Home Hi-Fi Is the HiFi sector going to die?

Is the HiFi sector going to die?

Is the HiFi sector going to die?


I’ve written about it before. In all sorts of places, such as forums, HiFi platforms, in the corridors of trade shows and in the press, there is doubt about the viability of the HiFi sector. ‘Things are not going well’ is the disturbing message, and fatalistic warnings are often issued that the HiFi sector is going to die. Is that true? And is that a bad thing?

Citroen DS

Once upon a time, there was the Citroen DS. An iconic car introduced in 1955 that appealed to many people. There are still many admirers of the DS and there are DS clubs world wide. Meanwhile, many new models with new technologies have appeared on the market, more comfortable and safer. Still, a lot of people can be found who find it very unfortunate that the DS disappeared from the market. This is a pity for the enthusiasts and a pity for the people who manufactured the model. Still, the automotive sector has not collapsed or gone to ruin, quite the contrary. So, it’s unfortunate in many ways, but not a sign that the industry is going down. Could something like this also apply to HiFi?


It’s all about the music musicians make reaching the ears of listeners. There are many people involved in that, the musicians themselves, all kinds of technicians, commercial people, entrepreneurs, financiers, journalists, lugers, radio makers, theater directors, officials and you name it.

Moreover, the industry has many aspects, for example, technology, commerce, communications, management, education and public policy. It is a network of people and things that is part of the cultural ecosystem.

From musicians to listeners

In that ecosystem, of course, there are all sorts of ways through which that music can reach our listeners’ ears. It can be through live concerts, through radio and TV broadcasts, through sound carriers, the Internet and so on. But also through pop-up sessions or even on the battlefield. We all have our own way of experiencing music. You get used to it, you put your money into it, you get to understand your way and for audiophiles it can even become a way of life.

Each path by which music reaches the listeners’ ears requires its own facilities, industries, markets, organizations, funding and supportive government policies. This part of the cultural ecosystem therefore has body; it becomes resistant. Of course, we also become quite accustomed and sometimes attached to this.

Innovations and accidents

Now what if there are changes in the cultural ecosystem, driven, for example, by innovations? Of course that happens… Indeed, companies and governments are making innovativeness a spearhead of policy, for example, the European Union. It is seen that innovation in the cultural sector is important as an engine in the development of our society.

Well, that can be quite problematic. Innovation can be problematic for industries. Funders start reinvesting, governments adjust and we, listeners, are also faced with the choice to adapt or not.

In such a process, accidents happen. Good technologies sometimes get stuck, companies sometimes make ridiculously large excess profits, innovations can fail and so on. That should certainly be objected to.

What about us? We have put our money into a nice audio system and into music, we know exactly how to use that system, we are audiophiles and we enjoy it. For us, innovation, including meaningful innovation, is a problem. We should certainly exchange views and sometimes grumble about that too.

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Bernard Verstegen
Als HiFi liefhebber geniet ik van muziek. Wat ik uiteindelijk hoor is de uitkomst van een samenspel van allerlei elementen zoals technologie, creativiteit, ondernemerszin, geld, journalistiek, commercie en noem maar op. Voor mij als econoom zijn markten de verbinding. En wij zijn de uiteindelijke consumenten. Ik wil weten hoe die verbanden zitten. As a HiFi enthusiast, I enjoy music. What I ultimately hear is the result of an interplay of various elements such as technology, creativity, entrepreneurship, money, journalism, commerce, and so on. For me, as an economist, markets are the connection. And we are the ultimate consumers. I want to understand how these connections work.