It's that end of the year time once again. And it's time to embrace change. Audio used to be immune to the eternal sea of consumer electronics trends because it was a backwater where buyers and brands alike could eek out their years unconcerned by changes in technology. Not any more. It might be hard for us to reconcile this, but we are not the rulers of our own formats anymore. Move with the times or be swept away!
The reason for the proclamation is simple. This year, we gave our writers carte blanche to think up the best products they have heard recently, with an eye toward Christmas. We didn't want anything as tacky as '10 Top Xmas Gifts' or 'Santa's Audiophile Spectacular', but we wondered what products our team members would ask for at all levels.
The answers were fascinating, both in terms of what everyone pointed to, what everyone wanted to point to, and what everyone failed to notice. We quickly discovered we had to have some editorial control here, because almost every reviewer picked the same half-dozen products in their first draft. More importantly, few actively chose a disc player and even those immune to the joys of headphones were won over by the little Chord Mojo DAC.
Our team is also extremely perceptive, it seems: many of the products they picked for their list of Christmas indulgences are also proving to be some of the most popular ones in the stores at this time. Strangely, like never before, what is proving successful is not limited to specific price points – we can see products in the distinctly budget category, and products that cost as much as a house, all doing well.
The secret to getting it right isn't just 'giving the customer what they want' (although that helps). It's the understanding that this increasingly confusing world means we have to rely on experts to shape what we want in the first place. Next year, buzz-words like 'Everything as a Service' and 'The Internet of Things' are likely to become commonplace in audio (outside of very nerdy circles), and many of us are going to need a decoder ring.
That's where we come in! Over 2016, we hope to demystify some of this audio confusion.
Our congratulations go out to Jonathan Wheeler of Coventry who wins the Pristine Vinyl ViVAC RCS2 record cleaning machine, Tyler Steben from Saline, Michigan who wins a set of RHA T20i, Tomas Keavney of North Yorkshire who picks up a pair of Russell K Red 50s, and to Vicky Collins of Kent, who wins the excellent LH Labs Geek Out V2. Well done, and Merry Christmas to all!