You hear a dismaying amount of bad sound on the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention floor. Tizzy high frequencies and mushy bass are more common than not, but encouragingly, good-sounding products tend to draw small crowds or generate a buzz among attendees.
Industry observers have long debated the ultimate fate of satellite broadcaster Sirius Radio. Front-runner XM Radio, with more than two million subscribers, is already above the break-even point, but for many months Sirius struggled against technical problems and overwhelming debt. Would the fledgling survive, get devoured by its larger competitor, or worse, get picked up in a fire sale by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.?
Skyrocketing ticket prices kept summer concertgoers away in droves, according to reports in the entertainment industry and financial press in mid-October. The summer 2004 concert season was one of the slowest ever, with some superstars canceling shows and others moving planned arena or amphitheater events into smaller venues. Previously one of the summer's most popular events, the Lollapalooza tour was cancelled due to slow ticket sales.
The entertainment industry is going the last mile in its war against file sharing. On Friday, October 8, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) appealed to the US Supreme Court to overturn a lower court's ruling earlier this year that peer-to-peer (P2P) file-trading networks can't be held liable for copyright infringement.
Anyone who has experimented with wireless local area networks for audio—feeding rear/side speakers in a multichannel system, for example—can attest that the technology is far from ready for prime time. Prone to noise, interference, and dropouts, wireless audio systems require a tremendous amount of refinement before they'll meet audiophile standards.
Satellite radio goes high-end: Beginning early next year, Krell Industries will enter the booming market for satellite radio receivers with an XM Radio tuner. The $4000 unit will reportedly also receive traditional AM and FM broadcasts; an optional module will let it stream Internet audio via 802.11g wireless connection to a broadband modem, according to the September 27 edition of This Week in Consumer Electronics (TWICE). The tuner will join Krell's line of custom installation products. In a similar but less expensive vein will be new Sirius tuners from Russound. At $699 and $999, the two new models will also include AM/FM tuners.
There's a certain commercial symbiosis between audio companies and public performance spaces. Tokyo has its Yamaha Hall; New York has its Avery Fisher Hall (1, 2), named for the hi-fi pioneer whose products were among the best available in the early 1960s.
Apple vs Apple: Despite persistent rumors of an impending settlement, the trademark dispute between Apple Corps, the Beatles' record company, and Apple Computer remained unresolved as of late September. The rift arose from the computer company's entry into the music business with its iTunes Music Store, in apparent violation of a previous deal in which it agreed not to do so. One possible outcome of current discussions between the two companies could be the first-ever online availability of Beatles recordings, an exclusive arrangement that might give iTunes an advantage over its competitors.