Audiophiles have more than just piles of equipment and music to wrestle with in their quest for audio ecstasy. The listening room often colors a system's performance as much as any component in the chain. Tom Norton decided it was time to examine the subject, writing, "although the perfect room does not exist, there are things that can be done to make the most of even an admittedly difficult situation." See his report in "Enough Room?"
Editor's Note: This item is an excerpt from an e-mail received from Russia late last week. It's noteworthy that the US Congress has spent hundreds of days and more than $50 million investigating the President's adolescent shenanigans, while elsewhere in the world serious trouble is afoot. Leonid Korostyshevski is a computer consultant and audiophile in the university town of Saratov, on the Volga river 600 miles east of Moscow. His previous dispatch appeared here in March.----BW
Last week's Vote! question about vibration control garnered one of the most interesting groups of comments from readers so far. Everything from bicycle tires to bubble wrap is being employed in audiophile homes around the world in an attempt to subdue the dreaded curse of the shakes.
For any good battle, it helps to have several key ingredients. First, there has to be an underlying conflict that cannot be settled with diplomatic ease---it is especially important that both combatants covet the same property. Second, each side has to set a propaganda machine in motion to create the appearance of a noble struggle for the good of "the people" that transcends the simple fight for turf control. Third, the outcome of such a battle should have implications stretching far into the future. And finally, these days it helps if the press notices.
Internet traffic doubles every 100 days, according to some statistics. This growth has been accompanied by an increase in the amount of online shopping---a phenomenon that has had a significant impact on retailers. Independent bookstores, for example, have been squeezed not only by the expansion of large-scale operations like Barnes & Noble, but also by the popularity of Internet discounters like Amazon.com and Borders.com. Online sales of recorded music by both record clubs and start-up resellers have put a dent in the bottom lines of many mass-market music stores---although not a huge one yet. The trend will certainly continue.
Convergence has come to the automotive market. Clarion Corporation of America announced December 4 that it has developed the the world's first product that integrates car audio, computing functions, navigation, and wireless communications through hands-free voice activation. The Clarion AutoPC is a DIN unit that fits in the dash of an automobile, and is powered by the Microsoft Windows CE operating system.
Back in January of this year, we reported that loudspeaker manufacturer Polk Audio had purchased an interest in Genesis Technologies, a loudspeaker and digital electronics manufacturer, with an option to buy the company in three years. Last week, however, Polk announced that it has decided to pass the company on to new investors.
Among loudspeaker designers, Franco Serblin enjoys an enviable reputation for beautiful creations and meticulous craftsmanship. Until recently, Sonus Faber's resident genius had confined himself to minimonitors with simple crossover networks, such as the Concerto, a Stereophile Class B Recommended Component.
Over three quarters of a million readers served! With several million "page views" and dozens of millions of "hits" in the past 365 days, the Stereophile website has continued to grow steadily, with a record number of folks visiting practically every week. We've also dished out over 300 news articles---practically an article each day---covering everything audio, from important new-technology announcements to the demise and then rebirth of several legendary brands.
Four years after its first unsuccessful foray into the American consumer marketplace, Sony's MiniDisc appears finally to be winning serious numbers of converts. Several large-scale retailers, including Best Buy, Circuit City, Service Merchandise, and (soon) Sears department stores, have dedicated MiniDisc displays, with home recorders, portable players, and blank discs available individually or as a package deal. The displays were built with Sony's support, according to Mike Viken, senior VP for Sony's personal audio/video marketing division.
We'd been playing phone tag for a couple of weeks, but Paul McGowan was finally tethered to a handset as he explained to me a product from his "new" company, the reincarnation of PS Audio. "Everything you've ever wanted in a power conditioner---times 10---with none of the drawbacks!" McGowan could hardly contain himself while pitching his latest brainstorm. He certainly had an intriguing idea, but the path from founder of PS Audio back in the late '70s to Genesis Technologies and back again was nearly as interesting.
It had to happen eventually. Britain's internationally successful loudspeaker manufacturers tend to be highly geared exporters, with overseas markets often accounting for 80-90% of sales. The dramatic downturn in sales across virtually all Asian markets, alongside the collapse of the Russian ruble and an ever-strengthening pound sterling, has been making life very tough indeed.
For the seventh consecutive year, Stereophile has named a select few audio components the "Products of the Year." In doing so, we recognize those components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period.
Is stadium rock passé? The Rolling Stones, the world's greatest practitioners of large-venue concerts, have announced a tour of smaller arenas beginning January 25. The "No Security" tour---in support of the recently released Virgin Records album of the same name---will take the band through 25 North American cities.