And what have we as an industry done with this educational opportunity? We've squandered it, that's what! WTF?!?! Of course the idea below is just that, just an idea and frankly while some might like this idea, doubt it'll go anywhere as it required effort on your part. Go ahead, prove my wrong.
Am not going to be a whiney bitch and complain about some gear being incredibly high-priced, as like cars there are Hyundai (very respectable, wife's daughter has one), BMW (wife and my car), and Ferrari (been there, done that, tracked the living daylights out of it until the engine needed a major rebuild). With high-end audio for 'normal people' out there, most music lovers think of whatever is $$$ (not just $$) in the big box stores is 'high-end'. They, you know, normal people, generally, have zero idea we as an industry exist on any true sense... at least in some meaningful way. WTF?!?!? So how are we as an industry going to reach the masses in a meaningful way to educate music lovers that we even exist?
Warning: The below article has some frank discussion. While I've tried to avoid, how shall one put this, 'adult language moments', my personal feelings and writings here may be the most 'pointed' way to make a point. For me, as stupidly thick- and stubborn-headed as I am, needs a good slap in the face and rightly-good kick in my.... to get me to realize.... As Mike Tyson says, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth".
Over the past few decades have seen high-end audio organizations come, and generally go kaput. AAHPAV was an awesome group, yet where are they now? Believe I'm the only press member to have a 'Master's Degree' from the AAHPAV. CEA had an organization of sorts for high-end audio. That seemed to have gone nowhere and CES is basically dead for our high-end audio industry, though was honored to be part of that group. Have seen the UK burn through one, perhaps two organizations as well over the years.
While they all initially started out great.... All are gone.
We have JAS in Japan and HIGH END in Germany, sure, yet as a deep thinker I feel we need something more. Something far more global that reaches an audience that truly can make a difference in bringing more awareness to our enthusiastic industry. Ran this idea by my Muse / wife Heather and her 17 year young daughter, and they both said it sounds good (or at least they didn't flame me down with, you know, reality as Heather did with doing 360 VR high-end audio show reporting using 'hi-res' video with many channels at 24-bit/192kHz for audio).
One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
(Big, Big Sigh) Ok, Here's My Idea
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. -- Albert Einstein
Listen To Your Heart
Am not going to sell HighEndAudio.com. That URL is (literally) the name of our humble industry, and within my heart even a hefty $25,000 URL sale means absolutely nothing to me as compared to the potential that URL can bring to all of us. I shall 'donate' the URL, forget about $25k sale, and do all the webmastering free of charge because it will be a 'small footprint' web site. I'll also pay for all hosting. There will be zero mention of this site, myself, or anyone specific. There will be no tracking of visitors. No data-scraping, no mailing list...
So basically, this idea is for no organization, no members, no fees, no tracking... nada. If anyone has 'skin in the game' it is solely me.
What's my angle?
Am doing this so that people all around the world may learn about the benefits of listening to music out loud in the sound quality near-to / same-as the original musicians heard when they recorded it within the recording studio / mastering. Generally speaking, that is Hi-Res Music for the software played back via high-end audio gear.
So How About Some Specifics?
If your plan is for one year plant rice
We're going to play the long game here.
Simply stated (thanks Albert Einstein), someone knowledgeable and enthusiastic brings a high-end audio system to a classroom of 12 to 13 years old children and plays some music they love while also educating these children about the engineering, tech, and broad-based topic of 'How A Home Audio System Works' and 'The Benefits Of Listening To Music Out Loud'.
Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.
Kids love music! They also, at this age group level, are generally more receptive. When a child walks into a classroom and sees an attractive high-end home audio system, that alone should at least get their attention. Bring something colorful, or at least different than the typical black / silver metal box electronics and boring box speakers.
Then 'class' starts by you playing whatever is one of the popular songs of that given time. Maybe play one more song of a different genre, yet still a popular song of the day (all songs should have a positive feel and absolutely zero 'offensive' language). Upbeat and happy. Odds are, most of the class full of children has never heard their music sound better. They have no idea that their fave tunes could sound so good. Have heard this time and time again from my neighbors and their family when they hear the system setup here.
They've also probably never seen truly epic looking gear too.
And that, my friends, is the main source of our problem (imho). The general public has no true sense of how good their music can sound. How much more emotionally they can 'connect' with their fave tunes... as the artist intended. They probably also have no idea of the visually artistic creations we as an industry have in abundance.
So a few songs, and then what?
There will be a 'key points' pdf document available on the right side of the main homepage of HighEndAudio.com for you to follow, which we'll work with educators for an 'approved' main topic / sub-topics to cover. This is an educational class after all. We'll also have a teacher's version that is a bit more in-depth as well. That document will be handed to the teachers. It'll also be available on HighEndAudio.com just below the Student PDF (downloadable in PDF). So yes, everyone can see exactly what we plan to do and what the teacher should know too. Both of these documents will be available in a multitude of languages.
This is a brief overview, broad-based as we're not seeking to get into the many, many finer details. Keep in mind we're reaching 12 to 13 year olds, so a very detailed discussion of loudspeaker passive crossovers is not really proper subject matter nor would be trying to show each and every part of a phono cartridge. Topics such as the difference between analog and digital, perhaps you brought electrostatic speakers and as they are very different than standard dynamic drivers.... Yet keep it brief! Class time in limited and all that. So yes, there will be some bit of flexibility depending on the gear you bring. The main point is 'A Brief Introduction' as it were.
Perhaps in the middle of your classroom teachings play some 'audiophile-approved' music so they can hear what 'real' instruments sound like (short two minutes max as it is not 'their music' and the attention span of a 12 to 13 year old is what it is). Believe me, after a minute or two they can hear it. Speaking of which, and why I formulated 12 to 13 year olds, as I recall from reading scientific / MIL studies when working with audiologists during my mid-20s, they proved scientifically that that age group also tends to have the best hearing ability for humans (let that fact swoosh into your brain for a second as they can hear details within music better than you!).
Near the end of class play one more pop tune as they take the test, preferably the most famous at the time (even more popular than any other song, and again something danceable, upbeat and fun!).
Now near the very end of class with the music playing there will be a 'test' sheet of paper handed to each child of what they have learned (this is why we need a PDF classroom-style of topics and sub-topics for both you and the teacher... and to keep all of us 'on the same page'). As an example:
What region of the brain does music affect?
A) Occipital lobe cortex
B) Temporal lobe cortex
C) Virtually the entire brain
Which digital audio format has the capability of achieving the best sound quality:
B) Compact Disc (CD)
C) Hi-Res Music
The overall point of the test is not to grade it, and in fact you'll never see their test paper as they can keep it private after they take the test. Let them know the answers are available at HighEndAudio.com. The point is that the test itself gets them to think about their music and gear choices.
Paraphrased, "...to use the mind in a way not previously engaged." -- Neil deGrasse Tyson
Music Rules, As Do Rules About....
One benefit is that the teacher gets time to, perhaps, grade papers or something else so they get a 'day off' as you do your thing. Who knows, maybe word will spread amongst the school's staff that there's a great sounding stereo system.... See, that's another benefit fo us, yet again you are not there to hand out business cards, etc.
So (Again) Basically
You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in
order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer
spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you
impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.
We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about
progress and prosperity for our community...
And Now To The Lawyers
For this is no single person's idea. It is not for me, this is 'by' and 'for' all of us. So I wrote this article in hopes the industry finds a viable way to educate others about the technology / reason for high fidelity home audio gear. For us to reach a broader audience, resulting in more people enjoying music to a higher degree, which may lead to more interest in our industry over a long-term plan. We all benefit, together. After well over 23 years and coding 7000+ pages, I alone have not been able to achieve this goal. I feel like I, and I alone, have failed. Can you help?
When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.
Again this is not my idea, this is ours. It is not for me alone to implement, we need everyone working together. And so am handing off this business plan / idea to you to do with it as you wish. It is now yours and you control its destiny. People will perhaps once again aspire to have high-end audio gear within their home.
Because for the first time in recorded music history true high resolution music, and equipment equal to the recording studio it was produced within, is now widely available to everyone. We want people to enjoy the music, faithfully, as the artists created.
As I wrote near the beginning of this article, honestly I highly doubt anyone reading this cares enough to expand our industry's audience in a meaningful way proactively. Considering the size of the USA, would love to see an American show reach at least double the attendance numbers as HIGH END in Munich. Maybe you'll all surprise me and prove me wrong. Doubt it.
Furthermore, am opening this idea up to our friends at WOM, Samsung, Sony, etc. If commercial entities want to use this idea you all have my blessing, as complacency within the high-end audio industry is what it is. That is how I experience the efforts of our industry to reach out in a truly active way to enhance our audience. Thus, those companies willing to make the efforts to expand their reach with the above idea as a basic framework is 100% fine by me. Let's work together; I cost nothing for these efforts and will help as my time, and my personal resources, allow.
What's Steven's Angle?
Enjoy the Music.com started out over 23 years ago as a way to help others… enjoy the music. It didn't matter what your musical preference, or your gear, or really anything other than in hopes this site somehow helped you enjoy the music. In some ways, I feel that my own personal something-or-other is not fully up to the task. Or perhaps I see so much more that can be done to further benefit the human race through the joys of music. Or, well, I dunno exactly. While this site has never done better, it feels like, well, there's so much more that can be done.
The above article seeks to help kids. Look, was very lucky to live within a home that greatly supported music. Imagine my parents bringing up two boys, who both played drums for hours a day, nearly every single day. Talk about having some waaaay cool parents! Add to the fact the speakers we used to play to music were dad's (original owner when new) 1969 Tannoy dual-concentric Gold monitors in custom cabinets good ol' engineer dad designed and built.
Music, especially for developing human minds at 12 to 13 years of age onward, has many documented benefits. This has been proven time and again, and recent discoveries only further solidify us knowing more of these benefits. Yet even those outside this age group, especially families, find they enjoy more things together when music is played out loud within their home. Living in a beach area, it is interesting to note how people seem to group around the 'party tent' playing fun tunes over loudspeakers.
And no, my mind (virtually) never seems to shut off. For me, one of the best keys to understanding is through curious, open-minded observation.
Will close by saying some of the happiest moments within life involve music out loud. When we're home and my muse / wife Heather's teenage daughter is singing to music upstairs on one of her (two) stereo systems, it brings joy into my heart. Because, for some reason as we're humans observing the activites of other humans, I can feel the joy in her soul. I intrinsically know she is 'lost into the music' and feeling great! Simply wish to share this joy with others.
Is that too much to ask?
Am I being naive, or perhaps an idealist, or ?????
It has been posted online many times, in many places all around the world. Yet truly and deeply do mean that...
As always, in the end what really matters is that you...