As January 1, 2000 approaches, and the MP3 whirlpool continues to swirl, one simple fact has made me feel as if I'm stuck at the starting line of the entire download controversy: The sound quality of MP3 has yet to improve above that of the average radio broadcast. Until that changes, I'm merely curious—as opposed to being in the I-want-to-know-it-all-now frenzy that is my usual m.o. when to comes to anything that promises music you can't get anywhere else.
Unless you've recently returned from a five-year tour of Tibetan monasteries, the odds are pretty good you've heard about the Nautilus revision of B&W's classic three-way floorstanding monitor, the 801. Having sold 30,000 of the earlier 801, the Matrix, B&W recently revised this classic to incorporate some design features of its $40,000, four-way concept speaker, the Nautilus. Wes Phillips reviewed the new Nautilus 801 in the January 1999 Stereophile (p.107) and found it "incredibly dynamic, images and soundstages like crazy, and has that special magic that marks it as one of the great loudspeakers."
Nearly six years after suffering a debilitating stroke, Sony Corporation co-founder Akio Morita has died. One of the world's most charismatic business executives, Morita succumbed to pneumonia on Sunday, October 3, in Tokyo. He was 78.
How would you like to make a full 650Mb compilation CD of your favorite music in less than 10 minutes? That's what TDK is promising with its new veloCD ReWriter drive, to be shipped to dealers later this fall.
MP3 players are going to hit the market in waves this fall, and manufacturers will be trying hard to make their products stand out from the pack. Several companies are bringing out combi MP3/CD portables, including consumer-electronics newcomer Pine Technology USA, of Fremont, California. Pine has long experience in the manufacture of motherboards, modems, and other computer components. The company is now shipping its $189 D'Music SM-320V MP3 portable. Its $219 model SM-320 includes an FM tuner. Both players have 32Mb of embedded solid-state memory and will accept a 32Mb SmartMedia card. Pine's players operate on two AAA batteries, and can double as voice recorders with up to 4.5 hours of recording capacity. Retailers include Fry's Electronics and Office Depot.
One of the challenges facing audio equipment manufacturers as we enter the Internet age is how to handle online retailing of products to consumers. A manufacturer that has so far shunned mail-order in favor of bricks-and-mortar retailing runs the risk of alienating its established distribution base by jumping online ("mail order with a web address"), where traditional territorial sales boundaries are often rendered meaningless.
Last week, Peavey Electronics and Digital Harmony announced a licensing agreement that they say aims to revolutionize audio production, music publishing, and distribution. By licensing Digital Harmony Pro technology, Peavey says it plans to create the pro-audio industry's first non-proprietary 1394-equipped digital audio products and systems.
Recently I found myself on the phone with Linn's chief design engineer, Bill Miller, talking about switch-mode power supplies. Affable Mr. Miller was ensconced in Linn HQ in Glasgow, Scotland. After a bit I inquired if Head Man Ivor Tiefenbrun was about the manse, and was quickly handed over. "You're such a cheeky guy. Why'd you call it the Klimax?"
Sudden awareness of free digital downloadable music on the Internet sent the music industry into a panic last year. The Secure Digital Music Initiative, a coalition of record labels, software companies, and electronics manufacturers, worked overtime developing standards for encrypting music in an attempt to thwart piracy. Preliminary guidelines for copyright protection were issued in June. Most recently, the SDMI completed a series of listening tests intended to find the least intrusive form of encryption. The organization seemed to present a united front in the anti-piracy war.