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Hi-Fi Plus Magazine --  Hi-Fi+

January 2024

 

Decisions In Our Buying Habits
Support those little guys wherever we can.
Editorial By Alan Sircom

 

Hi-Fi+ January 2024

 

  The world is in the midst of a 'blandemic;' a bland uniformity that exists in all circles of society today. It's down to the little guys to kick against this sweeping tide of vapid mediocrity. And it's down to the rest of us to support those little guys wherever we can.

I wish I could lay claim to coining the term 'blandemic' but I heard it first on the radio in a trailer for a discussion about architecture. However, the term resonated and stuck with me.

In architecture, apparently, the problem lies with large corporations making increasingly similar decisions about their properties; an expansive head-office of steel and glass, with drab and uniform buildings throughout the rest of the world. This is perhaps best expressed by the increasingly vast hanger-like 'distribution centre' buildings springing up by main arterial roads, where the company's logo and corporate colours the only differentiators between one big box and the next.

The same flattening out of individuality is occurring at all levels. It's not simply the same stores dominating the centre of every town and city; it's that they are all following the same aesthetic decisions; the softer lighting and autumnal hues that first started to appear in every Starbucks store refit a few years ago are echoed in the interiors of fast food chains.

 

Hi-Fi+ January 2024

 

There's always a counter-culture, although that has often its own aesthetic decisions; you can't help but notice just how many artesian coffee shops have a similar 'creative salvage' styling.

The same applies to music and audio; we tend to make similar decisions in our buying habits. That doesn't just mean 'playing it safe', but it does preclude stepping too far beyond our comfort zones. One of the great joys of playing music in the 2020s is our ability to access the entire musical canon, and play it wherever and whenever we want. But we often... don't. We stay in our respective lanes. We use the music discovery aspect of streamed music to re-discover the music we always played, and minor variations on that theme. We tend to buy into the same brands year in, year out. Not necessarily because that brand is better than its peers, but because we are comfortable with that brand's output.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with playing it safe, but that should be challenged and countered periodically. Eleanor Roosevelt's famous quote "do something that scares you every day" demands we step beyond our comfort zones. It means sometimes listening to that 'challenging' piece of music or trying that new piece of equipment that you are convinced doesn't work, and trying it with an open mind. It's not only how we beat the 'blandemic'; it's how we grow as listeners and even how we improve our lives.

 

 


Alan Sircom, Editor hi-fi+

 

 

 


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