Recent moves by record labels to add restricted-use technology to their compact disc releases has raised the ire of many a consumer, leading some to call for boycotts or worse (see this week's Soapbox). Late last year the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) issued a statement saying that the major labels have gone too far in restricting consumers' "fair use" of copyrighted material.
After more than ten years in development, Sirius Satellite Radio announced last week that it will be officially launching its service with two events in Jackson, Mississippi beginning February 13. Sirius' competitor XM Satellite radio was able to get its service up and running last September.
In the fall of 1999, a couple of Canadian high-end audio companies got together to pool resources with the idea that two heads were better than one when it came to certain new products. Simaudio of Boucherville, Quebec and Magnum Dynalab of Brampton, Ontario formed a strategic alliance with the purpose of sharing various technologies to further enhance each company's product lines.
It's hard enough for established record labels both big and small these days. With the high-resolution audio formats SACD and DVD-Audio still fighting each other and struggling to launch, picking sides is an even bigger gamble for a brand-new record label's first releases.
One of the more compelling live demonstrations at last year's 2001 Consumer Electronics Show was in the room at the Alexis Park hosted by Australia's ClarityEQ. As reported last year, using a $350 pair of NHT Super One speakers driven by mass-market consumer gear, the company's PDC-6.6 DSP correction system noticeably improved the midrange tonality and imaging we were hearing each time it was switched into the circuit. This prompted us to give the company the "proof of concept in a hotel room" award for that year.
The major record labels may put out most of the world's music, but they're doing so on a format first created by Philips and then further developed by Sony: the Compact Disc. In addition to the underlying technology, Philips and Sony established a strict standard for the format, insuring compatibility with all players around the world, which came to be known as the Red Book standard.
In the crush of new products and technologies scrambling for attention at every Consumer Electronics Show, some intriguing announcements can get buried in the noise and require a closer look than is afforded by a quick listen and chat in a demo room. One such technology on display at the 2002 CES was MaGIC, a new high-resolution audio connectivity standard.
The last day at CES always feels like one of those half-days at school: you may be getting out only a couple of hours early, but everyone starts thinking about going home way before the bell rings. Nonetheless, the die-hard audiophile exhibitors were working up to the last minute and confirmed that show attendance increased steadily right up to the end.
Exhibitors reported that traffic was improving Thursday, as the halls became more crowded and the music grew a bit louder. Plenty of new products are on hand and we're starting to realize that even four or five days may not be enough to see and hear everything the high-end has to offer.
There's no denying that traffic at the Alexis Park is down from last year. But in spite of this, high-end audio continues to evolve and impress. There were plenty of two-channel audio systems to go around, including vinyl front-ends, while multichannel and video made a modest showing. It's hard enough to get decent sound out of two speakers in a hotel demo room, let alone five or six.