Hitting newsstands this past weekend, the 2008 Stereophile Buyer's Guide is bursting with technical specifications for more than 5000 audio components. Loudspeakers, amplifiers, CD players, turntables—every component category is listed in full, and we worked extra hard this past summer to make sure that the products of every manufacturer were included in its 228 pages.
The combination of accessible world music and transparent sound featured on Let Your Voice Be Heard, the CD released in 2001 by male-voice choir Cantus, made it an audiophile favorite. Stereophile editor John Atkinson returned to Minnesota earlier this year to record Cantus for a second time. This time, however, the program was very different: an ambitious sequence of choral works illustrating a musical and poetic progression from grief and sorrow to consolation and joy, following the tragic events of September 2001.
After 53 years of publication, Audio magazine, owned and operated by Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, is closing its doors this week. Often rumored to be on the ropes, the magazine had recently attempted a new editorial direction and artistic facelift.
On Friday, November 3, The Register published an interview with Peter Jenner, formerly manager of Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett, T. Rex, The Clash, Ian Drury, and Disposable Heroes, as well as Billy Bragg's current manager. The interview was a challenging (and profane) music insider's rant on a variety of subjects ranging from how the dollar download model killed the record store to proposals for a blanket, DRM-free digital music license that would permit consumers to use the music they purchase however they wish.
John Atkinson and Cantus are at it again. Last June, John and Cantus, the Minnesota-based male vocal ensemble, traveled to Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, to record an adventurous two-volume Christmas CD. Comfort and Joy: Volume One is being released this week.
Primedia, the leading targeted media company, announced March 30 the newsstand arrival of its recently launched Connected Guide To The Digital Home. Part of Primedia's Home Technology & Photography (HT&P) Group, Connected is the first consumer magazine dedicated entirely to adopting and integrating audio, video, information, telecommunications, security and other personal and home technologies.
Rumors have been confirmed that high-end audio journal Fi Magazine, which just entered its fourth year of publication, closed its doors last Friday, February 26. In a conversation with Stereophile publisher emeritus Larry Archibald, former Fi editor Jonathan Valin commented that "It was really a shame. I never worked so long and so hard on anything, and it didn't have to end the way it did---but I don't want to go into it. The money was there to keep it going." John Atkinson had been told at CES by a Fi spokesperson that a new source of investment had been found, but we can only assume that the deal fell through.
John Atkinson's and my collective response was "Good grief!" on hearing that the UK's Haymarket Magazines had purchased Gramophone Publications. Minds boggled at the very idea of the venerable old lady of classical-music criticism getting into bed with the much younger, altogether brasher, and unashamedly populist What Hi-Fi?, market leader among UK hi-fi mags. As Haymarket enigmatically put it, "With its emphasis on in-depth reviewing, Gramophone itself has great synergy with other titles in the Haymarket portfolio, such as What Hi-Fi? magazine."
It's a Vinyl World, After All: Michael Fremer's Guide to Record Cleaning, Storage, Handling, Collecting, & Manufacturing in the 21st Century
MF Productions mxangle3 (DVD). 2008. Michael Fremer, prod.; Joe Shelesky, Andre Kruger, Jeff Wilerth, dirs.; Joe Shelesky, editor. $30; available from Stereophile's secure e-commerce page.
Released in July, Live at Otto's Shrunken Head (STPH020-2) is the latest Stereophile CD from reviewer Bob Reina's jazz quartet, Attention Screen. Unlike the group's first CD, Live at Merkin Hall (STPH018-2, released in 2007), which was recorded with multiple microphones, I captured the eight improvisations on Live at Otto's using a single pair of mikes.
Do high-end cables make an audible difference? Or are they cosmetic enhancements, like fancy wheels on high-performance cars? The New York Times, the nation's foremost newspaper, took up the issue in a December 23 piece in "Circuits," its weekly technology section.
With new music download services, including the move to higher resolutions, one vital question still remains for the music business: Will the majority of consumers prefer to continue purchasing music à la carte, one track or album at a time, or will they prefer to subscribe to an unlimited library?
Internet audio continues to expand. Last week, at the first WebNoize conference, held in Los Angeles, JamTV/Rolling Stone Network and RealNetworks, Inc. announced the debut of Rolling Stone Radio, a new Internet audio service offering music in several genres. Rock star David Bowie announced that he would serve as a disc jockey for the new venture. Amazon.com has also signed on to participate as a music retailer.