Although audiophiles may muster little enthusiasm for the home-theater-driven audio marketplace of the 21st century, its prerequisites have inspired manufacturers to cram as wide a range of flexible programming features into as highly resolved a set of performance packages as possible. Thus we're now witnessing a new generation of exceptionally musical electronics with high-end performance targeted at two-channel enthusiasts, but all primped and prepped for integration into an expanded audio-video rig.
All available statistics demonstrate that the Internet is still a growing phenomenon, one destined to play an increasingly important role in the distribution of information and entertainment. Recently published studies by Jupiter Media Metrix, Inc., a division of Jupiter Research, show that Internet usage has achieved greater than 50% penetration among US households, giving it what researchers call "mass-market status." Jupiter describes "online consumers" as people who have computers and Internet service provision in their homes, as opposed to having Internet access through a computer at work. "Online users," for the sake of the studies, were defined as people who use the Internet at least once per month.
Chip Stern writes in his review of the Blue Circle BC3 Galatea line-level preamplifier, "From the moment I hooked these units up, the captivating turquoise glow of their matching front-panel lights (a glowing orb within a blue circle) held out the promise of something inviting and serene." Promise fulfilled? Stern spills the Blue Circle beans.
Recent moves by record labels to add restricted-use technology to their compact disc releases has raised the ire of many a consumer, leading some to call for boycotts or worse (see this week's Soapbox). Late last year the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) issued a statement saying that the major labels have gone too far in restricting consumers' "fair use" of copyrighted material.
After more than ten years in development, Sirius Satellite Radio announced last week that it will be officially launching its service with two events in Jackson, Mississippi beginning February 13. Sirius' competitor XM Satellite radio was able to get its service up and running last September.
Last year wasn't kind to UK entertainment conglomerate EMI Group PLC. On February 5, the company issued its second profit warning since September, blaming a slow market for recorded music. EMI is now predicting that pretax profits for the year ending March 31 will total $213.4 million (245.1 million euros, or £150 million), far below analysts' predictions. The news caused an immediate 6.4% drop in the price of EMI shares on the London market.
I haven't been shy in these pages regarding my love for the Mission 731i loudspeaker (reviewed in November 1996, Vol.19 No.11). It quickly became my reference standard for an entry-level audiophile speaker. Subsequent to my review, Mission significantly improved the speaker by introducing a silk-dome tweeter (see Follow-Up in April 1998, Vol.12 No.4). I bought three pairs: one for my home recording studio, one for my faux outdoor summer-home system (guest bedroom windowsills, pointing outward), and one for portable use to drag to friends' parties when their sound systems are not up to snuff.