Houston, Texas-based AstroJams is back online with Grateful Dead MP3s. The site shut down its offerings of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band downloads after receiving a cease-and-desist order from attorneys for Grateful Dead Productions in April. At issue was the site's use of advertising to generate revenue. GDP claims the sole legal right to commercial benefits stemming from the use of the band's music and logos, but had "never objected" to the free sharing of music in the Dead tradition, according to Dennis McNally of GDP's publicity department.
In a tersely worded press release, Carver Corporation announced that on Wednesday, May 12, 1999 it filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 in United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington. The cause of the filing was "an accumulation of unpaid debt and resulting legal actions filed by creditors. These actions created the prospect of an inequitable distribution of payment to creditors and prevented the Company from being able to operate as a functioning business entity. In October of 1998, the Company ran out of working capital and laid off the remainder of its workforce. Subsequently, at the invitation of the Board of Directors, Robert W. Carver, the founder of the Company and former CEO, stepped in to take over."
Last week, the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) announced its forecast that Internet sales of traditional consumer technologies to online households should reach at least $14 billion by 2002, representing 13% of total industry volume. CEMA also revealed that consumer research shows interest in buying consumer technologies online should grow by at least 135% in the next two years. The study found that the vast majority of online shoppers opt to consummate the purchase online instead of at a retail store because of price.
Last week, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, Inc. announced that the company has reached an agreement in principle to acquire DOW Stereo/Video, Inc., located in San Diego, California. DOW is a nine-store specialty consumer-electronics retailer with sales of approximately $38 million, and has been in business in the San Diego market for over 30 years. The transaction is expected to be completed on or about July 1, 1999. Tweeter says it will pay approximately $5.5 million for the company excluding acquisition costs, and has the option of paying approximately $500,000 of the purchase price in Tweeter common stock.
Plenty of noteworthy new audio products are making their debuts here at HI-FI '99. EveAnna Manley has unveiled her prototype DAC/preamp, the Wave, featuring an UltraAnalog-based 20-bit D/A converter and a tube line-stage. With four digital inputs, four analog inputs, a processor loop, and three variable outputs, the fully remote-controllable unit should appear at dealers in late summer at a suggested price of $7000. Manley says an optional 24/96 pop-in circuit board is in the works.
Sometimes you have to sweat the details, sometimes they just fall in your lap. Take Victor Tiscareno. Victor's company, AudioPrism, has been making electronics, accessories, and power-conditioning products for quite some time. While he was visiting and installing a pair of his Mana Reference tube amplifiers for an upcoming review, Victor and I got to talking about power---the kind that comes out of the wall. Victor studied electrical engineering and is very au courant in such matters. During these ruminations he shared with me a recipe for what he calls The Poor Man's Dedicated Line.
Following the Sony/Philips jump from the starting line with Wednesday's SACD announcements, the DVD-Audio camp quickly came up to speed at the HI-FI '99 press luncheon with their plans for players and discs to appear this fall. First up at the podium was Jordan Rost from the Warner Music Group. Contrasts with the SACD position were established from the start when Rost made it obvious that, unlike SACD, DVD-Audio seeks to embrace not only high-end audio, but also various forms of video, and even Internet interactivity. Rost even went so far as to say that DVD-Audio discs could "play on CD players if a hybrid disc is feasible and desired," thus possibly deflating Sony's insistence that backward-compatibility is what sets SACD apart.
It's been five years since David Wilson's X-1/Grand SLAMM speaker system invaded our audio consciousness with its 500W power capacity and very high (95dB/W) sensitivity (footnote 1). Capable of an earsplitting 123dB at 1m, with a bandwidth to match, this was one speaker system that refused to be ignored. The X-1 has since evolved to $70,000/pair Mk.II form. It now provides some flexibility of tonal balance for different room acoustics, and is distinguished by greater subtlety in its differentiation of timbre. Beneath the X-1 in Wilson's range comes the WATT/Puppy ensemble, now in its 5.1 iteration (footnote 2). The WATT/Puppy has survived for over 10 years, and sets a benchmark for the Wilson line at its $17,270 system price.
BILL LLOYD: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants Koch LOC-CD-8035 (CD). 1999. Bill Lloyd, Scott Baggett, prods., engs.; Brad Jones, prod.; Robin Eaton, Marshall Crenshaw, engs. AAD? TT: 56:46 Performance ****? Sonics ****