Jonathan Scull  |  Jul 08, 1999  |  0 comments
One room at the 1999 CES in Las Vegas that knocked me for a loop was the Avalon/Classé installation mentioned in my April show report. Classé had just debuted the Omega preamp, the companion piece to the Omega amplifier I reviewed in March. It proved a very suave, musical, and high-performance marriage.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jul 08, 1999  |  0 comments
The patter of the snare drum began softly and I leaned forward in my seat. Avery Fisher Hall fell silent as Riccardo Muti led the New York Philharmonic in Ravel's Boléro. Ravel once described this masterpiece as "lasting 17 minutes and consisting wholly of orchestral texture without music—of one long, very gradual crescendo." Though the hall was silent and expectant, the stage was packed with musicians waiting for...what? To gradually join in, one by one and layer by layer, to drive that gentle but relentlessly mounting crescendo. Ravel accomplished this by "having solo instruments play the melody...[then progressing] to groups" and finally "arranging the scoring so that the dynamics are self-regulating" (footnote 1). When the final, thunderous E-major chord stopped the piece by locking "all its harmonic gears," the hall erupted in ecstatic applause, and we all leapt to our feet.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 04, 1999  |  0 comments
Folk wisdom has it that it's wiser not to lock the gate after the horses have escaped. The Secure Digital Music Initiative, a consortium of 140 music, software, and hardware companies, has taken that adage to heart. In a significant departure from its original intent to block the distribution of free music on the Internet, the Secure Digital Music Initiative announced in the last week of June that its forthcoming specification for music software and hardware will accommodate the "legacy content" already in existence. There are reportedly as many as 500,000 songs available in the MP3 format, and they will continue to be available even as new, robustly encrypted music comes onto the market.
Stereophile Staff  |  Jul 04, 1999  |  0 comments
Want to start an argument on one of the audio newsgroups? Just mention ABX. Doesn't matter if you're for it, against it, or just curious about what it is---you'll start a fire that might take weeks to burn out. But before audio newsgroups even existed, J. Gordon Holt was probing the usefulness of the ABX Comparator in an "As We See It" column from 1982, "The Truth Should Out." His thoughts might surprise you.
Jon Iverson  |  Jul 04, 1999  |  0 comments
It's been 30 years since hordes of wild-eyed music lovers converged on White Lake, a small town just north of New York City, for an event that would soon become an icon for a generation. Could anyone back then have imagined that, three decades later, Woodstock would cost $150/ticket and evolve into a marketing opportunity and website?
Barry Willis  |  Jul 04, 1999  |  0 comments
If Lydstrom, Inc. has anything to do with it, the next hot ticket in home audio won't be just another CD player, but a musical database manager capable of organizing and playing as many as 5000 songs, from CDs or from Internet downloads. The Boston, Massachusetts-based company announced June 30 that it has licensed Lucent Technologies' Enhanced Perceptual Audio Coder (ePAC) for inclusion in a product as yet unnamed but projected to be available by Christmas 1999.
Stereophile Staff  |  Jul 04, 1999  |  0 comments
Loudspeaker designer Bill Eggleston has joined Cello Technologies Corporation. He will oversee the development of a new line of no-compromise loudspeakers, according to a company press release dated July 1. Eggleston designed the Andra loudspeaker, which was designated Stereophile's "Product of the Year" for 1997.
Stereophile Staff  |  Jul 04, 1999  |  0 comments
Last week, Texas Instruments, Liquid Audio, Fraunhofer, and SanDisk announced that they've teamed to offer what they describe as "the first complete solution" for the secure downloading of music off the Internet onto portable audio players. The companies say that their programmable DSP-based technology is the first to meet the newly released Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) guidelines for digital music portable devices, and is now available for manufacturers who want to develop secure players in time for Christmas 1999.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 03, 1999  |  0 comments
At a hi-fi show in Germany a few years ago, an audio club had set up a room filled with a dozen well-known turntable/tonearm combos. I recall seeing the Clearaudio/Souther, Immedia RPM-2 and arm, VPI TNT Mk.IV/JMW Memorial, Basis 2500/Graham 2.0, Oracle/Graham, Linn LP12/Ittok, SME Model 20/SME V, and some others I can't remember, including a few not exported from Germany.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 29, 1999  |  0 comments
After establishing a reputation for building small, magnificent-looking, very expensive, stand-mounted loudspeakers, the Italian manufacturer Sonus Faber has hit the ground running. First came the moderately priced ($3500/pair) floorstanding Concerto Grand Pianos, and now the company's "statement" loudspeaker, the Amati Homage--a $20,000/pair visual stunner that earns its keep almost by looks and touch alone.