Barry Willis

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Barry Willis  |  Dec 19, 2013  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1998  |  0 comments
666systemau.1.pngDenmark has probably contributed more to loudspeaker technology than any other country in the world. Vifa, Dynaudio, ScanSpeak, and Peerless drivers—used in a huge variety of speakers—are all Danish. Products from companies such as JBL, Spendor, Linn, B&W, Celestion, KEF, Audio Physic, ProAc, and others are partially or wholly made in the little Scandinavian nation.

System Audio originated in 1984, when guitarist and electronics technician Ole Witthoft grew dissatisfied with the lack of realism he heard from most home audio systems and figured he could do better. He built some speakers for himself and for a few friends, with encouraging results. It's a familiar story: we all know competent hobbyist speaker builders. A few of them gain a bit of local notoriety, but most never venture further than making a few units for friends and relatives.

But Witthoft's reputation grew rapidly, and so did his business. Fourteen years later, his little startup has become a serious player in the loudspeaker market, with annual production in excess of 18,000 units.

Barry Willis  |  Aug 01, 1998  |  0 comments
In the children's fable, Chicken Little, the archetypal alarmist, induced fear and panic in his community by running amok and shouting, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" The hysterical fowl has many relatives among journalists and economists, who regularly issue dire warnings about the forthcoming Year 2000 problem.
Barry Willis  |  Aug 01, 1998  |  0 comments
The intentional deafening of monkeys by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco has provoked a strongly worded protest by Paul McCartney. In a letter dated July 6, McCartney complained to UCSF Chancellor Michael Bishop that "there can be no excuse for inflicting such misery" on animals used in such experiments. The letter was the latest salvo fired in a controversy going back to early February.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 26, 1998  |  0 comments
As digital distribution grows, the protection of copyrighted material---music, film, video, photographic images, paintings, drawings, and text---becomes ever more important. Tied to this are widespread concerns about maintaining security during online transactions---keeping credit-card numbers and customers' identities hidden from would-be thieves.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 25, 1998  |  0 comments
The DAC performance envelope has been pushed further by Burr-Brown Corporation. The Tucson semiconductor company has just announced the commercial release of its new PCM-1704, an ultra-high-quality digital/analog converter chip boasting a 120dB signal/noise ratio. The new chip supersedes the company's PCM-1702, a DAC found in many high-end products and widely considered the state of the art.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 18, 1998  |  0 comments
Canton, MA-based Tweeter Home Entertainment Group (NASDAQ: TWTR) has gone public. Last Thursday, July 16, the East Coast audio and video retailer launched an initial public stock offering of 2.71 million shares at an offering price of $17/share.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 18, 1998  |  0 comments
Are order and justice coming to the lawless frontier of the Internet? The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers has a new tool for cracking down on unauthorized use of copyrighted material on the Internet. Developed by Online Monitoring Services, EZ-Seeker is "web crawler" software that tracks down music and then issues license forms to the users of that music. The announcement followed by less than a week the news (see previous report) of the Recording Industry Association of America's $750,000 settlement from makers of unauthorized "DJ compilations" of hit songs.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 12, 1998  |  0 comments
The Recording Industry of America's ongoing pursuit of music pirates bore fruit last week on Tuesday, July 7, when the organization collected $750,000 in settlements from three companies that had produced and marketed CD compilations of hit records. The RIAA also received $20,000 in restitution from Lloyd Schiffres, owner of Top Hat Productions, a disc-jockey supply house. Schiffres, who has been arrested three times, handed over 31 sets of his For DJs Only compilations.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 12, 1998  |  0 comments
The High End has reached a new low, one characterized by "existential angst." That's how Lawrence M. Fisher of the New York Times describes the industry's ongoing malaise. In a well-researched and well-written piece that appeared last Thursday, July 9, Fisher cites "demographic and economic issues beyond its control and technological trends that threaten its very relevance." He mentions the economic crisis in Asia---destination for a large proportion of American high-end audio products---as a major contributing factor to the stagnation in which much of the industry is mired.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 05, 1998  |  0 comments
The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association's recently released U.S. Consumer Electronics Industry Today indicates a healthy glow on the cheeks of specialty audio. US exports of component audio products amounted to $2.12 billion in 1997, an increase of 12% over the previous year's total of $1.89 billion. 1997's total represents a 25% increase over 1995, when almost $1.7 billion in separate audio products went out of the country. The figures are compiled by CEMA from US Department of Commerce figures.