One of the most significant trends in audio, witnessed at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, is the emergence of the music server market. Pioneer, Panasonic, Marantz, Meridian, Onkyo, Rotel, Philips, Linn, and others have emphasized audio products that can be networked with each other and the Internet, and are able to share content throughout a home. Pioneer even suggests that networks will not necessarily involve a PC, but instead consist of dedicated music-server-like components.
Paul Bolin exclaims, "Looking at the current digital scene is enough to confuse and confound just about anyone this side of Stephen Hawking." Bolin's review of the Ayre Acoustics D-1x DVD-Video/CD player is here to clear things up.
It's tough to know which CDs, SACDs, and DVD-Audio discs have been restricted through watermarks or other "copy protection" techniques. This has created a thriving underground community, with websites such as Fat Chuck's devoted to sussing out the corrupted audio products and posting notification to consumers.
In October 2000, during Napster's prolonged courtroom agony, Bertelsmann AG alienated fellow music industry plaintiffs by investing $50 million in a strategic partnership with the file-sharing upstart. At the time, Bertelsmann hoped to leverage Napster's technical expertise and fame to give Bertelsmann Music Group the inside track with Internet music distribution.
Copy protection efforts currently being initiated by national lawmakers at the behest of the entertainment industry are based on a model of Internet use that will soon become obsolete, according to Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig.
HTPCs are hot among home theater cognoscenti. Using a personal computer to anchor an audio/video system has boomed in recent years due to the availability of high quality video processing software, Dolby Digital and DTS decoding support, and DVD transports. HTPCs (home theater personal computers) also thrive in part because of the tinkering gene shared by many enthusiasts.
Looking at the current digital scene is enough to confuse and confound just about anyone this side of Stephen Hawking. One can choose from standard "Red Book" CDs (16-bit/44.1kHz), DVD-As, DADs (24/96 DVD-Vs), SACDs, combination audio-video players and changers, upsamplers, oversamplers, and every possible agglomeration of the above. As the audiophile-grade universal player remains vaporware, if you want to keep moving forward you have to choose among the various format combinations. Ayre Acoustics' Charles Hansen made his decision back in 1998—DVD-Video—and has spent the last four years refining the end result, now known as the D-1x.
Despite its name, the Panache is not made in France, but here in the States, by Portal Audio, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is owned and run by Joe Abrams, a longtime veteran of high-end hi-fi who was once closely associated with Threshold.