They don't turn over quite as fast as computer equipment, but mass-market audio component product cycles typically last about a year, until the next Consumer Electronics Show comes around. High-end audio products, however, enjoy much longer life spans—sometimes stretching to several years.
"The long tradition of professional connoisseurship has resulted in the development of a bewildering universe of specialist terminology. In certain cases, it must be admitted, there was self-indulgent proliferation of words relating to some minute feature....In fact, no clear distinction can be made between one term and its closest neighbor in meaning."—from the Introduction to Kanzan Sato's The Japanese Sword, A Comprehensive Guide, translated and with an introduction by Joe Earle (New York: Kodansha America, Inc., 1983)
This episode of "Fine Tunes" is mainly about the care and feeding of speaker drivers. Before I launch into some of the tweaks—a few fairly wild and wacky—sent in by readers, here are two from my own experience.
Thanks to an agreement reached in October, musicians, rather than their record labels, will receive royalty payments for the use of recordings distributed over the Internet or broadcast over cable and satellite systems. Royalty collection agency SoundExchange will distribute payments directly to performers, regardless of their contracts with the record companies, according to a statement issued the second week of November.
Texas Instruments says it is on a quest to provide "high-performance audio solutions" for the home entertainment market. To prove it, last week the company announced its first stereo analog-to-digital converters supporting the Direct Stream Digital (DSD) specification and the Super Audio CD format (SACD).
When it comes to digital music players and the future of computer-based entertainment, the computer industry appears to be going in two directions at once. Apple Computer has recently made a strong move into the portable music arena with its $399 iPod, a player that can store as many as 1000 songs. The company is also rumored to be developing software and computer-based editing equipment for the pro-audio industry.
Neither Verance nor Digimarc have made friends in the consumer world, as they continue to develop and implement watermarking technologies used to restrict the use of digital media, such as DVD-Audio and CD discs. Audiophiles, in particular, are resisting any form of restriction technology, such as watermarking, that alters the digital data on a disc at the expense of audio fidelity.
The economic outlook may be gloomy, but there are bright spots here and there. One is Indianapolis-based Klipsch Audio Technologies, which, on November 5, announced a bold expansion program that will add more than 200 people to its workforce.