When I judged a whistling contest in China a few years back, I got severely criticized by an unsmiling judge for favoring one little girl because she was so damn cute. I wonder what he would have thought about my reaction to the adorable little components from Napa Acoustics. You’ll have to check previous show blogs for their pictures, because this time, I focused on some of Napa Acoustics’ Chinese-manufactured larger offerings. The MT-34 35Wpc integrated amp ($1199), Bow-A3 loudspeakers ($1699/pair), and NA-208 CD player ($399), powered and connected with stock cables, did a fine job of depicting the organ on Ray Charles and Norah Jones’ “Here We Go Again.”
After learning from John Sunier, publisher of Audiophile Audition, that Naxos, the largest classical label in the world, was expected to cease producing SACDs and DVD-As, I checked with their national publicist, Mark A. Berry. He in turn sought confirmation from Naxos' founder and chairman, Klaus Heymann.
Now that more and more music lovers are turning to the Internet to purchase CDs, DVDs, and downloadable files#151;see WP's story on iTunes this week—Naxos isn't taking any chances. The world's largest classical music label, whose US branch, Naxos of America, also claims to be the #1 independent distributor of classical music in the US, has recently set up multiple websites to lure music lovers into the fold.
The world's largest classical label, Naxos of America, has released its first Blu-ray music package. The Virtual Haydn: Complete Works for Solo Keyboard contains three Blu-ray audio discs plus one three-hour Blu-ray videodisc that together hold 15 hours of music. All performances are by Tom Beghin, a baroque specialist and musicologist based at McGill University. Sound engineer Martha De Francisco, an Associate Professor at McGill, recorded the performances in high-resolution (24-bit/96kHz) PCM sound.
Naxos, the world's leading distributor of classical music, has just signed a worldwide digital distribution deal with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA), which will use its Digital Distribution Dashboard (D3) technology platform to distribute and manage music files from the Naxos family of distributed music labels. The deal entails distributing titles to many of Naxos' 22 Digital Service Providers, including Sony Connect, Rhapsody, iTunes, Napster, and Microsoft (which charges consumers the lowest download price of all: $4.99 for an entire Naxos CD).
Naxos stands poised to release its first 24-bit/96 kHz high-definition audio download. On October 2, one of the label's most important orchestral recordings for the fall quarter, conductor, arranger and composer Peter Breiner's new orchestrations of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Songs and Dances of Death, and The Nursery, will become available, not as a physical CD, but rather as high-resolution and MP3 downloads. Expect the link to appear on iTrax, eclassical, classicsonline, HDTracks, hiresaudio.com, theclassicalshop, and Ariama, with Linn and Onkyo coming on board soon thereafter.
Naxos, owner of online classical recording retailer ArkivMusic.com, has now launched ArkivJazz.com. A one-stop shopping destination for an international coterie of jazz lovers who seek CDs, vinyl, and DVDs, the site sells recordings from "all labels, major and independent." In addition to exclusive interviews and editorials, ArkivJazz also offers a VIP subscription that includes free US shipping and member-only specials, plus a complementary subscription to Downbeat magazine.
Naxos, possibly the world's largest classical music label, has taken a leap into the virtual universe of digital downloading. In an unprecedented collaboration—including Naxos of America, the country's largest independent distributor of classical music; eMusic, the world's second-largest digital music service; and bricks-and-mortar retailers such as Borders—Naxos has introduced MPkey, an exclusive series of downloadable classical music collections. Available for purchase only at bricks-and-mortar retailers (and exclusively at Borders stores through December 1), MPkey enables consumers to painlessly download pre-selected Naxos collections of classical music.
Naxos has taken a major step toward distributing higher-quality downloads of classical-music recordings. ClassicsOnline, the label's impressive download site, now offers the world's largest collection of classical-music recordings free of digital rights management (DRM). All of the site's nearly 22,000 albums, from more than 100 independent labels, are available at 320kbps.