Among loudspeaker designers, Franco Serblin enjoys an enviable reputation for beautiful creations and meticulous craftsmanship. Until recently, Sonus Faber's resident genius had confined himself to minimonitors with simple crossover networks, such as the Concerto, a Stereophile Class B Recommended Component.
Four years after its first unsuccessful foray into the American consumer marketplace, Sony's MiniDisc appears finally to be winning serious numbers of converts. Several large-scale retailers, including Best Buy, Circuit City, Service Merchandise, and (soon) Sears department stores, have dedicated MiniDisc displays, with home recorders, portable players, and blank discs available individually or as a package deal. The displays were built with Sony's support, according to Mike Viken, senior VP for Sony's personal audio/video marketing division.
Billy Joel has decided to clean out his warehouse. Next month, the veteran rocker's almost-30-year-old collection of musical instruments, recording equipment, and stage gear will be put up for public auction by Sony Signatures, his merchandising company. A portion of the gross from the "Billy Joel Memorabilia Auction" will be donated to VH1's Save the Music Foundation, according to Dan Cooper, Senior Vice President of Sony Signatures' music division.
One might think that the publisher of "The Largest Marketplace in the World for Audiophile Equipment" would have a vested interest in encouraging trading activity among his readers. One would think that such a publisher might take a neutral stance regarding fluctuations in the world market for used equipment. One would think that he would credit his readers with sufficient intelligence to decide for themselves whether any specific purchase, sale, or trade was a good deal.
In the age before recordings, music was a service business. Composers wrote for their patrons, and musicians performed for money. In the days since Edison's inventions, music has become a commodity business in which record companies stockpile large inventories and attempt to move them into the market of music lovers through a dense network of distributors and retailers. For established artists, the service aspect of music---playing for pay---now exists primarily to support the commodity business. For developing artists, public performance is a form of self-promotion to aid the search for a recording contract.
Cleveland's WMMS-FM built an enormous following of loyal fans by cranking out a steady stream of rock'n'roll---a stream now 30 years old. "The Buzzard," as the station at 100.7MHz is known, rode the wave of rock's ascendancy, and pioneered the classic rock format---one instantly recognizable by the heavy rotation of the recordings of such groups as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, the Allman Brothers, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, the Cars, Kansas, Boston, and Journey. Every major city in the United States has at least one such station. Throughout the '70s, '80s, and '90s, WMMS won generations of rock fans with its midday concerts and kept them tuned in with its unwavering dedication to heavy rock. The station was instrumental in winning the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for the city of Cleveland.
More European music lovers will soon be able to enjoy the offerings of Music Choice, a leading provider of audio and data services. Zug, Switzerland-based The Fantastic Corporation announced an agreement October 28 with Music Choice that will expand the musical options for computer-equipped music fans in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and other countries.
The Recording Industry of America is among the many organizations celebrating the recent ratification by the U.S. Congress of two treaties signed by more than 100 nations at the 1996 World Intellectual Property Conference in Geneva.
Paradigm's acquisition of Sonic Frontiers, Inc. is only the first step in salvaging the highly regarded brand, according to Bill VanderMarel, Paradigm's Director of Sales and Marketing. The next step will involve infusions of serious amounts of cash to expand the present network of dealers and to develop new products under the new Sonic Frontiers International banner---an amount VanderMarel expects will run as high as two or three times the purchase price of the temporarily defunct Ontario maker of high-end audio electronics. "Paradigm recognizes the necessity of such a sizable investment over the next 12 months to make a serious effort at revitalizing the name," he said.
If you own a Sonic Frontiers product, rest assured that parts and service will be available for it well into the foreseeable future. Sonic Frontiers International---the front company created by Paradigm after it acquired the apparently struggling maker of high-end amplifiers, CD players, disc transports, and DACs at the end of August---will honor all valid SF warranties, and will support the existing network of dealers and distributors, according to an announcement made two months ago.