The Audio Scene 2010 to 2018 - What's Changed?

My first article for Audiophile Review was published on Dec 9, 2010. When I came on board it was a small side-project site, spun off from Jerry Del Calliano's Home Theater Review website. I suspect that Jerry's original idea was to make Audiophile Review into a review site, similar to Home Theater Review, but with a concentration on audio rather than audio/video, but we decided to try a different direction, a site dedicated to opinions about the audiophile world, new technologies, and new software reviews. In the beginning I had no idea what I was going to write about, week in and week out, and frankly I wasn't entirely confident that we could populate the site with a new article every weekday. But that is exactly what we've done for the last seven and a half years. 

AR-sevenyears 4a.pngObviously, I didn't and couldn't have done it all by myself. I've had contributions from a host of fine writers including Brent Butterworth, Mark Smotroff, Roger Skoff, Paul Wilson, Teddy Ray, Jerry Del Colliano, Ken Taraszka, Jim Swantko, Terry London, Art Noxon, Kevin Poore, Allen Farmelo, Scot Hull, Garry Margolis, Christopher Klein, Matthew Partrick, Doug Henderson, and Andy Schaub. God bless them all for putting up with me...   

Looking back on the earliest blogs I see that in the beginning my grasp of how and when to add graphics was somewhat limited, and the first ones were shorter, and some might say sweeter, than the current generation of articles, but we have remained true to our primary concept, writing opinions. Obviously not all of our opinions have been or will be universally embraced by the audiophile world. Duh. 

AR-sevenyears2a.jpgAnd what a big world it has become! Streamed music, smartphones, and headphones have been the new engines of growth in audio. And while "computer audio" is still very much a thing, it is changing from something only enthusiasts could competently handle to a simple matter of attaching a streaming device to your system, logging onto an Internet music service, and listening to music. Yes, LPs have made a resurgence, thanks to their physical presence and intense rear-guard action by a combination of old audiophiles and hipster music lovers. It is clear that LPs have a greater level of emotional involvement than your average streamed source. 

Just as it has always been, mainstream music devices (and music) are sold and purchased primarily due to their ease of use over previous generation's systems. Convenience has long been the first feature trumpeted on new audio devices for the mainstream. Sound quality often comes along in a tertiary position. And CDs? When I began running Audiophile Review I would receive, on average, forty CDs per month for review. Now, I'm "lucky" to see five. Current review requests come with links directly to the music download. And sometimes they're even full-resolution, rather than compressed MP3 files! 

AR-sevenyears6a.pngAnd what does the future hold? I would be a very great fool to think I can predict the future of audio technology, but I do have some opinions...I think that eight years from now USB DACs for digital music reproduction will be a much smaller portion of the market. I suspect they will go back to being devices used primarily by audio and mastering engineers. Consumers will migrate to universal plug and play-aware DACS that connect via Ethernet or WiFi to their home networks and streaming services. I also think universal Ethernet-aware player applications such as Roon or MConnect MControl App will become the norm for software interfaces. Why limit your system to USB DAC playback when a UPnP DAC has a more robust and flexible interface that doesn't require drivers or "hog" modes to produce optimal results? 

And MQA's future? In eight years MQA will either have replaced MP3 as the primary consumer format for music or it will not exist. All or nothing... 

Come back in seven and a half years and we can compare notes...but in the meantime enjoy the ride...

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