Do good things come in small packages? Audio technology over this past half century offers pretty good evidence that they do. Fifty years ago, the long-playing record amazed people with a half-hour of music per side, compared to the 78's few minutes. Thirty years ago, the cassette tape replaced bulky open reels, ushering in a new era of recording capability—and portability—for millions of people. Twenty years ago, the CD began to push the LP out of the way because it packed a little more music into a much smaller and more durable package. Personal radios have long been hugely popular, and portable audio players are consistently among the industry's best-selling products.
Will the official online music gates finally stream open and flood us with non-pirated tunes? Perhaps. One important step in the process has finally been taken. The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced last week that they have come to a "breakthrough" agreement on the licensing of musical works for new subscription services on the Internet.
Napster may be down for the count, but its millions of former members are happily swapping audio files elsewhere, according to an October 10 report from technology research firm Jupiter Media Metrix Inc.
The final numbers aren't in yet, but all indications point to an astounding show of support from the audiophile community for the Audio Charity Auction conducted by Audio Asylum's Rod Morris and Audiogon's Arnie Chinta. The numbers are still stacking up, but as of Sunday, October 7, the benefit had raised $173,738 from over 400 closed auctions.
Last week, Napster announced that it had reached a preliminary agreement with US songwriters and music publishers to settle a class action lawsuit currently pending in federal court in California. The beleaguered company says the agreement includes terms under which the songwriters and music publishers will license their music to Napster's new membership-based service.
Last week, Cirrus Logic unveiled what it is calling the world's highest-performance six- and eight-channel D/A converters, which the company says will give consumers the ability to decode high-resolution multichannel surround content at home or in the car. The converters are the latest addition to Cirrus Logic's Total-E platform group of products.
As the results from last week's Vote prove, having the right tool for the audiophile job makes all of the difference. And a lot of you selected the Stereophile Test CD 3 as your weapon of choice for uncovering the good, the bad, and the ugly of a component under consideration. Here's the complete story on the most recent test disc from Stereophile and company.
Let's try to imagine the ideal music-buying landscape from a record company's point of view. As distasteful as this may seem to an ever-growing legion of unhappy audiophiles and music fans, it can go a long way towards explaining why the major labels appear to suddenly be at war with their customers.