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And then there were four: Sony's music division and German media company Bertelsmann, parent of the BMG record label, have decided that they've got a better chance under one roof. Last week, the two companies revealed that they will merge their music divisions into a new company called Sony BMG.
Last week, Philips Electronics and Sony Corporation announced the completion of Version 1.0 of the Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) format specification. According to a statement, the format specification will be released to licensees early this month to allow hardware manufacturers and software providers to begin preparing products for launch in the coming months.
Feeling the need to hook your audio system directly into a website for music files? Last week, Sony Corporation and Sun Microsystems announced plans to further collaborate to provide digital consumer-electronics appliances with direct access to Internet-based content and services. The companies say that the first phase of this cooperation will involve the development of home gateway software, running on appliances such as set-top boxes (connected to a home entertainment system), that will support a combination of home networking and network server technologies.
When Sony introduced the first Super Audio CD (SACD) player, the SCD-1 (see previous report and Jonathan Scull's forthcoming review in the November 1999 Stereophile), audiophiles who heard it were impressed with its performance, but wondered if its $5000 price tag would keep it out of the market for a while. Last week, Sony announced their second SACD player, the SCD-777ES, to appear in October at the slightly more wallet-friendly price of $3500.
Sony announced last week that it has created a new brand product line intended to identify its highest end products: Qualia. Initially, the new line will launch only in Japan, and will include both audio and video products in addition to a small pocket camera. Sony President Kunitake Ando had previously suggested the line would launch by March 2003.
While Apple's iTunes and RealNetworks Rhapsody are battling it out in the music download ring (see related story), and Microsoft is rumored to be eyeing a corner, Sony has now decided to join the fray with a new music service announced last week in Europe.
The Sooloos display comes with a built-in CD slot for loading your music onto the server. The $4400 Control:One touch-screen display/controller is pretty slick. The CD ripper is in the base—unobtrusively located, might we add? Once the disc is ripped, all of All Media Guide's metadata is automatically entered, so you could, for example, locate any recording in your collection with Phil Lesh playing bass. Oh wait—maybe we should have used an example with somebody who changed bands more frequently.
Earlier this year, in an online poll, we asked the magazine's readers if they were ready for a music server. The response was startling: 32% of you had already set one up, and 44% were ready to. Only 7% responded "probably not" or "never." In the polls we conduct online, we rarely get this kind of positive consensus about anything audio.
Soul Of the Music had their sMS-1000 media server on hand featuring the Vortexbox OS and the ability to handle PCM files up to 32/384 as well as DSD. The front panel has a slot for ripping both CDs or DVDs and pricing is dependent on type of output selected: $3,000 for both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs, $2,700 for coax, toslink, AES/EBU, and $2,500 for just USB 2.0