A peculiar – yet extremely useful – by product of our regular 'themed' issues is you get an overview of trends within audio. And in digital audio, those trends come thick and fast. This year, however, a trend has emerged that might surprise many audiophiles and enthusiasts. If you look closely at many of the digital domain devices in this latest issue, they sport aptX Bluetooth connections alongside wired digital links.
This is at once unexpected and, in my opinion, great! Bluetooth has been derided by enthusiasts as not a serious audio source, and yet here it is turning up on some very serious digital audio products. What's changed?
Although I'd love to think this was down to a new wave of listeners joining our happy breed, I think the reality is more to do with making the technology available for potential listeners, rather than actual listeners today. But that's both a good start, and good enough for me. Bluetooth isn't perfect for audio, but neither is it the villain of the piece it is so often portrayed in audio circles.
I hope what we are seeing here is some form of egalitarianism, where audio sources are treated as equals, even if – in the rhetoric of Orwell's Animal Farm – some are more equal than others. Certainly with moves toward wider appreciation of technologies like MQA, the opportunities for a wider infrastructure for good quality music seem possible.
This only works if audio companies get behind the technology. Especially at retail level. If your shiny new DAC has Bluetooth, then use it. There is a generation of people almost lost to audio who would have been more interested in the topic if we hadn't dismissed the music on their phones, tablets, and iPods as so much nonsense. If instead we can use Bluetooth to let them access a DAC, and from there let them discover there is a whole untapped world of good quality audio from online stores and streams, we might win back some of that lost generation.
In our last issue, we inadvertently misprinted an incorrect price for the Riva Turbo X wireless Bluetooth loudspeaker. The correct price is £299. Our apologies to all involved.
Our congratulations go out to the three lucky winners of our Snugs competition: Tim Dalton, Cieran Connolly, and Steve Mann, all of whom win a set of Flare R2 earphones with custom Snugs tips! Well done all!