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Last year’s editorial in this spot was the one looking back at 2016, when we lost Rebecca Smith. It was the most painful thing I have ever written. This year, as January is filled with non-drinkers all giving it large about Dry January, I write this after the traditional moment when all New Year resolutions have been contravened. And looking at 2017, it shows a continuing of the trend away from the aftermarket and an increasing level of sophistication in the OEM systems found in new cars.

As for my own resolutions and intentions, I wrote, “For Talk Stuff in 2017, I am working towards mad-end OEM, with top targets from posh brands, as we all want to know what you get when you buy a £100,000+ car with the ‘posh audio’ option, don’t we? As well as going to play with as much crazy-high-end THEATRE stuff as I can get at, now that I am no longer anchored to another publication for that market. It turns out, I might just have the clout to get away with it.”

Well, the home audio front has been slow. I went to the HiFi show in Bristol, made a truly terrible video with my lovely new-for-2017 JVC GY-HM200U 4K broadcast video camera, as I was totally green with it and made a video filled with picture noise. Full auto is safest for me. I even got the audio channels reversed, as pointed out by a Talk Stuff stalwart after he listened closely. I plopped a VERY sexy stereo microphone atop the thing, from Audio-Technica, a BP4025. That video was also uploaded wrongly, so I redid it in ‘4k’ noise and all. It has been seen just under eight thousand times though.

But I also did a factory tour of the DCS folks’ awesome facility, where single units for up to £66,000 are made and sold. Oddly, I got ten times the views for a video about the Caliber retro head unit, though, just afterwards. On the posh OEM front, that came to roost good and proper. I had had a loan of an XC90, which vid has hit nearly 13,000 views, in September, 2016. In short order, I also had press loans for a few days of a Volvo V90 XC, a Kia Sportage KX-5 and was invited to the XC60 launch event. That last was a level of press pampering I simply had never encountered. I was like the tee shirt of the ‘Unusually repulsive cat, startled by a gesture of affection..” in that I didn’t grasp that the wee daft questionnaire I had filled in, was about spoiling me. So when there was a knock at the hotel room door mid afternoon, as I was drifting into a nap, I was staggered to find I was being presented with some chunky slices of smoked fish. The result of a sarky answer to the questionnaire. I struggled but ate them… It was an amazing experience. There have been around ten thousand hits to those..less than I hoped, to be honest.

Then it did get a bit posh, with invitations, two of them to see Audi and their new e-tron tech. The Q7 3.0 TDi was around £86k loaded as it was and I was the very first to have a go on it. The technology all round was awesome. The videos were cool yet haven’t hit the well over hundred thou the A7 Sportback one has… yet that was at the very birth of OEM Head Up Display. HUD is now fuller colour and wicked resolution as the LED elements used are way brighter than ever but the novelty factor is reduced.

There was a slice of reviewing, with kit from Caliber, MTX, JL Audio, Kicker as a resurgent brand and Morel had a new amplifier out. So good, I used it to review a slice of other folks’ speakers, fully nine sets. Ten once the Alpine 6x9 components arrive. Yep, Alpine brought out brand new speakers with a lot of new thinking and brilliant results. Truly impressive…

But the craziest one was the epic Meyer Sound thing. For years, I have wanted to write up the HUGE sound systems that my chum Big Mick gets to use for work. Written up like a car system. So I did…

Four huge stories, a new star diagram maker in the shape of one Chris Soteriou (WHAT a find, I am going to exploit this man’s talent like hell this year.) and a diagram that shows how the loudest, clearest band in the world get their sound. Plus a video that has taken off nicely and is at about eight thousand hits as I write. Oddly enough, the astonishingly awesome sound at the Cirque Du Soleil’s Micheal Jackson ONE show, was less keenly received when videoed, with only a few hundred hits, thus far. It was in Las Vegas. I had gone on a birthday break and got stopped at Immigration who wanted to know about my visa. I had stupidly ticked ‘leisure’ on my form and my visa only allows work visits. Without this provable little job lined up with the bosses of the show and Meyer Sound in the USA, I think I may have been sent back home. It was the single most unpleasant experience I have had at any border in my entire life.

Hilariously, I was keen on the ‘posh’ cars and got a Ferrari Lusso to look at, twice, exactly as per my urge in that January 2017 editorial, and also the Maserati Levante at the same emporium. Trouble is, my lot were underwhelmed by the Ferrari driving at normal speeds and just looking at the cool passenger technology screen. The video has had under a hundred hits, took me all day (at least I got to go to the lovely Windsor Farm shop) and the dealership were frosty, to put it politely. It was only because it was fixed up by the boss from Ferrari North Europe that I got through the door…but I wasn’t loved.

For 2018, we will have a full look soon at the no-cost spared Alpine VW van, by Oxford Car Audio, as well as a JL Audio system or two, with more goes at more stuff as it occurs. I did include some odd bits that entertained me, last year but the interest in the Internet Of Things as they say, is still a bit nascent here. As against birth, the death of dB Drag here last year was exaggerated… dB Drag Racing is NOT dead in Blighty and has been bought up from the USA and is in NEW UK management for 2018. Watch this space.

I won’t fib and say all is sweet, as the aftermarket is a totally different space to what it once was. Self driving cars are coming, way faster than any commentator predicted and I am fascinated, as map making and surveying is something I studied to degree level, as well as having a lifelong interest in maps in general. It all started with my mum unfolding the map of Middle Earth from the end of a Tolkien book, back when it was a huge piece of paper, rather than reduced to print inside. Magical! And I want to keep up to speed.

So here’s to 2018 being a good one. Take care and avoid the old BOOMPH - tinkle!

Adam Rayner On Line Editor.