Exhibitors reported that traffic was improving Thursday, as the halls became more crowded and the music grew a bit louder. Plenty of new products are on hand and we're starting to realize that even four or five days may not be enough to see and hear everything the high-end has to offer.
There's no denying that traffic at the Alexis Park is down from last year. But in spite of this, high-end audio continues to evolve and impress. There were plenty of two-channel audio systems to go around, including vinyl front-ends, while multichannel and video made a modest showing. It's hard enough to get decent sound out of two speakers in a hotel demo room, let alone five or six.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) officially opened today, Tuesday, and the SACD press conference put together by Sony and Philips started the day. Sony's Shizuo Takashino opened the presentation by explaining the three-phase rollout for the high-resolution format. Phases one and two, represented by the release of high-end and multi-disc SACD players, are now complete he said, with phase three launching at the show. As Takashino said, "This year is the true beginning of the mass-marketing of SACD."
The audio tribe is converging once again in Las Vegas for one of its its three annual gatherings (the others being CEDIA-Expo and the Home Entertainment Show, of course), and so far so good. Although the show officially opens Tuesday this year, several of the major manufacturers took advantage of the calm before the storm to hold their press conferences on Monday.
Slow beginnings are sometimes the most successful. Months after its acquisition by Chicago-based Music Direct, legendary audiophile record label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab plans to release Super Audio Compact Discs this winter.
What initially took form in college dorm rooms and computer geeks' homes only a few short years back looks ready to break into the mainstream audio market this year. Hard-disk–based audio systems are becoming more common as both consumer electronics and computer manufacturers rush to bring products to market.
Martin Colloms reviewed the Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage loudspeaker back in 1994, finding that "Sonus Faber provides a fascinating and challenging insight into the art of high-quality sound reproduction." But does the diminutive Guarneri breathe real music? Colloms reports.
A year-end report by Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks retail activity, states that compact disc sales through December 22, 2002, were off 9.3% compared to the same period the previous year, with 624.2 million units sold compared to 688.2 sold in 2001. Of all recorded music sold, 94% of it was on CD, the remainder on cassette tape and vinyl records. An insignificant amount of music was sold as legitimate downloads from industry-sponsored music sites. SoundScan did not expect the last week of December to impact the year's total.
The slippery slope established by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 could soon get much slipperier. Three major media conglomerates have teamed up to pressure the Federal Communications Commission to drop the remaining restrictions on the ownership of broadcasting stations.