With our pre-event and live coverage of the Las Vegas CES and T.H.E. Show complete, we will soon be posting additional reports in the days to come. There was a very upbeat feeling this year as worldwide economic stability helps consumer confidence. Also apparent at the show were some very impressive products from China. Decades ago many of us recall the words 'Made In Japan' meant less than the very high reputation they enjoy today. The same can now be said for China. This is not to say other countries should be discounted or ignored.
Made in America, the UK, Italy, and other places also have merit. There appears to be no single country with a solid advantage over another. America is respected for craftsmanship and technology. Hopefully you have enjoyed the stunning handcrafted wood wrapped loudspeaker creations from Italy. Then there is UK's Naim and Linn, two manufacturers that are right at the cutting edge of high-end with new products to fill retailers shelves. The 2006 Las Vegas shows truly brought to the forefront that the United States and Britain are no longer the sole providers of high-end audio gear. United States manufacturer of both high-end audio and professional gear Manley Labs had a shirt at the show that said "Made in Chino, not China," as the word play was for retailers that know the quality of Manley Labs' Chino California facility can produce.
The hardware side had the usual bizz, yet this year it was various software that also took center stage in a higher than usual amount. Sure Blu-ray hardware was being launched, though the very few software titles for Blu-ray being what they are, i have decided to write about music. For those who have decided analog is not their cup of tea, simply skip down to the section titled Digital Downloads.
Within one hour after the Classic Records press conference, Enjoy the Music.com® had all the details available online. Am sure you are familiar with the many classical, jazz, and rock titles available on vinyl from Classic Records. This year's press conference demonstrates how strong the market is for vinyl as many new products will be available for analog lovers around the world! And we must remember that Classic Records is but one of many companies offering vinyl in 2006.
Of course software is great, provided there is hardware to support it. Unlike digital formats with their perceptible limited lifespan as upgrade-itus and better decoding chips become available, turntables have enjoyed decade after decade of success. At the 2006 show were many new turntables, tonearms, and cartridges. There were so many new analog products that it would take more days than the show allows to properly cover them all! As an analog junkie myself, with over 8,000 records, three turntables, four cartridges, five phonostages.... my love for analog is quite obvious. Proprietary formats like Sony's SACD, or the industry standard DVD-Audio, are perhaps more fleeting. This is especially true as compared to their vinyl counterpart.
The Hobby As An Active Sport
Unlike digital formats, analog provides us all the ability to either 'set and forget' or truly delve deep into tweaks. Sure you could freeze your digital discs or use some type of cleaning/polishing agent in hopes of enhancing your musical pleasures. There are also demagnetizers that may make sense and are cheaply obtained at Radio Shack/Tandy. There are also digital disc copy device and edge cutters too. Lest we not forget Super Secret Magic Chips for those who may have more money than brains in this writer's opinion. But when it comes to digital, you can not really make laser changes on the fly or other tweaks. At least not the normal audiophile.
Without a doubt analog probably holds strong and King for the ability of tweaking. So many variables, and most of them are free for the trying! We analog lovers can adjust tracking force, the weight applied by the needle to the vinyl surface. Another tweak is adjusting vertical tracking angle, the angle of the tonearm from pivot point to where the needle rests on the vinyl. Of course the alignment of the needle as it travels the vinyl grooves is also paramount, and adjustable witha simple screwdriver. Then there is the accuracy of the turntable platter's speed. Adjusting all the above parameters are free, and we here at Enjoy the Music.com® offer a cartridge alignment tool and speed strobe discs (click here) at no cost!
Then there are vinyl disc and cartridge cleaners, various mats you place on the turntable between the platter and the vinyl record, center clamps, tonearm wraps... Some manufacturers such as Linn and Clearaudio offer well thought-out upgrade paths for their products, so as finances permit you can enhance your hardware. There are many other analog tweaks i have not begun to cover! So many variables, in fact, that it makes the digital counterpart seem less interactive... and boring.
With that said, how soon will it be until many online music services offer uncompressed, or lossless, music downloads? Sure there are a few online retailers who offer that today, but how soon until all of them follow suit? And once that is widely available, how soon until competition dictates higher than CD audio downloads? Competition is fierce in this day and ago of the Internet. Being able to offer music lovers better than CD music downloads may play a key part of their market expansion. Audiophiles need not go to a store to try and find some obscure title, or buy an entire disc to enjoy a single song.
How many of you have certain higher than CD audiophile discs, only to play a single track or two? Now what if that same track was only one dollar and you could download it. Add to that the fact many other great songs from other higher than CD resolution discs were available so that you could enjoy ten songs for the same price of a single hard format disc that merely had two songs you desired.
Format Of Choice