We have seen unprecedented change in the front-ends of our systems in recent years. CD waxed and waned, where LP had the opposite trajectory. As to 'non-physical media' we've moved from low quality MP3 to high-resolution PCM, DSD, and now MQA files, while even the way we acquire that music has shifted from 'own' to 'loan' as we moved to streaming services like TIDAL and Spotify.
The usual narrative here implies massive shifts in the listening tastes of music lovers. It's like we all get an email every couple of months saying something like "Hi! Music here. Stop listening to downloaded music and start streaming now." And we all obey. Seeing trends and patterns in the way we acquire and listen to music as concrete and universal change is extremely convenient for pundits and those of us with column inches to fill, but isn't a true reflection of the actions of the modern music lover.
In fact, what we are seeing emerge in today's audio world is an "it's all good" approach of surprising acceptance. The pitched battles between digital and analogue supporters are not resolved, but there appears to be a lengthy ceasefire in place. It's not unusual today for an audiophile to be happy to take a multi-format approach to their music replay, incorporating LP, downloads, ripped CDs, and online streaming services into one seamless approach to listening. Recently, we've even seen tape make a comeback (with both open-reel as the 'fidelity' approach, and cassette paradoxically as the format of choice for gigging bands wanting to release their music without fear of digital piracy!
Part of that 'it's all good' approach can be seen in the re-awakening of interest in compact disc replay, as distinct from CD ripping. Just as there was a small cabal of listeners who remained true to the idea that the sound quality of LP was better than CD, so there is today a small and growing community who think CD sounds better than music stored on hard disk.
As we went to press, we learned of the passing of Gérard Chrétien, formerly of Focal. He was a pivotal figure in the company from 1990 until he stepped down due to illness recently, and will be remembered for his encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz. He will be missed.
Our congratulations go out to Graeme Scanlan from Newcastle Under Lyme, who won our most recent competition and will receive the excellent Pristine Vinyl ViVac RCS2 record cleaning machine. Well done!