Audiophiles have more than just piles of equipment and music to wrestle with in their quest for audio ecstasy. The listening room often colors a system's performance as much as any component in the chain. Tom Norton decided it was time to examine the subject, writing, "although the perfect room does not exist, there are things that can be done to make the most of even an admittedly difficult situation." See his report in "Enough Room?"
Editor's Note: This item is an excerpt from an e-mail received from Russia late last week. It's noteworthy that the US Congress has spent hundreds of days and more than $50 million investigating the President's adolescent shenanigans, while elsewhere in the world serious trouble is afoot. Leonid Korostyshevski is a computer consultant and audiophile in the university town of Saratov, on the Volga river 600 miles east of Moscow. His previous dispatch appeared here in March.----BW
With the reality of digital television now almost within our grasp, manufacturers of big-screen sets must feel like sky-divers in free fall. Until the 'chute opens with the snap of digital displays finally hitting the stores, the market for large, expensive, conventional rear-projection models might appear to be controlled by nothing but the force of gravity. In a highly unscientific survey, I asked a few dealers around the country whether big-screen television sales were down and whether consumers seemed to be waiting for the coming of the first digital sets. The answer to both questions was a uniform and unequivocal yes.
Last week's Vote! question about vibration control garnered one of the most interesting groups of comments from readers so far. Everything from bicycle tires to bubble wrap is being employed in audiophile homes around the world in an attempt to subdue the dreaded curse of the shakes.
For any good battle, it helps to have several key ingredients. First, there has to be an underlying conflict that cannot be settled with diplomatic ease---it is especially important that both combatants covet the same property. Second, each side has to set a propaganda machine in motion to create the appearance of a noble struggle for the good of "the people" that transcends the simple fight for turf control. Third, the outcome of such a battle should have implications stretching far into the future. And finally, these days it helps if the press notices.
Internet traffic doubles every 100 days, according to some statistics. This growth has been accompanied by an increase in the amount of online shopping---a phenomenon that has had a significant impact on retailers. Independent bookstores, for example, have been squeezed not only by the expansion of large-scale operations like Barnes & Noble, but also by the popularity of Internet discounters like Amazon.com and Borders.com. Online sales of recorded music by both record clubs and start-up resellers have put a dent in the bottom lines of many mass-market music stores---although not a huge one yet. The trend will certainly continue.
Convergence has come to the automotive market. Clarion Corporation of America announced December 4 that it has developed the the world's first product that integrates car audio, computing functions, navigation, and wireless communications through hands-free voice activation. The Clarion AutoPC is a DIN unit that fits in the dash of an automobile, and is powered by the Microsoft Windows CE operating system.
One audio maintenance chore I dislike is getting down on all fours and cleaning the system's connectors—interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords. It's tedious, but the results can be spectacular. If you live in a relatively clean, dry environment, you might consider doing it every six months or so.
The first time I encountered Dunlavy's Signature Collection loudspeakers was at the 1993 Chicago Summer CES. I was familiar with, and had a lot of respect for, the speakers John Dunlavy had designed for the Australian Duntech brand, but I thought this new line clearly transcended his previous efforts—and at significantly lower prices. The model that I ended up reviewing—and, after the review (Vol.17 No.4), buying—was the SC-IV, subsequently honored as Stereophile's 1994 Loudspeaker of the Year and Product of the Year. In 1995, the SC-IV underwent changes, including a new woofer and a modified tweeter, resulting in some sonic improvements (see my Follow-Up review in Vol.18 No.3).