You've got to give the audiophiles who post at the Audio Asylum online forum credit. Not only is AA one of the more informative and constructive audiophile communities, some of its members provide the audio industry much-needed feedback on how it's doing—for better or worse.
For the last few months, random postings kept appearing on internet newsgroups and in my e-mail box: "Anybody know what happened to Counterpoint?" At last count there were 10,000 Counterpoint preamps, power amps, and loudspeakers fanned out across the planet, some dating back to 1977, when the company launched its first product: the SA-1 tube preamp, designed by Ed Semanko.
An audio system even Nero could love: Pyrotechnical effects have apparently gotten slightly out of control with Philips Consumer Electronics MX920 speaker systems, 25,500 of which have been recalled due to fire hazards from overheating voice coils. Four such incidents have been reported since the MX920 went on sale in June 1997. No one has been injured, and property damage has been limited to one scorched rug.
In a recent bake-off, online retailer CDnow was named top music banana by the New York consulting firm eMarketer. Although placing further down the list based on price alone, CDnow gained the highest overall score in an averaging of the rankings of six criteria. Rated on a scale of 1 to 5, these were: Selection, Price, Service, Usability, Presentation, and Features.
DVD-Audio has been getting a lot of press and comments from consumers lately—as in "Where is it?" As we reported back in August, the first players from Panasonic were slated to appear last month (see previous story). But, as with all things worth waiting for, better late than never.
Media conglomerate Viacom, parent company of Blockbuster Music, has reportedly put the ailing chain on the auction block. Most likely buyer is Torrance, California-based music retailer Wherehouse Entertainment, Inc., which has 220 stores of its own, primarily on the West Coast. On Wednesday, May 13, Reuters news service reported that Wherehouse had tendered an offer of $200 million for Blockbuster. Wherehouse has been in intermittent discussions for several months with Viacom.
Up from the deep: Torrance, CA-based Wherehouse Entertainment announced last week that it will purchase Blockbuster Music from Viacom Inc. for $115 million. The merged operation will have 598 stores throughout North America, second only to Minnesota-based Musicland. The deal comes at the end of a prolonged slump for the music industry, one that was particularly hard for Blockbuster.
Friday, October 25, 69pm: Whetstone Audio (2401 East 6th St. #1001, Austin, TX) will host its next "Hi-Fi Hootenanny." Rega's Paul Darwin will introduce the company's new Elicit-R integrated amplifier and Saturn-R CD player/DAC, which made their official debuts at last week's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. For more info, visit WhetstoneAudio.com.
The buzz about digital audio downloads from the Internet would lead one to think that the only way we'll be buying music in the not-too-distant future is through the Web. But the reality this past holiday season looks quite different. Reuters is running stories saying that there was "No Santa for the Internet Music Industry," and record companies attempting to get online are having a tough time (see related item). MP3 for Dummies author Andy Rathbone states bluntly: "It [the digital music business] hasn't taken off as much as analysts expected," and EMI Records' Jay Alan Samit laments, "this year, over a billion songs were downloaded. None of our artists got paid."
We reported in 2005 on the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) lawsuit against Patricia Santangelo and her suit in response to the trade group's allegations that she had participated in peer-to-peer file sharing. The record companies dropped their legal actions against Ms. Santangelo in December 2006, instead deciding to charge two of her children, Robert (16) and Michelle (20), with downloading songs from Kazaa.
If you've visited this website before, you'll notice that we're sporting a new look this week. You'll also find that, in addition to the new sheet metal and colors, there are also plenty of changes under the hood. The Stereophile site was originally launched on December 1, 1997. The old model lasted over three years, but three years is an eternity in Internet time, and we couldn't resist taking all of the comments readers have sent in over the months and sorting through them for fresh ideas.
If you work in the consumer electronics industry and would like to see your personal CE hero rewarded, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) would like to hear from you. The CEA announced last week that it is seeking nominations from its members, the press and other industry professionals for the 2002 class of inductees into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
IRebuildMarantz.com: Robert D. Bowdish sent us an email recently, pointing us to his IRebuildMarants.com website, which he describes as "my semi-DYI site that's for the purpose of keeping great vintage audio gear alive."
At CES 2007, Bill Gates announced that Microsoft was developing a Windows® Home Server, saying, "As computers and digital media become more and more central to family life, we need better ways to organize, share, and protect digital content and information at home. Windows Home Server makes it easy for families to save, protect and access digital memories and experiences, so they can focus on using technology to organize their day-to-day lives, explore their interests, and share their memories with the people they care about."