This year has been the most "web inactive" we can recall. Just one single News page back in May. Sign of times? Perhaps, but not necessarily. In any case, it is a good moment to reflect and mention what we consider the most relevant moments of 2018 as we have seen and experienced them.
First and foremost, Audiofreaks has completed its 30th year of active presence within the national and international high-end audio playground. And, as it looks, it will stick around in 2019 as well. Three decades is a long time in any industry, let alone ours, so one can be allowed to think for a moment that we may have done something 'right' to have deserved such a degree of longevity. And, speaking of vision and resilience, our warm Season's Greetings to the doyen and pioneer of high-end audio distribution in the UK, Absolute Sounds Ltd and its captain Riccardo Franassovici - whether it was fate, luck or something else, who knows what would have happened if he did not get the ball rolling over 40 years ago. Long may it continue!
It comes as no surprise that 2018 did not bring many new or paramount products from those who do not make or change just for the sake of it. Evolution rather than revolution was the main reflection of wisdom and consideration. Starting a brief recap, Zanden Audio Systems come first with their Product Of The Year 2018 for the exquisite Model 3000Mk2 line preamplifier and Model 9600Mk2 mono amplifiers accolade, awarded be the HiFi+ magazine. Speaking of awards, Kuzma were also allocated one of the category awards (best turntable of the year) for the newcomer STABI R, launched in May at the Munich High End exhibition. And, as if good things (rather than just bad) came in trios, Cardas Audio Clear Headphone Cable scored a category win, too.
Awards and plenty of complimentary words within the UK and international audio press were not the only good moments of the year about to leave us. The return of the "original" finite elemente under the solid guidance of its creator Luis Fernandes was a very happy day for us and the industry. While, for now, we have only the rejuvenated collection of excellent CERA products (Ceraball Universal, Cerapuc and Cerabase supporting feet) on offer, it is only a matter of time before the unequivocally praised and acclaimed pagode equipment furniture mark their return. Solid financial foundation and dedicated management of the brand that, in spite of all the untoward experiences, never lost its reputation and prestige, should be a sufficient reassurance for a healthy presence at the forefront of its industry segment.
We are also eagerly awaiting tangible emergence of the new DYNAMYTE range of streaming, audio and lifestyle components from our Canadian friends Magnum Dynalab. A laborious process of design, development and fine tuning has been completed and we saw fully working pre-production signs of things to come in May at the Munich event. Deliveries should commence in February 2019. Until then, Magnum Dynalab's web site offers an appetising preview...
It has also been a joy to have had a very good and rewarding year of close cooperation with our dedicated retail partner, Midland Audio Exchange and its "hands on" leader John Roberts. For some reason, long term relationships and loyalty between suppliers and retailers within the high-end audio industry are far and few between. Which makes us even more grateful and delighted seeing MAX and Audiofreaks going stronger by the day after over 20 years of joint efforts. Vast selection of our products on permanent display and demonstration within the beautiful walls of the Old Chapel listening rooms, combined with JR's experience and skill to demonstrably extract last ounce of performance from every single component, have given us both a good feeling for even more uplifting results in 2019.
Trends in 2018? Have there been any (apart from all doing their best to keep their heads above water)? Not sure, to be frank. Leaving aside an increasing number of ludicrously expensive components that were supposed to keep their producers solvent without having to produce or sell high volumes, not much else to report. Analogue playback designs continue to emerge at an unabated speed (turntables, arms and some cartridges), amplifiers still use valves and transistors and world continues to be overcrowded with loudspeakers and cables. While such a statement seemingly does not inspire much confidence, it is, in actual fact, quite the opposite. The more, the merrier - this way, to paraphrase the old saying, men among the boys will distinct themselves much easier. And, and even older saying, caveat emptor, will continue to have the opportunity to prove itself for all the right and wrong reasons.
In closing, we would like to say "Thank You For The Music" to many artists from all musical genres who made this world spiritually and culturally a better place once again this year. For all that we know, if it wasn't for the MUSIC, what would be all we do for?
We would also like to thank all our existing and new supporters and followers for their trust and confidence. And for keeping us going for yet another year. Without you it would have simply not been possible. It has been and always will be a pleasure to share our experience and that bit of knowledge we have to make your world of your music a better and happier place.
Lots of good health and happiness. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2019!!!!