Can we 'grow' a new generation of audiophiles?

Most audiophiles are in the 40+ age group; where will the next generation come from?

I wish I could say otherwise, but I don't know many young audiophiles. I know they're out there and my " Poll: Are there any young audiophiles? " blog in February produced a surprisingly healthy response. That said, I'm curious about where the next generation of 'philes will come from. If you are an older audiophile, have you ever turned on a younger relative or friend's kid to great sound?

Joe Giovanelli and Anthony Gallo

Positive Feedback's Steven Lefkowicz responded to my query this way, "I've had the best results using the other person's music. If they play music they connect to, then they'll hear how much better it can sound, and understand why it's important to them. One real cool experience was with a friend who had brought the CD of Rickie Lee Jones' first record to try out on my system. He was amazed at how good it sounded. But then I played the LP and he was truly shocked. He heard me talk about the differences between CD and LP, but never heard them directly compared like that before. He found it hard to believe that LPs could sound so good."

Then Lefkowicz added, "My kid has picked up enough that he'll be leaving for college with a decent little system. He always saves at higher resolutions to his iPod, and most importantly, he has a pretty broad based and open minded view of music. The most important thing about getting anyone interested in hi-fi is to let them play their favorite music, and not subject them to "audiophile" babble. That's all it takes!"

Another guy piped in with "I had a friend who wanted to upgrade to a well-known, very big brand speaker whose ads she'd seen. I happened to have a pair of that company's speakers on hand, so I lent them to her for a week, and that changed her mind, as I'd figured it would." Gee, I wonder what brand that was?

My old friend Mark Block replied to my "Where are the young audiophiles" question this way, "I let Justin (Mark's 18-year-old son) play Kanye West and his hip-hop favorites on my good system. I don't have much to tell him. In fact, anything I'd say would just be a turn-off (due to the uncool geekiness factor). He normally listens on Monster headphones, but he asked for speakers and an amp for HS graduation. I think a parent should pass on a love of music, not a love of equipment, and then let nature take its course."

Speaker designer Anthony Gallo and I have been friends for 15 years, but I only recently learned how he became an audiophile. Gallo met Joe Giovanelli when he was 9 years old at his aunt's house after school one day. Giovanelli was a mastering engineer by trade and an amateur radio operator, and young Anthony was fascinated by radio. When Anthony learned Giovanelli was also building speakers he wanted in on the action. Gallo and Giovanelli worked on a series of projects together, and Gallo even finished building a set of electrostatic speakers that Giovanelli had started. That's sophisticated flat-panel technology for a young kid to tackle, but Gallo got the speakers working. He went on to become one of the most innovative speaker designers of our time.

I wonder how Gallo's life would have been different if he hadn't met Giovanelli. One of Anthony's nephews is starting to get into the hobby, so the fascination with good sound continues to be passed down from generation to generation.

I'd love to hear from old and young audiophiles about how they first got turned onto great sound in the Comments section.

Joe Giovanelli is blind, but that didn't stop him from becoming an engineer and expressing his creative energies in all sorts of ways. Last year he published his biography "Let There Be Light: The Inspirational Achievements of a Man Born Blind."

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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