Personal audio is the future? – RMAF 2014 and beyond

Personal audio is the future? – RMAF 2014

So say some people…

CanJam inspired some people to announce the end of high-end audio as we know it.

PEZ on Audio Circle

“… CanJam on the other hand has literally exploded out of the Marriott convention hall and spilled into the Atrium. It will not only continue to grow in 2 years time I promise you it will surpass the rest of the show. When you see the vendors at can jam selling shoebox sized boxes hand over fist to guys 35 and younger and compare that to the same retired old two channel shlubs with out turned pockets going to the same rooms they were in last year and still not buying anything you start to understand why. Hifi is dead… Long live Hifi!!!!”

Steven Stone on TAS

“Most Important Trend: Portable and personal audio is the future. You only had to stick your head into the CANJAM room to feel the palpable energy and young enthusiasm, even from old goats like myself.”


I will argue that this is completely wrong, both because I believe it to be so, and because I want it to be so.

Personal audio is the wave of the present.

1. The primary argument against this being an enduring trend is that this young generation is the most social generation in the history of the world.

They cannot live 1 minute without checking to see what their friends are doing. And portable and personal audio is inherently a solitary activity.

Sure, someday someone will make it so friends can link their personal audio devices together and all listen to the same thing at the same time. Every group of friends will have their own ‘radio station’ they can tune to. Every school will have their ‘radio stations’ their students can tune to for parent-approved listening.

But in the end, being young is about meeting new people, starting new romances, and personal audio is inherently anti-social [as most of us not into personal audio can readily attest :-)]

2. There are primal forces against personal audio.

a. The beat. FEELING the beat, man.

b. Freedom. Freedom to move around and interact with other people nearby. Talking. Snogging. Being a spousal unit. Being a parent.

c. Employability. There are few jobs where being by default unavailable for interaction with customers, colleagues and bosses is acceptable. Software Development is one of those few, but it still is going to hamper your ability to participate in what is becoming more and more a group activity [see #1 above].

3. It is just too ‘geeky’

Geeky trends hardly ever last. Someone sitting in a corner of the room huddled over a shoebox-sized system? Weird devices in or on their ears?

For this level of geek, I, personally, would want, no NEED,  to be plugged into the whole Matrix, not some MP3-deck. I want instant Google direct to my brain. I want infinite memory and infinite knowledge just by thinking about it.

But, hey. YMMV. 🙂

I certainly enjoyed my time at CanJam. People are making a ton of cool gear. Having fun.

About half the companies are new and about half are companies who primarily make large systems, trying to participate in the personal audio wave.

I don’t know. Personal computers did last about 15 years. So….