Starbucks, look out! ArkivMusic is on your tail. Just in time for the holidays, the Internet's major classical-music site has teamed up with the Canadian Brass to create ArkivMusic's first new recording, Christmas Tradition: Music for Brass and Organ. The CD, recorded for the Canadian Brass's own label, Opening Day (ODR 7345), includes music by composers who, over the years, have written some of the ensemble's favorite music and arrangements.
MTV published an end of the year review of the music business on December 17, "Madonna Ditches Label, Radiohead Go Renegade: The Year The Music Industry Broke." Month by month, it's a litany of bad tidings for the biz, from January 14, 2007, the day the Dreamgirls soundtrack hit number 1 on Billboard's pop charts with a scant 60,000 copies sold (lowest #1 ever) through December 3, 2007's announcements that Def Jam and EMI were laying off employees and Warner Music Group would cut executive bonuses (awww).
We received word December 21 that Ultralink/XLO Products executive vice-president Don Bouchard was injured in a "serious motorcycle accident in Texas." Bouchard is currently recovering in a Houston hospital, surrounded by his family, close friends, and business associates. Knowing Don, we're sure that's a packed hospital room.
One year after the Consumer Electronics Show switched venues from the Alexis Park to The Venetian/Sands Expo and Convention Center, leaving "renegade" exhibitors at T.H.E. Show's less costly St. Tropez venue isolated from the rest of the action, both shows are back stronger than ever. CES's "high-performance audio" exhibits in the Venetian's Tower Suites have increased to 173 from 122, while T.H.E. Show has expanded to a total of 90 exhibit rooms in the Alexis Park and the St. Tropez.
IRebuildMarantz.com: Robert D. Bowdish sent us an email recently, pointing us to his IRebuildMarants.com website, which he describes as "my semi-DYI site that's for the purpose of keeping great vintage audio gear alive."
Lehmann Audio:Immedia, the Berkeley, CA–based distributor of Lyra cartridges, Finite Element stands, Sonics by Joachim Gerhard loudspeakers, and Spiral Groove turntables, has become Lehmann Audio's US distributor.
On December 2, we posted an article based on conversations with Benchmark Audio's John Siau, which described Siau's thoughts on the bit-transparency of later versions of iTunes. On December 9, Gordon Rankin weighed in with Wavelength Audio's thoughts on the subject.
A new year-long download promotion may spell the death knell for digital rights management (DRM). The Pepsi promotion, which will be formally announced during the Super Bowl on February 3, will advertise a possible one billion downloadable MP3 files, which will be available through Amazon.com's download service, which does not feature DRM. We have not been able to obtain a list of participating labels to date, but since EMI, UMG, and Hollywood Records already participate at Amazon's MP3 store, they're probably involved. Less certain are Sony BMG and Warner Music Group (WMG), who seem to be sticking as much at the 40¢ per song (compared to 65–70¢ from Amazon or 70¢ from iTunes) offered by Pepsi as at the lack of DRM—although neither label has yet offered unprotected digital files.
Last week, we passed along some observations from Benchmark Media Systems' John Siau about iTunes forcing an unnecessary sample-rate conversion in its 7.5 incarnation. We received a lot of mail on the subject during the week, including some helpful suggestions from Wavelength Audio's Gordon Rankin, who has much experience designing USB audio devices.
Stereophile's seventh CD of Minnesotan male choir Cantus, called with delightful originality Cantus (CTS1207) and recorded at 88.2kHz with 24-bit resolution, is now available from our e-commerce page, for $16.95 plus S&H.
When John Atkinson reviewed the Benchmark DAC1 USB digital/analog processor (watch for it in the January 2008 Stereophile), his test results raised some eyebrows at Benchmark. You'll have to read the review to discover what, but suffice it to say that Benchmark did some testing of their own and wrote us an interesting alert.
The recording label Deutsche Grammophon, founded in 1898, boldly ventured into the 21st century on November 28 with a new online store that eschews digital rights management (DRM) and offers MP3 downloads at 320kbps.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has taken major steps to ensure that the 2008 edition of its International Consumer Electronics Show, to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 7–10, will provide a model for sustainable and energy-efficient practices. According to CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro, the world's largest international trade show for consumer technologies is "the first tradeshow of our size to reduce our carbon footprint. We will do so by reducing energy consumption, increasing our recycling efforts, improving efficiency where possible, and making strides toward offsetting our unavoidable emissions. . . . [We intend to give] this industry an opportunity to be a positive force for change and integral to environmental solutions that will ensure future generations inherit a healthy planet."