CD changers holding hundreds of discs at a time have found their place in a sizable percentage of consumer homes, and have proven especially useful in the custom installation market. Fans of these mega-changers love to drop their discs into one place, never having to crack open a CD case again. Drawbacks, however, include not being able to easily move the disc from home to car or portable, and the mechanical whirring and clanking the machines make as they slowly plow through the user's playlist.
Tired of the controversy over whether expensive audio cables might make a difference in your system? The best approach would likely be to try a few sets with your own equipment and room and see for yourself. But cost has prevented more than a few audiophiles from spending quality time with the pricey stuff.
Remember FM radio's effect on college campuses years ago? Free music, usually without commercials (college stations are largely non-profit), and very flexible playlists made or broke new bands. Fast-forward to 2000. Students now spend most of their time downloading MP3 files for free over the Internet for playback on their computers. As before, new artists often benefit from this phenomena, but record companies are increasingly seeing the students as pirates rather than consumers.
Waiting for the Holy Grail of DVD-Audio? Even with players still distant on the horizon, one can now begin building a DVD-Audio music library with discs compatible with current DVD-Video players. At least that's the strategy offered at the recent High End 2000 show in Frankfurt, Germany this past week.
Last year, Stereophile's Barry Willis took a trip to Ogden, Utah, to report on what was then a secret speaker project being conducted by Kimber Kable's Ray Kimber and designer Eric Alexander. After informal listening, Willis noted that, while not being able to completely nail down what the "under development" DiAural crossover circuitry was doing, something new was certainly in the air.
When we received notice several days ago from Panasonic that the company was finally releasing its DVD-Audio players next month, we filed the press release for a couple of days to see if it would last the week (see previous story). Apparently, the products are still a go. Panasonic says it will offer a full line of DVD-Audio/Video models under both the Panasonic and Technics brand names, with the first units arriving in stores in July. As previously announced back in August 1999, the Panasonic DVD-A7 will have a suggested retail price of $999.95, and the Technics DVD-A10 will have an SRP of $1199.95.
Last week, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced that it is working to establish a single standard for high-data-rate home networking using the powerlines already installed in consumers' homes. Stating that it is "recognizing the need for a baseline technology standard," the CEA says it has invited integrated-home-systems industry stakeholders to participate in the creation of a standard for residential powerline networks, to be completed by year's end.
In an effort to smooth the way for websites that wish to legally reproduce copyrighted music, BMI announced last week that it has now become the world's largest online digital rights management company with the launch of its Digital Licensing Center (DLC) and "Klick-Thru" online copyright licensing system. The company says that the DLC is intended to help Internet companies digitally obtain a music-performance license through BMI.com, allowing them to publicly "perform" any of BMI's 4.5 million copyrighted works from its 250,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers.
In hopes of stoking the multichannel DVD-Audio engine, Burr-Brown announced last week the PCM1604 audio digital-to-analog converter, which they describe as a high-performance, 6-channel audio DAC featuring 24-bit capability and 192kHz sampling, for use in a "wide variety of multichannel audio applications."
It's been an up-and-down week for consumer-electronics companies, as revealed by recent earnings reports surfacing around the globe. First, the bad news: Sony reports that its profits fell 32% in the latest fiscal year, and cites the strong yen for depressing the value of the consumer-electronics and entertainment company's overseas earnings.