We went to press almost immediately after the annual
CES show in Las Vegas wound down. The event – bigger, shinier and just plain
nerdier each year – helps shape consumer electronics of all angles for the
next year or more. Some products and concepts will disappear without trace,
while others will set the trend. It's impossible to predict what will
succeed and what won't, even if the world's news cameras are trained on
the wearable tech, the curvy phones and the biggest TV screens around.
Few of the world's news cameras are trained on our little
backwater anymore, but that doesn't mean our waters are stagnant. This was
the year of High Resolution Audio, driven by consumer electronics giants like
Sony suddenly taking renewed interest in audio and delivering products that
can handle 24/192 and even DSD 128 streamed over USB with ease. There will be
a greater base of high-resolution audio files available in the UK with the
announcement of the impending arrival of HDTracks and its thousands of titles.
In 2013, the music supplier not only had successes in the ‘really not for
audiophile' market (unless I've misread things and that most of our
readers are big Justin Timberlake fans) and had its first chart success…
albeit with the high-res version of Kind Of
Blue. The HDtracks edition was the first version of that evergreen
album to log US chart success in several years, so there's definitely
We have been behind the curve with downloaded music in the
UK, in part because the continued survival of HMV gives the impression of
nothing being that wrong with CD sales. But, even though they still have a
long, long way to fall, 2014 should be the year everyone makes plans for their
digital future, especially as the infrastructure required to download high
quality files will be greatly expanded this year.
But there's more than just a big Las Vegas show this
month. We have rounded up some of the best new products from around the world;
whether it's a DAC designed in Japan and built in Korea, an amp made by
Americans for a company in Italy or a pair of speakers designed and built in
Sheffield, we have a veritable cornucopia of audio.
We also have a fantastic offer coming up for Bristol Sound & Vision 2014. We have teamed up with Wilson Benesch and one lucky winner will receive a Limited Edition Square One loudspeaker, finished in the company's excellent white gloss livery. Find out more at www.25th-wilson-benesch.com.