Last week, The Recording Industry Association of America released its year-end anti-piracy statistics, which it says reveal an increase in the number of counterfeit and pirate CDs and CD-recordables confiscated in 1998. "We've had tremendous success this year with our anti-piracy initiatives," said Frank Creighton, senior vice president and director of anti-piracy. "Between the many CD plants around the country adopting better business practices to the scores of universities signing up for our copyright education program---we're making strides on all fronts."
Last week saw a flurry of announcements in the online audio and video streaming business, capped off by Yahoo!'s acquisition of Broadcast.com. Yahoo! says it has signed a definitive agreement with Broadcast.com whereby Yahoo! will issue 0.7722 of a share of Yahoo! common stock for each share of Broadcast.com common stock. In addition, all outstanding options of Broadcast.com will be converted into Yahoo! options. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 1999 and is valued at around $5.7 billion, including $4.8 billion in Broadcast.com common stock and $900 million in stock options.
First with CD players, then digital preamps, and recently amplifiers, digital technology has ground inexorably through the audio chain. Several companies have been developing ways to shorten the analog path or remove it entirely. Meridian's "digital" loudspeakers come to mind, as well as the amplifiers from manufacturers Spectron and TacT.
Stereophile readers tend to exhibit above-average interest in the art and science of reproducing music in the home. Those whose interest extends back up the recording chain and into the recording studio may want to take a look at the Prestige Studios of the World website, developed by an Internet company looking to show off its digital wares.
Last week, Philips Electronics and Sony Corporation announced the completion of Version 1.0 of the Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) format specification. According to a statement, the format specification will be released to licensees early this month to allow hardware manufacturers and software providers to begin preparing products for launch in the coming months.
The English flat-panel speaker company New Transducers Ltd., also known as NXT, recently announced a new transparent loudspeaker technology called SoundVu that the company says will enable television and computer screens to function simultaneously as loudspeakers.
Several weeks back, the music industry's fear of MP3 audio technology came to a head with the release of Diamond Multimedia's Rio playback device. (See previous and related stories.) The Recording Industry Association of America then announced a new plan, called the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI; see previous article), in an effort to bring the music and audio-technology industries together to solve the problem of digital music piracy.
Two elements that keep the audio business interesting are the new companies and technologies arriving almost every week (see also BW's story). Some stick around for years, while others fade away between hi-fi shows. But amid the incessant change are a handful of characters who stay with it, continually evolving with the industry and reinventing themselves with each twist and turn.
After dozens of thorny issues slowed its progress (see previous report), last week the DVD Forum announced that its Steering Committee has approved Version 1.0 of the DVD-Audio Disc specifications, making it the fifth of the DVD format family after DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, and DVD-R. According to a statement, the DVD Forum says it will soon publish the DVD-Audio Format Book, which contains the detailed specification of the format, and make it available to authorized companies by "early spring of this year."