Those unhappy with today's over-the-air broadcasting choices will be glad to know that this is shaping up as a busy year for new radio formats. The commercialization of the IBOC AM and FM digital broadcasting system is about to be revealed at the same time that Sirius satellite radio announces that it will be accelerating its rollout schedule in an effort to compete with rival XM satellite radio.
Despite our best efforts, things can still go awry with Stereophile's "Recommended Components" listing, the most recent edition of which appears in the current, April 2002 issue. I reported a couple of errors a couple of weeks ago and now, sadly, I have more corrections to offer.
In my January "The Fifth Element" column, I discussed the concept of value in the context of audio component manufacture. This month's "Letters" includes a response to that column from Austrian distributor Hans Hirner. In his letter, Herr Hirner writes about some of his Web-surfing non-customers: "If that weren't enough, they also call me or my dealers to tell them how proud they are, after having taken all from me that is possible in system matching and trial—and even denoising their systems—to have been able to find 'our' products cheaper out there."
What could be easier to review than a power amplifier? No features or functions aside from inputs, outputs, and a power switch. So when Jonathan Scull asked if I could help out by taking on the Rotel RB 1080, which another reviewer hadn't been able to get to, I accepted the assignment. Before I could click my heels and say "FedEx!" twice, Rotel's 200Wpc RB 1080 had appeared.
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.
Both SACD and DVD-Audio have been slow finding their way into higher-end players. Sony dominates the market for SACD, and the other major consumer electronics manufacturers are trickling out DVD-A and universal players. The few exceptions include SACD machines from Classé and Accuphase. Soon to be added to the list: Linn.
EMI Group PLC has gotten serious about surviving in a depressed market. In the wake of a disastrous multimillion-dollar payout to pop singer Mariah Carey, the UK music label has announced sweeping cutbacks in its workforce—including many American executives—and in its roster of artists.
Is it the low exhibitor rates? The excuse to visit Montreal, perhaps North America's most cosmopolitan city? The efficiency and charm of organizer Marie-Christine Prin and her assistants? Whatever the reason(s), Montreal's Festival Son & Image has become a real success story, attracting an ever-increasing array of exhibitors and audiophiles from far and wide. Last year, the Festival spilled over from the downtown Delta Hotel to the Four Points Sheraton across the street; this year, there were exhibits in the Holiday Inn next door as well.
"Even right out of the box, it's obvious that the Wadia Digital 861 CD player is something special," writes Brian Damkroger in this month's issue. "Its heft and finish are beyond the usual high-end standards." But how about the sound?
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.