Nationwide electronics retailer Best Buy has reported a record $59 million in profits for the second quarter of its fiscal year. Profits were up 34% from the previous year, according to a September 15 report in the Wall Street Journal. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based chain is one of the largest outlets for consumer electronics, and is Circuit City's only serious rival.
Back in 1985, J. Gordon Holt wrote: "It seems, these days, that many of us audiophiles have become so preoccupied with the minutiae of sound reproduction that we haven't even noticed that it doesn't sound like music any more." He was talking about the obsession with soundstaging and detail at the expense of musical accuracy. In "Getting the Notes Right (Midrange Madness)," he renders his lesson in classic JGH style, observing that "I have played on this old saw in these pages for so many years that it has turned into a dead sawhorse, but somehow the message never seems to get through. There should be no harm done by beating it into the ground a little farther."
Flat frequency reponse in an audio component is good, right? Well, maybe not always, explains J. Gordon Holt in Down With Flat! JGH: "Many times in past years I have been impressed by the incredible flatness of the measured high-end response of some speakers. . . . In every such case, I have been equally amazed at how positively awful those loudspeakers sounded—so tipped-up at the high end that I could not enjoy listening to them."
It's no secret that audio publications around the world have been shrinking or disappearing of late. John Atkinson writes in his September 1999 "As We See It" that although the trend has certainly affected Stereophile's girth, steps have been taken to fatten the audiophile content of every issue. Read his analysis of the situation in "Closer Together Covers?"
Last week, GlobalNet Systems announced that violinist Itzhak Perlman has joined its subsidiary On-Line Entertainment Network as consultant and advisory boardmember. The company says that Mr. Perlman will consult on its acquisition and production of live classical-music events and the licensing of master catalogs of recorded classical music. He also joins an advisory board that will advise on future trends and opportunities for the company. The company intends to add other major artists to its advisory board in coming months.
Wes Phillips explains that Adcom is one of those companies that is easy to take for granted. "To break through our complacency, Adcom would have to produce an outright unlistenable turkey—or a product that raised the bar so high that any audio manufacturer would get a hernia just thinking about raising it again."
Tonal accuracy vs. soundstage? "Achieving an optimum balance between the two philosophical extremes of recording is where much of the art lies. It also begs the question, of course, of why it's impossible to have both: a recording with a virtual-reality sense of imaging that also captures all the sound without any coloration." While recording the Sonata CD for Stereophile, John Atkinson wrestles with every recording engineer's dilemma. Read about the struggle to capture Robert Silverman performing Liszt's monumental B-Minor Piano Sonata and the ultimate solution in "Fate, I Defy You," added this week to the archives.
Last week, USA Digital Radio, a developer of In-Band On-Channel Digital Audio Broadcast (IBOC DAB) technology, announced an "aggressive" field-test campaign at 12 radio stations across the country. The company will be conducting the digital tests under experimental licenses issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). With most equipment already installed, according to USA Digital Radio, test efforts are currently underway at several stations.
While recording the Encore CD for Stereophile, John Atkinson had to decide: "Should I add some artificial reverberation?" After much gnashing of teeth, he plowed ahead. Read about the process in "Encore," an in-depth look at the recording techniques, the artists, and the music.
While decidedly "niche products," as Martin Colloms describes them, single-ended (SE) tube amplifiers have still found a happy home in many audiophile systems. But a trap awaits those who wish to evaluate the differences between an SE and a solid-state or push-pull tube amplifier, or between two SE amps. In "The Unseen Variable," Colloms digs to the bottom of this complicated matter.