Where is audio going? What is its future, if indeed it has a future? These questions are a regular fixture of any conversation about audio, whether it be between manufacturers, distributors, press or public. Fortunately, where perhaps a year or two ago, the predictions were pretty dire, it seems reports of audio's death were greatly exaggerated and there are some signs of regrowth in traditional audio.
Better still, that regrowth seems to be in all sectors at last. There's still a squeezed middle that has still yet to start buying once again, but where that meant replacement cycles grew in length, companies are now building new designs at all levels to help better fill people's wish list and desires. It wouldn't be summer without a new raft of Naim equipment, but not long after the cyber-ink was dry on the DAC and amp review, the Salisbury specialists released another three new models, this time adjusting the Nait range for those middle income earners finally breaking free of austerity measures.
In a way, this is completely understandable. Income earned from interest is practically zero, and the stock market is too volatile for many casual investors, which means money saved is money losing money. Some of those people are burning through some of their investment portfolio on toys, because at least you get some fun out of the money.
While the squeezed middle was waiting for the downturn to end, the audio world had to follow the money, and for most brands that meant following fewer people with more money. As a result, successive layers of more expensive products have emerged to meet the needs of wealthy audiophiles. This can be frustrating for those who were at the pinnacle of audio performance a few years ago, because there are now whole swathes of unaffordable products taking that crown. But the upside is the bandwidth of the business has expanded considerably; it's possible to get good performance from surprisingly inexpensive components today, while those lucky few capable of living the 'cost no object' life are now capable of building systems that really push the envelope. The hope now is that – in the same way as the technology that goes into today's S-Class Mercedes ends up in tomorrow's VW Golf – there is some considerable trickle down from the best of the best. Because not many of us can afford the best of the best today.
is saddened to learn of the death of Dr Amar Bose, founder of the Bose
Corporation. He was 83.