Could the average computer hard drive soon be able to store the equivalent of over 80 DVD-Audio discs or 600 CDs? Last week, IBM announced that it is using just a few atoms of what it has termed "pixie dust" to push back the data storage industry's most formidable barrier, and will effectively quadruple disk drive densities in the next two years.
A quickly established favorite among music fans, the CDDB website provides comprehensive information for tracking who and what appears on just about any CD in existence (see previous). But as users of the service are discovering, the company that now maintains the database, Gracenote, is starting to change the rules of access.
It's been a roller coaster ride for satellite radio upstarts Sirius Radio and XM Radio this past week as both companies fortunes shifted yet again. In a classic billion-dollar consumer electronics gamble, Sirius and XM are betting that they can reach critical mass by selling enough specially equiped digital radio receivers through car manufacturers while simultaneously signing up enough subscribers to reach profitability.
Please bear with us a moment here—we know most audiophiles react to MP3-related news with a serious case of ringing ears, but tracing where the lo-fi market is currently headed can be instructive for understanding the distant hi-fi future. And if the new technology previewed last week at Qualcomm's BREW conference in San Diego is any indication, some parts of your audio future may, in fact, be wireless.
Will audio dealers be interested in selling a product that's been available so far only via mail-order? Audio Advisor thinks so, and has created a new distribution company, WS Distributing, to begin selling the Musical Fidelity product line through "qualified" high-end audio dealers in the USA beginning May 21. Musical Fidelity has been available through retailers in Europe and Asia for years, but in the US, only from AA's catalog and website sales.
There is no denying that buying pre-owned high-end gear can easily provide the biggest bang for the audio buck. Many of us got our first glimpse of sonic nirvana after scoring some second-hand component at a fraction of its retail price. Or perhaps you've just bought a new product and need to unload that old classic hanging out in the closet. Stereophile wants to help.
Amid news that its watermark technology for DVD-Audio may have been compromised, Verance nonetheless announced last week the launch of its "ConfirMedia" watermarking service. The company says that ConfirMedia will monitor and report the airplay of encoded commercials, music, and programs broadcast by television, cable and radio stations in the 100 top US markets and on the national feeds of major broadcast and cable television networks in the US.
One argument for the record industry's disappointing sales last year is a combination of high prices for official CD releases coupled with cheap prices for computer-based CD recorders and CD-R blanks. It doesn't look like retail CD prices will be coming down anytime soon, but luckily for the music business, CD-R prices are going up.
Having previous experience working for the CIA or the KGB may be a bonus on the resume of any aspiring audio industry applicant, it seems. In an effort to stymie the illegal copying and distribution of digital song files, record companies and hardware manufacturers have turned to increasingly complicated tracking technologies such as MPEG-4 and watermarking. The most recent addition to the anti-pirate bag of tricks: "fingerprinting."
In the perfect digital future, audiophiles would be able to drink from the purest of high-resolution audio datastreams with no worry that someone upstream had polluted the current. But in the real world, content providers and hardware manufacturers increasingly conspire to dirty the flow a little and limit unauthorized consumption by controlling the technology needed to filter out their toxic additives.