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Issue 107    January 2014


Audio Renaissance
Editorial By Alan Sircom


Issue 107 Janury 2014


  Welcome to 2014! There's probably no such thing as an unimportant year, but this one may well have important implications for the audio world in general. This is perhaps the year of digital transition, the tipping point where all bar the most intransigent of CD-loving audiophiles begins to look at the way ahead. Although CD isn't dead, sales of discs and players are in steep decline, but fortunately the infrastructure for HDA (high-definition audio) is falling into place, with big hitters in the consumer electronics world and the music business itself finally taking quality seriously.

In a way, this is an understandable reaction to both being kicked repeatedly in the budgets. Headphones and smartphones aside, the CE world looks to HDA to repeat something of the success of HDTV a decade ago and the music business would like a return to old school profitability.

The one concern is this change is very much to the fore in the American market, but doesn't have a passport quite yet. There is a stumbling block put up by the limitations of international copyright, and a layer of legal wrangling intrudes on the smooth across-Europe roll-out of HDA services. With 2L, Gimell, Linn, Naim and Qobuz and more getting on the high definition audio bandwagon, things are changing here, but we are playing catch-up.

We can be an impecunious lot at times, and there are great deals going on in the CD market to convince many of us to hang fire with HDA. But, I suspect these great CD deals are fire-sale bargains, and if we don't begin to look to finding CD-quality or HDA files online soon, we may end with the worst of both worlds in Europe for the audiophile – CD fading from view and no legitimate HDA replacements. Use it or lose it, folks!

Fortunately, for many the 'use it or lose it' statement does not apply, because their main source of musical entertainment in the home has seen something of a renaissance in recent years. The state of the vinyl art has been transformed of late by both significant interest in the format from all generations and some remarkable turntables, arms and cartridges at all prices. OK, some of the state of the art vinyl spinners (like the outstanding Kronos turntable tested in this issue) are priced accordingly, but their performance helps continue to redefine what's possible from hi-fi.



Alan Sircom, Editor hi-fi+




































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