The ultimate in high-end audio is a very broad church, and it depends on how you define 'ultimate'. You can just go for the ultimate in purse-string management, or you can go for the products that cost more than the average gold mine. Or, you can go with those products that deliver the ultimate sound quality irrespective of price. Some of those will be super-expensive too, but this year, we went for quality and quantity.
It's interesting to track the changes in the audio world of recent years. Yes there have been the two obsessions of streaming and headphones and these are far from falling into the background. And yet, recent trends in high-end still point to the vitalness of vinyl and the robustness of the record industry. Some might be keen to chart the end of the vinyl revival and declare that the bubble has burst. But, while the days of 100% growth in vinyl sales are gone, vinyl is still proving to be an important music format and shows no sign of falling away yet. This applies across the board, but the new trend in high-end turnkey turntables (as evidenced by the Burmester 175 reviewed on page 17 of this issue) looks to be a fine addition to the roll-call.
Of course, it's perhaps arguable whether or not there would be a high-end audio to muse philosophically over if it were not for some of the true titans of our audio world. Arnie Nudell, William Z. Johnson, Franco Serblin, J. Gordon Holt, and Harry Pearson all left an indelible mark on the audio world, one that will not be forgotten long after their passing. But now we have another industry great to mourn; Dave Wilson of Wilson Audio Specialties. With some of the most successful loudspeakers in the high-end field, his company under his steady hand effectively came to define high-end audio for a generation and although his company continues on from strength to strength, his legacy will forever be linked with the brand that bears his name.
Hi-Fi+ incorrectly attributed the UK distribution of Allnic cables in issue 159. Hammertone Audio (URL: hammertoneaudio.com, Tel: +1 250 826 6872) is the global distributor of Allnic's ZL Technology, and they are actively looking to recruit UK resellers. In addition, the price of the power cords tested was $1499. Our apologies for any confusion.
We would also like to congratulate Adrian Hull of Wiltshire, UK, who won the extremely fine Gold Note PH-10 phono stage, and Angelos Psilopoulos from Athens, Greece, who won the excellent Final D8000 headphones! Once again... congratulations!