The economy may be slowing down in some parts of the country, but not, apparently, in Minneapolis, where national electronics retailer Best Buy Co., Inc. announced December 7 its acquisition of both Musicland Stores Corporation (also of Minneapolis) and Seattle-based Magnolia Hi-Fi, Inc. The buyouts will give Best Buy increased exposure in rural malls and in the Pacific Northwest. The company also announced a plan to open several stores in Canada over the next three years, beginning with eight locations for which leases have already been signed.
Thirteen months after announcing its return to manufacturing, Memphis-based speaker maker EgglestonWorks is back in a big way, with plans to debut a "radical" and "visually provocative" reference loudspeaker at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Robert Deutsch asks, "How can you tell an audiophile from a normal person?" RD's answer involves the name of the Vienna Acoustics Mahler loudspeaker, which Deutsch reviewed for the April 2000 issue of Stereophile. Deutsch writes, "I find Gustav Mahler's music to be on the ponderous side, but when I heard the Vienna Acoustics Mahlers at HI-FI '99, I was sufficiently impressed that I began the process of getting a pair for review." The results of his careful listening are not ponderous at all.
Charles Hansen said it best, in a recent e-mail: "People have been holding back from criticizing this technology because they weren't certain that some new discovery hadn't been made." Ayre Acoustics' main man was talking about "upsampling," whereby conventional "Red Book" CD data, sampled at 44.1kHz, are converted to a datastream with a higher sample rate. (Because of its association with DVD-Audio, 96kHz is often chosen as the new rate.)
One of the constraints of the DVD format that is much hated by consumers around the world is the notorious "region code," whereby a DVD disc will only play in a machine that was bought in the country or region that the disc is licensed for. Hollywood claims that this is the only way to protect a work's licenses, which may vary from country to country. But region codes have made it tough on citizens in countries with few DVD releases and world travelers who try to bring home and play discs that they find abroad, leading to the widespread use of "hacks" to circumvent the restrictions.
DVD-Audio is getting a big push from Panasonic this season. A promotion running from November 7, 2000 until January 31, 2001 includes rebates on the purchase of new players and free discs from a wide assortment of performing artists.
Recordings more than 100 years old can now be heard on the Internet, thanks to a new program established by San Diego-based startup MP3.com. Among the sonic treasures is Thomas Edison narrating a "phonographic trip around the world" recorded in 1888. The site offers copies of Edison cylinder recordings and early 78 rpm discs, all available for free.
The Sirius Satellite Radio constellation will soon be in position, thanks to the successful launch November 30 of Sirius-3, the third satellite in the Sirius system. The transponders are being arrayed in geosynchronous orbits above North America for maximum radio coverage, which will begin in 2001. The previous two satellites were launched last summer and in early autumn.
Widely known for its consumer electronics products and musical instruments, Yamaha actually got its start making pianos 100 years ago. To celebrate this milestone, as well as the 300th anniversary of the piano, the company is introducing its first CD player-equipped, "high-tech" player piano that, it claims, is capable of "singing" along with its piano performance.
First up is Stereophile's 2000 Products of the Year. This is an important resource for readers, and Stereophile editor John Atkinson has once again decided to post this oft-requested article in our online archives in the same month the original appears in the paper edition.