May the Web be with you: You'd think that forward-thinking tech-savvy companies such as those involved in high-end audio would be among the first to get how well the Internet works at spreading the word about their products. In nine cases out of ten, you'd be wrong. Companies introduce new products, upgrade old models, and venture into entirely new technologies without ever changing their websites.
In my report on Red Rose Music's HE2005 debut of the Burwen Bobcat, I complained about the lack of before and after demonstrations of the technology, as well as the difficulty of extracting information about what the product actually did. In the last week, I have received correspondence that sheds light on both cavils.
We Get Letters Department:Stereophile editor John Atkinson recently received the following email from Tony Fisch, the director of corporate development at MusicGiants: "MusicGiants (www.musicgiants.com) will be the first company to offer high-fidelity downloads from all record labels. MusicGiants uses Microsoft WMA 'lossless' codec (450kbps) to preserve 100% of the music. The result is music that sounds just like the artist intended. Finally, real music downloads up to 1100kbps. MusicGiants' downloads will be $1.29 per track, and $15.29 per album.
When audiophiles speak of the pioneers who laid the foundation for their hobby, certain names are spoken with particular reverence: Kellogg, Rice, Klipsch, Voigt, Walker, and Janszen all indisputably make the all-star team. Arthur A. Janszen, like John Hilliard at Altec Lansing, worked on US Navy projects during WWII, but after the war focused on developing an electrostatic speaker for cockpit use in Naval aircraft. The resulting Office of Naval Research Technical Memorandum was groundbreaking in its description of construction techniques and sonic performance, but the Navy declined to develop the project further and, in fact, phased out the developmental aspect of the department.
As I walked through the corridors of HE2005, I kept hearing audiophiles asking one another, "Have you heard Mark Levinson's demo yet?" Yes, that was Mark Levinson, the man, and the Burwen Bobcat was possibly the most discussed item at the Show.
We get so confused department: Officially, it's day one of the show, even though we've already been here a whole day. But—as we keep having to remind ourselves—it's not all about us. Today was the day the showgoers arrived.
Day one of the Home Entertainment Show is always set aside for the press (and "the industry," which is an apparently elastic term meaning "everybody else"), but this year it seems as though there's more press than ever. Every press conference—and there was a steady stream of them—was standing room only and the halls were already thronged with showgoers. It looks like HE2005 is already a hit.
As we enter the week of The Home Entertainment Show (HE2005), you can almost hear the audio industry holding its breath, waiting for the Show's April 28 opening date to announce new products, alliances, and strategies. However, despite the lack of hard news coming across the www.stereophile.com newsdesk this week, we have been receiving almost daily hints concerning the must-hear products and rooms awaiting us at the Hilton New York Hotel.