Unless you've been on active duty in the Middle East, you're aware that Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is back in business. During Stereophile's Home Entertainment 2003 show in San Francisco last June, Kal Rubinson and I played hookey to visit MoFi mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine's recording studio, at 1340 Mission Street. As we sat spellbound, Paul played the original four-track, ½", 1-mil master tape of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and the Minnesota Orchestra's legendary 1974 recording of Ravel's Boléro and Daphnis et Chloé (footnote 1). Stubblebine fed the four discrete channels from the specially modified ReVox reel-to-reel deck to a modern surround system. The master tape produced the cleanest, purest sound I had heard in a long time.
Loudspeaker design is an art and a science. Anyone who tells you it's only one or the other is probably building or listening to some awful-sounding speakers. Design a speaker in an anechoic chamber for the "theoretical" world, and there's no guarantee it will sound good in the real one. Even building a speaker that excels at "real-room" measurements doesn't guarantee that it will sound all that convincing when reproducing music. We can't measure everything, and what we can measure can't be reliably ranked in terms of what's important to most listeners.
Our first of three loudspeaker reviews from the April 2004 issue finds Michael Fremer listening to the Aerial Model 20T loudspeaker. MF explains, "Loudspeaker design is an art and a science. Anyone who tells you it's only one or the other is probably building or listening to some awful-sounding speakers." Fremer ponders whether Aerial has managed to achieve that perfect balance.
On April 9, the European Commission announced that it was suspending its antitrust investigation into the proposed merger between the music divisions of Sony Corporation and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG.
From the December 2001 issue, Robert Deutsch tries something completely different when he fires up the 47 Laboratory 4706 Gaincard power amplifier. RD notes, "The pursuit of simplicity in the design of solid-state audio electronics is perhaps best exemplified by the products from 47 Laboratory." Less is often more, but with the 4706 Gaincard, is it better?
Music buyer beware: SunnComm announced last week the dubious milestone that it had shipped over one million restricted MediaMax audio CDs in March and expects to beat those numbers in April. The MediaMax M4 suite of "Digital Content Enhancement" technologies is built using the Microsoft Windows Media 9 Series platform.
Radio has been getting a new lease on life, with Sirius and XM satellite services, DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), and Internet "stations" popping up in the tens of thousands. With the Clear Channelfication of North America's FM and AM airwaves, many would argue that the timing couldn't be better for launching new broadcast technologies.