For the last several months, the major record labels have been ramping up what some have viewed as a stealth assault on their customers by increasingly deploying technology that restricts the use of audio CDs (see previous). While an increasing number of music fans have been crying foul, one consumer has decided to fight back in court.
For many audiophiles, the reasonably priced "universal" DVD-Audio/SACD/CD player is the magic combination that will trigger a jump into the new high-resolution audio formats. As an answer to those universal player prayers, Wolfson Microelectronics, UK–based developer of audio ICs for multimedia and communications applications, announced the introduction of two new six-channel audio DAC chips last week—one of which brings the contentious formats together in one box.
Classical music fans will be happy to learn that Vivendi Universal has decided to give two of its classical labels a state-of-the-art web facelift. Decca and Philips Classics are combining their resources and launching a single new site this month designed by trendy web developer Razorfish.
Music lover Dennis Cassidy had an itch years ago to start an audiophile label dedicated to releasing the particular kinds of music he liked with the best vinyl and packaging available. Cassidy was involved with music distributor Sound Advice at the time, which sold the standard audiophile favorites from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, and others.
Don't smirk, but a lot of audiophiles, including this writer and our esteemed editor John Atkinson, spend a considerable amount of time listening to music on their computers, especially at work. In fact, the results from our recent online poll about computers and listening habits indicate that at least 60% of our readers listen this way as well, with half of those using their PCs for music playback "quite often."
There are only a few short days left, but once again, audiophiles can help themselves and others at the same time by participating in The Cable Company's sixth annual "Summer Against Hunger" campaign. The Cable Company (and www.usedcable.com), along with several manufacturers and audiophile publications, have set up a program by which they offer to donate up to 10% of August sales to CARE and the International Rescue Committee, these contributions to be used to assist the worldwide disaster relief efforts of those humanitarian organizations.
Maybe it's because those Yanks are so contentious, but it appears that most of the initial CD copy-protection activity is taking place in Europe (see previous). Last week, Phoenix, AZ–based SunnComm announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with Sonopress of Germany for implementation of its MediaCloQ technology in manufacturing facilities located all over Europe.
While Napster was thriving a few short months ago, the music business was noisily seething and quietly plotting. How could they put the digital audio genie back into the content-control bottle? Although Napster has since been gutted, the labels have identified the unprotected CD as the source of their woes, and now it's payback time.
Last week, InterTrust Technologies, which creates Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, and format developer DataPlay announced a partnership intended to create a portable media distribution platform for protected content such as music. Universal Music Group, EMI Recorded Music, and BMG Entertainment have all announced that they are planning to release prerecorded music on the resultant DataPlay digital format for use in a variety of consumer electronic devices.
Although the deal was announced by both companies only weeks ago, it appears that Audio Advisor will in fact not be distributing Musical Fidelity products in the US after September 1. In AA's place, Musical Fidelity has chosen Kevro International as the exclusive US distributor for its complete line of electronic products. According to Kevro International spokesperson Kathy Ginn, "Musical Fidelity [has] chosen to market [its] products through independent specialists rather than [continue] their previous approach [of distributing the line] through mail order and the Internet. And, unfortunately, AA will no longer be a dealer."