Computer Audio News from MusicMatch, Xing, and Philips

In an effort to make computers more useful as audio systems, MusicMatch and Xing Technology recently announced MusicMatch Jukebox, a digital audio management software program for the consumer market.

According to the companies, MusicMatch Jukebox ($29.99) allows users to build collections of "CD-quality" digital music on their PCs, consisting of music downloaded over the Internet and tracks recorded from music CDs. Customers can use the program to organize the files into a digital audio database on their PC, and use it to create customized play lists. The Jukebox music can be played through PC sound systems or through conventional stereo systems connected to a computer.

According to Dennis Mudd, president of MusicMatch, "MusicMatch Jukebox now lets people easily turn their PCs into powerful components of their home stereo systems. By letting users combine their downloaded music with music from their CD libraries, MusicMatch makes it a lot easier for people to build a valuable music collection on their PCs."

MusicMatch Jukebox allows users to digitally extract tracks from their music CD libraries, and save them to their PC Jukebox as MP3-compressed files. Approximately 300 average-length tracks can be saved this way on a single gigabyte of disk space.

Customers can also add music downloaded from the Internet into their MusicMatch Jukebox digital collections. According to MusicMatch, users can currently select from a blues-focused catalog of downloadable tracks licensed from Blind Pig Records. Users also have the option of adding MPEG tracks from other downloadable music sites such as and

The program organizes all the customer's digital tracks, whether recorded from a CD or downloaded from the Internet, into a music database. Each track can then be tagged with a profile identifying the artist, album, track name, music genre, tempo, mood, situation, and preference rating. Customers can sort their databases by any of these criteria, and click on the desired track to add it to a playlist. Customers can also input a profile describing the music they'd like to hear, and MusicMatch Jukebox will automatically create the matching playlist.

The player supports MP2, MP3, and Real Audio formats, and allows users to combine tracks from each format into a single integrated playlist.

In other computer news, Philips recently announced that it will more than double manufacturing capacity of CD-ReWritable (CD-RW) drives and components to at least 5 million drives per year by the end of 1998.

Philips currently manufactures CD-RW drives and components in Belgium and Hungary. Additional investments are scheduled to expand current facilities and to establish new manufacturing locations in Southeast Asia.

"The growth of the worldwide CD-RW market has been phenomenal---from less than 1 million units in 1996 to more than 7 million units in 1998," said Mikel Dodd, Chairman and CEO of Philips Optical Storage. "Considering that the supply of CD-RW drives industry-wide has been limited for the past two years, we still may be underestimating actual end-user demand by a significant factor."

According to Dodd, the increased demand for CD-RW drives can be attributed to growing end-user awareness of CD-RW's universal value in information storage and interchange. In addition, Philips expects major PC manufacturers to begin offering CD-RW drives as standard storage options in the near future.

CD-RW drives can read audio CDs and CD-ROM titles, and store information on cheaper CD-R discs and on newer CD-ReWritable media. CD-R discs are compatible with older CD-ROM drives and with the new generation of MultiRead-compatible CD and DVD devices. MultiRead-compatible CD and DVD drives also can read CD-RW discs.