A good part of each day around here is spent perusing the internet for all things audio: manufacturer sites, audio news, newsgroups, equipment reviews, etc. What's found ranges from the good-intentioned to the well-financed, and much of what's out there also represents the labors of love many audiophiles lavish on their favorite hobby.
Last week, WorldSpace announced that it has launched what it describes as "the world's largest digital audio broadcast system." The new system is based on a satellite radio service that recently began transmitting a wide array of multilingual radio programming across the entire African continent.
The recent struggle between the RIAA and Napster may seem like a distant battle rumbling off in some foreign realm, far removed from most audiophiles: about once a week we get e-mails asking why a high-end audio website should even cover such stuff.
Imagine yourself a recording artist just signed to a contract with one of Sony Music's record labels. You put out a couple of albums and start a website using your own name (say, for example, www.bobdylan.com). But the music wind starts blowing in a different direction, your contract comes up for renewal, and, either through your manager's insistence or that of one of Sony's big cheeses, you decide to leave the label and sign with someone else.
While a relative trickle of copy-restricted CDs have been released in the US, European labels have been more likely to experiment with lock-down technology. Russia is battling extreme piracy, as its culture and mass communications minister, Aleksandr Sokolov, reported to his government last week, asserting that pirated wares account for 80–90% of the overall audio and video sales in that country.
In some ways, entrepreneurs resemble the folks who fix your roof: When they see a hole somewhere, their job is to find a way to fill it. Long-time high-end audio veterans Mel and Howard Schilling and Doug Goldberg say they have spotted a hole in the audio market and are getting ready to launch a new company to fill it.
After enduring frustrating delays, XM Satellite Radio announced the successful launch last week of its first satellite, which the company has named Rock. XM reports that lift-off occurred off the Sea Launch Odyssey Launch Platform in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean on the equator, and that the first signals from the satellite were captured by a ground station in Australia a little over an hour later, as planned.
It's no wonder the public is confused about audio formats and sound quality, Consider claims such as the recent "major breakthrough" announcement concerning two audio technologies from Creative Technology, a company best known for making PC peripherals (most notably the Sound Blaster audio cards).
For years now, Internet users willing to walk on the audio wild side have had access to millions of illicit music files via peer-to-peer file-trading services. But those who have tried to find locate of the commercial sources for online music files have found their choices limited.