Parasound wins design award: Only a week after receiving a Stereophile 2003 "Product of the Year" award at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for its excellent Halo JC-1 monoblock power amplifier—Richard Schram is shown accepting the award (right)—Parasound Products won a 2003 "Good Design Award" from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. The company's Halo C1 preamp/surround sound processor emerged on top in the museum's annual design competition, "one of the oldest and most important such events in the world," according to a January 16 announcement from Parasound. The C1 and other winners will be on exhibit in the museum from April 3–June 13, 2004. Opening day of the exhibit will be populated with dignitaries, design professionals, and representatives of the press.
Manufacturers sometimes suspect that they have been intentionally slighted if they don't get mentioned in a Stereophile show report. The truth is that the overwhelming enormity of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) prevents even the most aggressive journalists from seeing everything. (SGHT editor Tom Norton may be the sole exception.)
Price fixing rumors squashed: On Tuesday, December 23, the US Department of Justice officially ended a two-year investigation of price fixing by major record labels, with a report that it had found no evidence to support any of the allegations. The investigation began in summer 2001 and concentrated primarily on online music service MusicNet, a joint venture by Warner Music Group, EMI Group, BMG Entertainment, and RealNetworks; and Pressplay, a joint venture by Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group. The majors had been accused of conspiring to keep startups out of the online music distribution business.
The last months of 2002 were uneven ones for electronics retailers. American consumers, apparently trying to stretch their home entertainment dollars as far as possible, patronized discount stores while bypassing more upscale competitors.
Bronfmans bid Vivendi adieu: On Wednesday, December 3, Edgar M. Bronfman and his son Edgar Bronfman, Jr. officially resigned from Vivendi Universal's board of directors. The move followed an announcement by Time Warner that it would accept a $2.6 billion offer for its Warner Music Group (WMG) from an investment group led by the younger Bronfman.
Retail may be bouncing back. Best Buy, North America's number one electronics chain, reported an 18% gain in total sales for its third quarter ended November 29. The Richfield, MN–based operation posted $6.03 billion in total sales, with same-store sales up 8.6%.