.... in uncertain and fast-moving times.
The discussion about expensive accessories on another thread here has, led significantly off the track from the core issue I was tying to make. Let's separate it out and dissociate the underlying issues from the specifics of speaker stands, cables, etc. and look at the big picture. Audio dealers here at the CES yesterday are focussed on one issue, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the minutia of this product over that. It's survival. You may not believe that the business side of the audio industry has any relevance to you as a lone consumer. You'd be wrong. How, where and on what you spend moulds and defines the future industry as it always has. You have tremendous economic power. You do shape the future.
Now, I've been misunderstood these past few days explaining how I feel about the fragmentation of the industry around me. I've drawn attention to the core problem which is, in the longer term, that insufficient numbers of young people are interested in and willing to pay for high-end audio. Although one contributor didn't agree with me, the demographic facts are obvious to anyone who age profiles attendees at a hi-fi show or audio dealers. It really doesn't need to be proven. It's as obvious as profiling attendees at the local bingo club minus the blue rinse.
Bearing in mind that this Harbeth User Group information is read, has some small influence and long term archival value, I'd like to lay down, in black and white, on behalf of the entire industry exactly the position we the remaining industry find ourselves in. These are the facts, supported by independent Research companies - they are not Alan Shaw's 'angle', they are certainly not, as suggested Harbeth trying to gain commercial advantage. As the contributor noted, we are in a strong position, and it's because of that we can say here what many others cannot or dare not say publicly. You many not like it. You may not want to hear it, but it needs to be said. And I hope you'll see why we are so hostile to money wasted on what some would call fringe or even quack products.The manufacturing/selling end of the audio business is consumed with this issue. It is an exceptionally serious problem. Yes, the trends are not new, but the industry is a shadow of its former self; shrinking by the month You may not see that from consumer-side.A contributor commented ....Personally, I'm sceptical of talk in the audio industry about "we need more young people to take part". This is not new - the trade magazines have been writing about this for many years now. And yet, the industry survives, and the really good companies even thrive. Harbeth, for example...These are very hard times for the industry indeed. It cannot survive the changes in consumption habits plus the recession unchanged.1 in 4 companies in the UK Hi-Fi industry could change ownership as a result of the current economic climate, claims leading financial analysts Plimsoll... the market could be set for a prolonged period of consolidation. ..."I am sure any director worth his salt would agree that, in the current climate, there are simply too many companies chasing too little market. ..The UK Hi-Fi market is still widely regarded as one of the UK's most fragmented sectors. In our report we analysed the UK's leading 130 companies are rated each on their acquisition attractiveness this will tell you which companies are set to be buying and which are exposed to takeover.
We here must continue to promote real value for money, real engineering and real long term satisfaction for the consumer. As always, the consumer can decide what's important to himself, but I fear that when there is no specialist audio industry to pass to our children for their pleasure, we will all bitterly regret it.
Above all, "Support your local dealer", buy honest-to-goodness products and allow him to make a reasonable living so that he can be there when you need him most and you can and will make a difference. Please think twice about who you are supporting with your expenditure at dealer and product level. We will not give any space on this site to products which we believe are pulling against our view of the industry and its long term survival. But, I encourage you to please pop along to your dealer - he'll be delighted to see you - and take his advice on what will work best for you.