FORWARD TO THE PAST
"Perfect sound forever" has passed into legend as the slogan of a 1982 Sony/Philips advertising campaign celebrating their invention of the compact disc. The starstruck world welcomed the demise of vinyl, with its fragility, its inconsistency and above all its irritating snap, crackle and pop. Or did it?
In 2017, the liquorice pizza appears to be in remarkably good shape for a corpse. This year, according to an annual predictor of tech trends in media, vinyl is expected to aproach US$1 billion globally in revenues. Yes, we’ll be spending around 15 b... show Moreillion ZAR on a technology 35 years after we were dancing on its grave. What happened?
Deloitte Africa’s annual TMT Predictions provides an outlook on key trends over the course of the next 1-5 years in the technology, media and telecommunications industry sectors worldwide. The report’s 16th edition says that new vinyl revenues and units are likely to enjoy a seventh consecutive year of doubledigit growth. That comprises an astonishing seven per cent of forecast global music revenues of about US$15 billion. Still, don’t expect to see vinyl as the music industry’s saviour, the
report continues. Digital – streaming and downloads – will be the future of music.
But vinyl is not the only analogue audio medium that just won’t lie down and die. Cassette tape, by all accounts, is flourishing as the counterculture gains momentum. A Rolling Stone report last year related the story of the largest factory in the US, which churns out as many as 100 000 cassettes a day. Though two-thirds of its output is taken up by small independent labels, the majors are paying attention and artists as diverse as Justin Bieber and Judas Priest are available on cassette.
We can argue about the sonic advantages of vinyl over digital (technically, there shouldn’t be any). But good replay systems manage to mask the deficiencies while extracting every scrap of detail from the grooves. That means not only the source – the turntable – but also the amplification and speakers. To some, the source has primacy in these matters. Which is why what’s said to be the finest turntable on the planet, the Clearaudio Statement, involves some pretty fearsome engineering and costs an equally fearsome 140 000 euros. It looks as stunning as its performance and price tag. Turn to page 42’s A Beautiful Thing to find out more.
Of course, you don’t need something as elaborate as the Statement to take part in the vinyl revolution. What you will need, though, is to fasten your seatbelts when you visit one of the many vinyl fairs that have been popping up around the country. Quality new vinyl is expensive because it doesn’t enjoy great economies of scale, but even well used vinyl can command extortionate prices (though you will probably land Springbok Hits XVI for small change). show less