Back in vinyl's heyday, pretty much
all music on sale arrived on that format. Then Compact Disc surfaced, and within a decade, sure enough almost everything came this way instead... But then something in the cycle broke. The big manufacturers, who'd for so long assumed that whatever they deigned to give us, we would gratefully receive, got a rocket up their corporate derrieres. The moment came, some time in the nineties, when the music buying and listening public said, "hang on, we'll decide how we buy music, not you"...
And so it was that Digital Compact Cassette came crashing down, despite mega marketing from mighty consumer electronics giant Philips. And then Sony's MiniDisc followed, and then DVD-Audio and even Sony's loveable and practical SACD. "No thanks", we said, "Just for now, we'll settle for MP3 instead"...
Ever since then, the boot's been on the other foot. Manufacturers still keep coming up with machines that play all number of formats, some of which actually sound superb, but the public seems to just shrug and say, "next"! It's almost as if we've become drunk on our indifference to the music industry's best efforts to fiddle with our formats. I suspect we all know that in the end, the writing is on the wall. Surely, all our precious songs will eventually migrate to computer hard drives, solid state memory or 'clouds', stored in formats of our choice, and no one else's?
To reflect this, October's Hi-Fi World runs the gamut of formats; we've a group test of Blu-ray players [see p17], which play all number of file types. Then we've got an amazing CD player in the shape of the Wadia W381 [p54], which also plays 24/96 FLAC tunes, off ROM discs. There's a mad nineteen eighties-style MP3/WAV/FLAC portable from hiSound [p80] and a do-it-all DAC/iPod dock/amplifier from Peachtree Audio [p30], too.
Don't despair though, if you're a fan of the 'original and best' format of them all (in my book), as our extensive vinyl section showcases Nottingham Analogue's Hyperspace [p100]. Ultimately, just forget the format and enjoy the music, say I!
David Price, editor
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