We'd been playing phone tag for a couple of weeks, but Paul McGowan was finally tethered to a handset as he explained to me a product from his "new" company, the reincarnation of PS Audio. "Everything you've ever wanted in a power conditioner---times 10---with none of the drawbacks!" McGowan could hardly contain himself while pitching his latest brainstorm. He certainly had an intriguing idea, but the path from founder of PS Audio back in the late '70s to Genesis Technologies and back again was nearly as interesting.
It's well known among designers of power amplifiers that the class-A and -A/B amplifiers (referred to as linear amplifiers) used in the majority of car, home, PC, and pro audio systems are notoriously inefficient. They can consume vast amounts of power and yet waste most of it---as much as 80% or more---as heat. They require large power supplies and massive heatsinks, which drive up system weight, size, and cost. On the other hand, class-D amplifiers, using Pulse Width Modulation switching technologies, have good power efficiency but sometimes questionable audio fidelity. (The Spectron designs are possibly the exceptions here.) Class-D amps are used mostly in battery-powered applications in which sound quality might be considered secondary to battery life.
In the world of computer operating systems, you've got commercial products from Microsoft, Apple, Be, Sun, and others in one corner, and open-source products like Linux in the other. The commercial products are released to the public as finished products (at least until the next "bug fix" is ready), usually for a fee, and their core software code is protected much like the recipe for Coca-Cola. If you don't work for the company producing the official version, then it's hands off.
The WebNoize three-day conference took place last week in Los Angeles, mixing record-company executives with Internet geeks, all trying to find profitable ways to distribute music online. Tom Roli, publisher of the Webnoize website, set the tone for the event, stating that "the industry is facing great change and uncertainty due to emerging technologies, shifting global markets, and media revolutions."
MP3-formatted audio files are considered to be the most popular streaming technology on the Internet, but the major record labels have so far shunned the format, which doesn't offer as much security and pay-per-download options as they'd like. Several announcements last week coincided with the WebNoize conference in Los Angeles and revealed what a few of the labels are thinking.
The Internet is having a startling effect on radio, as evidenced by a new report released by The Arbitron Company, entitled "Arbitron Internet Listening Study: Radio in the New Media World." Arbitron concludes "that Internet broadcasting is a fast-growing medium which presents both challenges and opportunities for radio broadcasters."
For the past three weeks (see previous article) we've been reporting on the troubled plight of Diamond Multimedia's new Rio portable MP3 audio player. Announced in grand fashion by Diamond several months back, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) quickly set its sights on the device, and fired what it hoped would be a fatal shot in the form of an injunction. The RIAA appeared to have succeeded until last week, when US Central District Court California Judge Audrey Collins reversed her initial ruling from 10 days earlier of an injunction, paving the way for the product's release this month. Both the RIAA and the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC) are planning an appeal.
The rumors were flying all week, and this time they proved to be true: CDNow Inc. and N2K Inc. jointly announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement on October 23. Both companies are well-positioned in the online music retail business, but face ever-increasing threats from new online rivals such as Tower Records and Virgin, as well as the ominous presence of Amazon.com who recently jumped into the online music business.
We've all been hearing about digital television (DTV) for several months now, but a similar revolution is facing the radio industry around the world. As we reported last week, several companies and organizations have been piecing together systems to gradually replace the AM or FM stations you currently listen to (you do listen to the radio, don't you?) with digital equivalents over the next few years.
In a story last week, we covered the efforts of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to prevent portable MP3 players from entering the market without copy-protection measures in place. On August 16, a federal court entered a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enjoin the distribution and sale of Diamond Multimedia's Rio PMP300 portable MP3 recording device.