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Issue 173    July 2019
High-End Audio Values From Bargain To Ultra-Fi
Any trip out to Munich has the power to reset your thoughts about the audio world.
Editorial By Alan Sircom


Hi-Fi+ Issue 173 July 2019


  Sometimes a month is a long time in audio, and any trip out to Munich has the power to reset your thoughts about the audio world. This is not a massively trend-driven industry (instead, it reacts slowly – often too slowly – to changes in the market), but Munich is the place to go trend-spotting, and there was the faint tang of a change coming in the air, and not just one pinned to the current financial waves rippling through the Eurozone.

I believe we are beginning to see the beginning of the end of the 'U' shaped audio world, with lots of energy being expelled at the very high and at the very low end, and not much taking place in between those two poles. If anything, we've seen those polar coordinates change, moving further apart with ever cheaper products fuelling the lower end of the market, and products attempting to up the super-high-end ante every year. And, to an extent, this year is no different, especially at the upper end of the scale. Systems costing half a million dollars or more were relatively commonplace in Munich in May, and new product launches that feed into that market were not hard to find. But there were also products filling in the gaps in the middle ground and it seems as if there is some energy coming back into that part of the market at last.


Hi-Fi+ Issue 173 July 2019


Some of this is down to companies adding new technology to their existing lines, with companies like Bowers & Wilkins and iFi Audio adding very different but valid strings to their respective bows. Some of it is consolidation; literally so in the on-going tale of acquisitions (Anthem, Paradigm, and MartinLogan being sold back to one of the founders of Paradigm, Sound United acquiring the consumer divisions of Onkyo and Pioneer), but there is a sense of change taking place in a part of the industry that has been somewhat moribund of late. Sealed deals are not the stuff of show report pictures, however. This change is not without its ideosyncracies (such as, how come the German personal audio industry almost completely ignored the biggest audio-specialist expo in the country this year), but it's needed; I am struggling to maintain my poker face when having to nod along to the notion of a €72,000 digital preamp being 'affordable entry-level'.

We'd like to congratulate Sam Vasco-Jarvis from Cambridgeshire, UK. He wins a pair of the excellent Red 50 stand-mount models from Russell K Loudspeakers, and Debbie Bradbury from Cheshire in the UK who wins the Gold Note Valore 425 Plus turntable. Well done!



Alan Sircom, Editor Hi-Fi+




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