After learning from John Sunier, publisher of Audiophile Audition, that Naxos, the largest classical label in the world, was expected to cease producing SACDs and DVD-As, I checked with their national publicist, Mark A. Berry. He in turn sought confirmation from Naxos' founder and chairman, Klaus Heymann.
The debates may be old, but they're not tired. They rage on with a virulence that suggests there's plenty of life in these old dogs yet. Online forums and Letters to the Editor are filled with them: objectivist vs subjectivist, engineer vs audiophile, double-bind vs doubly blind. The divisions may be artificial or downright specious—false dichotomies perfectly set up for cheap shots—but that doesn't dissuade people from drawing sides, driving stakes into the ground, and firing off volley after volley of accusation and retaliation.
The Minnesota Orchestra has become one of the first symphony orchestras in the US to archive selected broadcasts for online streamed listening on demand. Through an arrangement with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), which has broadcast virtually every Minnesota Orchestra concert since 1974, the performances are now available for up to a year's time at www.mpr.org/minnesotaorchestra.
The first hybrid SACDs produced and recorded in Russia have made their way to North America. The new Russian company responsible for the recordings, Essential Music, issues them on the Caro Mitis label, whose name is Latin for "succulent fruit." All are recorded in multichannel DSD and released as hybrid SACD/CDs. Caro Mitis releases are imported by Todd Garfinkle of M•A Recordings. Garfinkle himself has been responsible for some of the most enjoyable audiophile recordings of unusual performers and repertoire in the catalog.
The fourth round of RCA Red Seal Living Stereo hybrid SACD/CDs hit the literal and virtual shelves on February 7. [Kalman Rubinson wrote about the first batch here.—Ed.] Remastered from the original two- and three-channel master tapes using the DSD process, these 10 new SACDs present the material exactly as it was recorded, without equalization, filtering, or other tampering.
Extra-terrestrial radio is poised to celebrate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 250th birthday. From Wednesday January 25 through Friday, January 27, XM Satellite Radio will broadcast live performances by many of the most celebrated Mozartians of our time direct from the Carolino Augusteum, a 17th-century castle and former home of the Archbishops of Salzburg that overlooks the Salzburg Cathedral and the Mozart Platz. Artist interviews and sound portraits of the Salzburg milieu will spice up the proceedings.
The Elf Foundation's accomplishments are extraordinary. In just four and a half years, the nonprofit organization has facilitated the design and construction of more than 40 Rooms of Magic. These are private entertainment theaters in medical facilities for children: hospitals, as well as centers for autism, abused children, and kids with long-term disabilities. And none of the design work or state-of-the-art equipment for these children's oases costs the host facilities a cent.
Don't bother to tell Music Lovers Audio that audio sales have slowed. At a time when many dealers have abandoned two-channel audio altogether or chosen between de-emphasizing music and calling it quits, this Bay Area audio retailer has opened a second store a mere 30 miles from the original North Berkeley location, across the Bay in San Francisco.
In this age of the major record labels maximizing music profits at all costs, even if it involves installing spyware on consumers' computers, www.Magnatune.com stands apart. The website offers entire albums' worth of music of high quality for download in a choice of formats, from highest-quality MP3 (three times the size of iTunes MP3 files) to CD-quality WAV files. It also gives 50% of the money it collects directly to its artists. Magnatune founder John Buckman, 36, who divides his time between London and Berkeley, chose the site's motto: "Internet Music Without the Guilt: Magnatune, the open music record label."