As a fashion conscious individual, I like to stay up to date with what's happening in the world of haute couture. As I perused a free fashion 'zine, I was pleasantly surprised to note that within the first ten pages I had seen three ads for headphones. Further in, they had the Audio Technica M50xBT and JBL LIVE 650BTNC as part of an "everyday accessories" spread.
Seeing quality audio gear in mainstream media is exciting for me. As technology advances, what was once considered niche are now in Mr & Mrs Smith's city apartment.
Audio companies know that to get the general public's money, they need to be creating products that are simple, stylish and merge into their already media-saturated lives.
Bose are king at this. You can't go anywhere without seeing the QC35II bluetooth cans on someones head. Before they got into the sound bar game, they were also the go-to for a HTIB (home theatre in a box) satellite system.
Other high-end audio companies are jumping into this market now, realising the potential for brand growth. Bowers & Wilkins, the classic British loudspeaker manufacturer has recently launched its Formation Suite, a bunch of stunning looking wireless audio products. As the new source of choice is a phone, being able to sit on the lounge, not see any cables and flick through your streaming service is appealing.
That's part of the reason why the KEF LS50 Wireless are so damn popular. They're easy to set up, sound amazing, and look good doing it.
Yamaha and Cambridge Audio both have wireless turntables. That's wild.
The steady advancements in technology makes these product possible. Bluetooth codecs like aptx-HD and Sony's LDAC get us CD quality music without pesky cables.
Some audiophiles would look down on all this "lifestyle" audio gear, stating that it's all marketing, that their money could be better spent on "real" components. Yeah, they probably could get something that objectively tests better. But non-audio people like convenience. They're not focused on how it sounds. Instead of Googling "what cables do I need" or "what is a phono amp", the layman wants to pull up their low-fi hip-hop playlist on Spotify and relax.
They just want to hear the music. And that should always be the end goal.
Audiophiles shouldn't judge these products, they only introduce more people to reputable brands and the world of high quality music. Hopefully these "lesser" hi-fi solutions will be a gateway to bigger and better audio, and that's not a bad thing.