There's nothing groundbreaking about the technology included in Naim's new $22,400, two-box, remote-controllable, top-of-the-line NAC 552 preamplifier. Still, the inclusion of two sets of RCA input jacks is a departure from Naim's tradition of DIN jacks, and the NAC 552's programmability is unusual for a high-end two-channel audio product. And you can order RCA output jacks at no extra cost, which is how my review sample was configured.
Dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, the music industry may finally be settling into an uneasy acceptance that its market and business model have changed. Only two months after the successful launch of Apple's iTunes Music Store, Billboard magazine announced that it would begin accounting for downloads in its weekly music rankings.
Harman International announced July 1 that it will close its Madrigal facility in Middletown, CT on August 30 as it continues to consolidate and reorganize its high-end brands under the Harman Specialty Group banner. Although the name Madrigal was itself not used as a brand on audio products, it had been the umbrella under which Harman had produced and distributed its Mark Levinson, Revel, Audio Access, and (recently discontinued) Proceed brands.
Beginning in November 1996, Sam Tellig, Muse Kastanovich, and John Atkinson took turns with the Musical Fidelity X-10D line-level preamplifier. "I'll reveal the true identity of X-10D in a moment," Tellig writes. "But I'll say straight off that for those of you with such CD players as the Marantz CD 63, RadioShack Optimus CD-3400, etc, this may be the most cost-effective CD upgrade ever to come down the pike."
BMG and SunnComm Technologies revealed last week that they have entered into a "strategic worldwide" licensing agreement and revenue deal to add restriction technology to CDs in an effort to reduce piracy and the unauthorized duplication of music. The companies report that the agreement will enable the use of SunnComm's newest proprietary CD restriction system, known as MediaMax CD-3 Technology, on BMG discs.
The science of recording music is, to apply a metaphor from a very different context, akin to "breaking a butterfly on a wheel" (footnote 1). The art of recording is to make it appear as though that pinned insect could still take wing. I have been devoted to both the science and the art of recording music since 1965, when I was given a Grundig ¼" open-reel tape recorder as a birthday present. You could even say that my evolving interest in audio and my current position at the helm of Stereophile date back to my finding out how different a Shure SM57 dynamic cardioid microphone sounded from a Reslo Ribbon, even in mono, even at 3¾ips, when captured on that Grundig.
Last October, US Senate Commerce Committee chairman and former presidential hopeful John McCain hosted NBC's long-running comedy show Saturday Night Live. In a spoof of the political talk show Hardball, McCain did a devastating impression of US Attorney General John Ashcroft, a fellow Republican. Speaking of homeland security, the faux Ashcroft intoned, "This country won't be safe until every American is in jail."