Since 1992, Stereophile has named a select few audio components its "Products of the Year." In doing so, we recognize those components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period.
Retailers Ultimate Electronics, Sound Advice, Harvey Electronics and Good Guys have all reported strong sales for their most recent quarters, leading into the holiday shopping season. The only sour note was posted by Circuit City, which has stated that earnings are below expectations across all product categories.
Last week, Verance announced that the US Patent and Trademark Office has issued them a new patent intended to prevent the disabling of a watermark on recorded content. The patent is entitled "Method and Apparatus for Preventing Removal of Embedded Information in Cover Signals." The company has recently drawn the ire of audiophiles, who claim that its watermarking methods are audible in high resolution media such as DVD-Audio recordings (see previous report).
When it comes to purchasing and using electronics products, the gap between men and women appears to be disappearing. That's one conclusion reached by a study conducted in early October by eBrain Market Research and published by the Consumer Electronics Association. The study, titled Women, Men & Consumer Electronics, questioned 1000 random households about their involvement with electronics technology.
First up, from the November, 2000 issue, is the Hovland HP-100 preamplifier. Michael Fremer writes, "While the HP-100 is Hovland's first publicly traded audio component, it is . . . the fulfillment of what's been Robert Hovland's goal all along: to bring such a product to market. Or so I was told. It's just taken 'some time to get it all right.' Given the company's history of more than 20 years, that sounds like an understatement." Fremer offers his sonic assessment.
A new era in radio will begin on November 30, when a rocket lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying a commercial digital radio transponder to a geosynchronous orbit over North America. The satellite, which belongs to Sirius Satellite Radio, will eventually beam as many as 100 stations providing "CD-quality" sound to listeners throughout the continent.
In what may be the precursor to a deluge of lawsuits against electronics manufacturers, computer giant Hewlett-Packard has agreed to pay fees to German music licensing organization GEMA for revenue supposedly lost to piracy. Hewlett-Packard was targeted by GEMA last May, because the Palo Alto, Calfornia-based company's CD burners dominate the German market, and was originally asked to pay 30 marks ($12.90) for each unit sold in Germany since February, 1998.
There's a whorish aspect to reviewing that some readers and industry critics never tire of mentioning, as if they've stumbled onto some great revelation: that we writers seem to flit from new product to new product, sometimes gushing like cracked fire hydrants over one amplifier one month, only to gush over another amp the following month.
If you search for "DVD-A" on this website, you can get the whole confusing story of the format, which has been the subject of one of the strangest format launches of recent years: First it's on, then it's off. The watermark is audible. No, it's not. Oops, it is—back to square one. There's software, there's no software. (There's not—only one demo disc officially available in September 2000, when I wrote this review!)