Music lovers within driving distance of San Francisco and those planning a visit for later this month should set aside Sunday, February 28, for a feast of black vinyl. That's the day the San Francisco Conservatory of Music holds its Giant LP Sale.
The West Coast's Good Guys aren't feeling so well. The 79-store chain reported a 31% drop in net earnings for the quarter ending December 31. Gross margins dropped to 23.4% of sales, as compared to 24.7% in the same period the previous year.
Our first new archive article this week is "Building a Library: The Grateful Dead," in which past AES chairperson Elizabeth Cohen reveals her thoughts about what the band has meant to a musical generation. Also included is a complete Dead discography, lots of lyrics, and a little history.
Last week, Reference Recordings, of San Francisco, announced that it is planning five new symphonic projects to be recorded by "Prof." Keith Johnson in 88.2kHz, HDCD, 5-channel discrete surround sound. These will be released on standard two-channel CD in the coming year, and eventually on DVD-Audio disc. According to RR, with these ambitious plans, the company hopes to reverse the industry-wide decline in new recordings of classical orchestral music.
Last week, Reference Recordings of San Francisco announced that it is planning five new symphonic projects to be recorded by "Prof." Keith Johnson in 88.2kHz, HDCDr 5-channel discrete surround sound. These will be released on standard two-channel compact disc in the coming year, and eventually on DVD audio disc. According to RR, with these ambitious plans, the company hopes to reverse the industry-wide decline in new recordings of classical orchestral music
Stereophile readers with a hunger for licorice pizza may wish to turn their attention to the Phonogram mailing list---an online, noncommercial discussion forum for those interested in vinyl and related topics. According to Phonogram's material, "the group is an open, informative, interesting, and just plain fun place for people to share their enthusiasm for, knowledge of, and opinions on music on shiny black discs. Although the focus is primarily on 33 1/3rpm vinyl LPs, comments and questions on 45s, 78s, open-reel tapes, or other media (even CeeDees) are welcome. Discussion of hardware supporting record playback (e.g., turntables, tonearms, cartridges, phono stages, and accessories) is fair game as well."
Musician, martial artist, and electronics whiz Ben Blish has loved audio since he was a little kid staring into the glowing tubes of his father's Scott hi-fi equipment. Thirty-four years after catching the bug, he still nurtures it daily.
Until the end of January, the Federal Communications Commission had opposed the proliferation of low-power FM radio stations. "Microradio," as it is sometimes called, has been an ongoing problem for the agency since inexpensive broadcasting gear became widely available several years ago. Primarily an urban phenomenon, microradio consists of individuals and small groups with a hodgepodge of equipment, who wedge themselves into unoccupied slots in the crowded FM band.
In January, National Public Radio launched an ambitious series chronicling the history of the 20th century in sound. Lost & Found Sound began with the first half of a two-part piece on the father of audio technology, entitled "The Rise and Fall of Thomas Alva Edison." Part two, which examines Edison's competition, will be broadcast this week.
MP3 audio files have quickly become the dominant format for downloading music over the Internet, and have just as quickly raised the ire of music labels and artists looking to protect their musical assets. For example, a petition signed by nearly 400 European recording artists (including Mstislav Rostropovich and Barbara Hendricks) was handed to the European Parliament last Tuesday by French composer Jean-Michel Jarre to protest lax copyright protections exacerbated by digital technology. The petition states, in part, "We want to use new digital technologies like the Internet to create and to deliver our music, but we will only feel confident doing so if we know that the laws are there to stop our works falling victim to pirates."
Editor's note: For months now, we've been reporting about the the problems and dilemmas created by audio formats such as MP3, which are often used to pirate and illegally distribute music over the Internet. Correspondent Leonid Korostyshevski offers a decidedly unique Russian spin on the situation. His previous stories are here and here. Photos were taken last week by Leonid Korostyshevski
Our first article this week is Illusions, Riddles, & Toys, in which Barry Willis explains what Zeno's paradox has to do with audio nirvana. "We audiofools face just such a riddle in our relentless pursuit of musical realism. I can hear you now: No, say it isn't so. Surely our technology is equal to the task. I'm sorry to tell you that it isn't, and probably never will be."
High-end audio legend Mark Levinson has departed Cello Film and Music Systems, the company he founded 15 years ago, and has formed a new business, Red Rose Music. The new company will break all performance barriers with both affordable and cost-no-object audio equipment, Levinson stated last week, and is already registered as a new business with the state of New York.
The axeman cometh, and cometh again. Seagram Company's Universal Music Group, now the world's largest music conglomerate after last year's $10+ billion acquisition of PolyGram NV, is decimating its ranks. The company has closed the doors of several formerly independent record labels, fired hundreds of employees, and plans to unload thousands more in the next few months. Employees and artists alike will soon find themselves without labels.
We've all heard about "Internet time"---that fraction of the "normal" time interval for a similar activity to occur on the Internet. As if to put an exclamation point on the concept of Internet time, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) plans to make audio history March 10 at the 1999 NARM Convention coming up in Las Vegas.