High-end Audio Predictions for 1998

Who wouldn't want to know what's in store for the extreme audio devotee? So we rolled a special set of aluminum Tiptoes, read the auspicious signs (you've got to understand how the tips point), and divined our first set of predictions. We'll have more next week, if the Mpingo dots line up just right.

1) DVD-Audio standard will finally be set---but major record labels won't care.
Of course, the corollary to this one is that the audiophile labels will carve out a hefty niche for themselves, with some limited re-releases from the majors. Expect to see yet another "revelatory" remastering of anything by Miles or Hendrix.

1a) DVD-Audio standard will be set, but it will be crippled by music industry-mandated copy protection and copy inhibit laws.
Audiophiles ignore it in favor of DTS-encoded surround-sound DVD-Video discs---and LPs! As a result, the circulation of Michael Fremer's Tracking Angle magazine overtakes that of Stereo Review!

2) High-end audio component sales decline---then pick up again.
The chilly economy in Asia sparked this one, but we'll take a long shot and predict that the nouveau riche in Silicon Valley catch the tweak-audio buzz around summertime and drive the business forward once again.

3) Tweak multidisc CD/DVD players get hot.
We all know that audiophiles like to suffer for their art, but several manufacturers will make it easy to have your cake and eat it too. Spearheaded by players from CAL (California Audio Labs), Arcam, and others, the movement will begin in the middle ground and move up the chain. We don't predict 100-disc changers getting respect any time soon, however.

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