Drum roll, please: As promised, the DVD-Audio 1.0 specification has been finalized by the DVD-Audio Working Group 4 of the DVD Forum, and will shortly be presented to the Steering Committee for final approval. A multitude of delays both technical and political popped up over the last two years, stalling the evolving specification until just recently. (It was orginally intended to be released months ago.) Still to be settled, however, is how DVD-Audio 1.0 will co-exist with Sony's and Philips' promise to promote their rival technology, Super Audio CD (SACD), as an independent and competing format.
CD audio recorders are becoming affordable and more available. Philips' CDR880 (reviewed by Wes Phillips in the current issue of Stereophile) will be in dealers' showrooms soon at a suggested retail price of $649. Pioneer will also have an inexpensive recorder on the market---the PD-R555RW, which will reportedly sell for $599. These two---and others that will no doubt follow---are welcome relief from the four-figure machines that have dominated the recordable audio CD niche.
Following the highly successful release of three Beatles outtakes sets a few years back, Capitol Records announced last week that another set of unreleased recordings, this time from former Beatle John Lennon, will hit stores November 3. The four-disc set will include over 100 home recordings, studio outtakes, and other works never released in public. Titled The John Lennon Anthology, the set was put together with help from Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, and their son Sean Lennon. Also included will be 60 pages of notes, including art, writings, and photos.
Hachette Filipacchi Magazines (HFM) announced last week that two of its titles, Stereo Review and Video magazines, would be merged to form a new magazine titled Stereo Review's Sound & Vision. According to the statement, the new title will be launched in February 1999, with the premiere issue to coincide with next year's Consumer Electronics Show.
In a recent bake-off, online retailer CDnow was named top music banana by the New York consulting firm eMarketer. Although placing further down the list based on price alone, CDnow gained the highest overall score in an averaging of the rankings of six criteria. Rated on a scale of 1 to 5, these were: Selection, Price, Service, Usability, Presentation, and Features.
Distressed Carver Corporation announced August 31 that founder Bob Carver has signed a letter of intent to return as chairman and CEO of the company he founded 20 years ago. The letter also spells out conditions for a possible merger of Carver and Sunfire Corporation as early as 18 months from now. Sunfire, manufacturer of the highly regarded Sunfire power amplifiers, is Bob Carver's privately held company.
It wasn't easy building the perfect audio system---endless hours spent choosing synergistic components, and working that impossible room to its greatest advantage. Why not share the struggle, the rewards, and the knowledge gained by sending information about your audio environment to us here at Stereophile?
Several weeks ago, we reported on the revival of McCormack Audio by Bill Conrad and Lew Johnson, who purchased the company's assets at an auction in Southern California. This past week, McCormack Audio has announced that one of the original co-founders, Steve McCormack, has rejoined the company as Director of Research and Development. McCormack had worked at the company from its inception in 1982 until 1996.
Recordable CD machines are nothing new these days, especially those aimed at the PC market. Those machines that find their way into Desktop PCs can end up doing everything from backing up corporate financial data to mastering CD-ROM titles. Many are used for recording music CDs as well, and so a new CD-Recorder from Smart and Friendly has a couple of features thrown in just to excite the audio folk.
In anticipation of the upcoming 1.0 DVD-Audio specification (see previous article), Sonic Solutions and Warner Music Group wasted no time in announcing their intent to collaborate in creating new multichannel high-density recordings to showcase the new format. Warner was one of the first major labels to deliver music via CD, and Warner's video division has never been shy in their support of Open-DVD for video. So it comes as no surprise that they're one of the first major music houses out of the gate for the audio version of DVD.
A few years ago, when media pundits began discussing the possible ramifications of 500 channels of television, the concept of "narrowcasting" quickly became the buzzword du jour. The idea was that programming in the future would be aimed at increasingly better-defined markets. Rather than an all-sports channel, an astute broadcaster would operate multiple channels devoted to individual sports: an all-basketball channel, for example, or round-the-clock motor sports. Advertising tailored for a tightly defined market might prove more efficient than its shotgun-effect equivalent.
Some optimists in Washington, on Wall Street, and elsewhere predicted that the Asian economic crisis wouldn't reach the United States. But in late August, the financial flu infecting that part of the world, and the ongoing monetary instability in Russia, finally affected North America. As of Friday, August 28th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was hovering just above 8000, down from a record high of 9337.97 on July 17th. The market decline has affected the whole economy---traditional industries as well as hot-ticket ventures like Internet stocks.
Looks like it might be a while before a profitable formula jells for selling music over the Internet. News this week indicates that one of the largest music retailers, Tower Records, is finally ready to challenge the market, while online distribution pioneer N2K will be scaling back operations until things steady a bit.
The latest music-piracy statistics have just been released by the RIAA, bringing to light several new wrinkles in the ongoing struggle to protect the owners of music copyrights from those who illegally copy and sell protected works. Released August 21, the report details the new problems brought about by CD-R technology and MP3 files distributed via the web.