In a sidebar to his review of the B&W DM302 speakers in the October 1997 issue (Vol.20 No.10), Wes Phillips mentioned a handy tool he uses for speaker setup—a laser level. The one Wes used was originally intended for construction work, not tweaking one's speaker placement, but now there's one available specifically for that purpose: The 770 SA-S Laser Sound Alignment System by Checkpoint Laser Tools.
On Monday, January 5th, Go-Video, Inc. announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire California Audio Labs LLC. Under the California Audio Labs and Cinevision brand names, Cal Audio designs, develops, manufactures, and distributes digital audio and video products marketed to the high-end home entertainment systems market.
For years, there has been concern in the high-end audio press about the effects of jitter on digital audio. Manufacturers spend countless design hours measuring jitter and trying to minimize its influence on the sound of their products.
One memorable afternoon during HI-FI '97, Kathleen and my pudgy little self were hustling down the crowded corridors of San Francisco's venerable St. Francis Hotel, trying to make the Nagra press event. The Nagra suite was crowded with buzzing journalists, their anticipation palpable—the new Nagra PL-P preamplifier was about to enjoy its official debut. Suddenly the door to the demo room flew open. The vacuum created by the stampeding hordes nearly sucked the hors d'oeuvres off the table.
"Danes are boring," Dynaudio US's president Al Filippelli said. "Let's face it: They work hard, they tell the truth, they give full measure in deals, and they don't embroider. What you see is what you get."
Over the years as a reviewer, I have tracked the swings of opinion and popularity of various audio ideas and technologies. Amid a sea of advanced designs that achieve powerful technical performance and laudable specifications, I'm reminded of a major blind listening test of 18 power amplifiers that I set up for the long-since-defunct UK magazine Hi-Fi for Pleasure back in 1975. We had "advanced technology" then: the transistor amplifier had matured and was well accepted by audiophiles. Prices of the review samples ranged from $300 to $3000 (equivalent to $1000-$10,000 in today's dollars). The auditioning sessions were graced by the presence of many industry leaders, among them the late Spencer Hughes of Spendor, Julian Vereker of Naim, Philip Swift then of Audiolab, Alan Harris then of retailer Audio T., Bob Stuart of Meridian, and John Wright of IMF (now TDL in the UK).
Operating at the fringes of the audio world, binaural recordings have continued to maintain a hardcore group of advocates. Creating a convincing three-dimensional surround effect using only a two-channel source, binaural technology is especially impressive with headphones.
Loudspeaker manufacturer Polk Audio announced on December 31 that it had acquired an interest in Genesis Technologies, manufacturer of both loudspeakers and digital products. Not only did Polk invest $500,000 in Genesis convertible preferred securities, it also obtained a three-year option to purchase the Colorado-based high-end audio company, which is led by three industry veterans: Arnie Nudell (co-founder of Infinity), Paul McGowan (co-founder of PS Audio), and Mark S. Schifter (co-founder of Audio Alchemy).