Talk Hi-Fi trends: the sound show transcript

In the 43rd edition of the Sound podcast, Timofey Shikolenkov shared with us his opinion and assessment of trends in the field of quality solutions for music and cinema.

Showroom Audiomania on m. Electrozavodskaya

Dmitry : I would start with content for overclocking, because the topic is interesting. How does the content on the topic of audio, acoustics, compared with what was previously published in magazines and in the media?

Now everything has finally gone to the network and has become a separate portals that make and thematic publications, and companies. In your experience, how is the work of one of these portals, “ Hi-Fi World ”, being built?

Timofey : It is built in the same way as it was before. Nothing fundamentally changed. More changed consumption. We prepare articles, make photo and video reports. Just the demand for them has become a little different.

If before it was really possible to go to the stall, buy a magazine and read something, now it’s commonplace that there is no place to go due to the lack of a stall. To be honest, the journals stayed. For example, “What Hi-Fi?” Will now come out in paper, which is surprising, but the truth will come out.

Dmitry : And what is the circulation, if not a secret?

Timofey : I don't know that. How come - let's see what will be written on it. But anyway, the paper press still exists in places, and not only yellow. However, it is no secret that the consumption of content has gone to the network completely and irrevocably. And mostly this content is consumed from smartphones.

It makes no sense to carry large devices with them: small screens have become quite comfortable for reading. Sometimes you look at the subway: people on the screens manage to play some toys with very tiny elements. I can not imagine how they fall [by the elements], but somehow they do it.

Therefore, reading [from the phone] is perfectly normal. We now have a full-fledged editorial board, with its authors, with a manager, whom we call the “editor-in-chief”. An atypical enough position for an organization [that sells audio equipment].

Dmitry : Why can the company now act as a center of expertise, which is often lacking in specialized publications? Why they can lose their readers and have to go to the central hub on the topic that the company provides?

Timofey : We would be glad if the editors remained in the form in which they are, but, unfortunately, most of the specialized publications thought that the paper would always be there, and somehow they were very late in their development. As a result, we found ourselves in a situation where we have to create such resources and such tools because people simply need to take knowledge somewhere.

I understand that now the Internet, online commerce and most of the online stores are tied to the fact that they are waiting for a person to type in the search for the name of the product, and they are happy to deliver it to him. But the topic of audio and not the cheapest electronics in this way does not work. Here, you must still have some knowledge before you type in the name of the product.

Previously, the whole process was really built under the influence of certain media, but now everything has changed. We can not let go of this process, so we are forced to seize the initiative. But it turns out well. We have a mailing list and, even praise, in July we briefly became the number one site on the Hi-Fi theme in RuNet.

Then " " came back to the first place, but I think that this is also a matter of time. We are now actively growing, including through content. We think a lot about how it is more competent, more convenient to serve. How people consume it, how they read, what they lack, what topics to develop. And it is now in ours, no matter how strange it may sound, marketing is the main direction.

[ Listen to this release ] [ Details of the broadcast ]

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Dmitry : Why does the company now have no task to sell something in every single material, but rather to train people, to talk about what is in principle, and how it works? And due to which everything works that way and not otherwise?

Timofey : Firstly, we are happy to sell what we describe. And if the article mentions certain product offers, then they are right there. It would be strange, being on the website of an online store, not to do this. But first of all, you need to understand that most people are not ready for any purchases. They may be interested in some kind of information, they may learn or hear something somewhere.

In the end, social networks now rule, also not a secret. And people, getting on some interesting article, are involved in this process [of reading]. That is, this is part of our marketing on the one hand, and (on the other) part of our mission of conveying information that there is a completely different world, which is not spoken about by the mainstream media.

Dmitry : Because these are stories not only about products, but also about the whole ecosystem of sound , starting with how you can use various gadgets on trips to work, home, traveling, and ending with some kind of productive work : how to create atmosphere to immerse yourself in a specific task.

Timofey : Yes, despite the fact that our industry is quite conservative, high technologies come to it, and someone needs to get this information and tell people. There will be no other way. In part, there is a need for this; in part, people simply discover a completely new world for themselves. It's great. It is a pleasure to do.

Dmitry : In fact, it turns out that the company begins to act as a guide to this world. And it's not so much behind the counter as it leads a person to what he is interested in, and he himself can already make a choice.

Timofey : It is.

Short video from this release.

Dmitry : Then let's move on to the trends that we wanted to analyze today. I would call it this way: “a little bit suspicious perception of new trends” and “renaissance of old trends”.

Timofey : Okay. I would start with strange things, I would even say, with trend mixes. Paradox: the popularity of HD audio is growing, and at the same time people continue to use smartphones without additional DACs.

Dmitry : It seems to me that the evolution of audio chips is now proceeding quite quickly. Recent smartphones are progressing well. Even I felt the difference between the conditional fifth generation and the latest generation of the iPhone.

Timofey : Of course, there is a difference.

Dmitry : The difference is very big.

Timofey : However, if you use an external DAC, the difference is audible to any person. Usually, people who are completely unprepared for this topic say: “A bear or someone else came into my ear, I will not do this, simply because I am sure that I will not hear anything.”

Dmitry : Yes, it makes sense to strain?

Timofey : And then you give a person a device, pick up headphones, or connect speakers, and the person says, “Wow. How so? ”And it pleasantly surprises. Of course, if a person really had music in a quality format, and not in the format of “Hi-Res from a squeezed mp3”.

This is also an unpleasant story: people are starting to download music from some free resources. They do not know in what form it was before it turned into this Hi-Res. And then use regular smartphone DACs that seem cool - and lose a lot.

As for Hi-Res, this is a terribly controversial story. The overall trend of HD popularity [primarily HD video and 4k] is gradually spreading to sound. HD audio, in my opinion, is a very controversial technology. No matter how many times I listened to different recordings, I have a feeling that sometimes even ordinary audio, not HD, sounds better on quite decent hardware.

Therefore, there also appears a funny multidirectional movement: on the one hand, we have fast Internet - anywhere, even in the subway. There are huge amounts of memory - I have 64 GB in my pocket, and I don’t notice it. Or a 128 GB flash drive may be lost somewhere in your pocket. One hundred twenty eight gigabytes! Once it was something impossible. And while people continue to download mp3-shki just because they are used to it.

Dmitry : On the other hand, there is streaming.

Timofey : On the third hand, HD audio, which is pumped out because “why not”, but is used absolutely for its intended purpose. This seems to me very strange.

Dmitry : Like a bright sticker, an attractive element.

Timofey : Perhaps, yes. It turns out that there are strong habits that are very difficult to give up. This is not even a question of comparing HD audio and mp3. There are intermediate moments, various lossless formats, for example. Not necessarily HD.

It turns out that some people went one way, and some people with a very conservative view, who were used to and convinced themselves that they did not hear anything, although they were still quite young and healthy, went the other way.

Dmitry : What is the place of the players in this cycle, if you consider them? Maybe this is the solution that is 100% suitable in this situation, and you don’t need to bother with smartphone chips and intermediate amplifiers?

Timofey : Yes, exactly the same thing happens with the players. If we take the entire market as a whole, then they diverged in the same way. There are very cheap players that can play mp3 on some headphones from a smartphone. It can even be listened to.

By the way, a funny topic: on cheap headphones you can listen to compressed-compressed music. Just because the artifacts are heard worse. And when you take something more serious, then you begin to hear these artifacts, and it turns out that on expensive equipment this squeezed-compressed sound sounds much worse than on cheap. This is fun.

So, with the players turned out the same story: they went in different directions.

Hypermass product, which is worth nothing, is sold in Chinese stores - on the one hand. And on the other hand - very expensive players, costing a few dozen, or even hundreds of thousands of rubles. At one time I was almost sure that they would not buy it. Who will buy this, and why carry a player in your pocket for 250 thousand rubles?

But there is a demand, people really buy it, carry it in their pockets, because where else. This is a portable player that is worn with itself. It has nothing to do with expensive cars, because in expensive cars, as a rule, now everything is fine with sound.

Therefore, specialized devices have always been better, there is no doubt. But the general trend, if you don’t get involved in extremes, is that everything is diminishing: the playback devices, and everything else, the columns are the same.

Dmitry : Portable speakers are now "smart."

Timofey : Yes! This is another trend.

Dmitry : But how much does all this change their stuffing in terms of improvement / deterioration?

Timofey : This is a question of requirements. There are new opportunities, that's what's important to understand. When I start to tell some stories, they say to me: "This is for a private house."

In fact, it makes no difference where the apartment is located, what kind of house it is: panel, brick. For any room you can choose your own solution that will satisfy the tasks that are, and not interfere with neighbors, relatives.

Take, for example, multi-room systems. Denon is now promoting HEOS technology.

This technology allowed to create multiroom anywhere, in any space, using only the application on the phone. It has become so simple that you wonder. Previously, special people were needed, they had a long training. Needed expensive programs for the computer.

It was a very expensive story, because it required the attention of a specialist, who paid for the training in due time, and he needs to repel this training. This is expensive equipment, expensive software. All this should fit together.

And if suddenly there was a nuisance, for example, some part of this complex, wired system at that time, stopped working, and the person who installed all this disappeared somewhere (quit this occupation, moved to another city or country), I had to do everything anew.

Wireless Hi-Fi acoustics Denon HEOS 5 HS2

Dmitry : In this situation, the smartphone acts as a source of control?

Timofey : He can act as anything: as a source, and as a repository. I do not know how many people store the entire collection on a smartphone. Despite the fact that the tanks are huge, people are gigantomania - you need to keep everything in the world, all the music they can listen to, and there is not enough smartphone for this. Therefore, there are cloud solutions ...

Dmitry : ... and network, respectively.

Timofey : Yes, and network storages, which are now actively used. They do not occupy space, stand somewhere there. Again, there is a trend towards miniaturization.

Dmitry : In fact, a smartphone acts as a hub, which can assemble all these elements and quickly launch.

Timofey : And then these elements begin to communicate with each other without a smartphone. This is also interesting. I launched and can turn off the smartphone, it is no longer needed. Each device begins to live an independent life and "clever". It is very cool.

Dmitry : The situation here is interesting when, say, you come from a run and the music that you stream while you run, switches to your home system and continues to play. Such continuous integration.

Timofey : Yes, technically, this is already an elementary story. The same: I walk around the apartment, and the music follows me. I can include different melodies, different compositions in different rooms and in the same way I can turn on one everywhere - full control of the control.

Dmitry : On the one hand, it turns out this way: a person can simply come, buy all these elements, read a how-to or some guide on installation and connection, launch and enjoy music. On the other hand, there is a whole layer of technical specialists who have worked with this before. What will they do now?

Timofey : If this is a question about installers who used to work in showrooms or home systems, then they are definitely doing something else, or specializing in very complex systems, like our installers. This is also there. This is not a mass product, but nevertheless, such stories exist.

Dmitry : In systems like those presented in showrooms?

Timofey : Yes. Here, too, demand went in different directions. There is practically no middle. There is an affordable solution - multiroom. A person can independently acquire all the components, put them in different rooms and start the application from the smartphone and configure something there. Even nothing to read, everything is very clear and simple. This is one side.

The other side - very complex systems, which are not limited to such solutions, require built-in equipment, like, for example, here on our wall [the podcast was recorded in this showroom Audiomania]. I can click on one button, and my light will turn on, the projector will start, or vice versa - the light will go out and everything will turn off.

Audiomania Cinema on Electrozavodskaya

Dmitry : There is a tablet for management.

Timofey : Yes, of course, there is a tablet that can control all sources of video and sound, and even a little game console. At least turn it on, then you can take the joystick and play. In this case, all the equipment is somewhere in the back.

Such systems can not be created by the end user without special skills. The same goes for the story with the “invisible” columns that are embedded in the wall, plastered and plastered. Now they talk a lot about it. This trend is minimal.

There are also “smart” columns, (which) will not help here, because they are “smart”, but still visible. Another story about smart speakers - those notorious voice assistants, when the speakers begin not only to play something, but also to listen.

There were a lot of funny stories told by the media: someone said something, and the column took it as a bid. Then the courier arrives, brings it, and nobody needs it. But it is fine.

The story with speech recognition did not appear yesterday. However, at the moment I use voice dictation only while I'm in the car. Stupid sms is driving, and voice is fine. But this “normal” in 20% of cases still results in the wrong things. If you have not noticed and sent, “from the other side” they laugh very loudly. Sometimes there are very unexpected words that you cannot even imagine; I will not give examples.

But, nevertheless, there are such systems. In Russia, while they know more about them from the press, in the West it is a trend. Again, people have the desire to get something interesting, unusual, new, to play around. Now the younger generation - "about to play." Therefore, such devices that involve in relationships with them will be in demand. And the further, the more.

Therefore, it is not surprising that this trend is active in the West. It's just that there is a slightly different format of consumption, a slightly different level of income, compared to the cost of these devices. Our income level is lower, plus the device costs 2-3 times more than in the same America.

Dmitry : It seems to me that our person is more likely to focus on a set of high-quality acoustics, bookshelf, for example, which he can purchase at the price of such a “smart” speaker from a top manufacturer.

Timofey : That's right.

Dmitry : Because the tasks are completely different - not so much playing as listening to good music.

Timofey : This is an important point. The audience is clearly divided: there are those who need to play, in principle, it is not very important how it sounds. Because miracles do not happen. Just like a small smartphone, it cannot photograph as it does a large SLR camera. And never can. Not because there is a matrix of the wrong resolution. Optics is important - there are physical processes from which we do not jump out.

Similarly, these small portable speakers will normally play pop music. Because in principle, pop sounds acceptable on any device. I mean by pops here I mean what we once called musical fast food.

Dmitry : Mass product.

Timofey : Yes. Because it is conditionally massive. At one time, Madonna and Michael Jackson were considered massive, and now these records are considered high-quality and completely "not pop".

Of course, the cost of modern solutions, all the more so now in trend, is quite high, because there is a demand. People just want to play with these toys. If people have a goal to listen to music and get emotions from their favorite works, then this is not the way.

This thing will play and throw somewhere. I do not know how long this trend is. In my opinion, this is rather just a fashionable thing.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Headphone Cover

Dmitry : Okay, another trend is noise-canceling headphones. He has been with us for quite some time, but the evolution of such devices is going on at a good pace.

Timofey : Now processors are being accelerated, components are being reduced, algorithms are being improved - as a result, computer equipment is going to meet home appliances. In household appliances, there are already all kinds of unbelievable switches, everywhere there are small screens and buttons, including touch-sensitive ones. The same story now comes to audio, although, again, I repeat, this is a terribly conservative market, but it is difficult to resist such things.

Headphones with active noise cancellation are not new. For example, I recently had a need for them. I often fly by plane, and noise is not a very pleasant thing. It would be great to put on headphones and immerse yourself in something, or in an audiobook, or in music, because this hum is unpleasant, and it hurts my head.

I chose a headset for a very long time. I can not say that I am some kind of hyper consumer, audiophile, no, by no means. Music lover - yes, audiophile - no. It was not easy: first, I came to some shops with the aim of just listening. The range in the world is huge, and in Audiomania something can easily not be. It is interesting to hear what solutions there are, besides what we have.

And some sellers terribly surprised me, just no words. You ask: - Headphones with active noise cancellation? - You that such does not happen. That was very amazing.

As a result, after listening to many well-known popular brands, you will laugh, I still bought headphones in Audiomania. I tried to do it differently, but it didn’t work out for me.

There is such a problem: different frequencies and the suppression of these different frequencies. How do headphones with active noise cancellation work: they mix in the signal in antiphase what is heard outside. And so we do not hear it. It turns out that different frequencies, when they begin to mix, can greatly harm the sound signal that we hear.

Then there is such a problem: the more these headphones “crush” the mids, the more it affects the sound. Anyway, this is a compromise. When you turn on the noise box, something must appear in the sound. In the end, I chose the headset from Audio-Technica, and there is no mid-range "pressure" there. It’s important that they crush the unpleasant hum, but at the same time, on the same plane, the flight attendant can come up to me, say something, and I will hear if the music is not very loud.

And even more modern headphones, those that are just now appearing, are already equipped with a smarter thing. And, again, through the application on the smartphone, I can configure it. Now this is space. I now think if I was in a hurry with the purchase.

Dmitry : In a sense, to regulate the perception of external sounds? What type of sound "run inside"?

Timofey : Yes, you can adjust the noise reduction mode, it can switch. I used to go and choose headphones with a suitable noise reduction option so as not to spoil the sound so much that I would stop listening to it.

I want to listen to music in comfort. As you like, without an obsessive bass, from which it will be even worse than from the hum of an airplane. Now it can be customized. Headphones are more customized. I haven’t listened to any such model until I just read a couple of reviews, but it sounds very interesting, very cool.

It seems to me that the development of this topic: computer equipment, processor power and reduced power consumption, gives us completely different possibilities, which we literally didn’t have. It would seem that very little time has passed, and there are already completely different things.

Dmitry : Here, like everywhere, you just have to come, meet, listen, to understand from your own experience how it works.

Timofey : Yes, without this in any way.

These days Audiomania is holding a grand New Year sale . It ends tomorrow (January 9, 2018). Products with discounts up to 50% participate in the sale: acoustics, electronics, vinyl records and much more. And we have a special selection of products from our range that will help you choose gifts for your loved ones and friends.


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