It's sometimes amazing how courtroom adversaries can become bosom buddies. This week's example: on May 21, Vivendi Universal SA agreed to acquire Internet music portal MP3.com Inc. for $372 million (423 million euros) in cash and stock—or $5.00/share for MP3.com stockholders. The announcement followed Vivendi's April 5 acquisition of Emusic.com for $24 million. The targeted companies' boards of directors unanimously approved both deals. MP3.com will continue to offer music from non-Universal labels, according to a company press release.
It was 15 years ago this week that an enthusiastic John Atkinson was lured From London to Santa Fe to take the helm of Stereophile. As JA recounted back in 1986, "From London, England, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a pretty big jump, both geographically and culturally. From Hi-Fi News & Record Review to Stereophile, however, is a mere hop; the similarities overwhelm the differences."
A quickly established favorite among music fans, the CDDB website provides comprehensive information for tracking who and what appears on just about any CD in existence (see previous). But as users of the service are discovering, the company that now maintains the database, Gracenote, is starting to change the rules of access.
Two scuttled mergers in the past year haven't damaged the profit picture for EMI Group PLC. Neither has a global slowdown in music sales. EMI announced May 22 that it expects to see a 5.7% increase in pretax profits for its fiscal year ended March 31: £259.5 million (US $374 million), up from £245.4 million (US $353 million) a year earlier. EMI's sales for the year rose 12% to £2.67 billion (US $3.84 billion).
Could the average computer hard drive soon be able to store the equivalent of over 80 DVD-Audio discs or 600 CDs? Last week, IBM announced that it is using just a few atoms of what it has termed "pixie dust" to push back the data storage industry's most formidable barrier, and will effectively quadruple disk drive densities in the next two years.
The Secure Digital Music Initiative has decided to reconfirm San Diego–based Verance Corporation's watermarking technology as its choice for inhibiting piracy in digitally recorded music. The May 21 announcement was made by the SDMI Plenary after a year-long campaign to evaluate the effectiveness and audibility of watermarks from 14 different vendors. The group has also apparently decided to halt further research and development efforts, which have been widely blamed for hobbling the rollout of DVD-Audio.
The L2 Reference sits at the top of Lamm Industries' preamplifier line. According to the manual, its "unique" circuitry uses specially selected, superlinear, high-voltage MOSFET transistors that ensure class-A operation from input to output, with no overall negative feedback at any stage. All stages, including the high-current output buffers, are single-ended.
Henry David Thoreau once wrote that "The eye is the first circle; the horizon it forms is the second." A profound observation, indeed: The horizon exists only in being perceived. Kind of like music, in fact.
As part of this issue's coverage of the recent Consumer Electronics Show (see Sidebar), I report on my dissatisfaction with almost all the surround-sound demonstrations I experienced in Las Vegas. As a music-lover, the last thing I want is to have trumpets and drums attacking me from behind, yet almost without exception, that is what record producers seem to feel is an essential part of the DVD-Audio and SACD experiences.