The object of the audio game, as Stereophile founder J. Gordon Holt put it, is "to re-create original acoustic events as accurately as possible." That goal has driven engineers to extraordinary lengths, improving every link in the recording and playback chain. Most such improvements are incremental, but their cumulative effect is the sometimes astounding level of sonic realism available today from even moderately priced equipment.
Among the ingredients needed for a successful online consumer-electronics business, having well-known, sought-after brands may be the most important. Just in time for the holiday season, Hifi.com announced last week that it has become one of a "select group" authorized to sell Sony Electronics products over the Internet. This announcement comes on the heels of Celestion and Marantz joining the mail-order retailer (see previous story).
It is with regret that we announce to Stereophile's readers the closing of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, on November 19, 1999. Known to audiophiles since its inception in 1977, the company provided serious listeners with hundreds of remastered LPs, cassettes, and CDs.
In the last two years, the available choices in 300B output tubes for one's low-wattage single-ended power amplifier have become an embarrassment of riches. If we include the souped-up versions—which, in fact, deviate from the original 1930s Western Electric (WE) specifications—the number of 300Bs to choose from now includes about 15 different brands and types.
Successful new prerecorded audio media emerge, on average, every two decades—one human generation. The LP made its debut in 1948, 21 years after the introduction of electrical recording ended the adolescence of the record industry and the acoustic 78rpm disc. This was almost coincidental with Jack Mullin's retrieval of analog tape technology from the wreckage of post-WWII Germany and its subsequent commercialization by Bing Crosby's Ampex company (footnote 1). The compact cassette made its appearance in 1963, followed almost 20 years later by the CD, in 1982. And now, as I mentioned in the October issue's "As We See It," we have Sony and Philips' Super Audio CD and the DVD Forum's DVD-Audio to contend with (not forgetting MP3 and the Internet).
In his second installment of "Fine Tunes," Jonathan Scull writes: "I met a chap the other day whose wife said to me, 'Oh, you suffer from the same audiophile disease.' I hastened to inform her that I am the disease." But J-10 is also the cure, as he proves in this ode to building the perfect listening room.
Last week, eight consumer-electronics manufacturers announced the formal establishment of the Home Audio Video Interoperability Organization (HAVi) to promote the development of products based on the the HAVi 1.0 final specification, scheduled for completion in December 1999. (An evaluation version of the HAVi 1.0 final spec can be downloaded from the HAVi website.) The HAVi Organization was founded by Grundig, Hitachi, Matsushita, Philips, Sharp, Sony, Thomson, and Toshiba, which have been working together for over two years to develop a specification to permit interoperability among networking digital home entertainment products.
On November 16, Technics and Panasonic presented their DVD-Audio Q&A Forum to answer questions online about the new high-end audio format, players, and software. After introductions and an opening orientation about DVD-Audio, the first "questions" appeared, canned, as the panelists read "answers" from their notes. Still, some interesting information came to light.
Doug Sahm, of the Grammy-winning Tex-Mex group the Texas Tornados, was found dead in a motel in Taos, New Mexico on Thursday, November 18. He appeared to have died of natural causes, possibly a heart attack, Taos police said. Sahm was 58.