Is there a computer in your audio future? Meridian thinks so. An expensive new flagship disc player hints at things to come at more affordable prices. Working at the far edge of the digital playback frontier, the UK company has just announced its 800 Reference, a new combination CD/DVD player, built like a computer, that takes digital audio and video playback to a new level. The player "sets the bar for DVD and CD reproduction," according to a June 16 press release.
Now that we've gained a basic understanding of speaker setup, cable dressing and hygiene, and electrical theory, it's time to consider where and how to site your equipment. I've seen all sorts of weird, jerry-rigged shelves and poor component placement, some of the worst in pricey systems whose owners really should have known better. But you can achieve a stunning level of improvement from a haphazardly set-up system---even an entry-level one---when it's rearranged so as to let the components breathe.
John Wright was one of the most important figures on the British hi-fi scene since the mid-1960s. His natural modesty and reticence made it easy to underestimate a working life that encompassed an unusually wide range of different roles: from inventor to speaker engineer to reviewer to businessman.
Writer Robert Deutsch takes an in-depth look at the Hales Design Group Revelation Three loudspeaker in an attempt to determine whether the product lives up to its name. He also checks into the manufacturer's claim that "what we made will forever change the world of dynamic loudspeakers . . . an instant classic, a benchmark against which others of its type are measured."
Last Thursday, Virgin Entertainment Group announced an agreement with RedDotNet, a Digital on Demand company, that Virgin says will allow its customers to download music and create custom CDs, DVDs, and MiniDiscs in-store. Virgin describes the deal as "a revolutionary development heralding a new wave of music retailing." As part of the agreement, Virgin will become a shareholder in Digital on Demand, RedDotNet's parent company.
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.