Snip: If you work for the audio industry?or just write about it, as I do?these are disturbing times. Here?s the good news: Sales of audio products grew by 29 percent last year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Now here?s the bad news: Component audio sales actually fell by 16 percent. The growth in sales was driven almost entirely by portables, led by the skyrocketing iPod. Why is that bad news for an audiophile? Because high-end audio?the good stuff?is a subset of component audio, not portable audio. As the high- end market has withered, a whole generation has grown up without knowing what the good stuff sounds like. CEA reports that 56 percent of consumers ?say they have never even heard what they’d consider a great sounding audio system.
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