Occupy Hifi (Michael Mercer's column) was initially featured at The High Fidelity Report. The idea was simple: Shake things up, spark a conversation/debate, stoke the coals a lil' in the high end audio industry/community. For far too long, high end audio has been preaching to the already-converted. However, thanks to new (relatively new anyway) music delivery mechanisms and content pathways showing up more often than ever before thy had - Hi-fi's approach to reaching new blood
HAS GOT TO CHANGE!
People under the age of 50, who imbibe their music in more ways than any generation before them; they have access to new, old, unreleased, rare, mint, whatever-the-fuck kinda' music at their fingertips 24-7. PERIOD. We've never had this sort-of endless access to music before - and: We also carry that access with us everywhere. The younger generations probably can't even imagine a world without their magical musical portals at their beckon call whenever the hell they want. I mean these kids don't even have to leave the damn house to do anything! Yeah: That's a whole other kinda' wormhole itself. Maybe we'll create a new tab and section for that here at OccupyHifi.org (ugh, hmm, funk DAT - we got plenty to tackle here - back to the NOW): I recently tried explaining the advantages of having a beeper/pager to my nephew (before cell phones obviously: Back when I was still in high school). When I told him that all the damn thing was capable of was displaying the callers phone number; so that I could go find a phone; which was usually a payphone at-the-time (imagine the reader who sees this, and says to themselves: "What the fuck is a pay-phone?"): Well, let's just say, if you drop the needle and play your favorite Patricia Barber record, odds are that person (who's probably still wondering WTF is a pay-phone) probably isn't going to get excited over some lazy lounge music - no matter what you play it back on! Unfortunately I hate to single her out, because personally, I think she's awesome . She's got a great personality and usually she's flawless during live performances - undoubtedly gifted and seemingly humble too. She's also a sweet person, so I hope she doesn't punch me in the face next time I see her. However, to be brutally honest, and so Patricia isn't the sonic scapegoat here: How many freakin' times have you heard Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Tin Pan Alley' blaring outta' some hotel room during an audiophile convention/show (similar to CES)? Yeah well: I used to love that song. Now I wish he'd return as a zombie so we could kill him again (JK folks, that's "just kidding").
You cannot sustain the ADD attention span of a twenty-something by playing Straivnky's The Firebird Suite - and we don't care if it was pressed on 380gram vnyl! It's pretty simple: The old guard, well, they old! Their readership? Mostly older, and dying - literally. So it's time to embrace different approaches, find fresh ways to evangelize about our collective passion for high quality music playback! ONE way to do this? Drop the needle, or hit play on yo' favorite DAP, and play that twenty-something recorded after 1983! Radiohead comes to mind, Adele, Mumford and Sons: Shit: Play Neil Youngs new record - Sure, there's always time for Harvest Moon - but consumer culture as a whole tends to lean towards the more contemporary, especially when it comes to the record-buying public. So let's try to drop the egos a bit - we ain't fuckin' rockstars! Start talking TO your audience, not AT THEM. The other thing that's new these days? Your fans/readers? More are self-educated today than ever-before. This does not mean they are misinformed, On the contrary - our current readers and devotees probably know more about the fundamentals of sound and audio equipment than ever before! How? It's this lil' thing called the internet. And, PLEASE: Shut the fuck up about competing with Amazon and the prsonal audio companies that sell their equipment there! It's the globes largest retail operation. The days of the privileged are OVER. You can't sell the shit outta high end audio just cuz' you got the hot lines anymore. Dealers, distributors, and even us audio writers need to do more to incentivize a potential new audiophile-convert than we did before. Before, the customer/hobbyist had to go thru one of the million midde-men in ordr to get their gear. Now the click a button. So - this ain't rocket science either: Show em that if they get their equipment from you, they're also investing in you expertise, and your guidance! Amazon don't do that. Bottom-Line: Maybe it's a good thing that guys will have a harder time selling $16,000 a-meter speaker cables! That leaves more on the table for everyone!
If any of this makes any sense: Keep comin' back. Oh, and personal audio? I had a dear friend in the high end audio business ask me recently if I "really believed this headphone thing would really take off?" Yup - I thought him retarded for a moment, and then I realized: Maybe he doesn't read those fancy trade journals that come with his CEA membership! If he did, he's know that today (or, a few months ago, last I checked) about 80% of the world consumes their music through headphones. If that doesn't answer the question about headphones taking off? Well: Head-Fi.org, this lil' forum site for headphone enthusiasts, has over 350,000 online members, and the site now receives 2-3 unique a month. That is larger than the entire world, literally, of high end audio. Now, I love me some stereo sound. But I also love the hell outta my Audeze LCD-2F or MrSpeakers ETHER-C planar magnetic headphones! Whatever your personal flavor - if you wanna keep thumbing your nose at headphone culture - be sure to drop us a note. We'd love to attend your estate sale when you file for bankruptcy! Back to the music... Come back, drop a comment, get in the game...
Hope you enjoy the blog!
PS: I'm absolutely loving Audeze's SINE on-ear planar magnetic headphones. Together with their cutting-edge CIPHER Lightning Cable, (with its inline DAC/DSP/headphone amplifier) makes for a stunning breakthrough in headphone culture and high end portable audio! I've had all sorts of what we Head-Fiers and SBAFers (online forums dedicated to headphone culture) call "bricks": Amps and DACs strapped to my iPhone, iPod, or Astell-n-Kern DAPs (digital audio players). It's been downright ridiculous at-times. Seriously: Now, Most of th time, when I travel all I need is my iPhone 6 runnin' TIDAL, CIPHER Lightning Cable, the Audeze App (just an EQ w/ two presets at-the-moment - but I bet there's lots more comin' SOON there) and my SINE and I'm covered. That's pretty F____in' crazy for a guy who walks around w/ multiple pairs of headphones (on, over-ear, and IEM: In-ear-monitors), usually 3 DAPS, and various portable headphone amps and DACs in my trusty REI backpack! Check these out ASAP:
They can be found at select Apple Stores!
Frankly, it's a wild time to be into this kinda shit - and I highly recommend checking out some of these audible delights , especially if you're one of those people who plunked down more than you expected on those Beats, Soul Republics, Urban Ears, whatevs... There's a whole new world of sonic intoxicants waiting for you - where your connection to your music can be deeper and more meaningful than you ever imagined. For me, it's like a drug. It can utterly transform my mood, my day, my week, and so on... I don't think I'd be sitting here typing these words if it weren't for my music collection (streaming and physical). I'm not sure I could accentuate it's importance any better than that. Join the revolution! Toss out those clunky plastic things that bring you no joy and find somethin' that makes ya smile...