Welcome to our first issue of 2012 packed with high-end audiophile equipment reviews plus our CES 2012 / T.H.E. Show 2012 reports. With so many great new products already seen within out CES 2012 preview, it is great to see the progress in high-end audio. We now have 32-bit/384kHz DACs going mainstream as 24-bit/192kHz is now the norm. Sites like HDtracks is outstanding at delivering music of such high quality that it makes one wonder why anyone would buy a stand-alone CD player in this day and age. Vinyl is still strong and continues to see good growth and demand. Computer audio growth seems to be going exponential as audiophiles realize the amazing sound quality, and convenience, a proper setup can deliver. So this begs the question, what will be 'new' in 2012 for high-end audio?
As i see it, nothing will be 'new' in source components per se more than refinements and evolutions. We are seeing more DACs also include USB2 and Ethernet/Wi-Fi capability. Various companies are releasing stand-alone units that can serve as an all-in-one source/preamplifier. These units handle Internet radio, NAS drives, USB drives, have S/PDIF and/or TosLink inputs and much more. Those of you using only digital sources can finally get rid of their analog preamplifier. For now, few all-in-one devices also have a phonostage, yet this may change if more audiophiles demand MM/MC support. No matter how you slice it, old school music lovers stuck on just CD and LP are finding it very hard to ignore the now prevalent music streaming systems.
Loudspeaker technology seems to be evolving over the past few years too. From ribbons and cone drivers to specially fabricated metal cabinetry, i can not remember a time when audiophiles have seen so much new technology being employed into loudspeakers since the 1950's. CNC machined cones, solid metal cabinets, ribbons using new techniques and of course the continuation of super-tweeters to support the higher frequencies of 24-bit/192kHz is capable of. New computer aided designs are making their way into the best loudspeakers, where eventually such things find their way to more cost-friendly products.
CES / T.H.E. Show 2012 will be filled with so many technology products that it makes one smile as new turntables, phonostages and cartridges also make their way into the market. With each passing year sound quality is getting better at lower price points too. Today's HDtracks 24-bit/192kHz source music played through a $600 USB DAC would trounce a circa 1998's $10,000 CD/Transport system. Pay careful attention as many companies may be introducing Bluetooth as another option for high-end audio. While Bluetooth might seem weird, it is simply another way to get music from one device to another. My hopes are that eventually i can roam from room to room... to my car... to my portable audio device while enjoying the same music. The ability to have my music 'follow me' everywhere i go is a long-held dream of mine. We are not quite there yet today, yet it should happen soon. Sure there are some ways of almost making this happen, yet it is not as user-friendly as i'd like.
And so goodbye to 2011 and hello 2012! This year should be filled with many exciting new products and technologies and look forward to covering them all here on Enjoy the Music.com! Of course in the end what really matters is that you...