Auditioning a Sprout


#1

So as a Kickstarter backer I will personally be auditioning my very own Sprout when it shows up. The sentiment and motivation behind the product launch was easily enough to make we want to support this effort. I’m worried about the post-Kickstarter potential customers.

When I was a young man the world was full of stereo stores. When I was preparing for a purchase I would go into one that had a reasonable selection and introduce myself to the first salesperson I could find. They all worked on commission and I wasn’t looking for expertise. They earned their commission in the 4-5 additional visits where they allowed me some peace in a listening room with my selected music to play and take notes.

If we want today’s young people to be involved in music, one strategy might be to encourage them to listen critically before making a purchase. The problem is the world isn’t full of stereo stores anymore!

I live in central Connecticut and did a quick “find a dealer” search on the main PS Audio site. There are 4 dealers within 100 miles of my home. The closest one is almost an hour away. Each is a super-high-end custom installer type shop where you make an appointment before visiting. These guys have round architect glasses, carry “soundroom” blueprints around with them and wear Italian loafers that cost as much as a Corolla. I imagine today’s young people wouldn’t get within 100 miles of one of these places. They would be totally out of their element and self conscious. If nothing else, they would be considering a layout of cash 4 times anything else they had considered spending on audio equipment and it would be the cheapest product in the entire shop (if these guys bother to stock a Sprout at all).

So… how do we get the younger generation interested? If the only choice is to blind order one from CO, a lot of people might pass. PS Audio hasn’t traditionally sold through Amazon-like internet outlets and even if they did, the product would be hard to distinguish itself on a screen with the competition. Touching and listening is the only way but how?

Last week I was depressed to see a perfunctory and somewhat unkind review from Steve Guttenberg that reinforced the need for people to listen for themselves. While I would be delighted to let people audition the Sprout in my living room if they live in central CT, I doubt my offer will have substantive impact for PS Audio :)

Maybe some of the high-end dealers could be cajoled into having “walk in Wednesdays” and have a corner of their business dedicated to (potential) future Sprout and other entry level product owners.


#2

Great thoughts Andrew and yes, we need a different sales strategy with Sprout and that’s been a big contentious issue around the halls of PS as of late. Traditional means for a non-traditional product probably don’t make sense.


#3

I do not see millennials making a dedicated trip to hear a single audio device - unless it can be heavily documented on YouTube and with plenty of selfies. (If there is not photos and video, it did not happen).

I do not know how to get sales buzz going in this group however, other than be selling fashion (see, e.g., Beats’ success).


#4

I try hard not to be cynical. While a “millennial” is still living with their parents and looking for reliable employment I don’t see them shopping for “starter” audiophile equipment that can’t be carried in their pocket. One day they will have apartments and emerging adult lifestyles that they will begin to develop. Ikea-style furniture and cool retro second-hand shops will suddenly become interesting to them overnight. I don’t know what the nesting instinct in millennials will look like exactly but the goal is to make products like the Sprout appear to be a part of the end goal of that instinct…


#5

Millennials are currently to 20 to 35. Many are not only living away from their parents, they have homes, families, careers - even furniture. :)

Additionally, desk top head-fi (not portable) is very popular among this group, including those in college. The sources, amps, and headphones in which they are interested - and buying - are far from inexpensive.

The trick is for Sprout to find a way to participate in the caché head-fi currently enjoys among this demographic.


#6

Hmm… So let me get this right. I’m sitting in my office (officially my employer’s office) with a pair of reasonably nice studio (closed) headphones and a small tube-based headphone amp connected via USB Audio to my laptop. This setup is a compromise necessary to avoid disturbing my neighbors at work. Also it would probably be foolish to leave equipment at work that costs more than 5-600 dollars. I have a similar setup at home except I can use open headphones since there is no one likely to complain of noise leakage. Is this what you mean by head-fi? (I’m assuming the millennials buy “cooler” brands than I do)!

If this is the case then there is hope! The pitch is “watch less TV, listen to more music”! Instead of a mediocre 7.1 surround system for your TV, consider a modest class-D amplifier connected to a pair of excellent speakers and a nice sub-woofer. Hook up your TV to this so your TV-watching friends don’t think you are weird. Hook up your laptop and enjoy top-shelf music. When your friends come over with music on their phone encourage them to play it through your system’s Bluetooth. Sounds pretty good huh! Now… for your next birthday consider asking your Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Spouse to get you a nice turntable. Buy some vinyl. Enjoy life…you are on your way.

To make this a reality, we go back to nesting. What does it look like for millennials? What do they value having around them and how do they make purchase decisions? If they are buying headphone amps where are they getting them and what criteria do they use? If they are buying surround sound theatre systems same question? Do these folks go in to big box electronics stores? Shopping malls? If on vacation might they stop in at the strange used book / record store with fresh eyes? (Do they even go on vacation?)


#7
andrewnewman said . . . Is this what you mean by head-fi?
Yes, indeed. See, e.g., click.
To make this a reality, we go back to nesting.
Nesting and working. The work environment is often as important as home for many.