Metallica's Lars Ulrich and Creed's Scott Sapp don't get it. But Courtney Love understands, and so does Stereophile's Jon Iverson, who pointed out in the October issue's "As We See It" that the dispute between the RIAA and Napster is more important to audiophiles than it might seem. The Napster-MP3 phenomenon is a crack in the dike that controls music distribution. How the water seeps through that crack now will determine how it will flow when the drip turns into a trickle, the trickle into a stream, the stream into a river. Audiophiles and pop-music fans alike will be in the same boat.
Describing the Audio Research Reference Two preamplifier, Michael Fremer writes "Audio Research's first 21st-century, audiophile-quality line-stage preamplifier combines retro-tech vacuum-tube amplification and power-supply circuitry with innovative, remote-controlled gain, balance, tape monitoring, and signal routing. The price is also 21st-century: $9995." Worth every penny? Fremer offers his assessment.
Flexibility is the name of the game as Theta Digital plays it. The innovative Agoura Hills, CA company has announced the Casablanca II, a modular upgradable preamp/processor for music and cinema applications, as well as two-channel modules for its Dreadnaught power amplifier.
When audiophiles speak of "imaging," they may not be using the term metaphorically. Recent research at the University of California at San Diego's School of Medicine indicates that hearing and vision are more closely related than had been previously thought.
Audiophiles are just warming up to the debate on how (or why) they should set up multi-channel audio in the home (see previous story). But perhaps the listening room will ultimately take a back seat to a more obvious choice for a multi-channel environment: the automobile. Several multi-channel products are being announced for the autosound market, including a new Fujitsu DVD player with 5.1 audio.
Last week's Comdex convention in Las Vegas showcased more examples of convergence between the consumer electronics and computer industries, especially in the areas of portable devices, home theater, and digital audio. DVD-Audio also received notice at the show, as chip developer Zoran Corporation announced the Vaddis V, its latest DVD multimedia processor, slated for mass production in spring 2001.
Not too long ago, the word "convergence" had everyone in the High End ready to duck'n'cover. Asia was on the ropes, and a shakeout was thinning the ranks of high-end audio manufacturers. Some US companies were marketing and selling most of their output to the Pacific Rim. The writing was on the wall: High-end was dead, and we'd all just better get used to listening to music on our computers.
In the early days of digital audio, I remember talking with Dr. Tom Stockham, the developer of the groundbreaking Soundstream system used then by Telarc. As well as using a 50kHz sample rate, the excellent-sounding Soundstream stored its 16-bit data on large drum-shaped Winchester drives connected to a minicomputer. Twenty years later, the advent of ultra-high-density magnetic storage media and fast microprocessor chips has put high-resolution digital audio manipulation and storage within reach of anyone with a modern PC or Mac. And facilitating the transformation of the PC into a high-quality DAW has been a new generation of soundcards, such as the Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe I reviewed in September 2000 and the subject of this review, the German RME Digi96/8 Pro.
Investors have shown an inexplicable willingness to foot the bill for MP3.com's $53.4 million settlement with Universal Music Group. In the four days following the announcement of a settlement on Tuesday, November 13, the now fully legitimate Internet music site watched its stock surge to four times the value it had only a month before. Shares of MP3.com closed Friday, November 17 at $9.42 each, triple the per-share price on the morning of the announcement. The stock had sunk to a 52-week low of $2.50 per share on October 11.
In his very English way, Sony's then managing director for the UK, Tim Steele, was getting a touch, er, desperate. His oh-so-cultured voice rose a smidgen as he resorted to a direct selling of the benefits of what he was talking about. "Look, you're all sitting on riches," was his fundamental pitch. "You can sell music-lovers your entire back catalog all over again—at a higher price!"