The world's third largest music company has thrown its massive weight behind Internet audio. On June 10, EMI Recorded Music, a division of EMI Group Plc, announced a five-year licensing agreement with Reston, Virginia-based Musicmaker.com, a major custom CD compilation service and digital download site. EMI has not simply made its enormous catalog available to the service---it has also bought into Musicmaker.com with a 50% equity stake.
Danish audio-video manufacturer Bang & Olufsen has long been known for its unusual product designs. Eschewing the normal tendency of consumer electronics manufacturers to design their circuits and transports into stackable black boxes, the company's current home-audio line includes colorful vertical CD stacks with sliding clear-glass doors and brushed-aluminum cylindrical speakers.
In another milestone for digital broadcasting, Lucent Digital Radio announced last week that it has successfully tested its In-Band On-Channel (IBOC) Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) system, live and over the air, with National Public Radio (NPR) member station WBJB-FM of Lincroft, New Jersey. According to Lucent, the tests showed that there was no degradation of the host FM analog channel during the transmission of the digital FM signal over the same band.
Better late than never. America Online has finally leaped into the Internet music business with its recent purchase of San Francisco-based Spinner Networks, and Nullsoft of Sedona, Arizona. The combined deals, which were announced on June 1, cost AOL $400 million in company stock.
The mid-20th century was a time of tremendous political and social upheaval, technological advancement, and artistic innovation. Jazz---an American invention---is arguably the greatest single development in the history of modern music. Most of its pioneers are gone now, but their legacy lives on in their recordings---and in photographs.
Conrad-Johnson has been on a roll with their Anniversary Reference Triode preamplifier, aka the ART, which garnered the Stereophile Product of the Year award in 1998. (See previous article.) According to Lew Johnson, "We realized that Conrad-Johnson is coming up on its 20th anniversary, so we thought we might produce something special to celebrate. This is a version of the preamplifier we use in our listening room at the factory---we never even thought about producing it because it would be god-awful expensive. But it really is our last thought on what a preamp should be, so we figured we'd produce a limited edition, say 250 total, as a way of commemorating our 20 years in the business."
Last week, TDK announced that it is introducing extended-capacity, 80-minute/700MB multimedia and music CD-R discs this July. The new discs add 50MB, or 6 minutes of stereo music capacity, to the conventional 74-minute/650MB CD-R disc. TDK says it is the first manufacturer to offer extended-capacity CD-Rs, and points out that it has been supplying recording studios with 80-minute CD-Rs for music-mastering applications since 1996.(Stereophile's new 77+ minute Bravo! CD, featuring chamber music by Elgar and Mozart, for example, was mastered on a 700MB TDK CD-R.)
The advance of plasma-display technology speeds on, and the Pioneer PDP-501MX is at the front of the line. This is the first plasma monitor on sale in the United States that is capable of displaying high-definition images, making it the world's most advanced, commercially available product of this type.Squeezing almost 1 million pixels into even a 50" display (measured diagonally) is quite an accomplishment. As soon as I pulled the unit out of the box and set it in its unobtrusive tabletop stand, I connected it to Panasonic's high-definition tuner box and fed the monitor an over-the-air HDTV signal. Without so much as a hiccup, the set accepted the 1920x1080i signal and displayed a bright, clear, sharp picture that made me smile. All this from a big-screen set less than 4" thick!
Believe it or not, there are reportedly several "audiophiles" out there who still refuse to accept that an extremely expensive amplifier can justify its price. "For them, the very idea of a $20,000 pair of monoblocks must seem absolutely ridiculous," writes Wes Phillips. "All I can say is that they should steer clear of the Mark Levinson No.33H, or else risk having their tidy little hypotheses shattered into tiny little pieces." For the complete review, take a look at the latest equipment report to hit the Archives: Mark Levinson No.33H monoblock power amplifier.