Issue 188 October 2020
Raising Our Collective Game Due To COVID-19
Cabin Fever. COVID-Crazy. The Lockdown Lows. However you choose to describe it, the first half of 2020 took its toll on the psyche of practically an entire planet. It's possible those weeks of isolation will not be repeated to anything like the same extent in the coming months, but whether they do or not, there are lessons to be learned for all of us. We would be wise to learn from our experiences, so they don't continue to define us.
Whether we were aware of it or not at the time, that combination of paranoia and directionless anger coupled with weeks for that to brew with no obvious outlet. In a way, this was like the random and sudden anger people often experience after a bereavement. The lockdowns might have lifted, but the fuse remains short.
Good audio has been one of the surprise success stories during the pandemic. In fact, it's not that big a surprise when you think it through; if you are spending a lot more time at home you want those home entertainment services to deliver the goods, rather than make a mediocre job of sonics. Also not spending that money you might use for commuting, holidays, eating out, attending gigs or the theatre and so on has given some people money to divert to improving their audio lot. While this is no time to start celebrating the return of hi-fi as a mainstream 'thing', many small audio companies have been pleasantly surprised by the 'uptick'. And that's where some of the problems start.
A small company might not have the resources to 'scale' to meet demand, especially in a time where factory work is an on-again, off-again disease vector and subject to temporary closures as a result. While the enthusiast might have experienced the 'it might take a month or so' lead-times of good audio, to someone more used to getting their new phone more or less on the same day they bought it, this is a new experience, and one that can end in some wailing and gnashing of teeth. Similarly, someone making a decision still has the right to think about it, even if the time spent in 'dealer prep' has grown due to COVID-19 cleaning.
We need cooler heads to prevail where possible. That's easier said than done (I nearly came to blows with a piece of garden furniture recently), and we all need to raise our collective games if we are to thrive in 2021 and beyond.
Congratulations go out to Andrew Povey and Michael Hutchinson from the UK, and Jeff Swaine from Canada, all of whom are lucky winners of AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt DACs. Enjoy!