Something of a tail-wagging-the-dog trend has become evident in hi-fi circles. A host of ancillary products known collectively as "audio accessories" has hit the market in response to anticipated sales growth. Trade sources report that sales of record and tape-care items are expected to increase 20 percent in 1979; sales of what passes for electronic "furniture" (cabinets and racks) may zoom up 25 percent; other accessories (anything from a new antenna to a room equalizer) are expected to sell 30 percent better this year.

What's behind this upsurge? One obvious reason is the general increase in hi-fi component ownership. Another is an infusion among stereo system owners of a new wave of "activism." That is to say, sound butts often want to do something more with their equipment than just listen to it. This applies mainly to tape-recording enthusiasts, but it also is found increasingly among stereo owners of varying technical inclination.

A third reason-unfortunately too common these days-is the increase in the number of new records with less-than-clean surfaces. Pops and clicks will develop on a record that is allowed to accumulate dust, but these annoyances also can be found on many new discs. This would account for the popularity of record-cleaning devices of all sorts.

Finally, it seems the industry has discovered there is good money to be made from accessories. They cost less to produce than "regular components," and a dealer can realize some nice profits by retailing them. Dealers, in addition, find they make attractive "display islands" that liven up a shop's interior.

In addition to older, well-known names in accessories, we are seeing some new names, including brands known primarily for main components. The nice thing about most of these products is that they work as claimed, and they can add to one's enjoyment - in one way or another - of stereo systems and recordings. Most of them also can bought at 10 percent or more discount from advertised prices. If you haven't checked out the latest batch of these goodies, you might spend some time doing so. You may find just the gadget you've been needing.

Q: What is a more reliabel source for the truth about various brands and models of hi-fi equipment - the reports in publications or the things that retail dealers tell you?

A: I wish I could give an unequivocal answer to this query. I can't, and I know of no one who really can. It all depends on the publication in question and the particular dealer. Each may have reasons or pet theories that influence evaluation of products. Some of this is hair-splitting; some of it may be outright phoniness. If you are really concerned, try get a consensus of both sources. Read more than one report; talk to several dealers.