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December 2020
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

Reflecting Back On 2020
High-end audio and the music industry experiences impressive growth.
Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin

 

Reflecting Back On 2020: High-end audio and the music industry experiences impressive growth.

 

  I've spoken to many manufacturers and distributors during 2020, and without a doubt the saying "May you live in interesting times" holds true. While that saying is an English expression that is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse, the point is very valid for 2020. On one hand, both high-end audio and the music industry experienced impressive growth. On the other hand, we also missed seeing one another during shows. More hi-fi blogs and YouTube videos have been produced during 2020 than perhaps any other time. So on one hand we have expanding businesses, online sales, reviews, etc within the consumer electronics sector, on the other we have (generally the elderly) dying from... Everyone at Enjoy the Music.com truly feels deep sadness for those we've lost during 2020. With your kind permission, and after much thought about what should be said within this 2020 wrap-up, I'd like to focus on the positives of 2020 to wrap up this year's editorial.

Rest assured Enjoy the Music.com's 25th anniversary celebration will continue through July 2021.

 

Giving Voice To Manufacturers
Many publications scrambled when the news came down that there'd be no major, or much of minor, audiophile shows during 2020. While we'd all play catchup and learn about new products during physical hi-fi events, obviously this year would bring newfound challenges.... and opportunities! When the news came down about events, I began thinking about what more could Enjoy the Music.com do to benefit both our readers and the industry. This site began from the simple 'need' for information during the very early days of the Internet in 1995, when at that time information was scarce. And so...

 

10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring Zoltán Bay, CEO And Designer For BAYZ Audio

 

10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring Andy Kerr, Director of Product Marketing & Communications at Bowers & Wilkins

 

10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring Dan Clark, Founder and CEO of Dan Clark Audio

 

10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring Eli Gershman founder, Chief Designer And Co-Owner Of Gershman Acoustics

 

10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring Daren Orth, Rotel's Chief Technology Officer

During 2020 we asked the same 10 Questions For Manufacturers, and we've been honored by well over 40 companies who have shared with our readers their history, many years of experience, and future dreams of music within your home. In addition, we've highlighted great musical advice, ideas, and how challenges are overcome from four major audiophile labels too! This was 100% free for both manufacturers and the music labels. If you're a high-end audio manufacturer, distributor and / or representative, we don't want you to miss out on these opportunities. Industry insiders should join our eNewsletter list at this link. so you can be informed of future offerings.

For our longstanding loyal readers we also have a monthly updates for you too. Fans of Enjoy the Music.com should join our enthusiast eNewsletter for monthly updates, plus it enters you into our contest too! You should  join our eNewsletter us at this link.

 

Impressive Growth
Virtually every hi-fi manufacturer has experienced growth during 2020. With many music lovers staying home, it makes sense to get that upgrade you've been wanting, or perhaps a new system within your home office. Perhaps it's time for a new phono stage or turntable cartridge, or you want to use Roon to stream true lossless 24-bit/192kHz. Have been receiving many e-mails about immersive audio, generally from younger music lovers, as they have already heard for many years what the future of music could become. Music lovers have enjoyed the progressions from the now century-old mono format, to many decades old stereo, and finally, we're seeing major music labels support modern immersive sound.

Many hardware manufacturers are currently preparing for this new format, and virtually all audiophile electronics hardware companies are exploring the advancements in proper higher resolution audio (24-bit/88.1kHz or better). Many years back only one phone, a Samsung Note, handled 24-bit/88.1kHz or better. Today virtually all high-quality cell phones can easily playback  24-bit/192kHz lossless music.

Everything from turntables, DACs, and reel-to-reel to amplification, speakers, and tweaks have been selling very well during 2020. Many of our readers have discovered that accessories / tweaks are a wonderful way to invest your time into improving your home audio hi-fi system. Am trying to avoid naming specific brand names so-as everyone benefits, yet please allow me to say that some of you have dipped your feet into DIY, and specialists like Bottlehead are busy keeping their customer orders flowing. Basically, it seems everywhere I ask sales have been excellent during 2020.

 

HIGH END 2019 Show Report Munich Germany

 

Hi-Fi Shows
Virtually all industry-operated shows knew 2020 would be a... and so they refunded money back to exhibitors. Shows run by those within the industry have a special connection and so one way or another we knew they'd work hard to do the right thing. HIGH END in Munich gave exhibitors a choice between a full refund or 100% roll-over for their next event. Speaking of the High End Society, they're expanding HIGH END in Munich to include an International Parts + Supply (IPS) event. This perfectly complements HIGH END, which has developed into the largest international hi-fi show and enjoys tremendous significance and international popularity within the audio industry. RMAF in Denver and others gave exhibitors full refunds, as that's the right thing to do.

 

Pacific Audio Fest 2021

 

Even during 2020, it is interesting to note the new Pacific Audio Fest was formally announced. Operated by and for the industry, Lou Hinkley of Daedalus Audio in collaboration with Gary Gill of Capital Audiofest, are pleased to announce the launch of the Pacific Audio Fest slated for July 30th through August 1st (2021) at the Doubletree Hilton Sea-Tac in Washington State.

 

We Miss Seeing Our Friends During Shows
Without a doubt the biggest 'loser' has been the lack of seeing one-another during 2020. Shows are far more than just a show. We meet, greet, and share life updates, news about the kids, the dogs, the cars, the timepieces, etc. It's always a joy sharing experiences and jokes / laughter with many of my longtime friends within the industry. While we do miss seeing one another, thankfully there's video chat, old-school cell phone, and the like.

 

RNMAF 2019 Show Report

 

While 2020 proved the high-end audio industry does not 'need' shows to survive, perhaps we simply desire finding a way to get together and have fun. This is one of the many reasons I love the Florida Audio Expo, as it's far more than 'just a show'. You're in Florida, and if we as an industry are going to show up somewhere it may as well be somewhere fun, and safe with low crime. A place with excellent weather where there are other things to see and do outside of the show itself. Please allow me to thank Watches Of Switzerland / Mayors for hosting Enjoy the Music.com's first annual get-together at their International Plaza and Bay Street in Tampa. It was epic to share with many of my friends, industry luminaries, and Enjoy the Music.com readers as we shared our love of mechanical timepieces. Our second annual get-together event will be somewhere else in Florida near Tampa, and like before there will be limited availability so keep a lookout for our Florida Fun 2022 exclusive event announcement before the show.

 

Enjoy the Music.com And MAYORS Celebrates Luxury Timepieces During Florida Audio Expo 2020

 

Enjoy the Music.com And MAYORS Celebrates Luxury Timepieces During Florida Audio Expo 2020

 

Enjoy the Music.com And MAYORS Celebrates Luxury Timepieces During Florida Audio Expo 2020

More Hi-Fi Blogs, YouTube Videos, Etc During 2020
It brings a huge smile to my face each time I discover a new YouTube channel featuring quality reviews and commentary about specialty audio and high-resolution music streaming. After all, we're all in this together. It's also why for decades Enjoy the Music.com continues to promote other independently-owned publications. Today, there are many video channels available as we begin featuring these streamers so you too can discover new resources for valuable information about high-fidelity audio. This includes people with a few years of streaming to some very interesting newbies too! Our Senior Editor Greg Weaver started his the audio analyst channel too!

One of the (many) original goals of Enjoy the Music.com was to share with our global readership the many resources for reviews and information online. It's not just about our site or co-owned sites / publications, it is about the many incredible independent information providers that we're helping you discover as you transverse through your joyous life's journey as a tried and true music lover.

While professionally live-streamed high-end audio events were first done by Yours Truly here at Enjoy the Music.com, I've sat back and watched the magnificent growth as many other video streamers have come to the forefront. True professionally-operated shows such as the AES, CEDIA... and soon CES will have excellent high-quality video streaming in place of their physical events. If there's one lesson 2020 has taught true professional show producers, it is that you're expected to freely provide high-quality video streaming coverage to benefit your exhibitors too (imho).

 

Focusing On The Positives Of 2020
Without a doubt 2020 has been an eventful year (including this past weekend's F1 race in Bahrain). Both the high-end audio and music industry has grown and become more creative as sales growth has been a blessing in an otherwise... interesting... year. New products, new faces, and new ways to share information. It is almost as if 2020 pushed forward about three years' worth of growth into the modern expansion in only one year.

We also need to add to the fact that during 2020 true lossless streaming by Qobuz, 2L and many others is making its way to music lovers all around the world. Finally! With the ongoing increase in bandwidth speeds, there's no longer a need for lossy compression for millions of music enthusiasts. Fortunately, about six years ago we as an industry fought off legacy old-school Compact Disc (CD) 16-bit/44.1kHz as being called Hi-Res Music. Nothing 'wrong' with the nearly 40-year-old CD format, yet for decades 24-bit/192kHz has been a possibility if the music industry chose to follow suit. With the growth of true lossless now joined by the new immersive formats during 2020, soon we music enthusiasts will be able to discover enveloping aural creations by ingenious music artists.

We hear in 360, and why I've long been a proponent of listening chairs without anything blocking the rear of your head / ears. The seatback of your listening chair or couch should be at shoulder level at most, to avoid soundwave reflections from the chair's back. I can't think of one classical music (or jazz for that matter) venue that has high-back chairs on the main floor where the best seating for listening is located. Live acoustic jazz and classical performances you attend include reflections from the venue's hall / room, so it makes sense to hear them played back immersively too. Since a majority of today's best-selling and most listened to modern music is neither classical nor jazz, that allows modern musicians, engineers, etc to expand on their creativity. Think of it akin to Roger Waters / Pink Floyd, yet with much more freedom to express themselves aurally.

 

 

2020 Wrap-Up
This year, 2020, has brought about many benefits for music enthusiasts and high-end audio hobbyists alike. During this year there's been no shortage of new hi-fi gear, new by-and-for the industry shows announced, and true lossless music streaming your way. Helping round out your 2020 is our Great Audiophile Gift suggestions.

 

Great Audiophile Holiday Gift 2020 By Enjoy the Music.com

 

Enjoy the Music.com has posted our 15th annual Great Audiophile Gift recommendations! We know getting that something special for an audiophile can be quite a challenge, and so our modest wish list brings you some truly spectacular ideas for music lovers. Everyone here at Enjoy the Music.com wishes your a yours a prosperous, joyous and healthy holiday season. If you shop at Amazon, please bookmark this link as you can help our affiliate account keep our magazine growing and thriving strong. For those who love what we've been doing during the past 25 years online, you can donate via PayPal to us at this link.

 

Holiday Gratitude
As 2020 comes to a close, am incredibly grateful for you our longtime readers. Your informative e-mails and enlightening social media chats are always a joy. Let us all give thanks to the many hardworking women and men within our industry, as this year has indeed been challenging on many levels. Am truly thankful for the great writers on staff here at Enjoy the Music.com, as they’ve passionately pursued reviewing the finest of audio gear and sharing their wisdom with us all. I simply can not thank everyone enough for all you.

Last, and certainly not least, I’d like to thank my close friends, neighbors, family, and loving Muse / wife Heather. We do indeed live in interesting times.

Without a doubt 2020 has been a challenging year to be sure, and am happy to report our industry is doing great! With all the difficulties plus the circus of political debates going on all around the world, it's wonderful to tune out the world. Instead, turn up your fave tunes and... enjoy the music!

 

As always in the end what really matters is that you...

 

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is with deep sadness that during 2020 'The Professor' passed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my fave when Neil was into acoustic percussion....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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