In the race for technological superiority, audio electronics companies in the United Kingdom, with a few notable exceptions, haven't often been first out of the gate. Arcam, however, may have already lapped the field with its Alpha 10 DRT (Digital Radio Tuner).
Last week, Philips Electronics and Sony Corporation announced the completion of Version 1.0 of the Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) format specification. According to a statement, the format specification will be released to licensees early this month to allow hardware manufacturers and software providers to begin preparing products for launch in the coming months.
Fans of Macintosh computers and Betamax videotape are fond of pointing out that in the free market, the best technologies don't necessarily win. That scenario may be playing out again in the case of VQF, a digital audio transfer and storage technology originally developed several years ago by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.
Singer Dusty Springfield died at her home near Oxford, England last Tuesday, March 2, a few weeks before what would have been her 60th birthday and only one day before she was to have appeared at Buckingham Palace to be honored by Queen Elizabeth. The cause was breast cancer.
The English flat-panel speaker company New Transducers Ltd., also known as NXT, recently announced a new transparent loudspeaker technology called SoundVu that the company says will enable television and computer screens to function simultaneously as loudspeakers.
Ethics and high-end audio have always been a tangled web---especially when it comes to deciding whether to purchase equipment from a helpful local dealer or trying to find the best price possible. In the web reprint of February 1999's "The Final Word," Stereophile's publisher emeritus, Larry Archibald, examines a recent high-end purchase of his own to shed a little light on the dilemma faced by the audiophile grinding for a great deal. Also included are some choice reader responses.
Audio magazine has appeared to have been in difficulties of late, with falling circulation, advertising revenues, and issue size. The current editor-in-chief, Michael Riggs, has worked hard in the past few years to create a more appealing editorial product, since he replaced long-term editor Gene Pitts. However, an even bigger change is now taking place.
Rumors have been confirmed that high-end audio journal Fi Magazine, which just entered its fourth year of publication, closed its doors last Friday, February 26. In a conversation with Stereophile publisher emeritus Larry Archibald, former Fi editor Jonathan Valin commented that "It was really a shame. I never worked so long and so hard on anything, and it didn't have to end the way it did---but I don't want to go into it. The money was there to keep it going." John Atkinson had been told at CES by a Fi spokesperson that a new source of investment had been found, but we can only assume that the deal fell through.
Unit sales of CD players rebounded in 1998, rising 4% to $336 million, according to statistics from the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association. All segments of the CD hardware market---single-play, carousel changers, and mega-disc changers---improved over the big slump of 1997, when unit sales fell 60% and dollar sales fell 40%. Through November 1998, single-disc player sales were up 33% in units and 24% in dollar volume. Carousel changers, component-CD's largest segment, rose 15% in units and 7.5% in dollars during the first three quarters of 1998.
The popular condensation of Darwin's theory of evolution is "adapt or die." The phrase could certainly have been addressed to the music-industry establishment by any one of four Internet entrepreneurs in a public discussion last week at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club. The four---Gerry Kearby of Liquid Audio, Gene Hoffman of GoodNoise, Arnold Brown of AudioExplosion, and Andrew Keen of Audiocafe.com---gathered at the public affairs forum Tuesday evening, February 22, for a spirited discussion of "The Future of Music Distribution."
Newcomer Revel has been on a roll lately, piling up accolades all around for its new line of loudspeakers. Larry Greenhill takes a look at the recently unveiled Revel Salon and explains how it compares to the Sydney Opera House. "Did the Salon meet its design goals of timbral accuracy, low distortion, and lack of dynamic compression?" Read all about it in Greenhill's report.
Several weeks back, the music industry's fear of MP3 audio technology came to a head with the release of Diamond Multimedia's Rio playback device. (See previous and related stories.) The Recording Industry Association of America then announced a new plan, called the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI; see previous article), in an effort to bring the music and audio-technology industries together to solve the problem of digital music piracy.
The final piece of the TGI/Mordaunt-Short/Epos jigsaw puzzle (see previous story) seems to have fallen into place, with the news that Mike Creek (of the UK's Creek Audio) is purchasing the Epos loudspeaker brand, effective March 1.
You think we've got format problems these days? Take a peek back to 1963, when J. Gordon Holt ripped apart the then-new record technology from RCA in "Down with Dynagroove". Next, Wes Phillips writes an ode to his own Mr. Holland in "A Passion for Music".
The official website of the 41st Annual Grammy Awards was launched earlier this month with the help of a media team from the Atlanta division of International Business Machines. The Java-based site provides background information on the artists and events of the music-awards extravaganza, taking place Wednesday evening, February 24, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.