Canada has targeted your iPod and hard drive. On March 7, CBC Records, the record label of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, announced a deal with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) that will make CBC's entire catalog of 400 active and archival classical, jazz, world, and rock titles available for download. The announcement comes just six weeks after major independent label and distributor Harmonia Mundi declared that it would follow the same route.
Universal Music Group must be taking its name seriously these days. At a time when some proclaim the demise of the classical recording industry, the conglomerate's many subsidiaries —Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, and Archiv, along with ECM, which has only a marketing and distribution arrangement with UMG —are embracing new projects on multiple continents with determination and optimism.
Marquis Classics, a Toronto-based CD label specializing in classical, jazz, world, and crossover recordings, recently issued its second batch of "Orion Master Recordings." Drawn from the large classical catalog of the defunct Orion LP label, the CDs include prized rare recordings by Robert Silverman, Steven Staryk, Joel Krosnick, Leonid Kogan, and other fine artists.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, which last June became one of the first orchestras in the US to launch its own e-label, has now become the first orchestra to offer download-only binaural recordings. The binaural process, whose benefits are most apparent to those who listen through headphones, is based on the concept that the best way to reproduce the concert experience is to make sure that the recorded sounds that go into the listener's ears are as close as possible to what would be heard during an actual concert.
Recordings that deliver the benefits of the high-resolution SACD format scored big at the 49th Grammy Awards Ceremony, held February 11, 2007 in Los Angeles. Telarc, which issues virtually all its classical titles and some jazz/blues releases in both DSD-native CD and hybrid SACD surround formats, won two Grammys in classical categories and three in jazz. SFS Media, the in-house label of the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, received two Grammys for the seventh release in its ongoing Mahler series of live, DSD-native hybrid surround SACDs. Last but not least, Harmonia Mundi, some of whose titles are available in DSD-native hybrid surround SACD, scored big with the gorgeous choral music of Arvo Pärt.
Harmonia Mundi, one of the world's leading independent classical music labels, has finally taken the downloading plunge. In an agreement with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA), the world's largest distributor of digital music content, announced on January 24 at the annual music conference of the Marche International De l'Edition Musicale (MIDEM) in Cannes, Harmonia Mundi will make available its entire catalogue of early music and contemporary recordings to hundreds of digital music outlets around the world. IODA will also handle digital distribution of HM's catalogue within France, where Harmonia Mundi is headquartered. A separate agreement with Apple's iTunes makes all Harmonia Mundi titles available on that site as well. Also available are the classical, world, and jazz titles from the more than 30 independent labels that Harmonia Mundi distributes in many parts of the world.
Deutsche Grammophon and Decca/London have announced a first in the history of opera on DVD: the simultaneous release of Mozart's entire oeuvre of operas and operatic fragments. Captured live at the 2006 Salzburg Festival as part of the 250th-anniversary celebration of Mozart's birth, the 19 DVDs feature striking productions of all 22 operas, plus a wealth of bonus interviews with conductors, singers, and other members of the artistic team.
Needing a shot of the real thing after a particularly disappointing dem from another manufacturer, I headed down the hall to hear Aurum Acoustics' total package. ($48,000 gets you the Integris CDP CD player, Integris Active 300B amplifier and speakers, Integris two-shelf Isolation Rack in matching veneers, 2m power cable, Aluminum Base kit, and Loudspeaker Grille Kit. As I said, the whole package.
Having waxed ecstatic over the big Märten full-range loudspeaker on display at last October's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I was delighted to discover the somewhat smaller $30,000/pair The Bird on display in two virtually square, air-walled conference rooms at the Sands/Venetian Convention Center. The three-way speaker, with a 6 ohm impedance, boasts a frequency range of 28Hz–45kHz, and is 89dB sensitive at 2.83V.
The unquestionable sonic high point of my second day at CES was the opportunity to hear two of the larger, floorstanding speakers in the line that has already brought us the much-touted $20,000/pair Magico Mini "bookshelf." The largest and most expensive of the pair is the $120,000/pair M6 (Model 6). First released one year ago, this four-way floorstander includes three 10" woofers, one 7" mid-bass driver, one 5" midrange unit, and an air motion-transformer tweeter. Weighing 650 lbs, with an enclosure of extruded aluminum, the speaker is said to extend from 28Hz to 50kHz, with a 90dB sensitivity and a 4 ohm impedance. The M6 recently won the Grand Prix Award from Japanese magazine Stereo Sound, and was featured on the cover of its December 2006 issue.