This is the first issue of Hi-Fi Plus of 2010. According to old Tomorrow's World episodes, we should all be wearing silver-foil clothes and riding round in flying cars by now. So much for predictions. Still, this new decade is set to create some futuristic and significant changes to the way we acquire, store and even listen to music. Our 'guide for the perplexed' about computer audio is merely the recognition of that. Where we go from here… who knows? We are in the midst of those great changes already, but how they pan out and what those changes ultimately mean for hi-fi remains unclear.
What's truly fascinating about the hi-fi industry in 2010 is just how diverse it has become. State of the art computer audio systems rub shoulders with valve phono preamplifiers that wouldn't look out of place 50 years ago. The latter holds extra promise for the future too, because vinyl is very much back in fashion again. A surprising number of people born long after LP's sun was supposed to have set are setting aside their iPods and picking up phono once more. At the moment, this counter-culture is very retro; vinyl old and new is played on 'cool' old hi-fi systems. But, unlike those who would choose compressed music with
artifacts as 'good enough', this suggests there are under-25s still taking sound quality seriously. But what's most exciting about this is that vinyl refuses to die.
Unlike CD. By the time you read this, Linn Products will have very publicly dropped its CD player range because it claims the downturn in CD and CD player sales makes the product line untenable in the long term. Whether this is the beginning of the end of CD remains to be seen, but I don't think Linn will be alone in making this
Before we plunge headlong into the future, I have something of an apology to make. There are a number of projects that I had on the boil, intending to make it to this issue. A whole series of notes on products I have reviewed are sitting in my note pad. Then swine flu hit, and hit hard. Somehow, your ability to write cogent copy is undermined by the desire to cough up a rib or two. Fortunately, a good selection of the country's best writers were more than capable of picking up the baton, but my apologies go out to Musical Fidelity, Acoustic Solid, The Cartridge Man, Unison and all those companies who were expecting to see their reviews in print this issue.
Still, now you know some of what will be in the next issue, just so long as I steer clear of pigs wearing sombreros.