I’ve come back to Carlton AV after leaving some 2 years ago. I’ve spent the intervening time in a career that makes listening to music with people in a HiFi store seem like a real job, but that’s a different story. What is really interesting is to see the change of direction in the HiFi industry after paying very little attention to it for a few years.

DACs are everywhere! A DAC used to be a thing that was sold in a bundle with a matched CD transport and did very little besides make your CD player a two box option. Now every company that makes audio gear has a variety of multi-input, USB DACs for a computer in their line-up. CD players themselves have become the appendix, shriveling up very small and vestigial.

With this, the iPod dock appears to be slowly vanishing. I’m not sure if this is because of the rise of Android or the iPhone 5’s lightning connector making 30pin docks look like a bad investment. Probably both. Also, the wealth of streaming options is making portable audio devices look like a joke. When I left, the only serious options were the ahead-of-it-time Slim Devices (later, Logitech) Transporter for quality or the upstart Sonos for convenience. Now Sonos is the gold standard in multi-room audio streaming and the Transporter is sadly gone, but every second device has an Ethernet port and compatible smart phone app.

In amongst all this digital everything, analogue appears to be king again. We barely see a system go out the door without a turn table attached to it. Where did all this black wax come from? Is it a rebellion against the lifeless-low-bit-rate MP3? Is it the realization that a turntable forces one to engage more with one's music? The ritualistic and physical act of changing sides every twenty minutes or so rather than just opening iTunes, hitting "Shuffle All" and walking away. Also, it's just dead cool. You know some one with a record collection has thought about their music. They know that if there's a song or an album they don't like, they can't just hit skip from the comfort of the couch.

All in all I’m really pleased with the direction of things. Good job HiFi industry!