Telecommunications giant American Telephone and Telegraph announced March 16 that it too, now, has technology for digital music delivery. AT&T's system, called a2b music, is based on MPEG Advanced Audio Coding.
The DVD Forum's Working Group 4 (WG-4) is expected to deliver the "0.9" version of its official DVD-Audio specification this month, with "1.0" to follow shortly. While information is scarce, it appears that WG-4 is talking about four different kinds of disc, each of which will be playable on one or two of three different kinds of players. And that doesn't include Sony's and Philips' "Super Audio CD" proposal (see Peter van Willenswaard's report on SACD a couple of weeks back on the website), or the Classic Records-led "DAD" format, which uses the provision of the DVD-Video specification for 24-bit/96kHz audio data. (DADs will play on DVD-Video players that have appropriate D/A sections---also see the past item on the web site.)
More than 50 independent music labels ("indies") have signed on with Liquid Audio, the leading provider of music downloads over the Internet. The announcement was made March 19 at South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual music and media conference in Austin, Texas.
Stereophile is, in one sense, like a family—us younguns have to make do sometimes because the house is straining at the seams. When I first arrived in Santa Fe, for instance, I was told not to come to the office for a few days—the good news, John Atkinson informed me, was that I had a desk; the bad news was that nobody had a clue where to put it. The dilemma was solved in Solomon-like fashion by shoehorning my desk into the "listening room," which was already serving double-duty as audition space and speaker-measurement lab. If manufacturers visited, we'd sweep up all the acoustic damping from the floor and stash it in JA's office; and if JA needed to take measurements, I would be asked to work at home. It was a manifestly fair solution: inconvenient for everyone involved.
The Lenbrook Group of Pickering, Ontario, Canada announced March 25 that it will acquire Sonic Frontiers of Oakville, Ontario, Canada. This acquisition, effective May 1, 1998, is an extension of Lenbrook's commitment to enhance its position in the international specialty A/V segment of the consumer electronics industry. A new company, Sonic Frontiers International (SFI), will be formed to leverage Lenbrook's strengths with Sonic Frontiers' market position in the high-end segment of the audio business.
On March 20, at the CeBIT '98 convention in Hanover, Germany, several leading manufacturers of CD-ReWritable (CD-RW) drives and media announced that the market for CD-RW products has grown much faster than originally predicted.
On March 17, Recoton Corporation announced that it has licensed the NHT brand name to Vergence Technology, Inc. NHT is a name known among audiophiles for its line of loudspeaker products for home audio. Vergence intends to utilize the NHT brand name on its new line of products designed specifically for the pro audio and professional home music markets. Planning for this marketing agreement has been in development for many months with Vergence Technology's Chris Byrne and Ken Kantor, who were also the founders of NHT.
Concluding its six-year evaluation of Digital Audio Radio (DAR) systems, the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) filed its final report last month with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The report, "Technical Evaluations of Digital Audio Radio Systems: Laboratory and Field Test Results, System Performance, Conclusions," is available to the public from the FCC and through CEMA's website.
In a move sure to startle a few record retailers, English recording artists Massive Attack will make their much-anticipated new album, Mezzanine, available in its entirety on the Internet weeks before the May 12 in-store release date. The album will appear in stages over the course of two weeks via a special page on Virgin Records America's web site.