Want to start an audio newsgroup fire-fight? Just put the three letters "ABX" in the subject line of your post, sit back, and watch the pros take over. Read where it all started 15 years ago in "The Highs & Lows of Double-Blind Testing," which John Atkinson has compiled from the years 1985 and 1986, when an argumentative thread ran through Stereophile's pages discussing the benefits (or lack of) of double-blind testing methods in audio component reviewing—all triggered by J. Gordon Holt's review of the ABX Comparator.
When Sony introduced the first Super Audio CD (SACD) player, the SCD-1 (see previous report and Jonathan Scull's forthcoming review in the November 1999 Stereophile), audiophiles who heard it were impressed with its performance, but wondered if its $5000 price tag would keep it out of the market for a while. Last week, Sony announced their second SACD player, the SCD-777ES, to appear in October at the slightly more wallet-friendly price of $3500.
The year was 1956, and Elvis had just finshed his set on the December 15 Louisiana Hayride radio show. Elvis was one of a half-dozen acts that were broadcast that night on KWKH, the radio station that originated Hayride. After his encore, Elvis left the stage and the crowd went wild—so wild that they would not stop screaming for more of the soon-to-be king of rock'n'roll. Because several acts on the bill had not yet performed, the show's announcer, Horace Logan, went to the microphone in an attempt to quiet the audience, and ended up making a little music history.
It's been a busy week for Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) pioneers Lucent Digital Radio. (See previous report.) The company has announced that a new entity, Lucent Digital Radio, Inc., has been created as a result of an investment by Pequot Capital Management. The new company will be owned by Pequot Capital investors and Lucent Technologies, which will hold a majority ownership stake. Lucent says it will continue to support the new venture and provide ongoing access to research from the company's Bell Labs research and development unit.
Last week, Burr-Brown Corporation announced the development of the DSD1700, which the company says is its first Direct Stream Digital (DSD) audio digital-to-analog converter. According to Burr-Brown, the converter is designed for Sony's DSD technology, which is used in Super Audio CD players, professional DSD processors, and DSD mixing consoles.
Last week Microsoft entered the Internet audio fray by announcing the release of their Windows Media Technologies 4 platform, which the company claims introduces a "new standard for CD-quality audio" on the Internet. Windows Media includes Windows Media Player, Windows Media Services, Windows Media Tools, and Windows Media Audio SDK.
While all of the attention was on SDMI and watermarking earlier this month, Diamond Multimedia, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC) quietly announced the settlement of all pending litigation related to Diamond's Rio portable Internet music player. (See previous story.) All three parties say they have dismissed their legal actions, and have announced the mutually satisfactory resolution of outstanding legal issues.
Selling consumer-electronics gear over the Web has begun to glow white-hot in the last year, with dozens of companies turning up the competitive burners (see related story). It will likely be a tough business, with the inevitable shake-outs and mergers taking place as retailers test their strategies and brands on the public's pocketbooks.
Time for early-adopter audiophiles to start saving those pennies. Panasonic has just announced delivery dates and suggested pricing for two DVD-Audio players: the Panasonic DVD-A7 and the Technics DVD-A10. Beginning this October, Panasonic says that both models will be shipped to dealers nationwide, with the DVD-A7 retailing at $999.95 and the DVD-A10 checking in at $1199.95.