Doug Otte

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Posted December 01 2003 - 03:15 AM

Lee, I agree w/ the article and you 100%. I'm 45 and have never downloaded music. In addition to the appallingly poor quality of mp3, it's unethical to steal...oops, won't go there on this thread.

Anyway, I have always tried to get the best quality CDs, and now that I'm smitten w/ SACDs, I'll spend whatever money is available (after family obligations, natch) on SACD releases THAT REALLY INTEREST ME. Tommy & GYBR are novelties to me. When more prog/new wave/electronic releases come out as SACD, I'll snap them up.

Focussing on the boomers initially is a good strategy. As the younger folks get a little more affluent, and the hardware and software become omnipresent, they'll naturally latch on to hi-rez.

Doug

#16 of 139 Joseph Hoetzl

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Posted December 01 2003 - 03:23 AM

I recently purchase the Barenaked Ladies CD "Everything to Everyone". Then, I was walking past the music department in Target and noticed a different version of it. One with DVD-A on a seperate CD along with some other bits. I purchased that one, sold the other on half, since the two-disc one came with the CD as well. The content and "Bonus tracks" differ with the 2 CD's (no "acoustic" on the DVD-A special edition) but they are on the DVD-A disc.

"The special edition also includes a bonus DVD so you can listen to the new album in 5.1 Surround Sound and watch video footage of the guys performing 11 acoustic songs. Five internet bonus clips and a non-album track are also included on the DVD."

Why is this considered Bonus DVD?! The 2 disc set was $8 more than the simple CD one. If it were to be marketed as a bonus, it would have to be free, well, included with the CD version, to get people a chance to sameple it, if they have the equipment.
This is not the way it should be marketed. I don't know of anyone who is going to see that and go out and purchase a player capable of playing the DVD-A tracks.

Also, in the liner notes, someone in the band (forget which member) commented on why the special edition...something to effect of...Well, we had to do something to compete with all the downloads and offer some compelling reason to purchase it.

I am 29 and very much appreciate Hi-res audio, and don't tote a MP3 player around. I am certainly in the minority in my company in that regard and when I explain about DVD-A and SACD people say but can you really hear the difference. Which is the greatest problem I see.

As we age, our ears get used to hearing certain sounds, quality, ambiance, etc...
And as age goes up, your hearing depreciates.
My Dad, who worked in the tunnels of the NYC subway system for years cannot hear the same as myself or my older sibling, and my younger sibling grew up with MP3's so she has no idea of what a better sound is.

So going after older folks isn't the best approach.

Even when people come over and hear something played on my mediocre setup, they say they can hear something a bit better, but not worth the effort, space and cost to get it. To many people, value/bang for buck is the best feature, which is what MP3's give them IMO. Spening what it takes to even begin to enjoy Hi-res audio is just not worth it.

When all players are capable of playing SACD's and DVD-A, they might see some better penetration, but even my basic multiformat Pioneer player isn't really pushed as a sale in B&M places, and people see a $60 Apex that can display their family jpg's they oogle at that...



#17 of 139 Will_B

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Posted December 01 2003 - 03:24 AM

This thread is a pleasure to read, for I agree so much with what Jon, Blake, and most others say. How could the industry have it so wrong?!

Quote:
Most people in their teens and early 20's have other things to do with thier limited income than to spend $25 or so on a Hi-rez disc. That's why the average age of the person most likely to "steal" music over the internet is in the early 20's.

On the contrary, the reason why the people in their early 20's - and let's expand that to the entire GenX + GenY who are now in their mid-30s - are or SHOULD BE the primary market for high resolution audio is because they have disposable income which they actually dispose of. The kind of disposable income that allows them to buy lavish high end computers, high speed internet connections, dvds and home theater systems (or dorm theater systems!), mp3 players, gym memberships, and on and on (add to that pizza and weed for the college set). That they use their riches to steal mp3s is more a matter of convenience than actual monetary concern -- for if they had a monetary concern they wouldn't have the computers, mp3 players, and high speed connections in the first place!

Boomers on the other hand have had at least two years of a hellish stock market, and many have been laid off or are now working as consultants, meaning they have to save their money up for retirement. The marketing of SACD and DVDA to the boomers, while sensible when players cost a thousand dollars, is probably crippling the formats now, though this will be reduced when they stop pushing the classics at the exclusion of modern artists.

A word about Dark Side of the Moon being a success in hih res. Sure, an all-time hit like Dark Side of the Moon will sell well...particularly as that has a crossover to the younger, pot smoking college market! I seriously doubt the sales of that album was more than 50% to boomers. I'd bet that half or more of that album's sales were to people in college who wanted a sonic head trip, and had the middle class money to spend on it. Most of them would have prefered to have had the Matrix soundtrack in high res, but they'll take a Classic if that's all there is.

David Kawakami and Bob Stuart, wake up and smell the coffee.
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#18 of 139 Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 01 2003 - 04:01 AM

Quote:
and let's expand that to the entire GenX + GenY who are now in their mid-30s - are or SHOULD BE the primary market for high resolution audio is because they have disposable income which they actually dispose of.


I'm not sure this is true. Most demographic studies indicate that older people have lots more disposable income as compared to college age students or younger.

Maybe you are seeing a wealthy group of kids given your location in Cambridge, but I think the older music buyers rules in terms of income nationally and globally. Studies indicate that home theater builders are mostly men 40 and over. I think Sony probably has conducted their own research as well.

I think David Kawakami is including people in their 30s as part of the prime audience for Super Audio.

Quote:
though this will be reduced when they stop pushing the classics at the exclusion of modern artists


That is starting to happen already.
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#19 of 139 Rachael B

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Posted December 01 2003 - 06:01 AM

The music industry must realize that:

1. prices for little plastic audio or A/V discs of music must go down. Even audiophiles muzak-addicts limit their purchases at 2-day's prices. It doesn't matter what format/s.

2. even boomers who have bought into SACD & DVD-A are sick of retro-releases!!!!!!!!!


Lee, sure they identified boomer-audiophiles as a group they could price-gouge and attempt to start a format on their backs. That's gone as far as is possible, IMO. If they want hi-rez to go ANYPLACE at all, they have to make it the format. Obviously, SACD hybrids is the best way presently. Well, it just ain't happening!
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#20 of 139 Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 01 2003 - 06:35 AM

Quote:
If they want hi-rez to go ANYPLACE at all, they have to make it the format.


Why? Laserdisc survived as a profitable and popular niche market for a long time. I still have my collection. Posted Image

I agree that SACD hybrids are the best way right now. In fact, I wish the labels would start issuing more single inventory hybrids. Posted Image
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