In what is intended to have the biggest impact yet on the thriving "rip, mix, burn" lifestyle, Macrovision has revealed that several record labels have been secretly putting its copy protection system onto new CD releases since around March of this year (see previous report). The process, called SafeAudio, is a Macrovision registered trademark and is intended to prevent the copying of CDs, or tracks from CDs, onto CD-R discs and computer hard drives. The technology was developed jointly by Macrovision and TTR Technologies.
Music fans who use their computers to organize their CD or MP3 music libraries have found the CDDB music database, now owned and operated by Gracenote (see previous story), to be an essential part of their audio world. If you use CDDB-enabled hardware or software, the artist, album title, genre, and track titles will automatically display when you put a CD or load an MP3 file into your computer or compliant player.
If you work in the consumer electronics industry and would like to see your personal CE hero rewarded, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) would like to hear from you. The CEA announced last week that it is seeking nominations from its members, the press and other industry professionals for the 2002 class of inductees into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
It may be true that baby-boomers yearn to relive their childhoods, but how many aging wanted-to-be rock stars and music lovers still like to play with dolls? McFarlane Toys, which made its mark creating and marketing Spawn merchandise, is hoping quite a few.
In 1991, British loudspeaker manufacturer B&W celebrated its 25th birthday with the introduction of the John Bowers Silver Signature loudspeaker (see review). Not the largest or most expensive speaker on the company chart, the John Bowers Silver Signature, named after the company's late founder, still prompted John Atkinson to write that its performance was the best he'd heard for its modest size in his listening room.
Times are obviously tough for personal computer manufacturers, who, in the quest for new sources of revenue, are increasingly dipping their toes into consumer electronics waters. The latest firm to join IBM, Intel, and Compaq (see previous) in the rushing stream is Hewlett-Packard which announced last week the expansion of the company's drive into the living room. HP says that its new initiative is intended to "blend interactive product innovations with easy-to-use services and offer consumers new ways to enjoy digital music, streaming video, and Internet information in the living room."
It might stand to reason that the first market for DVD-Audio discs will likely be consumers who already own DVD-Video machines. It also stands to reason that a large number of consumers who have set up a DVD-Video player in their systems have also added surround-sound speakers in their audio/video rooms, and are looking for new software to take advantage of the extra channels.
More good news for budget-conscious audiophiles who are waiting for that all-in-one universal high-resolution audio player: Yet another chip manufacturer is announcing a decoder IC that will allow new DVD machines to untangle just about any audio file format. Last week, LuxSonor Semiconductors joined the growing list (see previous) of chip manufacturers that are including both DVD-Audio and SACD in one package.
Maybe it's only fair: Consumer electronics giants like Sony have been selling personal computers lately, so computer manufacturer Compaq announced last week that it will begin selling audio products. Joining Intel in making the transition from the computer industry to consumer electronics, Compaq has now redefined itself as "a global enterprise technology and solutions company."
With the proliferation of audio and video formats based on the 5.25" disc (CD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD-R, CD-V, DVD, etc), buying a universal player that can decode anything thrown at it is many a consumer's Holy Grail. But to date, the vast majority of manufacturers (Pioneer being a notable exception) have been taking sides, choosing to exclude either SACD or DVD-Audio playback from their machines.