Loudspeaker manufacturer Polk Audio announced on December 31 that it had acquired an interest in Genesis Technologies, manufacturer of both loudspeakers and digital products. Not only did Polk invest $500,000 in Genesis convertible preferred securities, it also obtained a three-year option to purchase the Colorado-based high-end audio company, which is led by three industry veterans: Arnie Nudell (co-founder of Infinity), Paul McGowan (co-founder of PS Audio), and Mark S. Schifter (co-founder of Audio Alchemy).
Phil Jones, the loudspeaker designer who pioneered the resurgence of metal-cone woofers with first Acoustic Energy in the UK, then Boston Acoustics' Lynnfield series, and finally his own company, Platinum Audio, is no longer with Platinum.
Martin Colloms argues persuasively in the January 1998 Stereophile that negative feedback is not the panacea that amplifier designers believe it to be. His experience of an amplifier (the Cary CAD-805C) and a preamplifier (the Conrad-Johnson ART) that use no negative feedback other than local degeneration, yet have sound quality better than he has previously experienced, convinces him that even when a design's closed-loop distortion appears to be acceptably low, the listener is still aware of an amplifier's very distorted open-loop behavior.
We have followed at a distance the discussion over whether 60Hz/50Hz electromagnetic radiation from powerlines affects the health of people in close proximity, and in the November 1997 Stereophile (Vol.20 No.11, p.51), an "Industry Update" story by Barry Willis reported a connection with Alzheimer's Disease.
As of October, Meridian America's new VP/Sales, replacing the late Ross Keim, was industry veteran Andy Regan, who started his high-end career at Manhattan retailer Sound by Singer. Most recently, Regan was VP/Sales at cable manufacturer AudioQuest. Not uncoincidentally, Joe Abrams has moved from cable manufacturer MIT to AudioQuest.
"Comping," they call it at Madrigal. Once a circuit and its board layout have been finalized, passive components are substituted one by one in an exhaustive series of listening tests to determine the places where use of a premium part, or one of closer tolerances, results in an audible benefit. This fine-tuning process cannot be open-ended, however, as products do have to shipped. So what happens when new parts become available, or new manufacturing processes allow a better-sounding part to be used without financial penalty?
"This is offensive!" muttered usually mild-mannered Malcolm Hawksford, who was sitting next to me. "I'm leaving." The good professor was right. One thousand or so attendees at the 103rd Audio Engineering Society Convention, held at the end of September in New York, were being subjected to truly terrible sound. The irony was that the sound was that of 2- and 5-channel recordings made with 24-bit resolution and a 96kHz sampling rate, being played over a colored PA system to demonstrate the future of audio, in the form of DVD-Audio.
There are many benefits accruing to a loudspeaker when its designer goes the active or powered route. The usual losses and distortions associated with passive crossovers can be circumvented, while the fact that the amplifiers and drive-units can be designed as a package enables the designer to squeeze more performance from each than would otherwise be the case. And the savings gained from the absence of a separate amplifier chassis can be passed on to the consumer.
Canadian loudspeaker company PSB International celebrated both its 25th anniversary in July and the 10th anniversary of the introduction of its Stratus series. (I review the latest version of the flagship Stratus speaker, the Gold i, elsewhere in this issue.) Started by Paul Barton and two friends in the summer of 1972, PSB Speakers was named after Paul and his high-school sweetheart Sue (now his wife). Paul & Sue Barton Speakers is now part of Lenbrook Industries, which distributes NAD, Marantz, and Bang & Olufsen in Canada, and which in turn is part of the Canadian conglomerate Lenbrook Inc.