Headlines – Winter 2018

From the desk of Len Wallis

This issue of The Hi-Fi Headlines marks the 40th anniversary of Len Wallis Audio. So far it has been an interesting ride.

Along the way we have made many friends, both from within the industry and with our clients. In some instances we are now dealing with the third generation of customers, people who have grown up surrounded by quality music. We have enjoyed fabulous support from the industry itself and I have been fortunate to have always had a fabulous team of staff. Many have spent decades with the company, and some have moved on to make their own marks within the industry.

We have witnessed some dramatic changes over the years – admittedly not all of them for the better. In 1978 a typical system comprised of a turntable, receiver and a pair of speakers, and possibly a cassette deck. In those days it was all about the quality of performance, but over the years this gave way to convenience. Yes, there have always been the dedicated audiophiles who have demanded a sense of realism from their systems, but the rest of the industry stumbled from vinyl to cassette, CD and then the various forms of compressed music – primarily MP3. This is probably one of the few industries where the final product – music reproduction – actually deteriorated as technology advanced.

It is heartening to see that people are once again listening to music, and have upped their expectations on quality. The phenomenon of having all the music in the world available at your fingertips, one of the greatest advancements of this industry, has sparked an interest in new music. (As I write I am listening to, via Tidal, a band called Spain, fronted by Josh Haden who is the son of one of my musical heroes, Charlie Haden. An hour ago I had never heard of this group.) Now that people have this treasure trove of music available, they are expecting to hear it at its best, and technologies like Tidal, Roon and MQA make this easy.

The return to vinyl has also had an impact. It has reminded many of how good recorded music can sound, or in many cases exposed people to this for the first time. The very concept of the LP is also conducive to listening. You no longer have the option of skipping tracks or jumping between artists – once you put on an LP you tend to listen to at least half the album in the track sequence as intended by the artists.

We welcome this return to performance – it takes us back to where we were 40 years ago.

I regularly reflect on the fact that I have spent the last 40 years doing something that I enjoy very much – and today it is just as rewarding as it was in 1978. Thank you to everyone who has been part of that journey.