It has become commonplace these days for a hot album to hit the streets days—if not weeks or even months—before its official release, inspiring all manner of stupid promo tricks on the part of record labels. Pearl Jam's recent Riot Act was distributed to the press in portable CD players with the lids glued shut and last week saw the White Stripes record label create 500 promo vinyl LPs of the group's impending Elephant release in place of the traditional advance CDs in an effort to stymie the digital pirate's plans.
You want controversy? We got major controversy right here. In 1991, the Tice R-4 TPT and Coherence ElectroTec EP-C "Clocks" were released and then the fun started. Read everything Stereophile writers and readers had to say about these contentious products, as well as comments from the manufacturer.
One of the most significant trends in audio, witnessed at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, is the emergence of the music server market. Pioneer, Panasonic, Marantz, Meridian, Onkyo, Rotel, Philips, Linn, and others have emphasized audio products that can be networked with each other and the Internet, and are able to share content throughout a home. Pioneer even suggests that networks will not necessarily involve a PC, but instead consist of dedicated music-server-like components.
HTPCs are hot among home theater cognoscenti. Using a personal computer to anchor an audio/video system has boomed in recent years due to the availability of high quality video processing software, Dolby Digital and DTS decoding support, and DVD transports. HTPCs (home theater personal computers) also thrive in part because of the tinkering gene shared by many enthusiasts.
Paul Bolin exclaims, "Looking at the current digital scene is enough to confuse and confound just about anyone this side of Stephen Hawking." Bolin's review of the Ayre Acoustics D-1x DVD-Video/CD player is here to clear things up.
It's tough to know which CDs, SACDs, and DVD-Audio discs have been restricted through watermarks or other "copy protection" techniques. This has created a thriving underground community, with websites such as Fat Chuck's devoted to sussing out the corrupted audio products and posting notification to consumers.
In October 2000, during Napster's prolonged courtroom agony, Bertelsmann AG alienated fellow music industry plaintiffs by investing $50 million in a strategic partnership with the file-sharing upstart. At the time, Bertelsmann hoped to leverage Napster's technical expertise and fame to give Bertelsmann Music Group the inside track with Internet music distribution.
Copy protection efforts currently being initiated by national lawmakers at the behest of the entertainment industry are based on a model of Internet use that will soon become obsolete, according to Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig.
Some people believe that high-end audio is mostly fluff whose cost, compared to standard professional studio electronics, is not justifiable. Moreover, they argue, if the music has been piped through any number of studio devices before it gets to your home, you can't expect to get more out of it than the studio devices will pass. Just as the argument is made about the final 6' of power cord, how can one Over-The-Top device make up for the foibles of those that precede it?