During the past year, hardly a day has gone by without headlines announcing the latest twist in the fate of embattled free music service Napster.com. Lost in the hysteria was Napster's tiny rival Emusic.com, a three-year-old online music venture that always charged its subscribers for downloading tunes, and always paid the copyright holders. For news appeal, Emusic's paltry 10,000 subscribers and languishing stock price didn't compare to Napster's reported 75 million users and major league court battles.
In the perfect digital future, audiophiles would be able to drink from the purest of high-resolution audio datastreams with no worry that someone upstream had polluted the current. But in the real world, content providers and hardware manufacturers increasingly conspire to dirty the flow a little and limit unauthorized consumption by controlling the technology needed to filter out their toxic additives.
To balance or not to balance? That is the audio question that Martin Colloms sets out to answer in Balance: Benefit or Bluff? Although balanced capability is a fashionable feature in many expensive audio products, Colloms writes that "the High End could be paying dangerous, costly lip service to the received wisdom that balanced operation is the goal for an audio system."
Consumers attending the Home Entertainment 2001 Show in NYC, May 11–13, 2001, will have a unique opportunity to speak with and learn from the home entertainment industry's leading experts. As part of the three-day audio and video extravaganza, the Show will offer educational seminars and panel discussions—included with the admission ticket price on a first come, first served basis. This is a rare opportunity for consumers to meet with legendary industry journalists, manufacturers, dealers, and others.
It's a season of mixed results in the electronics industry. On April 9, Peabody, MA–based Boston Acoustics announced that it has slashed jobs due to a slow fourth quarter, reducing its workforce from 389 to 327 as a result of slowing sales. The loudspeaker manufacturer expects earnings of more than $4.2 million for the year ending March 31, a figure that puts the company in a profitable position despite a loss of close to $1 million for the final quarter.
Give an engineering team a blank page and a blank check and there's no telling what they'll come up with. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, for example, one company showed a $25,000 CD transport with laser-pickup mechanism that was separate from its disc drive—almost the cosmic equivalent of having the sun revolve around the earth.
Having the Philips SACD1000 in my system promoted me to spill some ink about the Sony SCD-777ES. In the months I've had this SACD player in my system, my experience of music has been enhanced to the point where I feel more and more confident about the aural judgments I'm called on to make—because I'm convinced that I'm listening to a digital source on which I can bet the ranch.
John Atkinson finds that the Dynaudio Contour 1.3 Mk.II loudspeaker—a completely overhauled iteration of the original Contour 1.3 Mk.I, released several years back—reveals details in recordings that most speakers smooth right over. JA reveals other details about the Contour in his review, complete with comments on the Contour 1.3 Special Edition from Sam Tellig.
New York City, one of the world's most diverse and eclectic cities, will play host to an outstanding group of musicians, who will perform live at the Home Entertainment 2001 Show, May 11-13, 2001 at the Hilton New York & Towers.