Eagle-eyed readers of our masthead to the left might have noticed some changes in our team this month. Our esteemed Associate Publisher, Pete Collingwood-Trewin, steps up to the role of Publisher, while our former Publisher, Chris Martens, takes on the role of Editorial Director, while also taking on the task of editing the latest venture in our publishing stable, The Ultimate Headphone Guide. It seems that sleep is an optional extra for our Mr. Martens.
The change to the 'flannel panel' (as it's known in the trade) means the Publisher is now based in the UK. This should not be seen as the end of our international aspirations; we are, and remain, a magazine focused and dedicated to finding the best in audio, from wherever it comes, and our team could be based in the UK, the US, Upper Silesia, or the Klingon homeworld, and we would still hold to that goal. Of course, shipping costs to the Klingon homeworld are dramatic, and it's so hard to get any music apart from Klingon opera there.
Being focused on the best in audio today often takes us to new frontiers in hi-fi, and personal audio used to be one of those new frontiers. It is a mark of just how rapid the acceptance of personal audio that we can no longer think of it as one of those new frontiers; it is fast becoming accepted into the mainstream. It is the new normal.
This change has not come easily, and is hard won. There are still many traditional audiophiles who, presented with an extremely good sound through headphones will turn away simply because it is not a pair of loudspeakers, and that will be a tougher nut to crack. For many others, though, the tipping point has already happened, and they are both understanding and excited by the shape of audio to come.
Nevertheless, there is still a sense of transition here. Not all the names of personal audio companies are the same as the recognisable names from audio's past. There are new names here forging innovative and exciting products, and there are long-standing members of the headphone fraternity who continue to strive for ever better products. In the future. I suspect yet more traditional audio companies will pay more than lip service to personal audio and discover that designing a headphone amplifier is just as complex as designing a preamplifier or a phono stage.
Some will rise to the challenge. Some will ignore the challenge. And some will simply scoff. That's just how things are. Not all of those who scoff will stay in business, because that's how things are, too!