According to the latest statistics from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), overall consumer electronics sales for 2000 posted gains of 7% over 1999, reaching $8 billion. However, overall audio sales at the end of 2000 dropped as compared with November 1999, declining 5%, with $854 million in revenues for the month. The CEA says that sales to dealers of separate audio components also declined in November dipping around 4% as compared to the same period in 1999, but overall, sales of separate audio components have had a positive year rising 7% to $1.4 billion in revenue thus far.
E-wisdom holds that one of the big advantages about retailing on the Internet is that, once a comany is online, the entire world of consumers is only a few mouse clicks away. This concept holds up much better in theory than in practice. Language barriers, shipping costs, and import/export red tape (such as agreements controlling which countries a retailer can even sell a product line to) have all made the reality less than ideal for e-merchants.
As audiophiles, we all started somewhere, and the important fact is, we all started with a love of music. When it came to music playback equipment, more than a few of us remember the fold-up record player stacked with 45s, or the little transistor radio tucked under our pillow at night with a low-fi, one-channel earpiece attached.
Last week, Command Audio announced $56 million in new funding from several media, technology, and venture capital companies for its audio-on-demand service. The company says that the new funding will help fuel the rollout of their entertainment and information service to major US markets in the coming year.
I hadn't seen Audionet before, but apparently they have been operating for several years in Germany and had a complete range of products in one of the larger rooms at T.H.E. Show. Of particular interest to me is their DNC DAC, which is available now and retails in the US for $8990. DNC stands for Digital Network Client and the product can access music from the standard 24/192 digital sources as well has NAS drives and iDevices.
So far so good, but what really caught my eye was watching the company's head engineer, Volker Wischniowski, pull up a laptop and start to manipulate frequency response curves which could then be uploaded to the DNC.
Most audiophiles probably consider low-fi media such as podcasts irrelevant. But this may change when accessories manufacturer Boston Audio Design launches its new HiFi Industry Podcast Series later this fall.
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.
As I write this in the first quarter of 2007, CD sales are off over 22% compared to this time last year. The music industry as we know it, based on sales of some kind of physical medium, is over. While CDs and even LPs will remain available—they're so easy and cheap to make—they've become irrelevant to the mass market and to the future of audiophile recordings. The major labels have also become irrelevant (not to mention highly irritating).
Last week, IBM announced a new device that it says will allow mobile users to add an extra 10 gigabytes (GB) of hard-drive capacity to their notebook PCs. Why is this important to audio fans? IBM is intending the new drive, called the Travelstar E, to primarily appeal to those wanting to take extended music libraries with them on the road.
Audioquest is known to the general public as a cable manufacturer and also to audiophiles for their phono cartridges. They will soon jump into the DAC market starting with the Dragonfly USB to miniplug DAC.
Steve Silberman was on hand to provide a demo of the new product in raw circuit board form, and I was able to grab an artist rendering of the finished product from his laptop as seen above. The light on the back of the dragonfly changes color depending on what sampling rate is being detected.
The asynch 24/96 USB DAC will be about the size of a finger and its electronics have been designed by Gordon Rankin. Price is estimated at around $300 and it should be available in April.