High End Munich 2019: Cries & Whispers

I’m not one to gossip. But.

I was talking to a friend at the show who owns a retail store and makes turntables right here (there) in München. He asked me, “How many turntables do you think were sold in Germany last year?” I responded, “I have no idea.” because I had no idea. The number was in the 6 figures.

“What do you think the average price was?”
“750 Euro?”
“500 Euro?”

Before I could answer I was given the correct answer, 250 Euro.

What to make of that? One thing’s for sure—spending the ‘merican equivalent of less than $280 smackers doesn’t buy you much turntable. Remember, we’re talking about the average price paid which means there’s a whole bunch being sold below that mark.

But…we all know that record pressing plants can’t press fast enough, demand outstripping production, which is good news. Right? I mean, records are cool. Right?

Let me make something perfectly clear—I love (love love) records and I buy and listen to records (present tense). But, and this a big but that leads me to the Whisper,  streaming music has altered the landscape. Think A-Bomb altered. Buy a pair of active speakers with a DAC, pick your favorite streaming service and you are off to the races with millions of albums, and counting, at your fingertips and playing in your home (not all at once).

This is The Revolution. This is The Next Big Thing.

And streaming services can be had for free, as in $0.00, or more depending on your relationship to listening to music on the hifi. For hifi folks, Tidal and Qobuz have been our saviors by offering lossless and high resolution streaming—our ears and ideals have been blessed by the Gods of Bandwidth and Audio Origami. But these are niche services dwarfed by the lossy crowd, the elephant in the sweet spot so to speak.

What if, he says in a whisper, what if one of the biggest beasts in the lossy streaming world were to adopt lossless streaming? Even high resolution streaming?

It Takes A Nation Of Millions…

If that were in fact the case, it would be like dropping Neil Young’s LincVolt, along with its truck loads of batteries, into your neighbor’s hot tub. Think disruptive.

When and if this happens, and I’ve heard it will happen as soon as pool-time, all’s I can say is get your towels ready.

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Opening image: Approaching Thunder Storm, Martin Johnson Heade (1859)