I was recently lucky enough to get a ticket for The Buggles' 'Lost Gig', a rare chance to see studio genius Trevor Horn (along with Geoff Downs) perform his 1979 album 'Age of Plastic' live.
Famous for the video that launched MTV, 'Video Killed the Radio Star', the album is thirty five minutes of swirling
synthesizers and Trevor's idea of a sci-fi future. When first released, it captured this thirteen year old schoolboy's imagination, conjuring up visions of a brave new technological
world... So, if you'd asked me in 1979 what a 2010 hi-fi magazine would have looked like inside, I'd have answered you with a romantic vision of stacks of equipment looking like computer banks, sporting flashing LEDs and display screens, soaked in laser
Who'd have thought then, that in the last month of the first decade of the twenty first century, this hi-fi magazine would be celebrating a valve amplifier using tubes first released by RCA in 1931, and a turntable spinning the same discs that originally launched in 1948?
So the future didn't quite turn out as expected! With a few notable exceptions, the only hi-fi that sounds dramatically better now than it did then is that which follows very traditional technology, thought to be 'old hat' even when The Buggles first sang 'The Plastic Age'... The new Icon Audio MB845 MkII David Shaw Signature power amplifier's simple circuit, excellent passive components, quality transformers and that lovely radio transmitter power triode all conspire to make a stunning sound. Read all about it on page 12.
The Palmer 3 record deck [page 100] wouldn't have been my idea of a high tech turntable. In 1980 Sony had
computerized 'Biotracer' arms, quartz locked direct drives and all manner of other wizardry; in 2010 the Palmer is effectively a few very well matched bits of wood and metal. And yet its sound is sublime, reinforcing the continuing superiority of analogue. Still, we do like new technology too;
Naim's UnitiQute [page 28] shows how you can blend wireless networked music playback with a genuinely good sounding and reassuringly simple to use system. So there's hope for the future still! Enjoy the new age of high fidelity.
David Price, editor
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