Last year, Stereophile's Barry Willis took a trip to Ogden, Utah, to report on what was then a secret speaker project being conducted by Kimber Kable's Ray Kimber and designer Eric Alexander. After informal listening, Willis noted that, while not being able to completely nail down what the "under development" DiAural crossover circuitry was doing, something new was certainly in the air.
When we received notice several days ago from Panasonic that the company was finally releasing its DVD-Audio players next month, we filed the press release for a couple of days to see if it would last the week (see previous story). Apparently, the products are still a go. Panasonic says it will offer a full line of DVD-Audio/Video models under both the Panasonic and Technics brand names, with the first units arriving in stores in July. As previously announced back in August 1999, the Panasonic DVD-A7 will have a suggested retail price of $999.95, and the Technics DVD-A10 will have an SRP of $1199.95.
In an effort to smooth the way for websites that wish to legally reproduce copyrighted music, BMI announced last week that it has now become the world's largest online digital rights management company with the launch of its Digital Licensing Center (DLC) and "Klick-Thru" online copyright licensing system. The company says that the DLC is intended to help Internet companies digitally obtain a music-performance license through BMI.com, allowing them to publicly "perform" any of BMI's 4.5 million copyrighted works from its 250,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers.
Last week, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced that it is working to establish a single standard for high-data-rate home networking using the powerlines already installed in consumers' homes. Stating that it is "recognizing the need for a baseline technology standard," the CEA says it has invited integrated-home-systems industry stakeholders to participate in the creation of a standard for residential powerline networks, to be completed by year's end.
In hopes of stoking the multichannel DVD-Audio engine, Burr-Brown announced last week the PCM1604 audio digital-to-analog converter, which they describe as a high-performance, 6-channel audio DAC featuring 24-bit capability and 192kHz sampling, for use in a "wide variety of multichannel audio applications."
It's been an up-and-down week for consumer-electronics companies, as revealed by recent earnings reports surfacing around the globe. First, the bad news: Sony reports that its profits fell 32% in the latest fiscal year, and cites the strong yen for depressing the value of the consumer-electronics and entertainment company's overseas earnings.
The Napster saga continues. As reported last week, software maker Napster and several colleges were looking at a likely court battle, instigated by music group Metallica and others attempting to prevent their songs from being distributed via MP3 audio files without official consent or payment of royalties. After Metallica announced its suit, rapper Dr. Dre also jumped in, giving Napster until last Friday to remove links to his work.
The healthy trend for the audio market continues: the Consumer Electronics Association reported last week that revenues from factory shipments of audio products to dealers this February increased by 8% over last February, to a total of $542 million. "The fantastic sales in February spurred the year-to-date total for audio sales to more than $1 billion; a 6% increase over the first two months of 1999," said the CEA.
It's not uncommon for bootleggers to record live performances of favorite artists and then send copies of the tapes around the world. But in an interesting twist that could add a whole new dimension to concert merchandising, the Virgin Entertainment Group and Liquid Audio recently teamed up to record a live performance by the Joshua Redman Quartet at the Virgin Megastore in San Francisco. The recording was then immediately digitized and burned onto CD.