There's not a lot of music in the bottom octave, and there's not a lot of information in the low bass of a movie soundtrack. But there is a lot of power down there in the rumbling subterranean region—power that adds palpable realism to every type of home entertainment. That's why we go to extremes in our search for low-frequency reinforcement: full-range loudspeakers, and multiple subwoofers, and digital room-correction systems.
Stereophile editor John Atkinson---arguably the high-end audio publishing industry's single most important figure, and certainly its intellectual nexus---has seen it all in his 23 years in the high-end audio industry. At HI-FI '99 in Chicago, Audiocafe.com's Andrew Keen was able to pull JA away from his busy schedule for an in-depth interview about his views on the industry's current state of affairs---and on what's just over the horizon.
You hear a dismaying amount of bad sound on the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention floor. Tizzy high frequencies and mushy bass are more common than not, but encouragingly, good-sounding products tend to draw small crowds or generate a buzz among attendees.
Like most Americans, US audiophiles have little idea how difficult life can be for people in other countries. Imagine facing official censure for possessing some innocuous pop music, or taking 12 years to accumulate the complete works of one of your favorite rock groups. That was life in the old Soviet Union for Stereophile colleague Leonid Korostyshevski, who flew to Istanbul from Moscow on short notice, so we could spend a few days together prior to my embarking on a sailing trip in the eastern Mediterranean. The visit cemented a long-distance friendship established through numberless emails. It was also an in-depth education.
Coaxing great performance from an orchestra requires that a conductor combine the talents of interpreter, psychologist, actor, coach, and drill instructor. It also requires a unique auditory ability: the capacity for simultaneously hearing the complete ensemble as well as all its individual performers.
Audiophiles almost universally agree that hearing—or "auditory perception" to neuroscientists—improves with practice. That phenomenon would explain why many of us are able to hear differences between audio components that untrained listeners can't hear.
One of the industry's nastier legal disputes is over. Boulder, CO-based Avalon Acoustics, Inc. has withdrawn a threatened "trade dress infringement" lawsuit against competitor Silverline Audio Technology, Inc. of Concord, CA, according to an Avalon press release circulated December 7. "Trade dress infringement" is a legalism referring to a competitor's use of a design that has become so closely associated in the public mind with a particular brand that it amounts to a virtual trademark.
Making good on a promise made several months back, Avantgarde Acoustic is moving into the retail realm. The company's German-made horn loudspeakers are the featured products at Avantgarde Music & Cinema, a new showroom at 27 West 24th Street, Suite 502 in Manhattan. The store is privately owned and operated by Bob Visintainer, who emphasized that his business is "definitely Avantgarde focused" but also carries other brands of electronics and accessories.