Imerge merged: Linear, LLC (Carlsbad, CA, USA) has acquired Imerge, Ltd. (Cambridge, UK), one of Europe's top providers of Internet-connected, hard disk-based audio products and media appliances. (Imerge's relational XiVA-Link database software is used in such products as the Linn Kivor media server.) Linear is best known for its engineered radio-frequency (RF) products and as a major supplier of wireless residential security systems, intercoms, garage door operators, gate operators, short- and long-range radio remote controls, and medical/emergency reporting systems. In recent years the company, through acquisition, has expanded into consumer electronics, home entertainment products, and structured wiring systems for the builder market. Imerge will join Linear's Home Technology Group.
Warner's new e-label: In an announcement datelined "Aspen, CO," many news services reported, Warner Music Group chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr. introduced a new Internet music distribution system called an "e-label," which would eschew CDs by allowing artists to issue their music in clusters of three songs every few months.
Editor's Note: The matter of whether—and if so, how—speaker cables and interconnects can affect the sound of an audio system has vexed the audiophile community since Jean Hiraga, Robert Fulton, and others first made us aware of the subject in the mid-1970s. Most of the arguments since then have involved a great deal of heat but not much light. Back in August 1985, Professor Malcolm Omar Hawksford Ph.D (of the UK's University of Essex and a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society) wrote an article for the British magazine Hi-Fi News & Record Review, of which I was then Editor, in which he examined AC signal transmission from first principles. Among his conclusions was the indication that there is an optimal conductor diameter for audio-signal transmission, something that I imagined might lead to something of a conciliation between the two sides in the debate. Or at least when a skeptic proclaimed that "The Laws of Physics" don't allow for cables to affect audio performance, it could be gently pointed out to him or her that "The Laws of Physics" predict exactly the opposite.
Firms that specialize in architectural acoustics usually concentrate on the big jobs—churches, schools, and auditoriums. Rives Audio is unusual in that they specialize in "small-room" acoustics, for residential listening rooms and home theaters. Rives is unusual in another way: they consult on a nationwide and even international basis.
For all its excesses, high-quality audio is filled with purists. Some are committed to single-ended amplifiers, some to all-analog circuitry, to crossoverless speakers, or to recordings made with only two microphones. Purists seek simplicity in their quest for good sound. But how simple is it to scrub contacts, adjust tonearms, or meticulously clean discs before nearly every listening session? Maybe committed purists should just be committed.
Using a personal computer as an audio component has certainly gained ground with gearheads in the last several years, and many new products, such as media servers, blur the line between a traditional component and a PC. At the same time, the general public is still resisting the idea of booting up their stereos or TVs.
Editor's Note: Stereophile writer Richard (Rick) J. Rosen passed away suddenly on Monday August 22, of unknown causes. Rick wrote show reports and the occasional software review for the magazine, but his highest-profile contributions were his "Rick Visits..." series of interviews, where he hung out with music makers, asking them about their systems, of course, but also their relationships with recorded music. The first of these was with famed keyboard player Al Kooper in our October 1995 issue, and I was proud, as an editor, to be able to publish such superbly crafted prose.
Record Q4: Harman International Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HAR) announced record results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2005. Net sales for the quarter were $808 million, compared to $732 million during the same prior year period, an increase of 10%. Net income for the three months was $70.2 million, a 32% increase above the $53 million earned in the fourth quarter last year.
Mom fights back: As we've previously reported, the recording industry hasn't shied away from pursuing individuals it suspects of illegal downloading from peer-to-peer networks through the RIAA's "John Doe" lawsuits, most of which have intimidated the recipients into making out-of-court settlements. This strategy has, on several occasions, made the organization look foolish—as it assuredly did when it served a deceased 83-year-old.