A lot has been said about the importance of headphones for the future of our audio enthusiast hobby. With nearly 100,000,000 Apple iPads sold through 2012 - not counting iPhones, other smartphones, other tablets, and beyond - the mobile world is a rapidly expanding market in need of upscale audio. Earbuds just won't do it for a good percentage of that 100-million-plus audience. The mobile device category is certainly an important market but, for the hobby of audiophila to make it, we need more.
Problems abound in the land of audiophila. Brick-and-mortar stores are closing up shop. The ones that are left are often run by owners who are risk-averse to bringing in new products and/or out-of-the-box marketing strategies; additionally, they are addicted to high profit margins that keep prices high for the consumer. The average age of an audiophile is high. Audiophile print magazines, once the engine of consumer demand, talk too much about esoteric, expensive products, lame music, and dead low-resolution audio formats.
Before you warm up a bath to go slice your wrists (up and down works better than across, they tell me) over the outlook for the specialty audio industry, I've got a ray of sunshine for you. A bright one. It's called car audio. Yes, I said car audio! I don't mean that we all should go out and install some 18-inch subwoofer boxes in the trunks of our cars. What I am saying is that, the next time you buy a car, a highly evolved, well-tuned, good-sounding audio system will likely be an investment option along with the vehicle.
It can be argued that the most successful deal in the history of high-end audio was the Lexus/Mark Levinson deal. Never before could mainstream (albeit somewhat up-market) customers buy a meaningful audio system already installed in their cars. I knew of a guy in the late 1980s in Philadelphia who deconstructed a pair of Bowers & Wilkins 800s and figured out how to power them with Krell amps�in his 7-Series BMW ... and he had more money than good sense. This is not what I am talking about. Krell in Acura is what I am talking about. Mark Levinson in Lexus. And these aren't the only ones.
� Read a review of Bowers & Wilkins 805 Diamond Maserati Edition Speakers
� Article: How Bose Can Teach The AV Business How To Make More Sales For More Profit
� Article: Exactly why vinyl isn't the future of audiophilia
People will scoff when I bring up a third-rail topic, but it was Bose that first figured this game out. There was a time when you couldn't buy a Ferrari, Mercedes, or Porsche without getting a Bose system installed. Audiophiles burp up lines like, "No highs ... no lows ... it MUST be Bose," but try telling a luxury buyer like Dr. So-and-So who just popped $125,000 for a Twin Turbo 911 that the stereo in his car is crap. Are the tires crap? The transmission? The engine? No, it's just the stereo. He's not going to believe you, and he might just outfit his home with Bose equipment to match his pride and joy.
Read more on page two including a list and links to all of the top audiophile car audio options in the market today
�Today, the car audio market is owned by Harman (the parent of Mark Levinson), as the company didn't stop with the Lexus deal. It expanded to all sorts of brands, including Mercedes, Chrysler, Toyota, Porsche, and many others. Harman is the leader, but it isn't the only player in the game.�