Unwashed Masses Converting to Audiophilia?

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by Josh Ray on March 21 '06

 Assets Audioengine5-1
Girl-powered techie blog The Gadgeteer gets its hands on the Audio Engine A5 speakers we covered a little while back. Naturally, the Gadgeteers aren't a group of audiophiles which is why it's really encouraging to hear language like "clarity" and "bass." In fact, Gadgeteer Julie could have a future in audio reviewing:

In my opinion, they are the best speakers I've ever heard.

Uh huh. She says that now. She then goes on to evoke the sacred audio reviewer right of unfounded assumptions:

Oh, I know Apple just came out with the HiFi... I've not had the opportunity to try it, but I'd rather have the Audioengines. It's a no brainer than they have to sound better, given the fact that you can separate the left and right speakers...

Sign her up! Anyway, she gets really excited about the great sound and, dare I say, may be on the path towards quasi-audiophilia. Cross your fingers this marks a turn in actually considering sound quality over size and convenience. Props to Audio Engine for reaching out and fighting the good fight. I was a little critical before about their rear-mounted AC outlet (which I still find very disquieting) but products like these are the only way we'll get iPodders to move into the big time.

Stereophile, if you didn't hear, has a new series of seminars held at college campuses (Cornell being the first) hoping to turn beer-saturated undergrads into discriminating audiophiles. I really do wish Stereophile luck and hope they are able to make a few converts, but I'm a strong believer in riding the iPod wave with high-end-aspiring products like the Audio Engine A5. 50 million iPod users and countless Bose customers is the place to start. Baby steps with under $500 systems pitched as BTB (Better Than Bose) will be far more successful than pushing $5000 of hard-to-find and hard-to-match separates. Of course, all outreach is good outreach so tell your college-age friends and relatives to request an audio demo from the Stereophile posse or, hell, send 'em my way and I'll arrange an audiophile rave that will blow their young, innocent minds.

Speaking of audiophile raves, be sure to pencil in 6/2/2006 for the Zu rave at the Stereophile HE2006 show in Los Angeles. Do whatever it takes to be there because it will be off the hook. Unlike CES, HE2006 is open to the public as is the VTV show that's happening at the same time and only a block away. If you make one trip this year, make it Los Angeles come June. Two shows, one rave and not a woman to be seen. Zu, get the baby-dolls to your rave and you will have the most successful audio demo in the entire history of this estrogen-free industry.


I don't know, but the rear AC outlet seems pretty sweet for exactly the use they have pictured - an Airport Express being used to stream music. My NAD 304 has two AC outlets connected to it, and if it wasn't for the fact that my computer lies about 5 feat from the amp, I'd be sorely tempted to pop an airport express in one of those jacks myself. What would be really sweet though is if the USB jack could be used as an audio input, with built in high quality DAC. Of course these are marketed at iPods, not computers (in the sense of music source), and I don't know that you can actually get music out of the iPods that way.
I saw that you have your add on banner. Is it worth buying ? How many clicks do you get from that add ? Thanks Cheers,
There are already several USB DAC's making the rounds. I'm specially fond of the Scott-Nixon USBTD, not only for its low introductory price ($500). However, a DAC is not the kind of device that is an easy sell to "unwashed masses" that seem to have no problems at all with their iPods and boomboxes. An all-in-one, reasonably priced starter pack seems more like it (Apple's closer to that goal than anyone else - I just wish the iPod Hi-Fi had higher aspirations performance-wise and feature-wise). Also, you really gotta love music to "get it". Most people simply use music as background on their daily lives. It's way easier to convince someone that can keep his or her attention on something that doesn't require a screen. If, after you get enticed with what an upscale budget system can do, you want to go down the audiophile drain with separates and such, hey be my guest. But I think the very important thing in here is to create interest, passion, to light the spark, and without much of a financial risk at first. There are probably lots of "closet audiophiles" out there that may just need a little push. So Josh dude, you coming to HE2006? I'm working things out to be there too. Can't wait to be part of a big, marvelously sonic sausage fest. :P
MistaPirmeminista, you've got email. Beto, heck yeah I'll be at HE2006 and I hope you make it! All the SonicFlare readers who manage to make it to HE will have to get together for drinks. HE2006 is near the LA airport which isn't the hottest spot to be but, hey, we'll manage.
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