For the last few months, random postings kept appearing on internet newsgroups and in my e-mail box: "Anybody know what happened to Counterpoint?" At last count there were 10,000 Counterpoint preamps, power amps, and loudspeakers fanned out across the planet, some dating back to 1977, when the company launched its first product: the SA-1 tube preamp, designed by Ed Semanko.
In a recent bake-off, online retailer CDnow was named top music banana by the New York consulting firm eMarketer. Although placing further down the list based on price alone, CDnow gained the highest overall score in an averaging of the rankings of six criteria. Rated on a scale of 1 to 5, these were: Selection, Price, Service, Usability, Presentation, and Features.
DVD-Audio has been getting a lot of press and comments from consumers lately—as in "Where is it?" As we reported back in August, the first players from Panasonic were slated to appear last month (see previous story). But, as with all things worth waiting for, better late than never.
The buzz about digital audio downloads from the Internet would lead one to think that the only way we'll be buying music in the not-too-distant future is through the Web. But the reality this past holiday season looks quite different. Reuters is running stories saying that there was "No Santa for the Internet Music Industry," and record companies attempting to get online are having a tough time (see related item). MP3 for Dummies author Andy Rathbone states bluntly: "It [the digital music business] hasn't taken off as much as analysts expected," and EMI Records' Jay Alan Samit laments, "this year, over a billion songs were downloaded. None of our artists got paid."
If you've visited this website before, you'll notice that we're sporting a new look this week. You'll also find that, in addition to the new sheet metal and colors, there are also plenty of changes under the hood. The Stereophile site was originally launched on December 1, 1997. The old model lasted over three years, but three years is an eternity in Internet time, and we couldn't resist taking all of the comments readers have sent in over the months and sorting through them for fresh ideas.
If you work in the consumer electronics industry and would like to see your personal CE hero rewarded, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) would like to hear from you. The CEA announced last week that it is seeking nominations from its members, the press and other industry professionals for the 2002 class of inductees into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
We've all heard about "Internet time"---that fraction of the "normal" time interval for a similar activity to occur on the Internet. As if to put an exclamation point on the concept of Internet time, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) plans to make audio history March 10 at the 1999 NARM Convention coming up in Las Vegas.
It may still be a trickle, but at least a little music relief has reached the parched throats of audiophiles awaiting the arrival of DVD-Audio discs. Last week saw the announcement that Aaron Neville's latest CD release will also hit stores as a multichannel DVD-A on Immergent Records on October 24. This week sees the announcement that another recording legend, Willie Nelson, will soon take the plunge.
Last week, InterTrust Technologies, which creates Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, and format developer DataPlay announced a partnership intended to create a portable media distribution platform for protected content such as music. Universal Music Group, EMI Recorded Music, and BMG Entertainment have all announced that they are planning to release prerecorded music on the resultant DataPlay digital format for use in a variety of consumer electronic devices.
It's bad enough for stores competing with each other for consumer loyalty—imagine how retailers must feel when the largest consumer-electronics company in the world decides to compete with you as well. This grim reality came true for dealers around the world last week, when Sony Electronics outlined its plans for SonyStyle.com, which the company describes as "an information-rich e-commerce website." The site is scheduled to be launched this fall.