One might think that the publisher of "The Largest Marketplace in the World for Audiophile Equipment" would have a vested interest in encouraging trading activity among his readers. One would think that such a publisher might take a neutral stance regarding fluctuations in the world market for used equipment. One would think that he would credit his readers with sufficient intelligence to decide for themselves whether any specific purchase, sale, or trade was a good deal.
Caveat: This article is written by a non-audiophile. I own and listen to several thousand recordings through about $2500 worth of a rather motley assortment of audio components. Though very well informed musically, and a disciplined listener, Audiophilia remains for me a storied land. Various desultory discussions with Larry Archibald and John Atkinson, some going back almost two years, about the possibly refreshing, certainly outré (for these pages) outlook of a certified Audio Ignoramus, have finally borne astringent fruit in this diversion of an article.
The WebNoize three-day conference took place last week in Los Angeles, mixing record-company executives with Internet geeks, all trying to find profitable ways to distribute music online. Tom Roli, publisher of the Webnoize website, set the tone for the event, stating that "the industry is facing great change and uncertainty due to emerging technologies, shifting global markets, and media revolutions."
MP3-formatted audio files are considered to be the most popular streaming technology on the Internet, but the major record labels have so far shunned the format, which doesn't offer as much security and pay-per-download options as they'd like. Several announcements last week coincided with the WebNoize conference in Los Angeles and revealed what a few of the labels are thinking.
Internet audio continues to expand. Last week, at the first WebNoize conference, held in Los Angeles, JamTV/Rolling Stone Network and RealNetworks, Inc. announced the debut of Rolling Stone Radio, a new Internet audio service offering music in several genres. Rock star David Bowie announced that he would serve as a disc jockey for the new venture. Amazon.com has also signed on to participate as a music retailer.
In the age before recordings, music was a service business. Composers wrote for their patrons, and musicians performed for money. In the days since Edison's inventions, music has become a commodity business in which record companies stockpile large inventories and attempt to move them into the market of music lovers through a dense network of distributors and retailers. For established artists, the service aspect of music---playing for pay---now exists primarily to support the commodity business. For developing artists, public performance is a form of self-promotion to aid the search for a recording contract.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Los Super Seven Radv/RCA Nashville 67689-2 (CD). 1998. Dan Goodman, exec. prod.; Steve Berlin, prod.; Dave McNair, eng.; Fred Rennert, Steve Gamberoni, asst. engs. AAD? TT: 41:36 Performance ****? Sonics ****
This series of articles was initially written (in slightly different form), as a paper presented at the 103rd Audio Engineering Society Convention, New York, September 1997. The preprint, "Loudspeakers: What Measurements Can Tell Us—And What They Can't Tell Us!," AES Preprint 4608, is available from the AES, 60 East 42nd Street, Room 2520, New York, NY 10165-0075. The AES internet site, offers a secure transaction page for credit-card orders.
I have been informed that there was a serious error at the shipping department. The September and October issues of Stereophile and Stereophile Guide to Home Theater have been sent via a very slow shipping method. This was due to a misunderstanding between the magazines' new printer and the new subscription mailing house.
You might recall that ditty from childhood about the little engine that could (I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...). It's an apt metaphor for high-end audio. In traversing the aural sepulchers of last winter's Consumer Electronics Show and the summer's HI-FI Show, I routinely encountered one divine sound system after another. Yet while I never tire of transcendent sonics, eventually I become inured to the procession of celestial, cost-no-object speakers. It's like having a white-light experience, then returning to the gritty reality of life on earth, where for most of us cost is not merely the object, but the determining factor in finding an optimal balance among audio components.