It took Hi-Fi+ almost 13 years to reach its 100th edition, but it's taken us less than five to reach the 150th. Such is the pace of the audio and the online worlds now that the concept of making a bi-monthly magazine seems almost unthinkable today. And looking back to that 100th issue from 2012, it's patently obvious just how profound are the changes that have taken place to the audio industry, in almost every aspect of its intent, design, and outlook.
By our 100th issue, the fall of CD was in full effect and many of us predicted the time where high-performance CD players was passing. However, while it's true CD player sales are far from buoyant at this time, the format has remained resilient. People are still buying CDs and CD players. Even SACD still clings to life, despite both very limited availability of hardware and discs, and the widespread uptake of DoP (DSD over PCM) playback.
At the same time, 2012 saw the first inklings that the vinyl revival was likely to be something more than just a hipster fad or a flash in the pan. In fact, LP and record player sales have continued to rise year on year, at a time when every other branch of consumer electronics (both inside and outside the audio world) suffered more mixed fortunes.
Perhaps the most profound changes to the audio world in the last five years come in the shape of a more broad acceptance of the personal audio world as a core part of the audiophile experience. Back in 2012, the idea of devoting an issue to personal audio would be met by hostility by many readers. Today, many of those same readers are shopping for headphones!
It's inevitable that in looking back over the last 50 issues, you start to speculate on how the next few years will shape up. There seem to be two themes; online streaming and an ‘everything goes' attitude. In the first, we are already seeing almost half those who stream music now do so from sources like TIDAL instead of their home networks. That will likely only increase, to the point where the concept of ripping CDs may become academic. In other words, the ways people access their music are increasingly diverse!
Errata: I did warn readers last month that spending so many hours away from the Editor's chair attending shows would have their effect on the magazine, but I didn't expect both the Meet Your Maker and Meet Your Dealer sections in issue 149 to be quite so broken. Our apologies to all, and we have re-run those features (in their less messed up form) in this issue.