“The Festival” covered by default all the variables linked to the theme of home entertainment: from traditional audio highend, including tubes and analogue turntables, to wireless sound equipment and domotics that turn the daily experience of listening to music a breeze, an experience which is now more into digital “clicking” than analogue “popping”.
Watching HD 4K video at home is not a dream anymore, thanks to laser technology.
and a silver sixpence in her shoe
Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue(ray) stands for purity, love, and fidelity; and a sixpence in the shoe is a wish for good fortune and prosperity.
Below you can find examples of all of them I collected at the Novotel in Paris. And although you’ll need more than sixpence in your shoe, maybe you’ll get lucky one day…
Western societies are no longer dominated by the pater familias, and both women and children’s opinions are now taken into account when investments in consumer electronics are considered.
Only a lucky few can afford and accommodate a humongous highend system in a dedicated room, keeping the rest of the family and the dog out, and manage to get away with it.
Big houses are more likely to be available in the U.S. than Europe where highend is becoming a niche market, a social statement of economic success rather than a means to an end, like a powerful and fast car or a boat docked at the marina most of the time just to show off to friends.
Size still matters, value is important and sound quality is and always will be paramount to audiophiles, while design is the key word in electronics today. And why is that?
Because form attracts women more than function in a market which is 90% male territory.
Women are more than 50% of the world population and manufacturers are now chasing them as potential consumers of audio and video products.
After all we are in Paris which has been forever their favorite shopping field...
I dare even say they are harassing them, since some brands blatantly favor form over function, like they do in haute couture. I have often wondered whether those high heeled stiletto shoes are really made for walking or just for showing off.
Jarre showed off something that will not be for sale until 2015. So what?! This is a hifishow after all, isn't it?!...
Many loudspeakers and other audio components however are true works of art that would fit in any room as pieces of furniture and blend well in most decorative environments be they classical or modern.
And if they can make them sound as good as they look, they have a winner both by the male and female perspective of what a hifi system should be like. It must look and sound lovely at all times with all kinds of music, and not warrant a new mortgage on the house.
Wolfgang Lynch's dissimulated screen
The living room is now neutral ground and often dominated by a large and flat (or curved) TV screen. Each member of the family has different musical tastes though, and at some point they retreat to their own accommodations where they listen on smaller computer compatible setups and other portable gear, through in-wall or desktop loudspeakers and earphones, to endless “streamings” of music that flood the whole house from internet sources in stealth mode.
Following people around at the Novotel to get the mood of the Festival.
Note: Watch in HD for better picture quality.
Audiophiles are aging fast, hélas, at least I am too. You just have to look around in any show anywhere in the world. Hardcore highend system demos are attended mostly by people aged from 40 to 60 and upwards.
And they all have at home lavishly cared sometimes expensive analogue systems they cherish and want to trade in when they buy new components unlike fresh consumers who come empty handed and have money to buy.
Not so at “The Festival” in Paris. Each year the younger generation is more attracted by the showdown of new technologies, and look for products that conform to the multimedia universe they live in: sound, image, data all on-the-move, connected and controlled at the touch of a thumb.
Couples with kids are mostly interested in video and games. While couples in their 30s are interested in domotics and multi room accessibility also compatible with their daily portable working tools: tablets and smartphones.
People want design and simplicity. Connectivity without complexity. Integration with full compatibility. Fidelity without compromise. Quality without obscenity (I mean the price of highend, of course, which is sometimes obscene).
And if it is not asking too much, modernity must never forsake tradition, because LP isn’t dead yet.
As a matter of fact neither is CD, nor are tubes and horn loudspeakers, turntables, tonearms and cartridges. And they look ever so pretty and classy you can’t help but being captivated by old fashioned design and long-proven technologies that new approaches still cannot match.
As long as “Fraternité, Egalité, Liberté” goes, Hifi should be available to everybody and one must be free to go its own way without discrimination or prejudice: do not judge before you listen, no matter how beautiful or ugly it looks…
Prepare to be be amazed at what can be achieved today in the field of audio and video and to cry out loud for not having enough money to buy it…
This report is a work in progress. Sit tight and be patient. Part 3 will follow asap.