In the race to get satellite radio to market, XM Satellite Radio was the first to hit the air this past September. But competitor Sirius says they were saving the best for last, and has now announced that its official launch date will be as early next year as February 14, with initial broadcasts reaching Denver, Phoenix, and Houston.
They don't turn over quite as fast as computer equipment, but mass-market audio component product cycles typically last about a year, until the next Consumer Electronics Show comes around. High-end audio products, however, enjoy much longer life spans—sometimes stretching to several years.
Sad news this week: We heard from Ken Kessler of the passing of legendary UK engineer Stanley Kelly, who died in his sleep on November 13, after suffering a stroke the previous week. Stan would have been 89 next month. While he was, of course, the "Kelly" of the classic Kelly Ribbon Tweeter, he was also one of the founders of Hi-Fi News and was the only person to have been listed on the English magazine's masthead since Vol.1 No.1, the June 1956 issue. In recent years, Stan had developed a series of high-sensitivity speakers for UK manufacturer Musical Fidelity.
This episode of "Fine Tunes" is mainly about the care and feeding of speaker drivers. Before I launch into some of the tweaks—a few fairly wild and wacky—sent in by readers, here are two from my own experience.
"The long tradition of professional connoisseurship has resulted in the development of a bewildering universe of specialist terminology. In certain cases, it must be admitted, there was self-indulgent proliferation of words relating to some minute feature....In fact, no clear distinction can be made between one term and its closest neighbor in meaning."—from the Introduction to Kanzan Sato's The Japanese Sword, A Comprehensive Guide, translated and with an introduction by Joe Earle (New York: Kodansha America, Inc., 1983)
Texas Instruments says it is on a quest to provide "high-performance audio solutions" for the home entertainment market. To prove it, last week the company announced its first stereo analog-to-digital converters supporting the Direct Stream Digital (DSD) specification and the Super Audio CD format (SACD).
For his review of the diminutive Acarian Systems Alón Petite loudspeaker, Wes Phillips explains that the "li'l guys frequently image like bandits—which some of us just can't resist." Also included is Robert J. Reina's followup review of Alón's matching PW-1 woofer system, from February 1997, along with his take on the Alón Petite.