It's been a tough couple of years for those who like to make digital copies of audio recordings. What started with SCMS copy-restriction schemes in DAT machines has quickly spilled over into current digital formats such as those proposed for DVD-Audio. But a glimmer of hope has shone through the haze.
In just a few years, Sonic Frontiers has evolved from a parts and kit vendor to a full-line audio manufacturer (footnote 1). Their initial offerings were well received, but their kit origins were apparent in the layout and cosmetics of their products. While SF still offers kits (like their high-value Assemblage DAC-2), the new line of vacuum-tube electronics has world-class construction, design, and packaging. This generation of SF equipment is evidence of their advanced evolution, even though their constructor genome can be detected in the use of audiophile-preferred, as opposed of OEM, components.
We have followed at a distance the discussion over whether 60Hz/50Hz electromagnetic radiation from powerlines affects the health of people in close proximity, and in the November 1997 Stereophile (Vol.20 No.11, p.51), an "Industry Update" story by Barry Willis reported a connection with Alzheimer's Disease.
Who wouldn't want to know what's in store for the extreme audio devotee? So we rolled a special set of aluminum Tiptoes, read the auspicious signs (you've got to understand how the tips point), and divined our first set of predictions. We'll have more next week, if the Mpingo dots line up just right.
It only makes sense. PBS, the most visible national broadcaster of classical-music-related programs, has decided to launch its own classical-music label. According to a recent story in Variety, several major record labels are competing for the rights to distribute the new label. It's common in the music business for larger labels to distribute smaller ones, and an association with the new PBS label is seen as a feather in the cap of whoever makes the deal.
As of October, Meridian America's new VP/Sales, replacing the late Ross Keim, was industry veteran Andy Regan, who started his high-end career at Manhattan retailer Sound by Singer. Most recently, Regan was VP/Sales at cable manufacturer AudioQuest. Not uncoincidentally, Joe Abrams has moved from cable manufacturer MIT to AudioQuest.
How much power do you really need? What does it do for you, anyway? Even before the single-ended renaissance, the prevailing wisdom was that you really didn't need that much power. When I had a pair of Met 7 speakers, even the "1 watt" indicator LED was hardly ever lit. Ditto for my time with a Threshold Stasis Two—all those cool power-indicator LEDs just sat there dark. Besides, everyone knows that power can be had only at tremendous cost, both monetary and in terms of other performance attributes.
Brilliant designs, spectacular initial success, rave reviews, explosive growth that stretches resources way beyond limits, too much attention to technology and too little to manufacturing and business practices, long hours, quality problems, conflicts between partners, and finally...