I was just about 9 when music really gripped my heart. Artists like Prince, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna dominated MTV. I found myself jumping off the couch to videos such as “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Panama,” and what kid wasn’t dancing to Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”?
Music pulls emotion from our souls. It helps us celebrate; it’s there for us when we are sad; and it can deliver a distant memory to you in seconds. 1984 packed hit after hit onto the airwaves, but it was also a very pivotal time in music; specifically, in recording.
Two factors impacted music more than anything in the early 90’s: Pro Tools and the compact disc. Pro Tools was developed to allow digital sounds to be easily integrated into analog soundtracks. It also allowed the timing and structure of music to be altered like never before. Why does this matter? Because in my opinion the worst consequence of computer-assisted music creation is that it took the human element out of music.
CDs allowed music to become digital, but it came at a price, and that price was quality. It was impossible to get all of the information needed to recreate the beautiful sounds of the recording studio or live performance onto a CD. Audiophiles clung to their vinyl and tower speakers, but not many invested dollars into portable equipment, or the headphones that could go along with that.
Why does all of this history matter? Because now we are blessed with high-resolution streaming audio and high-end headphones. It took me about two years to accept high-resolution streaming, but now I am obsessed. Platforms such as Tidal and Qobuz now offer MQA and 24bit titles respectively and audiophiles are no longer stuck in front of their stereos.
So, how do we capture audiophiles with high-end headphones? It’s easy. Make sure you demo them on a high-resolution streaming device or service. Many of these services can stream through a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Spend the monthly fee and make sure that your sales team knows how to navigate the user interface – trust me it’s not difficult. Lead with the line, “I have a way for you to hear music through headphones like you’ve never heard before. Want to listen?”
Next comes the most trusted phrase in audio sales, “demo or die.” Put the headphones on the customer’s ears and allow them to pick a high-res music track of their liking. Show them where to adjust the volume and give them some space.
They will most likely want to hear a couple more tracks. Allow them to try several different styles and brands of headphones since they all differ in comfort and sound. Just like speakers, a certain style will appeal to each individual. One is not superior to another.
Once they hear how today’s headphones can faithfully reproduce the human elements of well recorded music, you will have an audiophile buying headphones from you, and don’t forget that anyone can be an audiophile, especially after they hear your demo!