One billion dollars in 1997---thatÆs the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association's first-ever estimate of the high-end industry's factory-sales volume. The number could be as high as $1.4 billion, according to a CEMA projection for the entire industry based on sales data of a representative sample of 32 companies. The results of the survey were published March 23 on CEMA's website.
PARA, the Professional Audio-Video Retailers Association, is bringing its annual management conference to the Hyatt Regency in Hilton Head, South Carolina, this week. The five-day event, running April 22-27, will focus on improving retail strategies. Representatives from more than 600 retailers, suppliers, and industry publications are expected.
Recently, Analog Devices announced the worldÆs first High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) decoder chip with 32-bit internal precision. The ADSP-21061 SHARC programmable digital signal processor will enable HDCD decoding to be incorporated into a wide variety of consumer audio and home-theater products, according to an AD press release dated March 26. The SHARC DSP can perform up to 150 million operations per second, and includes one megabit of onboard memory, six DMA channels, and two serial ports. The highly integrated decoder is claimed to perform HDCD decoding without external memory.
On April 8, Nordic Entertainment Worldwide announced that it has adopted ARIS Technologies' MusiCode audio watermarking system. The Napa, California-based company operates the Downloadable Music Site, one of the Internet's most extensive music archives. MusiCode is an attempt to discourage piracy by embedding signals in recorded music, which can later be extracted for tracking the recordingÆs origin.
"Digital audio quality at analog prices." ThatÆs how Cirrus Logic's Crystal Semiconductor division introduced a chip that may bring a new level of audio performance to a much wider audience. On April 6, Crystal announced its CS4334, an 8-pin, small-outline D/A converter. The 24-bit CS4334 will support sampling rates of up to 96kHz, and is being marketed as a low-cost, high-quality solution for computer, automotive, and portable audio applications, as well as DVD systems and set-top converter boxes. Crystal claims the new chip is the industryÆs smallest delta-sigma DAC.
Call it the comeback kid. Only a year ago, electronics retailer Best Buy Company was on the brink of disaster. Reeling from rapid expansion---34 new stores in two years---and suffering from an industry-wide sales slump, the retailer was said to be close to defaulting on some large-scale loans. Customers were being offered no-interest long-term credit as an inducement to buy anything on the sales floor.
Telecommunications giant American Telephone and Telegraph announced March 16 that it too, now, has technology for digital music delivery. AT&T's system, called a2b music, is based on MPEG Advanced Audio Coding.
More than 50 independent music labels ("indies") have signed on with Liquid Audio, the leading provider of music downloads over the Internet. The announcement was made March 19 at South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual music and media conference in Austin, Texas.
You may have noticed recent news items about proposals to deregulate the electrical power industry. You may have received solicitations to sign on with some start-up utility you never heard of, promising 10% to 40% reductions in your electrical bill. The model for this deregulation---if it comes to pass---is the long-distance telephone industry.