This decade is freshly minted, but already
it is proving to be... strange. As our CES round-up shows, there's plenty of new equipment at a wide rage of prices, but especially for those seeking out up-market solutions. But there's a sense of unknowing that permeates the audio industry. Some of this comes from uncertainty over the future - are turntable sales going to remain buoyant? Should we replace our aging CD player, or wait until they become fashionable again? Is it to be a networked solution or 'PC-and-DAC' that's the way forward? Is Class D audiophile-ready yet?
Some are already coming out of the fugue. They are the ones that sussed out answers to some or all of these questions, and have released products that fit the bill. Their only concern is 'when are the customers coming back?', because both English and American audiophiles in general are taking a buying break at this time. Still, many see double-digit growth in their brands as the break new and emerging markets, and can experience genuine surges in sales, when they discover one good shop in Brazil can sell more equipment than two dozen stores in the UK. Curiously, this buying break doesn't seem to affect the highest of high-end too dramatically, especially if you have the right product at the right
-- if high -- price.
Not everyone is faring so well. Other companies -- it must be said
-- have just woken up to discover it's the twenty-first century. Some still have their watches set to 1980s time. You have to wonder occasionally how such companies keep going, but they turn up at the same shows, year in, year out.
This is show season. The annual Consumer Electronics Show (and the accompanying The Home Entertainment show) in Las Vegas is much more than just 3D TV and iPad clones; there's a whole hotel dedicated to high-end audio. Hi-Fi+ and The Absolute Sound went mob-handed round the audio rooms (and not the porn show next door, honest) to bring you a comprehensive round up of what's hot in high-end.
By the time you read this, Bristol Sound and Vision will have just happened, with its more feet-on-the-ground approach to audio, and then there's the Pie Show. This event ? run by members of the Hi-Fi Wigwam forum ? is at the Scalford Hall Hotel, just outside Melton Mowbray, on Sunday 6th March 2011. Think of it as one big bake-off! Finally, there's the exciting new Audio World '11 show, which runs the weekend of the
26th and 27th of March 2011, at the Park Inn hotel in Heathrow, London. Perhaps we'll see you there!