Just as this issue went to press, the last major hold-out in the great download migration, AC/DC, announced that it has thrown in the towel and will now sell its music through Appleís iTunes service. This represents a small, yet significant, tipping point in the way people view physical music media.
The Aussie metallurgists were famously no fans of iTunes from a commercial and Ė albeit to a lesser extent Ė sound quality perspective. The bandís acquiescence marks one of the last mainstream objectors to the service, and is yet another sign of CDís declining significance in the music market. While CD remains strong in some genre Ė folk and country in particular, itís hard not to see a bleak future ahead for the senior digital format.
This is a shame, because there has never been a better time for CD player performance. Especially at the highend. While the value of investing in an entry-level CD player today is at best questionable, up where the air gets thin and clean, products like the Krell Cipher CD/SACD player tested in this issue continue to push the envelope of what can be had from digital audio playback.
Not that the post-CD world marks the end of the great audiophile journey. If anything, the transition from disc to download has seen a resurgence in interest in all things audio, and sometimes in unexpected ways; with downloads offering nothing tangible to own, hold and possess, weíve seen the turntable become cool again, and for the first time in years, buying hi-fi is very fashionable in the sort of circles no-one might have expected five or more years ago.
Perhaps, we have the best of all possible worlds today. Itís possible to spin a disc from the 1950s, a CD from the 1980s and download a music file from right now and get excellent sound from all three; they are just shelves on the equipment stand. The only fly in the ointment is our propensity to get dogmatic about such things. People using a CD player today arenít
Luddites, anymore than someone with an iTunes account isnít a deaf philistine, or someone who listens to vinyl loves the sound of pops and crackles. We all make our choices, why not respect the choices of others?
Hi-Fi Plus is saddened to learn of the passing of the noted audio electronics designer Richard Hay. From his early days with Truvox and Radford, through Nytech and Ion Systems and more recently as design consultant for Heed Audio, his understated yet musically satisfying designs were a reflection of the friendly, unpretentious man he was in life. Richard is survived by his wife and three sons. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.
Alan Sircom, Editor Hi-Fi+