D&M Holdings, Inc., the Japanese consortium that owns Denon, Snell, Boston Acoustics, McIntosh, Escient, and Marantz, is apparently on the marketing block. Rumors to that effect have been circulating since mid-March, although the company's website, in a press release dated 04/15/08, coyly says only: "D&M Holdings, Inc. notes that recent press reports concerning the potential sale of D&M shares is not based on any information provided by the company."
Stereophile is partnering with the Festival Son & Image, to be held in Montreal, Canada, Thursday April 3 through Sunday, April 6. The first day is for trade and press only—public admission starts on Friday at 11am. More than 120 brands will be demonstrated in rooms on 11 floors of the Sheraton Centre hotel in downtown Montreal, and the Show's keynote speech is being given by Monster Cable's Noel Lee at 10am on the trade day, Thursday April 3.
On March 24, the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division stated that, "after thorough and careful review" (translation: more than one year) Sirius Satellite Radio's $5 billion offer to purchase XM Satellite Radio "is not likely to harm consumers."
Sanford "Sandy" Berlin died on March 11 at his home in Santa Monica, California. He was 80 and had suffered from cancer. Born in 1927, he would have been 81 on April 10. During a long and highly successful career in audio management, Berlin held top positions at companies ranging from Harman/Kardon and JBL to Madrigal and Revel. He entered the industry in the 1960s, after brokering Harman/Kardon, then owned by General Instruments, back to its founder, Sidney Harman, who subsequently hired him and put him in charge of H/K. When Harman's firm, then called Jervis Corporation, acquired JBL in 1969, Berlin moved to Los Angeles to reshape it. He later set up German and French distribution units for Harman-group products and, after negotiating Harman's purchase of Tannoy, moved to England to serve as Tannoy's chairman. When Harman set out to create a new speaker brand, Bolivar, Berlin took the reins of that Tennessee-based operation (which ultimately proved unsuccessful).
The Home Entertainment Show, promoted by Stereophile, Ultimate AV, and Home Theater magazines, successfully showed off the best in high-end audio and home theater to enthusiasts from 2001 through 2007. However, following its acquisition of the magazines in August 2007, Source Interlink Media decided not to promote the Home Entertainment Show in 2008. Instead, Stereophile is partnering with the Festival Son & Image, to be held in Montreal, Canada, Thursday April 3 through Sunday, April 6. (The first day is for trade and press only.)
We get letters department: Here at Stereophile, we talk to people in the high-end audio industry all the time, and we frequently get fascinating emails from movers and shakers within the industry. This week we received one that got us thinking about outsourcing manufacturing and how it could affect high-end consumers.
If you watch mainstream TV, you've probably seen it: The American Express Plum Card ad that features catalog/online analog retailer MusicDirect. Filmed in December, with little advance notice, the ad debuted on February 19, and is expected to run for several months.
UK newspaper The Telegraph reported March 3 that Sir Paul McCartney has signed a $6 million deal to release the Beatles catalog to iTunes for downloading. While The Independent and the Daily Mail have also reported the same thing, there has been no confirmation from Apple, EMI, McCartney, surviving Beatle Ringo Starr, or the families of deceased members John Lennon or George Harrison.
Another of the great ones is gone. Norman Smith had been a refrigeration engineer, but at 36, he decided to apply for an entry-level position as a recording technician at EMI in the UK. EMI had a strict caste system at the time and technical staff (the "white coats") were considered a rank below that of producers and even of balance engineers, who were allowed to sit in the mastering room. By 1962, Smith was promoted to balance engineer and was paired with George Martin for the first Beatles recordings. As balance engineer, he chose the microphones and recording equipment for each session and Smith is generally given a great deal of credit for the clarity and accuracy of the group's recordings from the beginning through the recording of Revolver in 1965. Because of Smith's age (he'd seen service in WWII) and EMI's dress code (ties and lab coats), Lennon nicknamed him "Normal." (Hence the title of Smith's autobiography: John Lennon Called Me Normal.)
In January 2008, Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) Senior Intellectual Property attorney, Fred von Lohmann filed an amicus brief in Atlantic v. Howell, a case that hinged on the Recording Industry of America Association's (RIAA) contention that offering files on a P2P sharing network was in and of itself evidence of copyright violations, whether or not it could prove the files were ever downloaded by others.
How could he?, they seem to say. In obituary after obituary, one reads how tenor Guiseppe di Stefano squandered his voice. Too much smoking, too much drinking, too much shouting at late-night parties, they declare. It's almost as though opera lovers feel betrayed, unable to forgive an artist who abused such glorious gifts so early in his career.
The consumer and retail tracking NPD Group released the results of a study on how people acquired music in 2007. NPD's data show a marketplace undergoing transition—although, depending on who's parsing the numbers, that could be read either as great news or the end of the world as we know it.
The Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) aggressive campaign against its customers has most recently relied heavily upon the "making available" argument. The RIAA has argued that the act of making a recording available on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network was a crime, even if nobody actually linked to or downloaded the files. In October 2007, judge Michael J. Davis ruled in Capitol Records v. Thomas that the labels did not need to establish that the songs Ms. Thomas loaded to her KaZaa account were downloaded by others. Ms, Thomas was held liable for $220,000 in penalties.
It starts quietly enough, with a simple falling-fifth motif, but the first movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff's neglected Piano Sonata 1 develops into a work of epic proportions nearly 40 minutes in length, with haunting melodies, massive dynamic contrasts, and lush, sensual harmonies.