Upbeat About Audio's Place In The 2020s
Onwards and upwards! While 2021 is likely going to be a year of consolidation and picking up the pieces, it's hard not to see some optimism now that we are unshackled from the horrors of 2020. OK, so we're still experiencing a lot of aftershocks from the Year of Hell, and likely will do so for some time to come, but maybe 2021 will be the year of 'hope!' to replace the year of 'nope!' In our little world, audio companies have fared relatively well, in part because we've weathered storms before.
Let's face it, though; products that are designed to enhance the home listening experience are always going to perform better than expected during a time when everyone is at home. That advantage goes away as we unfurl ourselves and rebuild our lives beyond those four walls. Maybe we didn't win the war, but we won some good battles... now audio needs to manage the peace.
I'm upbeat about audio's place in the 2020s. We've shown the world that good music in the home is a valid option once again and even though we all just want to go to gigs, concerts and festivals when the fog clears, actually I think many of us might be just as content with a good glass or two of wine, some fine company and some excellent music. This was how many of those who have spent a life in audio were minted in the first place; discovering that inner world of music is as interesting a place to explore as the live event. One need not preclude the other.
Part of the reason for that optimism is predicated on the sheer quality of audio products we've seen recently. Sure, countries periodically blinking out of action because of a lockdown has thrown a few spanners in the works, and doubtless our contents lists will reflect a degree of plasticity of product line-up for some months. Magazines try to plan months in advance, but that can be difficult when the next big thing winds up waiting on a component locked away in a far-away factory for a few months. However, we're often finding that it's worth the wait, as it seems coping with COVID sharpens the mind of the designer somehow...
Errata: In our awards issue (Issue 190) we mistakenly gave the wrong award to Audio Research for its Reference 160S power amplifier. It receives the Award for the Power Amplifier of the Year rather than its published Highly Commended. Our most humble apologies!