This issue marks
the beginning of our fifth year, which seems an appropriate time to say a big
'thank you' to all our subscribers for making this possible, especially
following the unwelcome financial meltdown that arrived at the end of our
While I regret the magazine has to carry
such a hefty pricetag, I hope we've managed to create a unique mixture of
features, columns and reviews. Product reviews are an important and integral
part of all hi-fi magazines. They serve a number of useful purposes, notably
in keeping both the reviewer and the reader up to date with what's going on,
and of course the trade – brands and dealers alike – love them. But I also
think that they've become rather too dominant.
first became a journalist on Hi-Fi News in the mid-1970s, the
‘Equipment Reviews' were relegated to a modest section at the back of the
magazine. Now they seem to have almost completely taken over the contents of
most hi-fi magazines, which seems rather a shame.
appreciate the importance, the appeal and indeed sometimes even the
educational value of equipment reviews. But as a magazine reader myself, I
also find myself cherry-picking the reviews that might interest me, and
skipping over many that don't.
While it's more or less
true that the performance of hi-fi equipment has steadily improved over the
years (something of a contentious statement, I admit), it's equally true that
equipment reviews in general seem to have become rather less critical and more
predictable, which certainly makes them less interesting to read.
is maybe where HIFICRITIC comes
in. Much of the equipment we review is very good of course, but hopefully our
appraisals don't involve the complete suspension of our critical faculties.
And we are endeavouring to leaven the equipment reviews with interesting
columns and features, which seems increasingly important as our system
configurations today have never been more fluid and confusing, not to mention
Historically, all was
analogue easy. Source components of various kinds fed an amplifier and a pair
of loudspeakers. With very few exceptions, the power amplification and
speakers are unchanged, but the proliferation of digital sources raises all
sorts of questions about the pre-amp side of things. Choosing the right system
configuration will depend very much on one's personal lifestyle. As Martin
Colloms points out, the very best sound quality is found by eliminating the
pre-amp entirely, but in my view (and lifestyle) that is impractical to the
point of irrelevance. (I find less than six inputs a real inconvenience!)
do I have the time nor the patience to transfer large chunks of my CD and
vinyl collections onto hard drives. I'm sure the ergonomics would be
delightful, but I'd never cope with all that computer stuff.
the time being I shall therefore stick to my nice analogue pre-amp, through
which I shall play vinyl, FM radio and a CD player. And I'll feed it the less
critical digital sources like the TV and computer (today's cassette deck!) via
here to subscribe to HIFICRITIC