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High-End Audio Industry News

5 / 25 / 00

502D  For those who remember Ray Kimber's interesting demonstration of his DiAural loudspeaker technology will be pleased to know that EdgeAudio.Com has introduced their 500D Series 5.1-channel system which incorporates the revolutionary DiAural circuit in a mid-priced product. As with things internet, the system is only available through the EdgeAudio.Com website with a "30-day no-risk purchase plan". To quote their press release "The DiAural circuit replaces a conventional crossover with proprietary, patent-pending circuitry to produce a phase-coherent sound, free of the distortion and sonic artifacts created by traditional crossovers. The 500D Series was designed by DiAural inventor and EdgeAudio.Com VP, Product Development, Eric Alexander, to equal the performance of high-end systems but at a far more affordable price." Priced at $1,399 for the complete 5.1-channel system, it features high quality Vifa drivers mounted in walnut and other hardwood cabinets.

"We set out to build great-sound speakers that could be sold at affordable prices," explained Bob Lightman, President of EdgeAudio.Com. "After hearing the obvious sonic difference DiAural circuitry makes, we quickly decided to be the first to market this revolutionary technology in a mid-priced system."

"Our decision to forego retail distribution and sell only on the Web resulted from several factors, but provides two key customer benefits," explained Lightman. "First, by eliminating the retail markup we can offer our customers tremendous value. And second, by allowing our customers to evaluate our speakers in their own home, with their own equipment, we believe that they are able to make a better-informed purchase decision."

Audiophile cable maker Ray Kimber and WordPerfect founder Bruce Bastian formed DiAural, LLC of Ogden, Utah in 1999. "EdgeAudio.Com's quality and pricing makes it an ideal company to introduce DiAural technology to the mass market," said DiAural President Ray Kimber. "The DiAural circuit dramatically enhances the excellent sound of the Edge Audio 500D speakers by eliminating what I call Doppler Decoding."

 

Sony will soon be feeling the heat from their non-standard proprietary SACD format as the industry-approved standard DVD-Audio goes into full launch. Both Panasonic and Technics will be releasing a few models which will reach store shelves around July and priced around $1,000. Offering upwards of 192kHz/24-bit, 2-channel audio or up to 6 channels of multi-channel sound and 74 minutes or more of play time, DVD-Audio is set to become the true new standard as approved by the WG-4. In fact a new 12 volt audio mobile DVD-Audio/Video head unit by Panasonic, model CQ-DVR909, will offer DVD-Audio support for those who enjoy top quality mobile audio sound. Availability is expected for July with pricing set at $1999.95.

 

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is once again feeling the heat as many musical artists feel they are catering to the Big 5 labels and not the individual artists needs. The RIAA lobbists were able to sneaking in a "work for hire" clause in an amendment months back. These simple words allows record companies long-term ownership whereas without this clause a musical artist could reclaim the rights to their performance after 35 years. Sheryl Crow and other artists (plus letters from Billy Joel and Jimmy Buffett) will appear before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property in opposition to an RIAA-initiated change to copyright law made last year. Sheryl Crow's attorney Jay Cooper said "If artists recapture the ownership of their masters, they have the right to exploit them that can be worth fortunes." Mitch Glazier, chief lobbyist for the RIAA, countered that the amendment was a clarification, not a major change. "The amendment was made to list sound recordings specifically (as works for hire) to make clear they're eligible, even though they already were eligible under the collective work category."

 

 

5 / 24 / 00

Napster  Add a new lawyer to the Napster saga... and 15 million dollars! Napster's new CEO, Hank Barry, is very familiar with Napster and has been a lawyer for some time as well. Added to the mix is new funding to the amount of $15 million from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners whose portfolio also includes the likes of the streaming audio company Liquid Audio, Inc.

"According to a recent poll, over 70 percent of all college students have used Napster's software and 19.2 percent use it everyday." Hank Barry continues "With over 10 million registered users within its first nine months, Napster's file sharing application has become the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of the Internet."

 

I-JamMicrosoft Corp. has added two more notches to it's Windows Media Player format. First is I-Jam whose portable music player is now plays the Windows Media Audio format. This new model offers 16MB of memory and will retail for around $139 in July while the 32MB version is $179 and be available in August. Retailers Best Buy, Musicland, Sears, and other will be offering the I-Jam for sale.

Microsoft Corp.'s second triumph is in securing a deal with German label edel music AG. Soon they will be streaming various titles from their indepth catalog. Edel Music AG has distribution in over fifteen countries including North America, Latin America and Asia. Musical artists Ace of Base, Goo Goo Dolls, Sash!, Scooter and Public Enemy are just a few who this label offers. Of course German artists like Echt, Bluemchen and Stefan Raab are also on the edel music AG label. 

"Microsoft Windows Media Format meets our needs for streaming and secure downloads of music on the Internet," said Michael Haentjes, founder and chief executive officer of edel music AG. "Its quality, reach and security plus Microsoft's support and expertise will help us bring our music online in a flexible and secure way." edel music AG claims to be the largest European-based independent record company.

 

Famed wife to now deceased alternative icon Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Courtney Love, is now seeking a legal remedy to relieving herself and her band Hole from their record contract with major label Geffen Records. To quote Courtney "I want to go down in the books as the one that freed the slaves." She is referring to the many musical artists who feel they have been abused by major labels and now want to break free from their "unfair" contractual agreements. As more and more musicians are realizing the internet's potential and how they can market and sell their goods accordingly, they feel there is no need for associating themselves with major labels and the associated politics and pitfalls. Other musicians who seem to share the same basic opinion as Courtney are the Black Crowes, Jimmy Page, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Don Henley, Metallica and 'N Sync to name a few.

Being the good label, lawyers from Geffen filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court this January seeking, among other things, damages and a permanent injunction preventing the band from taking its musical services elsewhere. While there is always a settlement of some sort, Courtney Love claims she is not interested in a settlement and wants a definitive legal outcome. ''The last thing the labels need is bad precedent being set,'' says Arnold P. Peter, senior counsel at law firm Littler Mendelson and a former counsel at Universal Studios. ''Studios and labels are very concerned about bad PR.''

 

5 / 18 / 00

Lexicon MC-1  One of the most respected names in surround sound/digital home theater processors, Lexicon, is now offering a new trade-in policy. Effective April 3, 2000 through June 16, 2000 customers can trade in any home theater product for credit towards the purchase of Lexicon's new MC-1 or DC-2 Digital Surround Processor. By simply bringing in your old home theater equipment to an authorized Lexicon dealer and and you are instantly given a credit ranging from $500 - $1,000 towards a DC-2/dts or $1,000 - $2,000 towards a MC-1 (pictured right), determined by the equipment's original MSRP.

 

B&W LoudspeakerOne of Britain's most respected loudspeaker manufactures, B&W Loudspeakers, has added a new amplified subwoofer to their ASW line. The B&W ASW 2500 measures just 12x12x15 inches and weighing 50 lb. is claimed to "offer bass extension and bottom-octaves musical performance that equals it's late, much larger ASW 2000 sibling." Chris Browder, B&W's Executive Vice President said "We are very much aware that B&W has numerous customers who demand the very best performance available, but who also require the most space-saving design possible." Chris continues "Many of these folks simply cannot consider a large, high-performance sub. That's who we created the ASW 2500 for: performance-conscious audiophiles and serious home theater fans who demand big, fully extended, powerful bass but are unable to accommodate a conventionally sized high-end sub. The new model's remarkable size lets it ‘disappear' into the room in a way that larger, conventional woofers simply can't do."

The new ASW 2500 occupies far less than one-third the volume of B&W's previously impressive 12-inch ASW 2000 though claims to have useful low frequency output down to 18 Hz. The ASW 2500 employs a 10-inch driver made of a particularly strong blend of Kevlar and natural fibers results in extreme stiffness. The ASW 2500's internal electronics employ a single, bass-optimized power amp channel with 1KW capability for transient low-frequency events. The B&W ASW 2500 is finished in black ash and cherry vinyl woodgrain, with black cloth grille and the MSRP is $1,400.

 

NapsterIn the news again is Napster who has been once again asked by a major musical artist to remove users from their system. Those of you who have been following our extensive coverage of these events will remember how Metallica recently asked for over 300,000 names be removed from their system. Now rapper Dr. Dre has asked for more than 230,000 screen names be removed from their system. After removing the over 300,000 names Metallica supplied, over 30,000 persons claiming they were misidentified as copyright infringers by Metallica has fired back at being removed from the system. As Enjoy the Music.com has also reported earlier, some of this does not matter as many people are simply removing the software and reinstalling it and registering under a different screen name. 19-year-old Shawn Fanning. "The fact that so many people have come forward and disputed Metallica's accusation that they did not break the law demonstrates that this is not a black and white issue," he said in a statement.

 

5 / 17 / 00

  Online music is hotter than ever! Below is the official Nielsen//NetRatings (partnership between Nielsen Media Research, ACNielsen eRatings.com and NetRatings, Inc.) for the month of April 2000 as compared to the previous month.

WindowsMedia.com  +151.3 percent 

sonicnet.com  +78.9 percent 

audiohighway.com  +67.7 percent 

mPulse.com  +62.1 percent 

mp3mp4.com  +59.2 percent 

mp3board.com  +42.3 percent 

Napster.com  +39.8 percent 

SonyMusic.com  +28.3 percent 

LiquidAudio.com  +19.2 percent

 

BMIWould you like to license BMI music for your business? If so, you can now go online and access a license agreement at http://bmi.com. To quote their agreement on the internet "This system will allow you to electronically enter into a binding license agreement with BMI, for which you will be held responsible, so that you can publicly perform any and all of the more than 4,500,000 musical works in the BMI repertoire." With Napster and mp3.com thriving, it should only be a matter of time before the other major labels wake up to licensing their music for digital download via the internet.

 

5 / 16 / 00

Best Buy  Consumer electronics and music software retailer Best Buy Co., Inc. is soon going to be selling music online for digital download of about 8,500 artists on 1,400 labels in the Liquid Audio format on their website at www.BestBuy.com. Scott Young, vice president and general manager of entertainment for BestBuy.com said "BestBuy.com intends to offer our customers the best possible online shopping experience, including the broadest assortment of downloadable music," Scott continues "(The company) has a unique opportunity to impact the entertainment and technology markets. We look forward to working with music and technology companies to provide our customers the best possible experience for digital music."

 

As more and more musicians are waking up to the joys of independence from their major record label contracts (and the internet), Herbie Hancock has been joined by producer David Passick and former Verve Records president Chuck Mitchell to start their very own record label called Transparent Music. The company will generally focus on adult alternative pop/rock and world music, adult R&B and contemporary jazz. The new label's first CD Soul Conversation is a jazz-funk title while their second CD due out in June, Like A Brother, is a pop/rock title. "Music is always developing, but the marketing of music is radically changing," said Hancock, Passick and Mitchell in a joint statement. "Transparent Music has been created to nurture artists and projects that major labels can't focus on. We're going to use all of the media tools available to use in order to enrich the mix of what's commercially possible in the next century."

 

5 / 11 / 00

Klipsch  One of the leaders and longtime manufacture of horn loudspeakers Klipsch is now offering their unique Synergy Custom Series that are claimed to sonically match their Synergy Series powered tower, floorstanding, bookshelf, center channel, surround and subwoofer counterparts. What makes this new series unique is the square Tractrix Horn included with these new models. The proprietary pivoting square Tractrix used in the Synergy Series in-wall models provide smoother response and a more consistent coverage pattern across the board. To quote the press release "Each Klipsch square Tractrix Horn has a consistent 90° x 60° coverage pattern and delivers realistic spatial imaging, smooth, neutral musical reproduction and minimal sonic coloration."

"It's simple. People want more choice and better performance from their home theater and distributed sound configurations," Jacobs said. "The Klipsch Synergy Series and the all new Synergy Custom Series offer a true continuum of high performance loudspeakers that utilize the same advanced technology, the same high-grade materials and the same good-looking industrial design. No other manufacturer can say that."

Some of the standard materials and technics for this new line include the use of aluminum diaphragms, injected graphite cones with rubber surrounds, cast polymer frames and phase-aligned drivers. The three Synergy Custom Series in-ceiling products — SCR-1 5.25" two-way, SCR-2 6.5" two-way and SCR-3 8" two-way — feature a newly developed 1-inch 360 degree rotating aluminum dome Tractrix Horn tweeter and a –3dB tweeter attenuation switch that is accessible from the front baffle.

The three Synergy Custom Series in-wall products — SCW-1 5.25" two-way, SCW-2 6.5" two-way and SCW-3 8" two-way feature this new 5.25" square Tractrix horn that rotates +/- 10 degrees in the horizontal plane. The is the first commercial horn-loaded design of its kind in the marketplace.

The Synergy Custom Series loudspeakers retail at:
* SCR-1 5.25" two-way in-ceiling, $330/pr. U.S. MSRP
* SCR-2 6.5" two-way in-ceiling, $400/pr. U.S. MSRP
* SCR-3 8" two-way in-ceiling, $550/pr. U.S. MSRP
* SCW-1 5.25" two-way in-wall, $330/pr. U.S. MSRP
* SCW-2 6.5" two-way in-wall, $450/pr. U.S. MSRP
* SCW-3 8" two-way in-wall, $550/pr. U.S. MSRP

Installation kits for the Synergy Custom Series models are sold in pairs and range from $36 to $54 U.S. MSRP.

 

Standardized DVD-RW is one step closer to reality since twelve companies have joined together. This new grouping of twelve companies have called themselves "RW Products Promotion Initiative" (RWPPI) and include Fuji Photo Film, Hitachi, Maxell, Kenwood, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Chemical, Onkyo, Pioneer, Pioneer Video, Sanyo Electronic, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Samsung Electronics. When DVD-RW first was introduced there were a few different incompatible formats. With this new initiative the industry can now concentrate on perfecting this single DVD-RW format and make it available for sale in short time.

 

NAPSTER UPDATE!

NapsterDue to Metallica proving users downloading their copyrighted material, Napster, Inc. is going to block 317,377 specific users that have been allegedly infringing on the rock band's copyrights. In the name of fairness, Napster will offer the newly blocked users the opportunity to appeal. Of course this is futile as simply using a different computer with a different user name or deleting the software from their current system and reinstalling it with a new name will overcome the blocking.

 

Soon we may have lower prices for CD music audio discs. It is common for both the software and hardware companies to demand a minimum advertising pricing (MAP) for their products. Well, while we have not solved the hardware side of things yet, the Big 5 will soon be dropping their MAP and stop penalizing those who have not followed the MAP agreement. We can all thank the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Adding to this, the FTC is investigating if the majors have been colluding to preserve a uniform MAP. This could spell more action from the FTC if this is also true.

 

5 / 09/ 00

  Some fast news for today:

In an amazing turn of events, major music label Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) comes to a new licensing agreement with mp3.com. This is a strategic agreement as it could settle the pending infringement lawsuit against mp3.com by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and also music publishers MPL Communications and the Peer Group. BMI represents over 140,000 U.S. songwriters/composers and more than 60,000 U.S. publishers. The licensing agreement will allow mp3.com to offer their music via digital download over the internet.

 

Failing online music supplier CDNow, who has desperately needed more financial capital to continue operations, is now 52.8 million dollars richer. A Mexican billionaire recently purchased a 9.2 percent stake in CDNow, Inc. for a grand total of $52.8 million dollars according to Reuters. CDNow has been operating on loses for a long while and it was rumored that CDNow would have closed it's doors in mid-2000 without new financial resources. When the recent merger deal with Columbia House fell through earlier this year, many felt it spelt doom for CDNow. This new investment was much needed for CDNow to continued business operations.

 

5 / 07 / 00

  High Tech Meets New Rock and Roll Museum in Seattle. Next month will ring the opening of the world's largest gathering of Rock and Roll memorabilia and information since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This new high-tech gallery will include exhibits on the history of guitars. In fact rock guitarist legend Jimi Hendrix, who himself was a Seattle native. Not to worry as punk and hip-hop is also featured within the museum. The high-tech part may be due to the efforts of one of the founders of this museum, Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen who himself donated quite a bit of his collection of Hendrix memorabilia.

Of course as is expected with any great Rock and Roll museum opening, many concerts will be performed all around Seattle including Metallica, Kid Rock, Alanis Morissette, Matchbox Twenty, Dr. Dre, Eminem, James Brown, Kid Rock, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Beck, the Eurythmics, Patti Smith, Bo Diddley, Dave Avlin, Rickie Lee Jones and Taj Mahal to name a few. "Part of [the visitor's] experience here is to be creative, to create their own music." said Paige Prill, Experience Music Project spokesperson. Prill also said "You could point to everything from the design of this building, which is about the flow of music and the ever-changing elements of rock 'n' roll... all the way down to the genres of music that we've chosen to use in the museum to the way that we display them."

The high-tech angle is partially in that the visitors to the museum will have the availably of using a handheld computer to guide them through the building. When a visitor finds a certain exhibition of piece of memorabilia interesting, they can "bookmark" it on the handheld PC to later go back to a "Digital Lab" area for more in-depth information.

 

5 / 04 / 00

  Generation Y has their own way to enjoy the music unlike previous generations. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) conducted a study online with a sample of 1551 young adults aged 15 to 21 (a subset of Generation Y) during March 2000. From this survey, 57 percent claimed to have played an MP3 music file. To quote part of this report by CES "Although sound quality expectations vary from consumer to consumer, the data suggests that the majority of Generation Y listening to the MP3 format rate its sound quality as comparable to a typical stereo."

Around 14 percent of respondents said they used their PC more than a traditional stereo for enjoying music. Meanwhile 25 percent of others surveyed said they used both the computer and home stereo equally for a total of around 40% using their PC as much, or more so, than the more traditional stereo system. To add to this, Thirty percent stated that they would be very or somewhat interested in enhancing their PC for higher sound quality while 55 percent were "very or somewhat interested" in a home stereo with Internet music capabilities. Within this survey, 64 percent of participants have already used the MP3 format.

 


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