Retailers accused of selling pirated compact discs are feeling legal heat from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In May, the organization launched copyright infringement suits against 18 retail businesses in Texas, Florida, and New York—primarily convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and small independent music stores.
Anyone who's been shopping recently won't be surprised to learn that China is now the biggest supplier of electronics to the US. Within the past three years, the massive Asian nation has surpassed Japan, Mexico, and Korea to claim the top spot. During the same period, US exports of high technology have dropped 25%, according to figures released June 19 by the American Electronics Association, now known as "AeA."
The record biz is in a world of hurt and doesn't mind broadcasting the news far and wide. But while the source of its woes will be debated in business schools for years to come, studies are starting to emerge that document the demographics of music buyers and their changing behaviors.
The Home Entertainment 2003 Show, held June 5–8, 2003, at the Westin–St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, was an event that will stand out for residents, exhibitors, and visiting press as a well-attended showcase of some of the finest products and technologies the consumer electronics industry has to offer.
It's a simple premise: power corrupts. You can buy the finest audio components in the world, but if the foundation of your aural house is rotten, you won't get anything vaguely resembling the level of performance your gear was designed to provide. Over time, I've come to realize just how fragile the audio signal chain is, dependent as it is on electrical sources fatally compromised by all manner of aural schmutz pouring through the local grid. I've become obsessed with figuring out how to liberate my system from the line noise, reactive loads, and voltage anomalies that veil the presentation, obscure resolution, and limit dynamic range.
I've spent six-odd years in a sort of hi-fi counterculture, playing with things like mono cartridges, one-box CD players, and cheap, homemade cables—and, of course, owning and listening to single-ended triode (SET) amplifiers and horn loudspeakers. But before all that, I owned components that, while more mainstream, did the job just as well in certain ways. That category included solid-state electronics (Naim, BEL, Spectral), dynamic loudspeakers of middling efficiency (ProAc, Epos, Magneplanar), electrostatic loudspeakers of very low efficiency (Stax), and even "high-end" accessories like Tiptoes and Shun Mook Mpingo discs (which I still have, although my five-year-old daughter has more or less permanently co-opted the latter for playtime use).
Being a metallurgical engineer, I've always been intrigued by audio cables—their construction, the materials they're made of, how they're produced, and, of course, how all of that relates to their sound. Over the years, I've auditioned a wide range of cables, from Nordost's round conductors in a flat cable, to Alpha-Core's flat cables in a round conductor, to MIT's complex termination systems. I've even got a closet full of cables—some quite good—from companies that no longer exist.
"Does the modern audiophile want a sleek, compact, powerful, remote-controlled, microprocessor-driven, two-channel integrated amplifier?" Michael Fremer seeks the answer as he reviews the Perreaux R200i integrated amplifier. It may be small, but as MF finds, it also packs a punch.