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Australian Hi-Fi Magazine

July / August 2023

 

Editor's Lead In
Product Launches During Recent Audio Shows
News surrounding proprietary lossy MQA as Tidal chooses to offer lossless FLAC.
Editorial By Becky Roberts

 

Australian Hi-Fi Magazine July / August 2023

 

  Since the last issue of Australian Hi-Fi magazine, a great deal more hi-fi products have been introduced into the wild. That's because the 40th HIGH END Munich show took place last month, giving high-end audio manufacturers a world stage on which to launch their latest and greatest creations. Many of them took advantage of that this time round, too, as you'll see in this issue's Soundbites news section, which exclusively covers launches from the Europe show. In fact, some of my colleagues on What Hi-Fi? who were in attendance said they struggled to think of a previous Munich show where there were as many launches in all of the core hi-fi areas perhaps not surprising as many would consider this the first 'big return' event after the Covid years.

The product trends were perhaps to be expected. There were plenty of resurrections of classic designs from ol' knocking on nostalgia's door, and many examples of increasingly mature implementations of network streaming-inclusive separates as brands look to give rise to a new modern-day source or amplifier, not to mention the typical, and undeniably most exciting, handful of statement, best-yet efforts from some companies. It gave a promising forecast of what's to come for the rest of the year and into next, and if you're thinking 'I'll skip those pages, there'll be nothing I can afford', you might be pleasantly surprised it isn't all high-end at the HIGH END show. And hey, there's nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of hi-fi porn now and again. (As you'll have seen on the cover, there's more where that came from later on in this issue too...)

While the Munich show stole the headlines for all the right reasons, Aussie audiophiles who couldn't fly the 10,000 miles to the Bavarian capital had the chance to get their ears around some delectable kit the fortnight before (including some that flew onto Germany afterwards) at the Australian Hi-Fi Show in central Sydney. The show was the first to be put on by Future Australia, this magazine's publisher, and was a great success. So if you joined us, thank you, and I hope something impressed you. And if you didn't, well, there's always next year! Details to come.

 

Australian Hi-Fi Magazine July / August 2023

 

Considering how streaming-friendly hi-fi now is, as both shows were keen reminders of, it was pretty big news in April when streaming service Tidal announced it would be adding hi-res FLAC streams to its catalogue, thus opening up its hi-res offering to hi-fi systems beyond those that supported MQA, the technology powering its current library of hi-res audio streams. (Interestingly, the company behind the technology, MQA Ltd., has recently been plunged into the uncertain waters of administration, too.)

That marriage to MQA has been a point of differentiation for Tidal in the hi-res space, and indeed a sticking point for owners of non-MQA kit. But that hardware requirement to stream in full-fat hi-res on Tidal will no longer be necessary when hi-res FLAC is introduced, as the format is 'open'. All Tidal needs to do now, in my opinion, is cheapen its subscription so that it's no longer a head, if not also shoulders, above that of its rivals.

(How the MQA Ltd. saga will play out will be interesting to see in the coming months too, not least in light of the company's recent announcement of a supposedly higher-quality wireless transmission alternative to Bluetooth, 'SCL6', as discussed in the last issue.)

But with hi-res streaming increasingly accessible, and hi-fi streaming hardware going the same way with greater choice at the budget end of the streamer market as well as advancing implementation at the more premium end, the affinity between convenience and quality is in rather a good place right now.

Oh and a quick note on the cover date since moving to six issues a year, our on-sale dates have gotten a little out of sync with the months printed on the cover, so this issue we've ripped the band-aid off and skipped two whole months. Our sincere apologies to May and June.

 

 

Becky Roberts

 

 

 

 

Australian Hi-Fi Magazine

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