The arrival of digital content and files completely revolutionized the music and film industries. Once all-powerful, the CD has been overtaken by the generalization of streaming platforms. Blu-ray also seems to be increasingly sidelined by distributors. Is physical media going to disappear completely?
There has been another blow to the relationship between physical media and hi-fi and home theater enthusiasts. Like Disney in New Zealand and Australia, the Best Buy retail chain, with over 1,000 stores in the USA and Canada, has just announced the discontinuation of DVD and Blu-ray sales from January 2024. This decision follows Netflix’s discontinuation of its historic DVD rental business. The future of physical media is increasingly being questioned.
Blu-ray and 4K: a perfect match
Despite being excluded by some of the industry’s most important players, a fact that is worrying Matt Damon, the Blu-ray is still the best way to watch 4K movies. This UHD physical medium is the only one capable of offering very high, stable data rates for the transmission of 4K images and multichannel HD digital audio. Enthusiasts looking for a captivating, immersive experience systematically prefer 4K Blu-ray discs to streaming.
That’s why some brands are continuing to produce 4K UHD Blu-ray players. A godsend for collectors, who can still enjoy their countless films and series to the full. In fact, we were particularly impressed by the Magnetar UDP800 4K Blu-ray player during our review, as well as the Reavon UBR-X200.
Vinyl is breathing new life into physical media
Here’s a comeback we weren’t expecting. While CD sales continue to plummet, LPs are managing to hold their own. By late 2022 in France, vinyl records accounted for 45% of sales of physical music media. To maintain this momentum, labels regularly release reissues or remastered versions of iconic albums.
Manufacturers are vying with each other to meet growing demand. Pro-Ject offers limited editions with unique designs, such as the Pro-Ject Dark Side of the Moon turntable and the Pro-Ject Metallica model. This equipment stands out thanks to a subtle blend of nostalgia and pop-culture.
Elipson, meanwhile, is teaming up with French leather goods manufacturer Bleu de Chauffe for a prestigious collaboration. For the second year running, the two French manufacturers have teamed up to unveil a stunning “Made in France” model, the Elipson Chroma RIAA BT Bleu de Chauffe turntable.
While physical media continues to be under attack from certain players in the hi-fi and home theater market, it doesn’t look set to completely vanish in the near future. Enthusiasts and major brands alike see 4K Blu-ray as the best way to enjoy a film to the full.