For a 'nation of shopkeepers', the British seem remarkably bad at keeping those shops in business. Recently,
we've seen some bad economic hurting going on in the UK high street, with well-known consumer electronic and home entertainment stores either going to the wall or going into administration. In some respects this comes down to the wider economy, the increase in business rents and rates, and the shift online. But, it also represents – in the case of home entertainment stores like HMV and Blockbuster – an expression of the radical change in the way people get their entertainment today. Remarkably, this change is only now filtering to the audiophile world, but
it's why there are more and more new DACs and streamers and fewer new CD players these days.
Manufacturers seem in some respects more aware of the changes that have hit our industry than the audiophiles who buy their products, and some of this is down to complacency; if
there's an HMV store on the high street stocking CDs, then there must still be CDs being sold everywhere. Sadly, this
doesn't seem to be the case, and HMV's fate carries with it more than a third of all physical sales of music in the UK.
If it hasn't already done so by the time you read this, HMV should have bounced back in reduced form, but I suspect there will be far fewer racks selling CDs up and down the country this year. For those outside the UK, this is possibly old news; you had your Tower Records moments some years ago. But, this is the wake-up call. If you still
haven't started to think what to do when the CD well begins to run dry, now's the time.
Congratulations to Professor Saurabh Dube, of Mexico City, Mexico, who has won the excellent Antelope Audio Zodiac DAC in our first truly worldwide competition.
Hi-Fi+ was saddened to learn of the passing of David Manley, founder of Manley Labs, VTL and the ViTaL record label. He was 73. Originally of South African origin, the hard-living Manley moved to the UK, then California before settling in France. Our industry is made smaller by the death of one of its true individualists, and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and drinking partners.
Alan Sircom, Editor Hi-Fi+