If Senator "Fritz" Hollings has his way, coming generations of electronic products will monitor their users' behavior and report possible copyright violations to some governmental regulatory agency. That's one of the more ominous provisions in Hollings' Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA), introduced for consideration by the US Senate the third week of March. The bill goes far beyond the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed in 1998.
My life is characterized by periods of relative calm interrupted by huge transitions. This last year has been a doozie, with changes in just about every aspect of my life: new cars, motorcycles, and guitars, new jobs and relationships, and, finally, the contemplation of a cross-country move. With a little bit of luck, all of this upheaval will end in a long period of relative calm.
When I read John Atkinson's reviews of the Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe (Vol.23 No.9) and RME Digi96/8 Pro (Vol.23 No.11 and Vol.24 No.1), I realized that soundcard technology had matured far faster than I had been aware. For about the price of a mainstream CD player, anyone with a reasonably powerful computer could add multitrack digital recording technology to his bag of tricks.
Copy-protection hysteria in the entertainment industry is driving possible changes in copyright laws that could make what is legal today illegal tomorrow. Legislation such as Senator "Fritz" Hollings' to-be-introduced Security Systems Standards and Certification Act could erode long-established "fair use" provisions that allow consumers to make compilation CDs and video recordings of favorite TV shows.
As I explain in the current issue's "As We See It" column, I decide on the ratings of the equipment featured in Stereophile's "Recommended Components" listing after consultation with the reviewers, taking into account the original review comments and, sometimes, my own experience.
Chad Kassem is a true audio renaissance man. For years he has headed Acoustic Sounds, supplier of select recorded musical treasures from a variety of audiophile and specialty labels. Kassem also has his own label, Analogue Productions, which produces reissues, revivals, and a series of original recordings under the label APO Records.
Michael Fremer gets a chorus of oohs and ahhs as he sets up the Hovland Sapphire power amplifier in his listening lair. While the Hovland is certainly a sweet-looking amp, MF rightly points out that "looks alone don't sell hi-fi equipment in the specialty audio market—especially when you're asking $7800 for a 40Wpc two-channel amplifier."
The record companies have declared war on their customers when it comes to the fair use rights of purchased music, and it would appear that they want the government to enlist in their crusade. Previous weeks have seen South Carolina senator Ernest Hollings propose draconian copyright legislation as well as recent pro-Hollywood remarks from California's senator Diane Feinstein.
Not since Sonus Faber's Amati Homage loudspeakers took up residence in my listening room has a piece of audio gear elicited so many "Oohs," "Aahs," and "Wows" from friends as Hovland Company's dramatic-looking, EL34-driven Sapphire power amplifier—especially when it was switched on and glowing orange and blue. It drew unsolicited attention and admiration even when turned off. Not that, on or off, its unusual looks didn't also have their share of detractors. As with Hovland's chrome-façaded, blue-backlit HP-100 preamplifier, some found the Sapphire too shiny, too gaudy, and generally just too much. Me, I'm thumbs-up on the Sapphire's looks—I found myself staring at it incessantly. But anything that draws such intensity of response, whether love or hate, must be doing something right. B&O shouldn't have a monopoly on striking-looking audio gear.