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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 24, 1999 0 comments
MP3 audio files have quickly become the dominant format for downloading music over the Internet, and have just as quickly raised the ire of music labels and artists looking to protect their musical assets. For example, a petition signed by nearly 400 European recording artists (including Mstislav Rostropovich and Barbara Hendricks) was handed to the European Parliament last Tuesday by French composer Jean-Michel Jarre to protest lax copyright protections exacerbated by digital technology. The petition states, in part, "We want to use new digital technologies like the Internet to create and to deliver our music, but we will only feel confident doing so if we know that the laws are there to stop our works falling victim to pirates."
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Stereophile Staff Posted: Jan 24, 1999 0 comments
Our first article this week is Illusions, Riddles, & Toys, in which Barry Willis explains what Zeno's paradox has to do with audio nirvana. "We audiofools face just such a riddle in our relentless pursuit of musical realism. I can hear you now: No, say it isn't so. Surely our technology is equal to the task. I'm sorry to tell you that it isn't, and probably never will be."
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Barry Willis Posted: Jan 23, 1999 0 comments
The axeman cometh, and cometh again. Seagram Company's Universal Music Group, now the world's largest music conglomerate after last year's $10+ billion acquisition of PolyGram NV, is decimating its ranks. The company has closed the doors of several formerly independent record labels, fired hundreds of employees, and plans to unload thousands more in the next few months. Employees and artists alike will soon find themselves without labels.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 17, 1999 0 comments
One of the classic problems with digital technology is what is known as the "cliff effect": when digital signals reach their limits, they don't fail gracefully like analog ones do---they go off a cliff and crash hard. Not only has the tendency for digital signals to exhibit their limitations noisily in the audio recording and playback environment been a problem for engineers and listeners, the effect on the digital broadcast industry has been tough to circumvent as well---until now.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 17, 1999 0 comments
We've all heard about "Internet time"---that fraction of the "normal" time interval for a similar activity to occur on the Internet. As if to put an exclamation point on the concept of Internet time, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) plans to make audio history March 10 at the 1999 NARM Convention coming up in Las Vegas.
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Stereophile Staff Posted: Jan 17, 1999 0 comments
Our first article this week is Space . . . the Final Frontier, in which J. Gordon Holt explains both why he feels the High End should abandon two-channel stereo, and why it is misguided in its choice of loudspeakers for stereo reproduction.
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Barry Willis Posted: Jan 16, 1999 0 comments
MP3, the popular and controversial Internet music format, took a big step toward legitimacy last week. Z Company, which operates San Diego-based MP3.com, announced that it had attracted $11 million in venture capital from idealab! and Sequoia Capital. Z Company will change its name to MP3.com Inc. to reflect the company's core business interests, said president Michael Robertson.
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Stereophile Staff Posted: Jan 16, 1999 0 comments
This will be a huge year for the electronics industry, insiders are saying in the wake of the just-finished 1999 Consumer Electronics Show. This one "surpassed anything we've seen before," said Gary Shapiro, the president of the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, in a post-Show statement. "Our industry is driving the technologies that will define the digital age."
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 10, 1999 0 comments
The most important issue facing the high-end audio crowd at this Show is the looming battle for high-resolution audio formats. DVD-Audio and SACD posturing was everywhere, with SACD probably displayed the most. But it was a relief to see that manufacturers were starting to consider putting both SACD and DVD-Audio processing in a single box, thus making the choice for consumers much easier. This means that the makers of disc players are not forced to choose sides, and are able to please everyone. It allows consumers, as well, to make a single-player choice and be covered for the coming armegeddon. But it will put record labels in a tough spot: which format will they support for their releases---SACD, DVD-Audio, or, somehow, both? We'll keep you informed.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 09, 1999 0 comments
The last day at CES is low-key. Displays at the Las Vegas Convention center are already being broken down by mid-day, and many attendees have already left.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 1999 0 comments
January 9, 3pm
Some fascinating prototypes were on display at the Madrigal breakfast at Bally's this morning---and we can't tell you about them. But when the Cone of Silence is lifted, you can bet we'll spill the beans, particularly in view of Madrigal's confidence that there will be a future market for very-high-quality surround-sound music reproduction. In the meantime, we are able to report that the new Proceed DVD transport has enough upgradeability options to allow for just about any future digital format: DVD-Audio, SACD, CD, DVD-Video, etc. The transport will also allow for easy upgrading to future interface schemes such as IEEE 1394. And, unlike many other DVD-Video transports, the Proceed should be able to play CD-R discs. For two-channel fans, the Mark Levinson No.32 Reference preamplifier is in production and will be available next month. Price of the two-chassis, dual-mono unit, without phono stage, will be in the region of $15,000. Madrigal is already back-ordered.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 07, 1999 0 comments
Ah, it's good to be home again. We have finally arrived at the Alexis Park complex, the enclave of specialty audio. It's a much more civilized venue than the Convention Center, but, here as there, new products prevail. Only drawback this year: Someone has apparently rerouted the airplane take-offs from nearby McCarran airport to directly overhead, making it tough to continue a conversation or demo for more than 5 minutes.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 06, 1999 0 comments
Friday, we'll venture into the Alexis Park complex and the adjoining exhibits from T.H.E. Show, where most of the specialty audio manufacturers have set up shop. But so far, at the Las Vegas Convention Center and adjoining Hilton (which we are currently touring), live 24/96 digital audio is conspicuous by its absence.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 05, 1999 0 comments
Your dauntless reporters---Tom Norton, Steven Stone, Michael Fremer, Bob Deutsch, Larry Greenhill, Jon Iverson, and Barry Willis---have shown up on schedule for Philips Electronics' 1999 kickoff press conference at the Desert Inn's Grand Ballroom II, attended by a hundred or so other journalists.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 05, 1999 0 comments
If one were to judge by new high-end audio-product intros at this year's CES, the industry appears to be hopping. So far we're only halfway through the Alexis Park (the home of most high-end audio exhibitors at the Show), but our bags are already overstuffed with brochures. Not surprisingly, a lot of the two-channel manufacturers are branching out to the multichannel market.

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