Branding was once reserved for cowhide and breakfast cereals, but changes in the retailing landscape have fostered new approaches for everything from running shoes (Niketown) to cartoon-character merchandise (Disney and Warner Bros. stores) to clothes (Gap, etc.). In the audio market, Bose stores are now common sites in shopping malls, but few higher-ticket companies have taken the brand-store plunge.
What a year. Stereophile.com ran hundreds of stories in 1998, covering events big and small in the intersecting realms of business, publishing, technology, and music---with some irresistible oddities thrown in here and there as journalistic spice. It's overwhelming to look back over Stereophile's first full year of online publishing and see exactly how much has happened. We've gone far, and sometimes wide, to bring you the news from an audiophile perspective.
As expected, the Recording Industry Association of America held a press conference last week to announce the formation of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), with which they hope to develop Internet downloading technologies for music. The move comes after a rough year for the music business, which has seen thousands of unauthorized websites offer copyrighted material for free using the MP3 audio format.
It helps to know the technical basics when building the ultimate audio system. J. Gordon Holt, pointing out that "knowledge is power," would like to see thousands of knowledgeable audiophiles girdling the planet, and so has created an excellent primer on audio basics called A is for Ampere.
Getting a jump on the RIAA's move to create a new music-download standard (see related article), Tower Records announced last week that it will feature a new song-download service, created by Atlanta-based amplified.com, on the Towerrecords.com website.
As expected, the Recording Industry Association of America held a press conference last week to announce the formation of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) which hopes to develop internet downloading technologies for music. The move comes after a rough year for the music business who has seen thousands of unauthorized websites offer copyrighted material for free using the MP3 audio format.
We recently received the following from Christos Skaloumbakas, President of the Audiophile Club of Athens, Greece. The ACA website is easy to navigate, with pictures and descriptions of members' systems---including listening rooms' floor construction and furnishings. Except for a few letters and opinion pieces, text is in clearly written English. The club is completely noncommercial, has no position regarding any of the usual audiophile controversies, and encourages open discussion. A love of music and a desire to share it are the only requirements for membership.---BW
The recent success of online retailers---especially when launching initial public offerings---has been phenomenal. In the past two years, Internet shopping has taken off in a big way, and shows no indication of slowing down. Technology trendwatcher Forrester Research predicts that worldwide Internet commerce will hit the $3.2 trillion mark within four years, accounting for 5% of all commerce.
For those of you who need yet another Jimi fix, Experience Hendrix/MCA will release a 2-CD collection of music from Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys concerts at New York City's Fillmore East, which took place on December 31, 1969 and January 1, 1970. Drawn from the guitarist's four legendary performances, the new package will contain 16 tracks, 13 of which have never before been released in any form, with two additional tracks making their CD debut. Jimi Hendrix: Live at the Fillmore East will be released on CD and 180gm vinyl (three LPs) on February 9.
When going up against the consumer electronics industry, the Recording Industry Association of America has no problem keeping the upstarts in their place. In fact, with recent battles over DAT and CD-R, they appear able to kill or mortally wound entire formats at will. But fighting within the computer universe is a whole new story, as recently proved by the RIAA's stumble with Diamond Multimedia and their portable MP3 device (see related stories).
Audiophiles have more than just piles of equipment and music to wrestle with in their quest for audio ecstasy. The listening room often colors a system's performance as much as any component in the chain. Tom Norton decided it was time to examine the subject, writing, "although the perfect room does not exist, there are things that can be done to make the most of even an admittedly difficult situation." See his report in "Enough Room?"
Editor's Note: This item is an excerpt from an e-mail received from Russia late last week. It's noteworthy that the US Congress has spent hundreds of days and more than $50 million investigating the President's adolescent shenanigans, while elsewhere in the world serious trouble is afoot. Leonid Korostyshevski is a computer consultant and audiophile in the university town of Saratov, on the Volga river 600 miles east of Moscow. His previous dispatch appeared here in March.----BW
Last week's Vote! question about vibration control garnered one of the most interesting groups of comments from readers so far. Everything from bicycle tires to bubble wrap is being employed in audiophile homes around the world in an attempt to subdue the dreaded curse of the shakes.