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Hi-Fi World
April 2012
Internet Radio
Editorial By Noel Keywood


  Interest in internet audio – audio delivered via the Internet – low resolution MP3 or a 24/96 high resolution file – is spiralling upward. A torrent of products are hitting the market, with a bewildering array of latest technologies shoe horned inside. Everyone seems a little baffled, even manufacturers, by the sudden diversity and complexity of product. Our USB-to-S/PDIF group test this month illustrates the issue: three convertors needed special Windows driver software to be installed, but two did not. They just plugged and played. It is surprising that such a large functional gap should exist between rival products, a make or break difference for many buyers perhaps. It's all a matter of writing your own code for a DSP. Manufacturers have my greatest sympathies here – digital audio is cruelly complex.

Next month, to underline this theme of rapid evolution, we will be looking at Media Players you cannot buy yet. It is obvious what the market needs, but few manufacturers worldwide have looked into their crystal ball and seen the future. Hi-Fi World has seen it and will explain all next month.

Long ago, Britain built large loudspeakers. Tannoy still do for those lucky enough to live in Downton Abbey or the stately pile next door. Otherwise, 13in bass units were squeezed out as interest in beautiful homes strode in. But not so fast: Germany did a good job repackaging the Mini and now they're squeezing 13in bass units back in. Just look at the towering Quadral Vulkans we review this month and believe in the old Yorkshire expression “there’s nothing like a good big 'un".

With high resolution digital files playing at the one end of your hi-fi and volcanoes at the other end, you can’t say hi-fidelity is anywhere close to dead. Far from it: it is frighteningly alive, as this issue shows! I hope you enjoy it.

--- Noel Keywood, editor.


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