As with past HI-FI Shows, we asked visitors to HI-FI '98 to vote for the room that offered what they thought to be the best sound. The ballot in the Show Guide asked visitors to list the best, second-best, third-best, and worst sounds, for which I allocated 3 points, 2 points, 1 point, and -1 point, respectively. Any exhibitor that received more than 0.7% of the total votes cast is listed in the Table. I've tried to include both the exhibitors and the brands demonstrated, as listed in the Show Guide and in our report text in the September issue of the paper Stereophile. My apologies if I've left anyone out.
It's the voice that grabs you first, balanced preternaturally high in the mix. As the singer effortlessly projects the vocal line, imperceptibly grabbing breath without disturbing the long, meandering melody, you can't help but realize what a superb instrument she had. As the song's harmonies modulate their way to the dominant, the bass guitar stubbornly sticks to the tonic so that what would otherwise be a conventional chord progression is transformed into a yearning series of suspensions echoing the lyric's despair. As guitarist Tony Peluso hammers down on his power solo, his instrument so fuzzed and compressed that the very plectrum strokes are thrown forward as disconnected transients, it becomes evident that there are layers upon layers to the backing vocals, each carefully placed upon the others by a master orchestrator, each appropriately filling in the gaps in the harmonies without turning the mix to glutinous syrup.
Enhanced Compact Discs (ECDs) are one of a host of hybrids and mutations popping up in the garden of digital infotainment. Many ECDs have added biographical text, still pictures, short video clips, and garish graphics to bulk up the content of basic music CDs. Others provide links to fan clubs, to an artist's website, or to the record label's home page. Most such efforts could be categorized as "art for art's sake"---experimental projects undertaken without any clear idea as to how the finished product will be used. "Value added" is usually the justification, but rarely the result.
The Paradigm Group announced today that they have entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of Sonic Frontiers Inc., of Oakville, Ontario, as the first step in a comprehensive restructuring plan that will lead to an expansion of Sonic Frontiers.
Another crucial piece of the DVD-Audio puzzle fell into place recently when the WG-4 (Working Group 4) DVD-Audio Working Group approved the adoption of MLP (see previous articles 1, 2) as the lossless algorithm for DVD-Audio at its August 5th meeting in Tokyo. WG-4 will require official approval from its supervising organizations, the Technical Coordination Group and Steering Committee---considered a formality at this point.
This last year has seen several companies proclaim the launch of the "world's first digital loudspeaker." The term brings to mind some exotic new approach that is neither cone nor ribbon nor electrostat---something as different from all of those as, say, a CD is from a vinyl record or cassette tape.
Some products inspire unwavering loyalty among their owners: Gibson's "Les Paul" Guitars, for example, or Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Only a handful of audio manufacturers have been lucky enough for their products to attain this kind of cult status. McIntosh is perhaps premier among them. Individual products---Audio Research preamps, Marantz tuners, Linn turntables---also have deservedly loyal and sizable followings.
Protection for the creative community or job security for lawyers? These are but two of many interpretations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which won approval by voice vote in the US House of Representatives August 4. The bill will implement into US law the treaties signed by 157 signatories at the World Intellectual Properties Organization conference in Geneva in December 1996. A separate version was passed by the Senate in May. Differences between the two must be ironed out before a final version can be signed into law by President Clinton.
News recently coming out of Cambridge, England promises yet another new revolutionary loudspeaker technology following in the footsteps of NXT's flat-panel speakers and ATC's HyperSonic Sound and Stratified Field Technology. Engineering consultant Tony Hooley heads up a team of researchers who have created what they hope will be a breakthrough in small, lightweight, highly accurate-sounding arrays of digitally driven pressure transducers.
The Silverdale by the Bay Resort Hotel in Silverdale, WA, will be the site of the second annual Vacuum State of the Art Conference, scheduled for August 21-24. The conference will feature new and vintage equipment, tube electronics seminars, a used-gear swap meet, and demonstrations of audio creations by both amateur and professional designers.