In the race to get satellite radio to market, XM Satellite Radio was the first to hit the air this past September. But competitor Sirius says they were saving the best for last, and has now announced that its official launch date will be as early next year as February 14, with initial broadcasts reaching Denver, Phoenix, and Houston.
They don't turn over quite as fast as computer equipment, but mass-market audio component product cycles typically last about a year, until the next Consumer Electronics Show comes around. High-end audio products, however, enjoy much longer life spans—sometimes stretching to several years.
This episode of "Fine Tunes" is mainly about the care and feeding of speaker drivers. Before I launch into some of the tweaks—a few fairly wild and wacky—sent in by readers, here are two from my own experience.
"The long tradition of professional connoisseurship has resulted in the development of a bewildering universe of specialist terminology. In certain cases, it must be admitted, there was self-indulgent proliferation of words relating to some minute feature....In fact, no clear distinction can be made between one term and its closest neighbor in meaning."—from the Introduction to Kanzan Sato's The Japanese Sword, A Comprehensive Guide, translated and with an introduction by Joe Earle (New York: Kodansha America, Inc., 1983)
Thanks to an agreement reached in October, musicians, rather than their record labels, will receive royalty payments for the use of recordings distributed over the Internet or broadcast over cable and satellite systems. Royalty collection agency SoundExchange will distribute payments directly to performers, regardless of their contracts with the record companies, according to a statement issued the second week of November.
Texas Instruments says it is on a quest to provide "high-performance audio solutions" for the home entertainment market. To prove it, last week the company announced its first stereo analog-to-digital converters supporting the Direct Stream Digital (DSD) specification and the Super Audio CD format (SACD).
For his review of the diminutive Acarian Systems Alón Petite loudspeaker, Wes Phillips explains that the "li'l guys frequently image like bandits—which some of us just can't resist." Also included is Robert J. Reina's followup review of Alón's matching PW-1 woofer system, from February 1997, along with his take on the Alón Petite.
When it comes to digital music players and the future of computer-based entertainment, the computer industry appears to be going in two directions at once. Apple Computer has recently made a strong move into the portable music arena with its $399 iPod, a player that can store as many as 1000 songs. The company is also rumored to be developing software and computer-based editing equipment for the pro-audio industry.