Without a doubt the iPod and its associated digital music formats has been the most significant force in the consumers spectrum of music opportunity. There is a significant harbinger of doom for the specialist Hi Fi business within this phenomenon and much has been written in the popular press of late wherin the iPod has been put forward as the death knell of conventional stereo useage. The Herald Tribune recently ran an article titled “portability trumps fidelity for music fans” and a number of respected figures from the studio production end of things have appeared in the press bemoaning the intrinsic lack of fidelity in the formats used by their end users in comparison to the ultimate care they take at the production end to produce the most realistic rendition of the original recording.

The truth is that there has always been alternative lower fidelity highly portable formats, from the seventies trannies that people would clutch to their ears through the Sony Walkmen of the eighties to the Discmen of the 90s.

These nouvelle media actually provide the entry point for people into their own worlds of music, where the common press repeatedly mistakes the application of these various formats in their predilection of narration of doom for the high quality musical replay is by claiming the portable formats to be in adversity whereas in fact they form a foundation of introduction to the higher quality areas of the specialist HiFi reproduction scene.

It is interesting to note that one of Carlton Audio Visual areas of specific client retention has been from those young men we met in the early 90’s who in those days were intent being the loudest and bassiest car audio user on Lygon St, when we opened the business in 1991 we had a small but pointed inventory of car audio and a strong contractor relationship with a very talented and innovative installer. I have found that many of those young men who might charitably have been described as glandular driven and who were actually scorned by the more elitist Hi fi shops of the day have often not only grown into personal career success stories from their rather humble new Australian northern suburban parentages but have also become some of our most knowledgeable and discerning consumers of stereo audio and surround sound systems.

In the same way we met the early adopters of digital music at Carlton Audio visual in the late nineties and had much fun experimenting with its storage techniques and utilisation before the iPod swept all before it. My colleague Martin is still traumatised by my insistence on loading Cher’s “If I could turn back time” onto our network in 1998 … she is still there lurking in the digital background noise somewhere waiting for me retrieve her from his attempts at musical censorship. Thus for me the iPod generation and its associated new music formats is something to be lauded and embraced as it provides or the ground floor and upwards entry into that particular world of quality musical reproduction upon which our business is based.

Witness the amount of products that we purvey which in some way are directly associated with iPod reproduction. Every surround receiver has and minis system in some way offers a docking capability for Mr Job’s ubiquitos storage device. The current generation of home music multi zone systems are often based around the occupants having the ability to dock their Pods and then interact with them from various locations around the domicile. The more innovative systems are extending this capability to movie being stored on portable media players as well. The Control 4 media player for example is a must-have add on to this outstanding Home Automation/Multi Zone products repertoire to enable fluid access of video media around a contemporary home at a modest price and with great reliability. We understand that Sonos, themselves a product of some of the original Apple design team, are due to release an effective video distribution system in the near future with similar ease of interaction as their fantastic multi room audio systems.

The counterpoint to the enormous success of digital music in our particular scene as a replay medium is that we have not seen such a surge of vinyl sales in many years. As part of that generation of enthusiasts that the iPod scene has incurred there is in that particularly high research and very high personal information levels that lead to self directed shopping (the so called selfsumer ..) a rapid acquisition of the core values of audio that has lead to a non market driven realisation that the ultimate in zero compression recordings and the closest approach to the original sound (thankyou Quad for that particular slogan) is in fact the black microscopically etched rotating pieces of poly vinyl chloride that are once again the king of the audiophile media hierarchy. As I say it is especially notable how the young geek consumers are leapfrogging into this format rather than crawling through the various stages and achieving vinyl at a respectable middle age ... Thus they acquire their first ipod at 14 and their first record player at 21. In this fashion the digital music scene due to its proliferation and accessability is actually bringing good Hi Fi to more people than ever before.