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High-End Audio Industry News

02 / 11 / 01   to   02 / 28 / 01

(Website Maintenance)

 

02 / 10 / 01

  As strategic partnerships are formed within the audio and music industry, Enjoy the Music.com has  become the undisputed leader in forming alliances with the majority of America's most popular specialty audio magazines while also being the official website and virtual show coverage for the UK's leading print magazine Hi-Fi News. Yesterday's press release pertaining to print magazine Listener coming aboard Enjoy the Music.com also heralded the seventh partnership agreement that joins other leading magazine such as Ultimate Audio, Positive Feedback, The Audiophile Voice, Hi-Fi News, audioMUSINGS and Audiophile Audition.

 

02 / 09 / 01

  Has it really come to this? With the fear of high speed broadband internet connections and the soon to be widely available pure bit-for-bit CD music downloading/exchanging, country music record label Fahrenheit Entertainment announced their first copy-protected CD release. While no "golden eared reviewer" has compared this new technology, the March 20th release of Charley Pride's Tribute to Jim Reeves will have encryption developed by Phoenix-based SunnComm. SunnComm appears to be claiming that this watermarking makes it impossible to digitally copy CDs and DVDs. Odds are hackers will not rush to break this new watermarking system as it appears on a minor release and there is no big financial benefit in breaking the code... yet.

 

 

Liquid AudioThe longstanding pay-for-play online music vendor Liquid Audio has been increasing sales yet still operates at a financial loss. While fourth quarter 2000 revenues increased 25% to $1.8 million as compared to same period last year, so did the losses as it also increased 29% to $10.6 million. Liquid Audio's year ended with $123.8 million in cash in the bank. Looks as though they have some time to prosper as other online ventures are folding like a deck of cards. Speaking of companies that are folding, early 1993 adopter IUMA.com has officially laid off its staff and has now refused taking on any new artists due to the recent lack of funding from parent company EMusic.com (see yesterday's news concerning EMusic.com). As of now only the most minimum of services can be supported by IUMA.com until a new financial backer is found.

 

02 / 08 / 01

Krell KAV-300i (top) and KAV-208cd (bottom)  While recent products have focused on home theater, Krell is now shipping their KAV-300iL integrated amplifier and soon shipping their new KAV-280cd CD player. The KAV-300iL (top) is said to offer audiophiles a high level of sound quality combined with ease of operation. With a power output of 200 wpc into 8 ohms and doubling to 400 wpc into 4 ohms, the high quality amplifier section includes Krell's proprietary Krell output and driver transistors to achieve high current capabilities. The pre-amplification section is operated in "Class A" for utmost fidelity. The KAV-280cd CD player (bottom) also uses "Class A" operation in the analog section while the digital bits are decoded with an 8x DSP-based processor. A total of four individual 24-bit DAC sections are employed to provide wide dynamic range, fast conversion and low noise. The unit can also read CD-Rom and CD-RW discs, plays normal CD and HDCD discs and includes a wireless remote control.

 

 

EMusic.comIn the midst of online music websites scrambling for new CEO leadership, downsizing to reduce loses and overall restructuring, EMusic.com has reported fourth quarter 2000 losses at $191 million dollars compared to losing "only" $14.3 million during the same quarter in the previous year. With only $16 million available in cash and investments, many wonder how long until EMusic.com will go belly up. Of course the usual downsizing recently took place as they laid off 36% of their employees. Meanwhile MTV's online venture, MTVi, has procured a licensing deal with Universal Music Group to offer their music within its online presence in hopes of beefing up their market share.

 

02 / 07 / 01

  Independent labels have been gaining marketshare over the past few years as the major labels seem to be scrambling for their next boy band or fave rave. Below are the top ten independent label albums according to Billboard:

1 Who Let The Dogs Out
Baha Men (S-Curve)
2 Funkmaster Flex: 60 Minutes Of Funk, Volume IV: The Mixtape
Funkmaster Flex (Loud)
3 N.Y.C. Underground Party Volume 3
Louie DeVito (E-Lastik)
4 Little Sparrow
Dolly Parton (Sugar Hill)
5 The Reunion
Capone -N- Noreaga (Tommy Boy)
6 All My Love
Esteban (Daystar)
7 H-N-I-C
Prodigy Of Mobb Deep (Infamous/Violator)
8 Snatch
Soundtrack (TVT Soundtrax)
9 Slipknot
Slipknot (I AM)
10 Eat At Whitey's
Everlast (Tommy Boy)

 

02 / 06 / 01

Manley Laboratories  Manley Laboratories and George Massenburg's GML have announced an alliance where GML will close its current manufacturing facility in Van Nuys California in favor of their new location within the Manly Laboratories facility in Chino California. GML units will be built alongside the award winning Manley and Langevin products currently manufactured at Manley Labs. GML Production Manager Manny Sanchez will supervise the operations. George Massenburg said "I have admired EveAnna Manley's production capability for a long time, but even then I was impressed when I saw her factory for the first time last year. Like the best manufacturers I know, they do just about everything in-house. Metalwork, silk-screening, engraving, printed circuit board manufacture, hand and wave soldering, transformer winding, assembly, all with meticulous quality control. Her team of 40 is highly experienced and efficient. I thought, Why should I be tearing my hair out trying to duplicate this? We should just team up."

"Building the GML outboard gear will be a piece of cake for us as George's manufacturing methods and philosophies are already so much like ours." said CEO of Manley Labs Eveanna Manley. "We already share numerous high-quality component vendors, and even specific parts. GML is the high-end solid-state equivalent to our Manley high-end vacuum tube gear. It fits perfectly. But it's the opportunity to work with George that is really exciting for us."

 

 

DCC Compact Classicstmh audio has been chosen by DCC Compact Classics to provide amplifiers, cabling and loudspeakers for their studio/mastering facility. DCC is well known for their high quality remastering of popular titles onto both CD and 180 gram vinyl with plans for SACD releases coming shortly. DCC has specifically chosen the WAVAC Audio Lab MD-300B amplifier and PR-X1 linestage, the Köchel K200-SW200 loudspeakers and Pure Silver Connection (PSC) silver-alloy air ribbon cables and AC power cords for their facility.

 

 

Famous for their SDMI chosen watermarking technology, Verance has successfully procured $23 million in second round finances to launch their own broadcast services. Constellation Ventures, MMC Capital, Qualcomm and others have invested 23 million in hopes of Verance's new online and wireless media venture. This new service is hoping to deliver cable and local TV plus radio within the top 100 U.S. markets.

 

 

Just a day after Enjoy the Music.com gave statistics for pirated music over the past four years, the RIAA with the cooperation of the Dallas Police Department executed two search warrants this past week on two counterfeiting rings. The estimated total of music they were pirating adds up to over $50 million annually. The alleged illegal CD-R operation located on Bushmills Road in Dallas had the ability to produce 1.9 million CD-Rs per year using 38 CD-R machines. The second counterfeit operation located on Black Hickory Road was capable of making 2.3 million cassette tapes using four duplicating units. "This was an example of top-notch investigative work on the part of the Dallas authorities," said Frank Creighton, senior vice president and director of anti-piracy. "This should send a strong message that no matter the size of the operation, music piracy will not be tolerated and we will find you. We are sure our strong relationship with law enforcement and prosecutors investigating these matters will continue."

 

02 / 05 / 01

  Due to the popularity of our recent reporting on various statistics... According to the RIAA, counterfeit/pirated music from the years 1997 to 2000 are as follows:

Format 1997 1998 1999 2000 AAGR% '97-'00
Cassette 411,179 359,425 125,000 75,000 -43.1
CD 128,798 338,458 140,000 125,000 -1.0
CD-R 87 101,521 310,000 670,000 >100
Total 540,604 799,404 575,000 870,000 17.2

 

For the year 2000, online music sales for CDNow.com is reported to be $150,000,000 while MP3.com has sold $20,000,000. Coming in last within this threesome is Emusic.com who sold only $150,000 in music. 

 

02 / 04 / 01

Napster  Napster seems to be aiming towards a $5 a month subscription rate according to those close to CEO Hank Barry who also mentioned the $5 fee on October 31st, 2000. Meanwhile Vivendi Universal's vice chairman Edgar Bronfman has said the fee would need to be upwards of $15 a month. EMI and Universal have also predicted a $15 fee. With Napster's approximate 57 million users, this would add up to am impressive $3.4 billion each year at $5. Meanwhile Napster and Bertelsmann will generate revenue together as the new Napster software includes a link to Bertelsmann's CDNow website. Furthermore, all this comes as more and more wireless devices are able to connect to the "wireless web" and download and play .mp3 music files. Music lovers can expect everything from hand phones to PDA devices that will include Internet browsing features and music capabilities in the near future.

 

Online Music Stats:

According to Pew Internet Project:

Most music downloaders aren't thieves looking for a free ride like many journalists are proclaiming. Online music downloading has helped to being about many retail sales of music titles. Still, not all who download buy the music they hear.

79% of music downloaders do not pay online for the music they have retrieved on the Internet; 15% say they have bought the music online

21% of online music consumers say they have ended up buying the music on a CD or cassette "most of the time."

29% say they have bought the music on a CD or cassette "some of the time."

19% say they have bought the music on a CD or cassette "only a few times."

26% of music downloaders say they have "never" bought a CD or cassette of the music they have captured online.

86% of music downloaders have downloaded music they had heard before by artists they were already familiar with.

69% of music downloaders have downloaded new music by artists they were already familiar with.

31% of music downloaders have downloaded music by artists they had never heard before.

63% of music downloaders say they have saved 25 or fewer songs to their computer.

19% say they have between 26 and 100 songs on their computer.

10% say they have more than 100 songs on their computer.

22% of Internet users, or about 21 million Americans, have downloaded music online.

54% of music downloaders, or more than 11 million Americans, have used Napster.

45% of music downloaders have used MP3.com.

69% of music downloaders have used Napster, MP3.com, or both.

7% have used Gnutella.

 

Of those adults 18 years or older who download music with internet access:

29% are male

21% are female

33% are Hispanic

30% are Black

24% are white

42% are age 18 to 29

21% are age 30 to 49

14% are ages 50 to 64

36% have a household income of less than $30,000 USD

26% have a household income between $30k and $50k

23% have a household income of between $50K and $75K

21% have a household income more than $75k

 

02 / 03 / 01

Meridian 596  Meridian has just released their new 596 digital disc transport/player. While they seem to be focusing on home theater and MP3 than high quality audio, the 596 ($4,250) plays DVD-Video, CD, VCD, CVCD and MP3 discs. This comes as a surprise to many as their MLP format is part of the DVD-Audio standard. Future upgrades to better audio is possible as the modular design, yet many question why the new Meridian 596 des not play DVD-Audio discs as many manufactures have released their own DVD-Audio players during the past year. Hopefully there will be a DVD-Audio upgrade soon as the module design includes five PCBs which house the control, audio and video decoding and output sections. The 596 employs six-layer PCBs and nine separate power supplies. The quiet active control system is said to maintain the laser at the optimum replay temperature. Being a home theater design, multiple video outputs including Composite, S-Video and Component or RGB. Two versions of the player are available. One using BNC connectors for the Component or RGB connection the other using SCART. An IEC1937 digital audio output is also included to deliver 24-bit/96kHz PCM, Dolby Digital (AC-3) or DTS bitstreams to an outboard digital surround processor. The built-in processor uses 24-bit/192kHz DACs.

Technical Specification

Formats:DVD-Video, CD Audio (CD-DA), CD-R, Video CD (VCD), CVCD, MP3. 

Audio outputs: 1 coax. Digital SPDIF/IEC1937/MHR for transferring PCM up to 96kHz 24-bit or Dolby Digital (AC-3) or DTS bitstreams. 2-channel analog output. 24-bit/192kHz processing. Low jitter due to FIFO and re-clocking scheme. 

Processing: 596 uses DSP software to provide error correction and on-board decoding for Dolby Digital and MPEG Audio. 

Video features: Automatic PAL or NTSC encoding on Composite and S-video. NTSC black-level setup adjustable as 0 or 7.5IRE. 16:9 and 4:3 displays supported. Screen saver timeout. 

Standard output: Composite, S-Video and Component/RGB as above diagram 

SCART variant: In addition to the Composite and S-video connections the SCART socket provides for the following video options: Composite, S-video, RGB, YPrPb (non-standard), Blank (for 2nd zone) and EUROSCART. Additionally SCART has the following features: Function Select to select the SCART input on the TV and automatically switch 16:9/4:3. Analogue output where appropriate. 

Configuration: On-screen menus, including features/options for Disc, Audio, Video, Meridian System and Parental Control. 

Controls: Front-panel controls for Open/Close, Play, Stop, Pause, Previous, Next and Off. Full RS232 control and status for custom integration or automation. 

Front Display: 12 character display. Indicators for CD, DVD, MP3 and Repeat. 

On-screen: Switchable custom on-screen display allows instant review of disc status. 

Dimensions: 88mm (3.46") x 321mm (12.64") x 332mm x (13.07") HxWxD. 

Power: Universal supply 100 - 240V, 50 - 60Hz, 25W. Normally off, automatic low-noise fan cooling.

 

 

As Asia is ahead of the world, including America, in wireless services and various other information deliver systems, Japan's own NTT Communications is set to being their newly improved online music service ArcStarMusic.com on March 1, 2001. NTT's popular DoCoMo service currently offers a music service to its 1.4 million users called M-Stage Music for users of its wireless personal handyphone system (PHS). The first version os ArcStarMusic.com began in April 200 with nine music companies signing on (including major label Warner Music Japan). Their soon to be launched service will allow for downloading and transferring of music files to various portable devices that use SD memory cards. The new ArcStarMusic will include music distribution technology developed by Preview Systems.

 

02 / 02 / 01

  A Dutch developer is being asked to stop offering its open source version of the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) by Dolby Laboratories after they requested the development company cease and desist its actions. This comes as part of the recent lawsuit concerning Menno Bakker, a student of the University of Twente in Holland, who has been distributing source code and software to help other break the security code to then make DVD-Video discs readable and also giving the ability to copy DVD-Video discs via the Linux operating system platform.

 

 

Aimed at the PlayStation 2 crowd, BroadcastDVD will be distributing over 250,000 advertising-supported DVD discs containing 30 bands, 2 hours and 20 minutes of music videos plus 3 hours of music from the DVD magazine titled 750mphDVD during a month long promotion.

 

 

Codec gurus Fraunhofer Institute, best knows for their .mp3 compression technology and soon to be be released MP3Pro as reported on Enjoy the Music.com on our January 2001 News Page, they will be showing a new Bitstream Watermarking audio codecs at the upcoming Paris AES show later this month. The advantages of watermark data allows the copyright owners to track/trace their music files to help thwart counterfeiting and other illegal uses of their property. While Fraunhofer claims their new watermarking codec was designed to achieve the best possible performance while also watermarking the files, we do not know as of this time if there is indeed and audible degrading of the music's signal due to this new watermarking technology.

 

 

And now some statistics:

Music file sharing according to Billboard.com claims that Napster has 48.3 million users while MP3.com has 12 million users.

Stock prices of online music companies has been at an all time low. Below are the stats of various music companies stock prices per share at their all time high and also their January 22nd, 2001 pricing:

Company Stock High Jan. 22nd
EMusic.com $25.93 $0.50
Imix.com

Now out of business

Launch Media $30 $1.87
Liquid Audio $99 $3.42
MP3.com $105 $5.12
MusicMaker.com $250 $5.12
Riffage.com Now out of business
Scour Now out of business

 

02 / 01 / 01

  According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), of which Enjoy the Music.com is a longstanding member of their Citizen Action Network (CEA CAN), the leading members of Congress, top congressional staff, industry leaders, content developers, Internet service providers, musicians and other key players will debate the issues surrounding today's battles over the Internet, copyright and public access to digital content at The Digital Download. This conference, produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), will be held at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on March 6. Subtitled "Public Access to Content in a Digital World," the conference will provide attendees with insight into intellectual property issues in the digital age, as panelists and keynote speakers debate the proper balance between the legitimate rights of copyright owners, the rights of manufacturers who produce new technologies and the rights of consumers to access these technologies.

 

 

When is the music business not about music and more about legal representation within the business? It seems now is the time as the former head of the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division chief Joel Klein has officially been hired by music mogul Bertelsmann. Enjoying a newly created high ranking position with Bertelsmann, seems his only boss is the CEO of the company while Joel Klein has free will with virtually anything he needs to complete his task within the company. What is his first job you ask? To help provide a legal strategy for Bertelsmann with their very challenging merger with EMI and to assist with converting Napster into a subscription service.

 

 

Online music is having a mixed bag as CDNow is laying off approximately 12% of its staff (55 employees within their advertising sales division). Meanwhile MP3.com's fourth-quarter revenues have increased 44% to earn a total of $22 million over the same period last year. While MP3.com's year 2000 revenues of $80.1 million were approximately four times larger than their 1999 figures. Even with the 44% gain in the most recent quarter, the company still experienced a loss of $35.6 million during that time period. Of course this may not be too bad as the net loss for the year 2000 was a staggering $279.5 million. Operating on losses seems to be the way of online music retailer CDNow.


January 2001 News

December 2000 News

November 2000 News

October 2000 News

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June 2000 News

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February/March 2000 News

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December 1999 News

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