Whenever I hear the term “radical new idea” two things happen: my ears perk up and my caution guard goes up too.
I think most of us are both interested and skeptical of radical change. We love the idea of the new, the radical, the brass ring solution that leapfrogs us away from the land of incremental changes. And yet, how many times have we been disappointed? The 200 mpg carburetor, the Bedini Box speaker cables.
Most radical ideas go nowhere but on occasion, they spark improvements in the tried and true. I remember our first discovery that huge oversized transformers improved the audio performance of source equipment and that discovery lead to the creation of the Power Plant AC regenerators.
The cycles between radical shifts in technology seem to be becoming shorter. Vacuum tubes to transistors happened in a 50-year cycle while the move from analog to digital audio was a little more than half that.
With all the work on new materials for generating sound like graphene and the research on beamforming to direct sound to specific locations, I am guessing we’re in for a radical new approach in the field of reproduction by the middle of the next decade. That’s not a lot of time.
I’ll also wager that the new approach, whatever it is, will come out of left field—or certainly a field far from high-end audio.
As I write these words some companies are installing audio beam projectors capable of following individuals in a crowded public area to spam them with advertising—and only the targeted individual will hear it. Applied to a stereo system it means sound could track the individuals within a room perhaps moving the soundstage with the person.
It’s fun to imagine what the future might hold for audiophiles like us.