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.