It’s the time of year for saving money!
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.
Obviously, 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.
And 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!
And 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…
“In the beginning I had no idea what I was going to write about, week in and week out”
Steven, when you first asked me to join AR, I asked myself the same question. I’ve been asking it for almost five years now!!!
Thanks also for letting me bloviate about most anything I want. The freedom I’m allowed is greatly appreciated.
And I’ll say again, “the music review’s on the way…” 🙂
Paul – Although you may always wonder what to write about, you always seems to “hit it out of the ballpark.” Please keep those articles coming.
And what about the music! At least in the pop realm, video did indeed kill the radio star. But I’m so happy that what has become known as “Americana” is going strong.
With all the fine acoustic instrument instructors at Berklee School of Music (among others) I expect interesting “Americana” to continue to be strong for many years to come.
Fully agreed, and the festival scene is really great. I’m hoping to get to more of them in coming years. Anyone who is even slightly interested in acoustic-friendly music should check out Telluride, MerleFest, Strawberry, etc.
The upcoming Rockygrass festival will be live broadcast over KGNU, who have an Internet feed. https://kgnu.org
Special thanks to Steven for making AudiophileReview.com not just vibrant but significantly different than the traditional audiophile publications.
The editorial here aspires to challenge the norms of a hobby that often gets stuck in the past.
Good work to all!!!
Most postive change:
– the advent of Tidal. $20 per month gets you damn near ever record ever mad – many in HD and or MQA. Crazy access. Crazy value. Remember actually buying CDs?
Most negative change:
– the so-called revival of vinyl and the ensuing rise of bullshit subjective evaluation of what’s really high performance because a distorted, 65 dB dynamic range source is anything but high performance by 2018 standards.
I couldn’t agree more. Tidal is an insane value, especially now with MQA. All the vinyl resurgence has done is distract from and delay the mainstream adoption of high-res digital. Let’s see how much bullshit subjective evaluation of vinyl and/or high-res digital we get in the replies this time.
One of the very few emails I not only read, but look forward to. The range of opinions is welcome – except for the droning on of “this is better than that (vinyl/CD/stream).” …and I realize that could start a(nother) war, right there. Opinions are good. They tend to make (some) people look at a wider scene.
As far as equipment, I’m definitely on the outside, looking in at the high-priced stuff, but it’s still interesting to read about what may eventually reach mainstream. I may not live that long, but it’s good to read about it.
I hear you about the droning on over which format is better. I try to keep it to a minimum, but you wouldn’t believe some of the ridiculous pseudoscience (at best) that many people buy into. When I see people attempting to spread said nonsense, I know from experience that they are only adding to the public’s confusion. I chime in to attempt to help the layman differentiate the factually correct science spoken of by the true experts who write for this site from the hipster vinyl bootlicker inanity in the comments. I truly believe that we need MQA/Tidal Masters for the recorded music industry to thrive again, at least in the foreseeable future. Plus it’s by far the easiest and most economical way to enjoy high-res digital recordings.
@disqus_8FX29x4tiM:disqus – Another interesting article from you (no surprise there!). I’ve gained so much knowledge through AR & HTR over the last 1.5 years that I’ve been reading the articles. Keep up the great work!
not much has changed, regarding software, at least. and that, after all is what drives the hardware – no software
then there’s nothing to play, and no hardware is needed.
the software marketing end is still geared to the highest profit w/the least amount of investment cost. and it’s focused on convenience. sq is not the focus, although you can read reams of info that state otherwise. thus all the analog vs digital blather. but people who are seriously interested in listening know what they hear. in that “other” thread, i’ve been told ad nauseum how much better digital is than analog. and, now, it’s here as well. “factually correct science” is correct only as far as it goes. and, it doesn’t go far enough; teh science is lacking in knowledge of how human beings actually hear. obviously. or vinyl wouldn’t still be popular. because, it’s a pita to play vinyl. people aren’t doing it because they’re masochists, or to be hip. they’re doing it because they like the way it SOUNDS. even tho, yes, you *can* now get really quality sound from digital. but it’s still not the same as vinyl. even today. there’s some “je ne sai quoi” about the sound of an lp that you simply don’t get from the truly inferior low-fidelity format that just doesn’t exist on the highest-resolution digital formats. which is why “factually correct science” can’t explain it. which is why my twenty-something daughter and her boyfriend cherish their lp rig. (and my daughter wishes she’d kept that mint empire 298 rig w/the nice grado cartridge i bought her, instead of gifting it to her now former boyfriend, ha!)
in another post to me in that “other” thread, (which ironically hasn’t made it to that thread, but only to my inbox), a so-called audio expert has told me that, yes, he has an agenda – he’s promoting hi-res digital; basically wants tidal/mqa to take over. maybe it will, maybe it won’t exist in another year. i dunno. but i do know that the push is for convenience and highest profit/lowest investment. sq is a marketing tool. maybe it does sound incrementally better than, say, redbook cd. i don’t really care; it’s not anything that appeals to me.
i am totally not interested in any streaming at all. yup, i am a dinosaur, and in another 20-30 years, i won’t be around anyway. but, the high end probably will still be around, and it probably will still be a very small fringe part of the audio market; same as it ever was. it would have a better chance to survive, tho, and perhaps even grow a little, if i put as much emphasis on sq as it did on convenience and highest profit/lowest investment cost. otherwise, the up-and-comers simply won’t care about things like tidal masters, because they will have been too sold on the convenience, and on the hype about how much better it sounds. even if it might not sound better. now, they have to pay ~$250/year, to hear an incremental improvement, on more limited titles available, but only if they have a serious investment in hardware. huh? how likely is it *that’s* going to happen? this tidal masters thing is, basically, appealing only to the same fringe audiophile dinosaurs such as myself. but everyone else? since they’ve already bought into the hype about how great the low-rez stuff sounds, and since they’re only listening on their laptops & phones thru earbuds and cheap computer speakers anyways, do you think they even care about something like tidal masters?
the software industry needs to take a look in the mirror, me-thinks, and decide what’s really important… and it has an impact on the hardware industry, that the hardware industry should acknowledge a bit more than it does, instead of just playing along…