Markus Sauer is in a ponderous audio mood: "When several listeners each play music they like on the system, their reaction should be more uniform. But it isn't. What irks me is that, while we seem to be able to agree pretty well on how a system sounds, there seems to be no consistency of emotional reaction to this sound . . . " Sauer works through this troubling aspect of being an audiophile in "God is in the Nuances." "This journal has seen a number of thoughtful ruminations on what it is that attracts us to music or to a given audio component, and how we should describe that attraction." Now it's Sauer's turn.
Satellite radio got a boost toward wider market acceptance on February 16, when Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio announced an agreement to develop a unified standard for satellite radios. The current batch of satellite receivers can pick up transmissions from one of the providers, but not both. The next generation of receivers will expand the technology's reach by enabling reception of both companies' broadcasts.
This spring, downloadable digital music from EMI may begin popping up everywhere, if a new arrangement with Supertracks goes as planned. The two companies have created what they believe is a secure system for downloading music to computers, portable players, and to CD burners at kiosks in shopping malls. The news follows by only a couple of weeks an announcement that Warner Music and EMI will merge their operations under the larger umbrella of AOL Time Warner.
DVD-Audio has kept a low profile since its misfired "launch" late last year (see previous story), but has popped up again at this week's Audio Engineering Society Convention (AES) in Paris. Pioneer is demonstrating its latest generation of universal DVD players, recently released in Japan, using a new DVD-Audio disc, some of the contents of which were encoded using Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP) technology to enable high-resolution surround sound.
The best defense is sometimes a good offense. MP3.com has taken that old advice to heart by counter-suing the Recording Industries Association of America for what it calls "unfair business practices." On Monday, February 7, MP3.com filed a complaint against the music-industry organization in San Diego Superior Court, alleging that the RIAA and its president, Hilary Rosen, have conspired to undermine the Internet music company's stock price by promulgating information to stock analysts just prior to suing for copyright infringement.
High-definition audio is on its way to a DVD player near you. Pacific Microsonics has introduced a new High Definition Compatible Disc chip, the PMD-200, for the next generation of CD and DVD players. The device is a "feature-rich audio IC that provides HDCD processing for both the CD and DVD formats," according to a February 11 company press release.
It's been a rough season for some in the e-commerce crowd, as several consumer-electronics Internet startups find themselves amid changes. Last week, CyberShop.com announced that it will close the e-tailing sites CyberShop.com and electronics.net (created as a joint venture with Tops Appliance City, which is now under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection) and sell these operations' remaining retail assets. At the same time, the company says it will launch an "Internet incubator" through the establishment of Grove Street Ventures to attract and develop startup Internet companies.
Kal Rubinson gets right to the point: "I am biased: On very little evidence, I remain convinced that, in the near future, high-quality music reproduction will be multichannel." The Meridian Digital Theatre surround-sound music system is therefore a product that puts Kal's vision to the test. Kal details the system, which consists of two DSP6000 front L/R speakers, one DSP6000C center-channel speaker, two DSP5000 speakers used for surround, the Reference 800 DVD/CD player, and the Reference 861 System Controller. But does the Meridian system live up to his expectations regarding the potential of surround-sound for music?
It would seem almost reasonable to imagine that your next stereo receiver or preamp could have an "intel inside" sticker on the front. Last week, software company Be made several announcements that it hopes will not only bring such a future to consumers, but also place itself at the center of the Internet-connected home-entertainment equipment market.
I am biased: On very little evidence, I remain convinced that, in the near future, high-quality music reproduction will be multichannel. While most multichannel demos are still egregiously and aggressively ping-pong, I have attended a few successful demonstrations of discrete multichannel reproduction that have impressed me so deeply that I hunger to have all the music I love transported to me (and me to it) in this way.