Despite the best efforts of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan to extend an unprecedented economic boom, the nation's economy is slowing. The slowdown is causing negative repercussions in many sectors—including the music retailing business and consumer electronics manufacturing.
Sony may be pretending that DVD-Audio doesn't exist, and Panasonic may be in denial about SACD, but a new chip from Texas Instruments just might help bring the rival formats a little closer together in consumer living rooms and professional recording studios alike.
A billion-dollar loss for the parent company may be a big gain for performers under contract to Warner Music Group, who will benefit from cross-promotional efforts aimed at millions of America Online subscribers beginning this month.
Last week, American Technology Corp. (ATC) announced that three additional patents on its loudspeaker technologies have been granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (see previous story). The company also announced that it has acquired the rights to "strategic" patents from the former Carver Corp. covering a variety of audio reproduction and amplifier technologies.
As an audio journalist "servicing" the High End (ouch!), I surf the Web waves to see what's going on on the various audio newsgroups and bulletin boards. Sometimes the Net resembles the Concorde going down, the crash video'd by a passing French motorist: Ashen faces pressed against car windows driving slowly by to check out the carnage.
I have a passion for great speaker designs at affordable prices, and with modern driver, crossover, and cabinet technologies making innovative strides, many serious high-end speaker designers are turning their attentions to coming up with the next great budget speaker. All audiophiles need affordable speakers, whether to recommend to friends to lure them into our hobby or to set up multiple, less costly systems in our own houses. I currently run a main reference system, a vacation-house system, a recording-studio system, a computer system, a portable system I take to parties, a car system, and an office system. I insist on having music playing constantly, wherever I am, unless my wife or son tells me to turn it off—which happens increasingly often these days.
What's it take to compete on the bleeding edge of digital? Foresight, commitment of resources, and lots of money. Of course, it's all fundamentally about money, so we shouldn't be surprised that the audiophile's emotional needs aren't paid much respect by the large international manufacturing and marketing concerns stalking the earth today. Megaglom vs Cockroachacus. [Sigh] Where are those pesky miniature princess twins when you need 'em?
Having evaluated any number of integrated amplifiers in the past year or so, I've repeatedly been impressed by the ways in which designers build versatility and sonic distinction into their single-box designs. In matching those that sounded and measured the best—such as the tubed E.A.R. V20 (October 1999) and the solid-state Magnum Dynalab MD 208 receiver (January 2001)—with appropriate speakers and source components, I was able to attain high-resolution musicality with a minimum of fuss. Crave high-end sound but require even less complexity? You could dispense with interconnects altogether by integrating a high-quality CD player into a remote-controlled receiver, as Linn has with the diminutive Classik that I reviewed last November.
As Michael Fremer puts it, "In analog, it's the little things that count, and Rega's upgrade of the basic Planar 3 design to the Planar 25 can only be described as visibly 'small.' But the sonic improvements I heard during my first encounter with the $1275 arm/'table combo were audibly big." Fremer takes a close look at and listen to the Rega Planar 25 turntable for Stereophile readers and attempts to reveal all of its secrets. Sam Tellig adds his two cents' worth.
According to the latest statistics from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), overall consumer electronics sales for 2000 posted gains of 7% over 1999, reaching $8 billion. However, overall audio sales at the end of 2000 dropped as compared with November 1999, declining 5%, with $854 million in revenues for the month. The CEA says that sales to dealers of separate audio components also declined in November dipping around 4% as compared to the same period in 1999, but overall, sales of separate audio components have had a positive year rising 7% to $1.4 billion in revenue thus far.