It seems that all of the forces in the music industry have lately been conspiring against the music lover and audiophile. The record labels and their hired gun, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), have so far blocked digital outputs on high-resolution audio players, insisted that watermarks be inserted into both high- and low-resolution audio data, and have even started to restrict consumer's fair use of compact discs and digital downloads.
As I sit down to write a year's-end musical retrospective, I feel that the old column-writing joke between Stereophile editor John Atkinson and myself about first needing a subject and, second, needing it to make sense, will not be a problem this time out. For me, the music and almost everything else about 2001 have been dwarfed in importance by the mayhem wreaked on New York on September 11.
It was an unusually fine day for a New York September. The W train crept from the subway tunnel into the sunlight of the Manhattan Bridge—"My God, the World Trade Center's on fire!" came the voice of the woman driving the train. I vividly remember what I did the rest of that day—the day the world terribly changed.
For the tenth consecutive year, Stereophile writers and editors ferret out those components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period and have wrapped them all up as The 2001 Products of the Year. The envelope please.
Every Consumer Electronics Show features unusual prototypes from engineers throughout the world. Some are laboratory curiosities that never develop into viable products, but others have great potential.
For any audio company to be successful, it needs to cover what my business school teachers used to call the "Four Ps": Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. In other words, success will follow if a company can slice up its resources to properly promote the right product at the right price and make it available in the right places.
Audiophiles tend to be a fussy lot. But there are always a few sure-fire items that will put a smile on their faces without breaking the bank. We've got dozens of great ideas, guaranteed to suit every taste, available online (links are below) from our secure Web pages.