The official website of the 41st Annual Grammy Awards was launched earlier this month with the help of a media team from the Atlanta division of International Business Machines. The Java-based site provides background information on the artists and events of the music-awards extravaganza, taking place Wednesday evening, February 24, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Two elements that keep the audio business interesting are the new companies and technologies arriving almost every week (see also BW's story). Some stick around for years, while others fade away between hi-fi shows. But amid the incessant change are a handful of characters who stay with it, continually evolving with the industry and reinventing themselves with each twist and turn.
In the classic textbook example, the Doppler effect is demonstrated by an increase in both pitch and volume (or amplitude) of a train's whistle as it approaches a station, followed by a decrease in pitch and volume as it moves away. This effect---the shift of a frequency emitted by a moving object---leads to a fundamental flaw in audio technology. A midrange driver behaves like the approaching-and-departing train when it attempts to reproduce varying frequencies. When the driver is fed simultaneous 400Hz and 2kHz tones, the forward movement of the cone at the lower rate modulates the 2kHz tone upward in pitch and amplitude; when it moves backward it modulates the higher tone downward. (The human eardrum also behaves this way, but the brain's audio-analysis circuitry knows how to deal with it.)
A study released earlier this month by The Arbitron Company and Edison Media Research shows that Internet radio broadcasting continues to be a fast-growing medium. The survey of Arbitron diarykeepers also brings to light both the challenges and opportunities that the Internet presents to radio broadcasters, particularly in the much-talked-about arena of e-commerce.
Rare violin dealer Geoffrey Fushi has devoted many of the past several years and a substantial portion of his liquid assets to producing The Miracle Makers, a reference book-and-recording project honoring the works of Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, late 17th- and early 18th-century makers of the world's most sought-after violins. Fushi is also the founder of the Stradivari Society, a philanthropical organization of violin fanciers who loan their invaluable instruments to gifted students. Members believe that their treasures were intended to make music, not merely to gather dust in heavily guarded vaults.
After dozens of thorny issues slowed its progress (see previous report), last week the DVD Forum announced that its Steering Committee has approved Version 1.0 of the DVD-Audio Disc specifications, making it the fifth of the DVD format family after DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, and DVD-R. According to a statement, the DVD Forum says it will soon publish the DVD-Audio Format Book, which contains the detailed specification of the format, and make it available to authorized companies by "early spring of this year."
Because online music retailers like CDNow and Amazon.com have likely taken a bite out of record-club sales, last week Internet company America Online and direct music marketer Columbia House announced a marketing agreement for both online and offline advertising and promotions, including product bundling, direct-mail initiatives, and co-marketing and advertising campaigns. Under the multi-year agreement, Columbia House, with more than 13 million members, will promote its music, video, and DVD clubs on AOL's Shopping Channel, as well as on AOL.com, CompuServe, Digital City, and Entertainment Asylum.
When it comes to delivering audio/video programming to the home, there's no substitute for bandwidth. Typically measured in megahertz (MHz) for analog signals or megabits per second (Mbps) for digital datastreams, the amount of bandwidth your system can access determines how much programming you can receive and at what level of quality.
It was the weirdest orchestral balance I'd ever heard. The gentle woodwind chords that begin Mendelssohn's incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream were as loud as the climactic "Wedding March" that ends the piece. The radio broadcast was obviously being compressed to hell. Yet, sitting at the wheel of the rented Vauxhall Vectra I was driving down to Cornwall for an old friend's surprise 50th birthday party, I was actually glad for the compression. Had Classic FM broadcast the Mendelssohn with its true dynamic range intact, the quiet passages would have been irretrievably buried in the road noise and the loud passages would have had me lunging for the volume control, to the possible danger of those sharing England's congested A303 trunk road with me.