These are perilous times for the independent audio dealer. With customers being siphoned off by large megastores and, eventually, the Internet, success will favor the dealer with a few clever tricks up his or her sleeve. One of those tricks for dealers in Dallas, Texas is a new group formed by Stephen Slaughter of The Audio Consortium.
Last week, WorldSpace announced that it has launched what it describes as "the world's largest digital audio broadcast system." The new system is based on a satellite radio service that recently began transmitting a wide array of multilingual radio programming across the entire African continent.
Trying to get a grip on where the new high-end audio formats, DVD-Audio and SACD, might be going? A logical place to start might be to check with the factories getting ready to crank out the discs and see how the orders have so far stacked up. After conducting just such a survey, the International Recording Media Association (IRMA) released last week the first projections for next year's worldwide marketplace introduction of DVD-Audio and SACD.
One by one, the name brands of audio are confronting the difficult issue of whether or not to take their products online. Recent brands to join the club include Roksan, Chord Electronics, Harman/Kardon, and PS Audio. Now it's time to add one of audio's deeply rooted loudspeaker marques, Celestion, to the list.
Last week, IBM announced a new device that it says will allow mobile users to add an extra 10 gigabytes (GB) of hard-drive capacity to their notebook PCs. Why is this important to audio fans? IBM is intending the new drive, called the Travelstar E, to primarily appeal to those wanting to take extended music libraries with them on the road.
This may come as no surprise to Stereophile's website audience, but a report released last week finds that the heaviest users of the World Wide Web are also avid consumers of traditional media, listening to CDs and radio and watching television as they point their browsers to e-commerce, informational, and recreational sites.
One of the challenges facing audio equipment manufacturers as we enter the Internet age is how to handle online retailing of products to consumers. A manufacturer that has so far shunned mail-order in favor of bricks-and-mortar retailing runs the risk of alienating its established distribution base by jumping online ("mail order with a web address"), where traditional territorial sales boundaries are often rendered meaningless.
When it comes to power, VTL's Luke Manley is definitely in the "more is better" camp. But when Lonnie Brownell sat down to listen to the VTL ST-85 tube power amplifier, he elected to start with a single amp and go for more power later. Lonnie writes: "How's about I go with just one amplifier for a while? After all, that's what most people would buy, at least at first. Then I can drop in another one and see what that does." But in the end, was one enough? Brownell tells all.
Last week at the Audio Engineering Society Convention in New York City, Sonic Solutions announced that it plans to introduce what it says is the world's first digital audio workstation based on Sony's new Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology. Sonic says that the new system, SonicStudio HD-DSD, is being developed in cooperation with Sony Corporation and will provide the recording industry with a mastering tool for the new Super Audio CD (SACD) format.
Last week, Cirrus Logic unveiled two new Crystal digital-to-analog converters that the company says will support both dueling high-definition audio standards: DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD (SACD). As a result, the new DACs should enable the creation of universal DVD players for both the mass and high-end audio markets. The new DACs are the CS4397 "SuperDAC," which the company describes as a "high-performance audio DAC on a single chip" with 120dB dynamic range performance; and the CS4391, a lower-cost DAC also supporting DVD-Audio and SACD and sporting a 108dB dynamic range.