If you've visited this website before, you'll notice that we're sporting a new look this week. You'll also find that, in addition to the new sheet metal and colors, there are also plenty of changes under the hood. The Stereophile site was originally launched on December 1, 1997. The old model lasted over three years, but three years is an eternity in Internet time, and we couldn't resist taking all of the comments readers have sent in over the months and sorting through them for fresh ideas.
Last week, Philips Electronics and Marantz Japan jointly announced that Marantz Japan intends to buy the Marantz trademark, as well as the European and American sales organizations, from Philips. The companies say that the transaction is due to take effect in the coming months. In addition, Philips says it intends to sell shares equal to 1.5% of all shares held in Marantz Japan, effectively reducing its ownership percentage from 50.5% to 49%.
Although it sounds like a disease resulting from poor dental hygiene, Bluetooth is a recently established wireless standard aimed at small-form–factor, low-cost, short-range radio links between mobile PCs, mobile phones, and other electronic devices such as speaker systems. Although there were a few bumps in the road as the standard became established, Cahners In-Stat Group predicts that 1.4 billion Bluetooth-based devices will be shipping annually by 2005.
Napster has been taking its share of hits this past week from the music industry and the RIAA as a result of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling last Monday that will likely pave the way for shutting down the file-sharing service. In its findings, the Court states that "Napster users who upload file names to the search index for others to copy violate plaintiffs' distribution rights. Napster users who download files containing copyrighted music violate plaintiffs' reproduction rights."
Listening to and evaluating audio products in the CES trade-show environment is usually an utterly useless exercise. But every once in a while, a demonstration will clearly prove an exhibitor's point. PS Audio was able to do this with a convincing introduction to their Power Plant a couple of years back, as was Ray Kimber with his DiAural technology. This year, the "proof of concept in a hotel room" award would likely go to a new Australian upstart, ClarityEQ.
Sony may be pretending that DVD-Audio doesn't exist, and Panasonic may be in denial about SACD, but a new chip from Texas Instruments just might help bring the rival formats a little closer together in consumer living rooms and professional recording studios alike.
According to the latest statistics from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), overall consumer electronics sales for 2000 posted gains of 7% over 1999, reaching $8 billion. However, overall audio sales at the end of 2000 dropped as compared with November 1999, declining 5%, with $854 million in revenues for the month. The CEA says that sales to dealers of separate audio components also declined in November dipping around 4% as compared to the same period in 1999, but overall, sales of separate audio components have had a positive year rising 7% to $1.4 billion in revenue thus far.
Citing the desire to take advantage of the power of sharing audio files over the Internet, one of the larger independent record labels, TVT Records, announced last week that it has withdrawn its copyright claims against the file-sharing company Napster. TVT said that the basis for its decision to end the lawsuit and provide its support to Napster is "the new service Napster is evolving under the strategic alliance it recently announced with Bertelsmann AG." TVT points out that, since Bertelsmann is still technically a party to litigation with Napster, it becomes the first record label to fully settle with the beleagured Web company.
We always keep an ear out for new and interesting audio developments each time we attend the annual CES show in Las Vegas. This year, one company that garnered repeated buzz around the Alexis Park, and even at the main convention center was Australia's Halcro. As we reported from the show, Halcro builds gorgeous-looking power amplifers shaped in the form of an "H" that range in price from $10,000 for its dm 33 three-channel amplifer up to $30,000 for a pair of the dm 68 225W monoblocks.
Treading the fine line between authorized retailers and the used equipment market, New Jersey online retailer WorldExchange.com announced last week that it has launched a consumer electronics shopping Web site that offers "deep discounts" on a broad array of mid to high-end audio/video components whose manufacturers, the company says, normally adhere to "restricted distribution and price-maintenance policies."