Silicon Valley, Jan. 28---John Sunier, host of the nationally syndicated radio program Audiophile Audition, and I were here last night at Cogswell College for an Audio Engineering Society-hosted lecture and demonstration by MedianiX. The Mountain View-based semiconductor company has pioneered a "virtual multi-axis" ("VMAx") surround-sound technology using only one pair of closely spaced loudspeakers.
Stadium rock is my idea of the inner circle of Hell. I hate crowds. I have zero interest in the rich and famous. And I've never been much of a Rolling Stones fan. Give me a choice, and I'll take Weslia Whitfield at the Plush Room 10 times out of 10: a cushy seat, some witty companions, a little Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Heavenly.
The one-two punch known as the Holiday Season is only half finished; Christmas is simply the warmup for the biggest blowout of the year. For a successful New Year's party, the only ingredient more essential than a well-stocked liquor cabinet is an ample supple of party tunes. (Recommended accessory: a reliable CD changer. It's hard to play host and DJ at the same time.)
Only a few days remain until Christmas. Trees, tinsel, twinkling lights, and . . . tunes. It's the audiofool's most dreaded time of the year, when he once again suffers through his nine-thousandth experience of Bing Crosby crooning "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Sheer torture.
Rolling Stone is going head-to-head with MTV. Last week, Wenner Media, Inc, announced a partnership with JamTV to create a music site on the Web. Wenner is the parent company of Rolling Stone magazine. JamTV is an eight-month-old Internet start-up that broadcasts live concerts.
It won't be long before the Net-connected music lover will be able to sample and hold the tunes of his choice without having to visit Tower Records. High-speed transmission, high-density storage, and CD-quality music online---the three parts of the downloading puzzle---all fell into place the week of November 10.
Nothing at 41 E. 62nd Street in Manhattan offers any clue as to what sort of business that takes place inside. The waiting room feels vaguely monastic: straw mats on the floor, a row of shoes near the door. Like a day spa offering acupuncture and shiatsu. There's no corporate name, no logo, no mission statement.
A clock running six and a half hours late hangs above a receptionist's unoccupied desk. An enormous white dog is asleep under framed pictures of old blues artists: Son Thomas, Etta Baker, Pernell King, Cora Fluker, Big Joe Williams.
Astute readers will note that although my name appears under the "hardware" heading of Stereophile's masthead, I have rarely written about specific products, and, apart from secondary comments or Follow-Ups, have never written a formal equipment report. For years I resisted reviewing because I was usually connected in some way to audio manufacturers and/or retailers, and felt very uncomfortable with the conflict of interest. The other reason I was disinclined to review is that the critical listening required of reviewers is work, and after a long day or week of working on, or with, audio equipment, the only thing I wanted to do when I came home was relax. But since I have hung up my soldering iron and oscilloscope probe for what I hope is the last time, and am cleaving instead to my word processor (or, as playwright David Ives dubbed it, my "verboblender"), you may see more of this—WP, JA, and God willing.