We Get Letters Department:Stereophile editor John Atkinson recently received the following email from Tony Fisch, the director of corporate development at MusicGiants: "MusicGiants (www.musicgiants.com) will be the first company to offer high-fidelity downloads from all record labels. MusicGiants uses Microsoft WMA 'lossless' codec (450kbps) to preserve 100% of the music. The result is music that sounds just like the artist intended. Finally, real music downloads up to 1100kbps. MusicGiants' downloads will be $1.29 per track, and $15.29 per album.
It's no wonder the public is confused about audio formats and sound quality, Consider claims such as the recent "major breakthrough" announcement concerning two audio technologies from Creative Technology, a company best known for making PC peripherals (most notably the Sound Blaster audio cards).
In his "From the Editor's Desk" in the March issue of Stereophile's e-newsletter, John Atkinson recounts how, years ago, "erstwhile audio scribe Enid Lumley" demonstrated her pizza-box-tripod tweak at a hi-fi show. Lumley, JA writes, "placed the tripod atop a CD player and convinced her audience—including me—that the sound was better."
Living with a brand-new Cyrus amp was a pleasantly nostalgic thing to do, even from the start: It arrived in a clean and downright attractive carton that seemed designed specifically to contain a brand-new Cyrus amplifier. Think of it! And I haven't even mentioned the nice owner's manual or the balance control or the headphone jack. As I said: the good old days.
The $3000 moving-coil (MC) PhD, available from Chad Kassem's Acoustic Sounds operation, is a monumental achievement that, for me, sets new standards for the cleanness and transparency possible in a phono preamp—and I've had a lot of experience with phono preamps.
Let us pause for a moment to reflect on the passing of one of hi-fi’s most venerable components. For 30 years, Rega’s Planar 2—recently, simply known as the P2—has provided countless hi-fi enthusiasts with their first taste of the potential that the vinyl disc has to offer. Now Rega has decided to stop making it.
When audiophiles speak of the pioneers who laid the foundation for their hobby, certain names are spoken with particular reverence: Kellogg, Rice, Klipsch, Voigt, Walker, and Janszen all indisputably make the all-star team. Arthur A. Janszen, like John Hilliard at Altec Lansing, worked on US Navy projects during WWII, but after the war focused on developing an electrostatic speaker for cockpit use in Naval aircraft. The resulting Office of Naval Research Technical Memorandum was groundbreaking in its description of construction techniques and sonic performance, but the Navy declined to develop the project further and, in fact, phased out the developmental aspect of the department.
Usually, a Stereophile "Follow-Up" follows up (duh!) a full review of the component in question. This review, however, is intended to flesh out a cryptic comment made by Wes Phillips in April's "As We See It": "When Apple introduced its AirPort Express wireless multimedia link," Wes wrote, "it even included a digital port so that an audiophile—such as Stereophile's editor—could network his system, using the AE to feed his Mark Levinson No.30.6 outboard D/A converter. 'Sounds okay,' deadpans JA."