One of the most significant trends in audio, witnessed at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, is the emergence of the music server market. Pioneer, Panasonic, Marantz, Meridian, Onkyo, Rotel, Philips, Linn, and others have emphasized audio products that can be networked with each other and the Internet, and are able to share content throughout a home. Pioneer even suggests that networks will not necessarily involve a PC, but instead consist of dedicated music-server-like components.
You want controversy? We got major controversy right here. In 1991, the Tice R-4 TPT and Coherence ElectroTec EP-C "Clocks" were released and then the fun started. Read everything Stereophile writers and readers had to say about these contentious products, as well as comments from the manufacturer.
It has become commonplace these days for a hot album to hit the streets days—if not weeks or even months—before its official release, inspiring all manner of stupid promo tricks on the part of record labels. Pearl Jam's recent Riot Act was distributed to the press in portable CD players with the lids glued shut and last week saw the White Stripes record label create 500 promo vinyl LPs of the group's impending Elephant release in place of the traditional advance CDs in an effort to stymie the digital pirate's plans.
Respondents to our weekly Stereophile polls often tell us they would buy more CDs if the prices weren't so high. So would their European counterparts, according to a survey released February 18 by the International Federation of Phonograph Industries (IFPI). Prices for recorded music are even higher in Europe than they are in the US.
Copy protection efforts currently being initiated by national lawmakers at the behest of the entertainment industry are based on a model of Internet use that will soon become obsolete, according to Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig.
HTPCs are hot among home theater cognoscenti. Using a personal computer to anchor an audio/video system has boomed in recent years due to the availability of high quality video processing software, Dolby Digital and DTS decoding support, and DVD transports. HTPCs (home theater personal computers) also thrive in part because of the tinkering gene shared by many enthusiasts.
Paul Bolin exclaims, "Looking at the current digital scene is enough to confuse and confound just about anyone this side of Stephen Hawking." Bolin's review of the Ayre Acoustics D-1x DVD-Video/CD player is here to clear things up.
It's tough to know which CDs, SACDs, and DVD-Audio discs have been restricted through watermarks or other "copy protection" techniques. This has created a thriving underground community, with websites such as Fat Chuck's devoted to sussing out the corrupted audio products and posting notification to consumers.