The LP and the CD after it assembled music tracks onto a disc in pre-packaged form. You might only end up wanting or enjoying half of the content – but too bad. You paid for the lot. It all seemed logical at the time, since the alternative to the LP was the bulky single and changing these every five minutes to hear tracks rather than albums would have been an evening's marathon.
Prepackaged music went out of the window when MP3 players arrived, epitomized by Apple's once-dominant iPod. Now, we had individual tracks rather than albums – and track listings. The difficulty here is sorting and accessing thousands of tracks. We could all remember album names like Hotel California, Abbey Road and such like, since albums not only carried songs but also an underlying message of the time: a story, a view, their own rhetoric even. They were easy to remember. But individual tracks? It's like remembering the names of ants.
Enter meta-data, that list of info appended to digital files with Artist, Title, Date, Genre and what have you. Even more data – and to use it you must be able to read it, necessitating a screen. But small screens on a piece of hi-fi equipment are illegible at a distance, so that's a bad idea. The obvious solution is a screen in the hand – and what more obvious a choice than a mobile 'phone. It's already been paid for, so doesn't add to equipment cost.
In effect when a manufacturer uses a control app on a 'phone or iPad he is relieved of that cost elsewhere, on the product itself or as a remote control possibly. No wonder then that now, as we listen to tracks stored on Flash Drives, computers or on the 'net by a music provider such as Spotify, Tidal or iTunes, the use of an app on 'phone or tablet is becoming ever more popular. And Leema's Elements Streamer we review on p41 exemplifies this approach. Blindingly simple in construction – just a case with a light – it acts as a do-it-all digital player. Don't miss our review where you can read about the trials and tribulations of such a source, but also the benefits.
At the other end of the scale comes SME's new Synergy turntable. A fabulous construction in typical no-compromise style, this source offers a fabulous if expensive way to hear what lies in the latest vinyl. Our in-depth review on p83 peers into the issues behind disc spinning at the highest quality levels possible.
I hope you enjoy our breadth of coverage in this latest great issue, with informed views on all the latest in high quality audio.