More from the August issue: Larry Greenhill updates his system with the Mark Levinson No.436 monoblock power amplifier. LG says, "I was concerned when [Mark Levinson] discontinued its entire 300 series of dual-mono amplifiers, but the company reassured me that they had a suitable replacement in the No. 436." Greenhill decides for himself.
It's been a rough year for the music industry—and possibly an even rougher one for audiophile labels. The Dorian Group, however, seems to be thriving. Parent company to Dorian Recordings, the Dorian Group announced last week its acquisition of Reference Recordings. During its 25 years in business, RR has consistently garnered praise from audiophiles for the sound quality of its recordings, and has scored eight Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards.
To combat lackluster CD sales and online file trading, some record labels have been adding bonus DVDs to new releases to get consumers to buy them instead of downloading the data. DVD-Audio proponents, in an attempt to counter Super Audio Compact Disc's single-disc hybrid SACD/CD strategy, have been trying to figure out how to combine CD functionality and DVD-A onto one disc.
Responding to scrutiny by federal legislators, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is backing away from the pursuit of small-scale copyright violators. After issuing more than 1000 subpoenas against alleged music pirates, the trade group announced on August 18 that it would go after only big fish in its efforts to contain the file-sharing epidemic.
At the end of July, UK-based TAG McLaren Audio, which had been experiencing difficult trading conditions and was reducing its workforce, issued a rather pessimistic announcement. The core of the announcement concerned the firm's commencement of "a full strategic review of its participation in the audio market."
While audio writers find the siren song of cost-no-object components an ever-present temptation, I do ask Stereophile's reviewers to be on the lookout for affordable products that sound better than they have any right to. So when I listened to an inexpensive system based on Monitor Audio's Silver S2 loudspeaker and Musical Fidelity amplification at Home Entertainment 2002, held at the Manhattan Hilton in May 2002, I followed my own instruction and asked the US distributor of this English model to send me review samples.
All high-end audio companies turn over their product lines periodically. Even those amplifiers I have depended on as references go out of production. Although my reference amplifier can remain a part of the reviewing sequence, readers won't be able to purchase a discontinued model and get the results I describe. Thus I am compelled to get a review sample of a new amplifier or speaker, and hope for the best.
Ever since the introduction of high-resolution digital formats, audiophiles have been waiting for the smoke from the format wars to settle. What would the winning software be? DVD-Audio? DVD-Video? SACD? 24 bits at 96kHz or 192kHz? As new formats struggled to establish themselves, upconverting technology became commonplace for the playback of the familiar 16-bit/44.1kHz "Red Book" CD format. What to do? Invest large amounts of cash in a system that played "Red Book" (maybe with upconverting, but if so, by how much?) and one other format, and hope that you've bet right? And what about movies on them new-fangled DVDs, Tex?