No one would have believed, in the first years of the 21st Century, that vinyl was long for this world. No one could have dreamed their records would be worth more than a pittance. Few men even gave a thought to the LP. And yet, across the gulf of time, minds immeasurably younger than ours regarded old vinyl with envious eyes, and slowly, and surely, they drew their plans for its return.
OK, yes, I've been listening to Jeff Wayne's musical version of The War of the Worlds again. On LP. And it's great! It's great that LP is not just proving to be a hipster fad or a fashion accessory. It's great that we can devote almost a whole issue to a medium that by all accounts should have died off in the last century.
The 'vinyl revival' could so easily be a vintage fetish, with people trawling eBay, swap-meets, and 'audiojumbles' for parts of audio’s glory days. And it's true that Classic-Fi has a big part to play in the resurgence of vinyl. But it's also fair to say that some of the best LP performance ever can be had from the latest and greatest audio gear.
A good turntable needn't cost a fortune, and companies like Rega and Pro-Ject recognise the new generation of vinylistas might view installing a cartridge as an arcane and lost art, so they often provide complete kits that require minimal adjustment. But not everyone wants so easy a record-playing life!
In fact, vinyl replay has become a very broad church, encompassing everything from the 'fit and forget' brigade to the inveterate tweakers, box swappers, and multiple cartridge users... and all points in between. There is some sharing of skills across the generations, too.
However, we lost the battle for 'vinyl' – it's now 'vinyls'! I think we can live with that, if it means there will still be LPs and great things to play them on in the future.
Meanwhile, on the digital side, things are in a state of flux. Tidal is becoming the popular choice for day-to-day audiophile listening, replacing Spotify for the hard-core enthusiast willing to pay a small premium. Then again, people are still downloading hi-res files, and even buying CDs. Perhaps CD will stage a comeback, and I can listen to War of the Worlds on CD...
This month marks the launch of our first Digital Buyers Guide – a free-to-download, complete round-up of the best products we've seen, the best products to come, interviews with key designers and so much more. Our first guide is available at www.hifiplus.com/buyers_guides/
Finally, congratulations to Martin Rainer from West Sussex in the UK, who wins a pair of Russell K's excellent Red 100 loudspeakers!