In the fall of 1999, a couple of Canadian high-end audio companies got together to pool resources with the idea that two heads were better than one when it came to certain new products. Simaudio of Boucherville, Quebec and Magnum Dynalab of Brampton, Ontario formed a strategic alliance with the purpose of sharing various technologies to further enhance each company's product lines.
It's hard enough for established record labels both big and small these days. With the high-resolution audio formats SACD and DVD-Audio still fighting each other and struggling to launch, picking sides is an even bigger gamble for a brand-new record label's first releases.
One of the more compelling live demonstrations at last year's 2001 Consumer Electronics Show was in the room at the Alexis Park hosted by Australia's ClarityEQ. As reported last year, using a $350 pair of NHT Super One speakers driven by mass-market consumer gear, the company's PDC-6.6 DSP correction system noticeably improved the midrange tonality and imaging we were hearing each time it was switched into the circuit. This prompted us to give the company the "proof of concept in a hotel room" award for that year.
In the crush of new products and technologies scrambling for attention at every Consumer Electronics Show, some intriguing announcements can get buried in the noise and require a closer look than is afforded by a quick listen and chat in a demo room. One such technology on display at the 2002 CES was MaGIC, a new high-resolution audio connectivity standard.
The major record labels may put out most of the world's music, but they're doing so on a format first created by Philips and then further developed by Sony: the Compact Disc. In addition to the underlying technology, Philips and Sony established a strict standard for the format, insuring compatibility with all players around the world, which came to be known as the Red Book standard.
The last day at CES always feels like one of those half-days at school: you may be getting out only a couple of hours early, but everyone starts thinking about going home way before the bell rings. Nonetheless, the die-hard audiophile exhibitors were working up to the last minute and confirmed that show attendance increased steadily right up to the end.
Exhibitors reported that traffic was improving Thursday, as the halls became more crowded and the music grew a bit louder. Plenty of new products are on hand and we're starting to realize that even four or five days may not be enough to see and hear everything the high-end has to offer.
There's no denying that traffic at the Alexis Park is down from last year. But in spite of this, high-end audio continues to evolve and impress. There were plenty of two-channel audio systems to go around, including vinyl front-ends, while multichannel and video made a modest showing. It's hard enough to get decent sound out of two speakers in a hotel demo room, let alone five or six.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) officially opened today, Tuesday, and the SACD press conference put together by Sony and Philips started the day. Sony's Shizuo Takashino opened the presentation by explaining the three-phase rollout for the high-resolution format. Phases one and two, represented by the release of high-end and multi-disc SACD players, are now complete he said, with phase three launching at the show. As Takashino said, "This year is the true beginning of the mass-marketing of SACD."
What initially took form in college dorm rooms and computer geeks' homes only a few short years back looks ready to break into the mainstream audio market this year. Hard-disk–based audio systems are becoming more common as both consumer electronics and computer manufacturers rush to bring products to market.