Last week saw a flurry of announcements in the online audio and video streaming business, capped off by Yahoo!'s acquisition of Broadcast.com. Yahoo! says it has signed a definitive agreement with Broadcast.com whereby Yahoo! will issue 0.7722 of a share of Yahoo! common stock for each share of Broadcast.com common stock. In addition, all outstanding options of Broadcast.com will be converted into Yahoo! options. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 1999 and is valued at around $5.7 billion, including $4.8 billion in Broadcast.com common stock and $900 million in stock options.
As first reported April 8 in EETimes, Sony has made known its plans for the first generation of Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) players, to be released in Japan this May. For the last several months, Sony has been suggesting that the SACD format would be going head to head with the competing DVD-Audio format, despite overtures from the DVD-Audio Working Group to join in a single all-encompassing specification.
Lights out in Gloversville: Universal Music Group's record-pressing plant in Gloversville, NY will shut its doors on May 6, 2005. Founded in 1953 as part of the Brunswick Radio Corporation of America, the plant (and the parent corporation) were acquired in 1962 by Decca, which was itself merged into MCA—and later, UMG, now part of Vivendi Universal.
According to a report released last week by Cahners In-Stat Group, a high-tech market research firm, the market for personal digital music players using audio compression technologies will experience a tremendous increase in growth through the next several years. Nearly $800 million in player sales are expected in 2003, spurred largely by widespread Internet access. The report also states that products in this segment will initially focus on downloading technologies like MP3, and over the next 12 months consumers should expect to see more features integrated into the players such as FM tuners, increased storage capacity, and security systems like Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).
Pauline Oliveros calls it "deep listening"—a way to pay attention to the sensual qualities of sound itself. Welcome to a world of music that defies categorization, that invites a listener to soak slowly into a deep and otherworldly zone. This music goes by many names: ambient, spacemusic, electronica, sacred music, tribal/trance. Alas, you'll often find it hiding in the New Age section. Unlike some fluffier New Age fare, good ambient albums can explore the deeper, more solitary spaces. At its best, ambient music can sensitize you to sound in unique ways. It can enlarge your listening space to cavernous dimensions, paint hallucinogenic sonic landscapes, summon primordial forces, or enshroud you in clouds of diffuse vapor.
Last week, Robert Rich began this two-part article (click here for part one) with an explanation of ambient music and pointers to some of his favorite artists' web pages. This week he wraps up with more web resources, including record labels, webzines, and online radio programs dedicated to the genre.
McIntosh Laboratory announced its $6000 MS750 music server on May 30. The second music server in McIntosh's line, the MS750 incorporates a 750GB hard drive and integrated Web interface capabilities. McIntosh estimates that the MS750 is capable of storing 2700 CDs at full resolution, or about 12,000 songs.
Chris Keeler was the first guy I ever knew with an exotic turntable and a record library that most radio stations would envy. The love of music was a driving force throughout his life, one that sustained him right to the end.
It starts quietly enough, with a simple falling-fifth motif, but the first movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff's neglected Piano Sonata 1 develops into a work of epic proportions nearly 40 minutes in length, with haunting melodies, massive dynamic contrasts, and lush, sensual harmonies.
At a 9am press conference Saturday, October 12, whose attendance was curiously dominated by Stereophile and our sister computer audio online site, AudioStream.com, Jared Sacks of Channel Classics and Philip O’Hanlon of On A Higher Note announced the November 1 launch of nativedsd.com. A world-wide accessible, multi-label download site dedicated exclusively to native DSD recorded stereo and multi-channel studio masters, the site promises centralized shopping for native DSD recorded Edit Master files, along with information and discussion of both software and hardware. We are also assured of “extensive site-wide search capability through the use of ID3v2 compliant metadata across all labels.”
I have been informed that there was a serious error at the shipping department. The September and October issues of Stereophile and Stereophile Guide to Home Theater have been sent via a very slow shipping method. This was due to a misunderstanding between the magazines' new printer and the new subscription mailing house.
Time to yank out the old oxygen-free crystal interconnects and gaze into audio's future for 1999. Now that www.stereophile.com has a year under its online belt, we should be able to read the sonic omens with greater resolution, or at least confine our mistakes to minor stumbles. First, we'll see how our prognostications for 1998 panned out, and spin them a little to tune in 1999. We'll add reader predictions at the bottom. Got your own predictions? Send 'em in!
Forget the SACD/DVD-Audio format wars, a more interesting (and potentially more devastating to consumers) battle is brewing among companies racing to add copy protection technology and other restrictions to compact discs.