Love it or hate it, MP3 users are a huge new market, as yet untapped by the music industry. Portable digital compressed-audio players, whether employing Flash memory or compact hard drives à la Apple's iPod, are estimated to begin reaching critical-mass sales numbers around 2006, with an installed base of 24 million units by 2007. Most observers agree that this dramatic growth has been driven, in large part, by the vast quantity of no-fee music that is available in the format, as well as the players' ease of use and flexibility.
US Senator Joseph Biden has introduced a bill that would give law-enforcement agencies stronger tools to pursue copyright violators, and would give copyright holders stronger grounds for suing pirates.
Such is the pace of development in digital technology these days that it is hard not to become convinced that digital playback is a solved problem. The measured performance aberrations are so low in absolute level—and, more important, so low compared with the typical threshold of human hearing—that it is difficult to see why digital components should sound different from one another.
I don't know who originated the idea of "desert island" recordings. I do know that for many years there was a BBC radio program in the UK that asked celebrities to list their choices. While reading quite a few of those lists, I had the sneaking suspicion that the respondents either hadn't entered fully into the spirit of the task, or were tailoring their choices with a view to what the radio or reading audience would think. (Interior monologue: "I am an anorak-wearing viola da gamba player. Hmmm. Birth of the Cool had better be on my list. London Calling, too, just to be safe.")
I never "got" the spurs with which Jimmie Lee Robinson provided a percussive accompaniment to his singing and guitar playing, but I became a fan of Jimmie Lee's when I saw him perform on two successive nights at Acoustic Sounds' first blues festival in Salina, Kansas in September 1998. His subsequent live appearances at Consumer Electronics Shows and at HI-FI '99, Home Entertainment 2001, and HE2002 on behalf of Acoustic Sounds' associated APO label, were highlights of those events. (I took the accompanying photo at Jimmie Lee's May 31 HE2002 gig in New York with harmonica player Wild Child Butler.)
As some readers may suspect, more music is heard in the automobile than in the home. Taking a clue from this trend, many high-end audio companies are finding their way into your car, and factory installed systems are getting better and better. Examples include the Mark Levinson audio system found in cars from Lexus, the debut of Lexicon's L7 surround system in a BMW at the 2002 CES, Linn's partnership with Aston Martin, Harman's partnership with Mercedes Benz, and the Dynaudio/Dolby Surround systems found in several of Volvo's cars.
John Atkinson has found himself swept away by the expensive speakers from Wilson Audio Specialties, so he set forth to put the company's new, modestly-priced Sophia loudspeaker to the test. JA writes, "The Sophia is all new, from its handcrafted enclosure to its custom-built drive-units."
Historically, radio stations have only partially cooperated with record label attempts to control when and where an important new record is first aired. It's not unusual for a new album or single to be "embargoed" until a specific date by the labels, with stations often competing with each other to find ways to get around this restriction and be first to air a hot new song.