Any audiophile who stumbles onto one of the more cantankerous audio newsgroups ("wreck audio opinion," anyone?) may wonder what has happened to the modern breed of audiophiles. One suspects that religious wars pale when compared to how some audio pundits jostle against each other! But over the years, there has always been a wide variety of opinion. For a perspective written decades ago that still holds true today, we present J. Gordon Holt's classic "Why Hi-Fi Experts Disagree."
Last week, the Recording Industry Association of America released its annual demographic survey of 3051 music purchasers in the United States. "Several interesting profiles emerged in 1998, including the boom in R&B and Gospel, as well as the sharp decline in Rock sales," said Hilary Rosen, RIAA president and CEO. "Demographic shifts also continued, with women outbuying men for the second year, and a drop in purchases among 15-to-29-year-olds, contrasted by significant growth among those age 35 and older." Last month, the RIAA released its annual year-end shipments statistics, which revealed the size of the domestic sound-recording industry in 1998 to be $13.7 billion.
Classical music fans will be happy to hear that Image Entertainment has announced the signing of an exclusive license agreement with England's Reiner Moritz Associates (RMA) that will see the company releasing 50 classical-music programs on DVD in the coming year. In addition to the classical performance programming, Image will also release some of RMA's special-interest fare, featuring such luminaries as Marilyn Horne, Maria Callas, David Hockney, Jackson Pollock, and Margot Fonteyn.
Fans of Macintosh computers and Betamax videotape are fond of pointing out that in the free market, the best technologies don't necessarily win. That scenario may be playing out again in the case of VQF, a digital audio transfer and storage technology originally developed several years ago by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.
Ethics and high-end audio have always been a tangled web---especially when it comes to deciding whether to purchase equipment from a helpful local dealer or trying to find the best price possible. In the web reprint of February 1999's "The Final Word," Stereophile's publisher emeritus, Larry Archibald, examines a recent high-end purchase of his own to shed a little light on the dilemma faced by the audiophile grinding for a great deal. Also included are some choice reader responses.
Rumors have been confirmed that high-end audio journal Fi Magazine, which just entered its fourth year of publication, closed its doors last Friday, February 26. In a conversation with Stereophile publisher emeritus Larry Archibald, former Fi editor Jonathan Valin commented that "It was really a shame. I never worked so long and so hard on anything, and it didn't have to end the way it did---but I don't want to go into it. The money was there to keep it going." John Atkinson had been told at CES by a Fi spokesperson that a new source of investment had been found, but we can only assume that the deal fell through.
Newcomer Revel has been on a roll lately, piling up accolades all around for its new line of loudspeakers. Larry Greenhill takes a look at the recently unveiled Revel Salon and explains how it compares to the Sydney Opera House. "Did the Salon meet its design goals of timbral accuracy, low distortion, and lack of dynamic compression?" Read all about it in Greenhill's report.
You think we've got format problems these days? Take a peek back to 1963, when J. Gordon Holt ripped apart the then-new record technology from RCA in "Down with Dynagroove". Next, Wes Phillips writes an ode to his own Mr. Holland in "A Passion for Music".