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Hi-Fi Plus Magazine --  Hi-Fi+

June 2023

 

The Audio Industry Keeps On Going
Reports of audio's death are greatly exaggerated.
Editorial By Alan Sircom

 

Hi-Fi+ June 2023

 

  According to the Mayans, the world was supposed to end on the 21st December, 2012. They weren't the last to predict the apocalypse, but they had the good sense to die out before they got a chance to see Roland Emmerich's risible disaster movie loosely based around their prediction.

The reason for recalling that truly awful movie is that every day, some event related to high-end audio convinces one of the doom-mongers that The End Is Nigh. Some event, product launch, change in a company fortunes or statistic about music or the economy in general marks the official end of the audio industry.

And yet, that audio industry keeps on going. The audio industry died, apparently, when stereo appeared, because only the most extreme of hi-fi nuts would put two speakers in the room and the cost of developing stereo would tank the record companies. It died again when solid-state amplifiers proliferated, dying another three or four times during the 1970s until it died from wounds inflicted by the Sony Walkman, the rack system, and a spate of unsuccessful then-new formats like CD.

After a brief period of dying when vinyl sales dropped and then being killed by Digital Compact Cassette, the audio industry was brutally murdered once again by the rise of home cinema.

 

Hi-Fi+ June 2023

 

Briefly dying during the SACD / DVD-Audio format war, the audio industry was then killed by the iPod, and killed again by downloading. Audio was then shot as a deserter during the loudness wars, trampled to death by hipsters buying up vinyl, before being lightly killed by ProTools and AutoTune, kicked to death by streaming, then dying in the pandemic, bleeding to death from supply chain issues, committing suicide by price increases, and then dying several times over in the last few months because of shortages of valves, a few companies having a bit of a wobble, and so on.

And yet, despite dying while on fire in a ditch every few weeks, the audio industry remains stoically unfazed by its inevitable and repeated demise. It keeps on making new things, finding new ways to extract even more performance out of formats that pre-date the Korean War, and making the latest online technology better than ever. Despite an ‘interesting' start to the decade on a global scale, the audio world bucked many trends and provided the soundtrack to our solitary confinement. Even our industry events – supposedly, little more than God's Waiting Room for brands breathing their last – remain successful and often have record numbers of attendees. So, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of audio's death are greatly exaggerated.

But that's a bit too upbeat for those who perpetually look like a bulldog chewing a wasp.

 

 

 


Alan Sircom, Editor hi-fi+

 

 

 


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