It's been a roller coaster ride for satellite radio upstarts Sirius Radio and XM Radio this past week as both companies fortunes shifted yet again. In a classic billion-dollar consumer electronics gamble, Sirius and XM are betting that they can reach critical mass by selling enough specially equiped digital radio receivers through car manufacturers while simultaneously signing up enough subscribers to reach profitability.
Please bear with us a moment here—we know most audiophiles react to MP3-related news with a serious case of ringing ears, but tracing where the lo-fi market is currently headed can be instructive for understanding the distant hi-fi future. And if the new technology previewed last week at Qualcomm's BREW conference in San Diego is any indication, some parts of your audio future may, in fact, be wireless.
Will audio dealers be interested in selling a product that's been available so far only via mail-order? Audio Advisor thinks so, and has created a new distribution company, WS Distributing, to begin selling the Musical Fidelity product line through "qualified" high-end audio dealers in the USA beginning May 21. Musical Fidelity has been available through retailers in Europe and Asia for years, but in the US, only from AA's catalog and website sales.
There is no denying that buying pre-owned high-end gear can easily provide the biggest bang for the audio buck. Many of us got our first glimpse of sonic nirvana after scoring some second-hand component at a fraction of its retail price. Or perhaps you've just bought a new product and need to unload that old classic hanging out in the closet. Stereophile wants to help.
One argument for the record industry's disappointing sales last year is a combination of high prices for official CD releases coupled with cheap prices for computer-based CD recorders and CD-R blanks. It doesn't look like retail CD prices will be coming down anytime soon, but luckily for the music business, CD-R prices are going up.
Amid news that its watermark technology for DVD-Audio may have been compromised, Verance nonetheless announced last week the launch of its "ConfirMedia" watermarking service. The company says that ConfirMedia will monitor and report the airplay of encoded commercials, music, and programs broadcast by television, cable and radio stations in the 100 top US markets and on the national feeds of major broadcast and cable television networks in the US.
Having previous experience working for the CIA or the KGB may be a bonus on the resume of any aspiring audio industry applicant, it seems. In an effort to stymie the illegal copying and distribution of digital song files, record companies and hardware manufacturers have turned to increasingly complicated tracking technologies such as MPEG-4 and watermarking. The most recent addition to the anti-pirate bag of tricks: "fingerprinting."
In the perfect digital future, audiophiles would be able to drink from the purest of high-resolution audio datastreams with no worry that someone upstream had polluted the current. But in the real world, content providers and hardware manufacturers increasingly conspire to dirty the flow a little and limit unauthorized consumption by controlling the technology needed to filter out their toxic additives.
Loudspeaker designer and manufacturer Richard Vandersteen has heard enough: He is embarking on a crusade to right an egregious wrong he sees being perpetuated by the marketing scribes and salesfolk working in the consumer electronics business. Though he was miles away, at his company headquarters in Hanford, CA, his passion for spreading the audiophile word came through the telephone loud and clear.
The EE Times is reporting that the DVD Forum is getting close to finalizing a specification that would allow audio signals to be available via digital outputs on DVD-Audio players. Audiophile frustration with the new DVD-A format has mounted in the months since its introduction, with lack of access to a high-resolution digital signal from players, which currently have analog-only outputs, and the possibility of watermarked discs.