Every once in a while, a piece of super-esoteric gear crosses my path that, on the face of it, makes no sense whatsoever. Eventually, however, the component is revealed as being "merely" simple and elegant, begging the question: Must it always be done the way it's always been done?
For the last several months, the major record labels have been ramping up what some have viewed as a stealth assault on their customers by increasingly deploying technology that restricts the use of audio CDs (see previous). While an increasing number of music fans have been crying foul, one consumer has decided to fight back in court.
In his review of the Toshiba SD-9200 DVD-Audio player, Chip Stern asks the question "In a rollout of new technologies more or less driven by the expectations of the home-theater crowd, what's in it for us music-lovers?" Stern uncovers the answer and then some, while Kal Rubinson explores the player's surround-music performance.
Forget the SACD/DVD-Audio format wars, a more interesting (and potentially more devastating to consumers) battle is brewing among companies racing to add copy protection technology and other restrictions to compact discs.
Breaking news at the 2001 CEDIA Expo, held this past weekend in Indianapolis, IN, was that Harry Pearson, founder and editor of bimonthly high-end audio magazine The Absolute Sound, has apparently been moved to one side. According to TAS publisher Mark Fisher, with whom I spoke briefly Sunday morning on the Show floor, the day-to-day editing of the magazine will become the responsibility of erstwhile Stereophile consulting technical editor Robert Harley.
My dogs were killing me. It was the end of the second day of the 1985 Summer Consumer Electronics Show, which I was visiting on behalf of English magazine Hi-Fi News & Record Review. I had been dutifully tramping the capacious corridors of Chicago's McCormick Center and the rooms of the (now demolished) McCormick Inn, looking for signs of musical life amid the huge promotion for the 8mm tape format, which was being heavily touted at CES as the future of both video and audio (!) reproduction. Even trade-paper headlines shouting "Audio: Not Just Video Peripheral!" failed to lift my spirits as I took the shuttle bus over to the Americana Congress hotel on South Michigan, where most of the high-end audio companies were hanging out.
In his review of the Conrad-Johnson Premier Eleven power amplifier, Wes Phillips comes clean and admits that he loves to be seduced by sound. Phillips writes, "Now, I'm not proposing that we embrace coloration . . . but the removal of all pleasure-producing tonalities doesn't necessarily make for increased realism."
Classical music fans will be happy to learn that Vivendi Universal has decided to give two of its classical labels a state-of-the-art web facelift. Decca and Philips Classics are combining their resources and launching a single new site this month designed by trendy web developer Razorfish.