Linette Smith gives her final round up of what a Bird’s Eye View of the Hifi world has been like in 2016. 

2016 has been one of those years, there have been ups and there have been downs and for us at Hifi Pig Towers, it really has been a ‘blink and you’ve missed it’ kind of a year. We covered a host of Hifi Shows, reviewed a huge amount and range of gear and brought you the most informative Hifi News going… here’s my round up of our year.

We knew that the trend for Reel 2 Reel tape would grow this year and this was confirmed when Austrian company Horch House announced Project R2R , a move to produce the world’s only new Reel 2 Reel Tape Deck. We saw prototype images at High End Munich 2016 later in the year, but hold out high hopes that they will bring the actual promised prototype to the 2017 show. Hifi Pig went headfi as we covered the Headroom event at the end of the month in London, proving that the headfi phenomenon continues to grow and gather followers both from the traditional hifi world and beyond.

The main event in February was, of course, The Bristol Sound And Vision Show. Seen by many as the UK show, both for the public and the industry itself, this year was a big one and we were there in force to cover it all.

For us at Hifi Pig Towers, March was dominated by the arrival of the Avantgarde Acoustic Duo XDs. We had waited nearly a year for this beauties that we ordered at High End Munich 2015, so the excitement was palpable…and backs were sore after the actually-not-as-hard-as-we-thought-it-would-be task of putting them together! The Vinyl Revolution continued it’s take over as Saisbury’s Supermarket in the UK announced they would be selling vinyl records in their stores.

Perhaps more appropriately for our readers, April saw the Annual Record Store Day event for Independent Record shops. The industry as a whole was thinking about what would happen if Brexit became reality and we broke the news that UK hifi royalty Tannoy were closing their Coatbridge manufacturing works. (It was later announced that the Prestige range manufacturing would remain in Scotland.) Stuart and I popped over to London for a very special launch of the ChordMusic cable…one that was certainly going to divide opinion. Our man in Chicago, Ron, checked out AXPONA 2016 for us and Grant reported back from the Stylus Show at Heathrow. The news of new products was flying in thick and fast..of course we were getting ready for the annual pilgrimage to High End Munich the following month, and so it seemed was everyone else!

What can be said about May, other than it’s the time of the year when literally anyone who has anything to do with hifi packs up their bags, and in some cases, several tons of hifi gear, and heads of for beautiful Bavaria and the madness that is High End Munich. High End Munich 2016 was the biggest and best yet, even after attending a few of these shows I still marvel at the sheer size and incredibleness of it all. There were new products galore, some of the most high end gear you could ever care to see or hear…and plenty of beer and sausage for those who wanted it. Always a great chance to catch up with friends from far and wide, Munich is a very special show. We also had a very successful and fun Women In Hifi meet up, and of course gave out our Hifi Pig loves You award.

The Women In Hifi met up again at T.H.E. Show in Newport beach and, besieged by kittens at Hifi Pig Towers, I decided there was no better time to look into the relationship between Audiophiles and their cats. We were back in the UK again this time for the wonderful North West Audio Show, with whom we are media partners. The show grew well in it’s second year and we are really looking forward to it’s two day event in 2017 which should be the UK event of the year.

There was of course plenty of news Hifi wise but for us, Hifi Pig Towers became a little quieter as both our youngest son, and two of the kittens, spread their metaphorical wings and went off to explore the world…what for us to do with an empty nest? Play lots of music and enjoy the summer of course!

August saw the launch of our ‘Wheelchair for Ricky’ campaign to raise money for a young audiophile in the USA who the Hifi Pig team had got to know through social media. We were truly staggered by the overwhelming generosity of both the industry who donated more and more prizes and our readers who donated. Expect and update next month as the Wheelchair was in it’s final stages at the factory just before Christmas. Stuart and I had a bit of a holiday and went further south to cover the incredible (and free!) Crescendo Prog Rock Festival, it was a very special event with some amazing bands from all over the world.

Personally, it was my first time at the National Audio Show at Whittlebury, near Silverstone. It was a very enjoyable show in a great setting but, as we announced later on in the year, it was to be the last with the show moving north to Birmingham for 2017.

October saw us hopping back over to London for The Indulgence Show. A lot of effort had gone into the event and the exhibitors had really pushed the proverbial boat out, we are hoping that 2017 sees word of the show spread further so it gets the success it deserves. Although we couldn’t get to The Windsor Show ourselves, we were able to bring plenty of photo’s of the event for you. This month also saw our News Sponsor, Roksan, launch their Pink turntable, a limited special edition version of their Radius 7 turntable, with a charitable donation from each one to Breast cancer Care.

Speaking of Roksan, November brought the news that they had been bought by Monitor Audio. This should make for an exciting future for both brands. Hifi Pig took on some younger writers and expanded our music section, taking a stand to bring new music to audiophiles and hifi to non audiophiles and the younger generation. Stuart and I visited Poland for the first time for the Audio Video Show Warsaw 2016. We both though it was perhaps the best show we had ever been to…which is saying something after this year’s High End Munich! We were also paid a visit by Aequo Audio after the show so look out for the review of their stunning loudspeakers early in 2017. To top off the month we announced a year long fund raising partnership with Nordoff Robbins, the largest independent music therapy charity in the UK.

A van full of Ukrainians bearing very high end speakers is a pretty crazy way to start the day even for us, but that’s what happened when Voyla arrived with their beautiful Bouquet loudspeakers in early December. We will be bringing you the highly anticipated review very soon.
December is always the month to look back on the year and forward to the next. Personally it has been one tinged with sadness for us, as we lost Stuart’s father earlier in the year, but it has been wonderful to gather the family together here at Hifi Pig Towers to remember the good times. We are looking forward to 2017 enormously, including working with our fantastic and dedicated team of reviewers and writers both new and old, plus getting out there and meeting more of you, the readers, that make all the team’s hard work worth while.
A happy and healthy new year to you all!
Linette Smith

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