Audiophiles and classical music lovers often risk falling into a repertorial rut. The classical standards are constantly being rerecorded—often to the point of needless repetition. How many versions of Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony or Ravel's Bolero do you really need? Rather than fill up your shelves with recordings of the same tired compositions, I suggest you look into some of these more obscure pieces—all of them perfect for playing on the first day of April. Below, a list of fresh "basics" that any good audiophile should own:
Next to join the online ATRAC parade, Warner Music Group announced last week that it has agreed to license the ATRAC3 audio compression technology from Sony, for use in the electronic distribution of music. Warner says it expects to launch its electronic distribution business during the second half of 2000, using ATRAC3 on a non-exclusive basis.
For "Fine Tunes" #17, Jonathan Scull presents readers with the ultimate bachelor-pad mod for speaker stands: shiny black trash bags. More important, Scull investigates why we even try these things in the first place.
I wasn't raised a McIntosh lad. My dad used Fisher, Bogen, Leak, and Ampex tubed electronics—and, at one time, even home-built speakers—to keep the house filled with a steady, enriching flow of Mozart. He never owned a Mac component, and, when going upmarket, reached for B&O, alas. So while I knew that many audiophiles hold tubed McIntosh gear—especially the early designs—in very high regard, I was somehow never bitten or smitten. But let's face it—for lo these many years, McIntosh has been for many the name in quality American audio. Take my friend Dan, to whom I've referred several times in the pages of Stereophile. He runs a tubed Conrad-Johnson 9 preamplifier, but wouldn't dream of giving up his 270Wpc solid-state McIntosh MC7270. He's goldurn proud of it!
The legal molasses in which MP3.com is mired got thicker and deeper in mid-March, when MPL Communications launched a lawsuit against the Internet music company. MPL, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney's publishing house, joined the attack begun months ago by the Recording Industries Association of America. McCartney's firm filed suit in a New York US District Court against the San Diego–based startup over copyrights on intellectual properties owned by MPL, whose catalog includes McCartney's solo work, as well as the works of Buddy Holly, Hoagy Carmichael, Sammy Cahn, and other songwriters and performers. MPL was joined in the suit by Peer International, which owns the work of the late Latina star Selena.
Record producer and critic John Marks, whose writing has appeared from time to time in Stereophile—his March "As We See It" triggered a deluge of letters—has started John Marks Recommends, a free e-mail newsletter on music and the arts. "Talking about my own work will be the exception rather than the rule," says Marks. "I tell people about great recordings, books, and videos, recipes, and an occasional wine recommendation."
For "Fine Tunes" #16, Jonathan Scull offers sage advice on handling the often ephemeral problem of microphonics in audio systems. "So here I am expounding on the tendency of audio components—especially tubes, capacitors, and resistors—to become microphonic, and you're wondering how you can find out if there's any of that shakin' goin' on in your system. And you want to do it easily and for next to nothing," he sez. The solutions await.
When polled earlier this month, Stereophile's online readers were split on the topic of DVD-Audio's surround capabilities: 30% expressed interest, but an equal number were not so thrilled with the idea. While the release of the official high-resolution DVD-A format is still several months away, some record labels have been quick to capitalize on the ability of current DVD players to play compressed AC3- and DTS-encoded audio DVDs, in the hopes of developing a market for a lower-fidelity surround-sound format.
Last week, e.Digital announced a licensing agreement to incorporate Sony's ATRAC3 sound-compression technology into e.Digital's portable Internet music-player designs. e.Digital claims that its multi-codec platform, including ATRAC3 support, can be incorporated into a variety of products including portable digital music players, home and automotive stereos, and functionally enhanced wireless phones.