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High-End Audio Industry News

06 / 29 / 01

  According to the company Ipsos-Reid, who has over 20 years in surveys and logging public opinions and habits, 51% of Internet users aged 18 to 34 in 30 countries have enjoyed downloaded music from the Internet. While college students seem to be quickly embracing music from the Internet, approximately 61% of Internet users aged 18 to 24 had downloaded music by 2001 as opposed to "only" 53% by 2000. As for other age groups, 29% of Internet users aged 35 to 54 have downloaded music while 16% of Internet users over age 55 have enjoyed music from the Internet. This all adds up to 38% of all Internet users within this 30 country study have downloaded music.

 

 

The Smithsonian Institute has added the AudioCube 4-II with an Apogee PSX-100SE A/D - D/A converter and Dynaudio Acoustics BM15A self-powered monitors for restoring the legendary Folkway Recordings. The recent addition of the AudioCube 4-II computer-type resotoration system employs various state-of-the-art plug-ins only available for the AudioCube system. This includes a spectral de-hisser, an "azimuth cube" is said to compensate for azimuth while the de-buzz plug-in assists in removing typical ground loop type 60-cycle hum. A de-crackler and de-noiser in concert with the de-clipper and de-scratcher further insure top-quality restoration of the restored music coming from the Smithsonian's Folkway music division. The computer system used includes dual 850MHz Pentium III processors with two 18GB removable hard drives, a 40x CD-ROM, a Plextor CD burner and a floppy drive. "We will be digitizing a huge portion of our collection," said Pete Reiniger, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings sound production supervisor and mastering engineer. "We're sharing funds with the Library of Congress from a grant called Save Our Sounds, which is part of the White House Save America's Treasures millennium program. It's through that grant that we've been able to buy some new equipment and to upgrade other equipment. We're setting up four additional workstations to digitize audio." Other equipment employed include a Studer A810 1/4-inch, 1/2-track machine, a Tascam BR-20 1/4-inch, 1/4-track machine or an Ampex ATR800 1/4-inch and 1/2-track that plays at 30 IPS. A pair of Dolby SR/A cards along with a Studer C37 1/4-inch machine from 1964 that has tube electronics is also used for some restoration projects while records are played on a Technics SP15 turntable with a Stanton 500 Mk II cartridge running through an ATI preamplifier.

 

06 / 28 / 01

B&W  Commemorating their 35th anniversary of the firm's founding, B&W is releasing a new Signature line that includes the Signature 800, Signature HTM center channel and Signature SCM surround. "It incorporates everything we've learned, over more than a third of a century, about superior acoustic design," company founder John Bowers said. The Signature 800, accompanied by the upgraded Signature HTM and Signature SCM center and surround model, includes both improved components and all-new elements. In place of the original Nautilus 801's single 15-inch bass driver, the Signature 800 employs twin 10-inch units – but each one is driven by the identical "motor" structure from the earlier design's single woofer. This doubling of drive capacity, with the same effective piston-area, is claimed to improved bass dynamics for more natural and lifelike attack while also being more forgiving in-room acoustical interaction. The midrange retains the familiar spherical head enclosure that holds an improved version of B&W's 6" FST Kevlar driver. The Signature 800 employs a more powerful Neodymium-Iron-Boron magnet structure; combined with a thicker top-plate, is said to lower harmonic distortion and reduces time-domain "smearing" distortions for clearer, more defined vocal and instrumental timbres. The tweeter has been improved to now deliver top-end limit of 50 kHz. Their new Signature HTM and SCM include the newly refined midrange and tweeter drivers and are designed to match the Signature 800 for a complete home theater system. The B&W Signature 800, HTM, and SCM will be available in July, 2001 and priced at: Signature 800 $20,000/pair, Signature HTM $3,000/each, Signature SCM $3,000/pair.

 

06 / 27 / 01

Svetlana  PM Components is the new exclusive worldwide distributor for the Svetlana SPb (St. Petersburg, Russia) line of vacuum tubes. The Svetlana plant commenced production of vacuum tubes in 1928 and by 1945 had over 30,000 employees. Peter Watson, Managing Director of PM Components, LTD and Christian Magee, President of PM of America, Inc. bring a combined experience of over 40 years in the vacuum tube industry. Those looking to purchase Svetlana tubes should contact:

PM of America, Inc. 
Headquarters, Warehouse and Audio Division
1687 Shelby Oaks Drive
Suite 8
Memphis, TN 38134
Phone: 901-388-2424
Fax: 901-388-2405
Email: info@svetlanausa.com

PM of America, Inc.
Ceramic Tube Division
895 B. Street PMB #418
Hayward, CA 94541
Phone: 510-885-1247
Fax: 510-885-1247
Email: SvetlanaUSARep@aol.com

 

 

mp3PROAs Microsoft's streaming audio Windows Media File is audibly better than the the same file like-encoded by mp3, the Fraunhofer Institute of Germany has now officially released the new mp3PRO format. While Enjoy the Music.com was among the first to report on this new venture between electronics manufacture Thompson and the Fraunhofer Institute in January, the new mp3PRO format claims to provide virtually the same audio quality of normal mp3 audio files, yet at approximately half the file size. mp3PRO audio technology is both backwards and forwards compatible with current mp3 decoders. Think of it like an mp3 version of the popular audiophile CD format HDCD. New, more advanced psychoacoustics techniques are employed to ensure the perception of high-quality music, yet at file sizes upwards of 1/10th that of 16-bit/44.1 kHz compact disc. To quote the Thompson website "...mp3PRO encoder splits audio recordings into two parts. One part analyzes the low frequency band information and encodes it into a normal mp3 stream. This allows the encoder to concentrate on less information and allows it to do a better job of encoding. This also maintains complete compatibility on old mp3 players. The second part analyzes the high frequency band information and encodes it into a part of the mp3 stream that is normally ignored by old mp3 decoders. New or upgraded mp3PRO decoders will tap into this part of the stream and put the two bands back together, resulting in the full audio bandwidth."

 

06 / 26 / 01

  According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), manufacturer-to-dealer sales of DVD players 15% during the month of May. Manufacturers of DVD players shipped 523,000 units in May of 2001 as compared to the 453,000 units shipped during May 2000. This is an increase of 70,000 units. Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, said "This interest and the resulting sales will only continue to grow as more and more Americans come in contact with digital entertainment."

 

 

NapsterNapster's newest file-sharing software now includes a new "fingerprinting" technology licensed from Relatable. This allows Napster a way to further enhance filtering songs from its system. What "fingerprinting" does is that it reads various audio frequencies at several points in a song. These "fingerprints" are then compared to known copyrighted material. If a fingerprint match is made, the song is removed from the Napster service per a recent court order to remove unauthorized copyrighted songs from the Napster service.

 

06 / 13/ 01  to  06 / 25 / 01

  Our Frankfurt Germany show report goes live online!

 

06 / 12 / 01

  Enjoy the Music.com publishes Professor Edward Felten's scientific paper as online music service Listen.com will remove some of the features within their website and also withdraw from the lawsuit being waged against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Of course the RIAA is enjoying great revenue through royalty payments and is glad to see Listen.com remove themselves from the upcoming royalty rate-setting legal debate during the Copyright Office's rate-setting proceeding being held on July 30th within a California federal court. The RIAA has recently decided to sue webcasters Xact Radio, MusicMatch and MTVi to consolidate those cases.

Meanwhile, as seen on our June 7th, 2001 news report (see below), Princeton Researcher Edward Felten is continuing his fight to publish his scientific papers concerning defeating the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) and Verance protection schemes. Strangely, while the RIAA had an official response on their website as seen on our June 7th news report, that response has now disappeared from the RIAA's website. Furthermore, we here at Enjoy the Music.com believe in the Freedom of Speech act and now present to our readership the Professor Felten paper in it's entirety. Please click here to see the official scientific paper that is causing this lawsuit. Click here to see the letters Professor Felten received from the RIAA and also the SDMI.

 

06 / 11 / 01

ESS Technology  ESS Technology has introduced a single-chip solution for what many are calling a "Universal DVD" player. Capable of decoding CD, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, SACD, VCD, SVCD, Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro-Logic, DTS decoding, and MP3, the new ESS ES4438 PMP chip provides two advanced embedded processors; a 32-bit RISC CPU for general system management and a 64-bit digital signal processor (DSP) for audio/video and graphics acceleration. Audiophiles will rejoice as full multi-channel 24-bit/192kHz decoding is supported. For the videophile, a built-in "SmartScan" capability offers de-interlace progressive scan for high-end video output. This feature supports Macrovision AGC version 1.03 for 480P. To see the complete specifications/press release, simply click here (free Adobe Acrobat plug-in needed).

 

06 / 09 / 01

  Enjoy the Music.com has begun their pre-show report concerning the upcoming Frankfurt, Germany High End 2001 event. This year marks Germany's High End Society's 20th anniversary of the show. Over 200 exhibitors will showcase more than 500 brands of products during this four day show that begins June 14th and runs through June 17th, 2001.

 

Adcom has released two new high-end units capable of handling the new industry standard DVD-Audio format. The GTP-830 digital processor is a full featured pre-amplifier that also includes a AM/FM tuner. The GRP-830 is Adcom's first 7.1 channel home theater processor and provides decoding of Dolby Digital and DTS decoding with 7.1 output channels and also 5.1 analog pass-through for DVD Audio or SACD. The tuner section includes the RDS radio data system so that radio station's call letters and other information will be viewable from the front display. The digital decoding section of the GTP-830 employs 24-bit/96KHz DACs for better than CD sound capability. High-precision electronic parts inside this new unit include 1% metal film resistors, an oversized toroidal power transformer and multiple, highly regulated power supply stages. Inputs and outputs include four S-video inputs, two S-video outputs, five composite-video inputs, three composite-video outputs, seven analog stereo audio inputs, four analog stereo audio outputs; three digital audio inputs (2 coax & 1 TOS Link), 5.1 channel analog pass-through DVD audio/SACD inputs, as well as the pre-amp outputs for all 7.1 channels of information.

Adcom GTP-760Adcom's new GTP-760 offers less features within a pre-amplifier than the GTP-830 yet still provides home theater capabilities and AM/FM tuner capabilities. This new Adcom pre-amplifier can also replay DVD-Audio in both 5.1 channel and 2-channel modes. Three "state-of-the-art" Motorola DSP devices in combination provide the GTP-760 with true 24-bit digital signal processing. Four different surround modes such as DTS, Dolby Digital, Digital Dolby Pro-Logic and Cinema Pro-Logic are also offered. Input and output connections for nine audio (six analog and three digital) and six video sources including a full complement of S-Video connectors in addition to the standard composite video jacks are included.

 

06 / 07 / 01

  As reported on our April 27th, 2001 article concerning threats from the music industry to Princeton professor Edward Felten, he decided to not present his scientific paper detailing various methods of cracking digital watermarks as used within the DVD-Audio platform. Yesterday this Princeton Researcher is now suing the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), and Verance for the right to publish his findings under the freedom of speech act. This now puts the American federal court into the hot seat to decide if Edward Felten's right's to publish scientific findings will be upheld. Furthermore, this lawsuit is also asking the courts to closely scrutinize the constitutionality of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In a prepared statement by the RIAA's Cary Sherman on Felten Lawsuit, Cary said "Professor Felten’s decision to sue the RIAA and the SDMI Foundation is inexplicable. We have unequivocally and repeatedly stated that we have no intention of bringing a lawsuit against Professor Felten or his colleagues. It seems that the professor, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation, would have preferred that we sue in order to keep their publicity machine running. Since we've said we have no issue with the publication of the Felten paper, they now resort to suing us to keep this issue alive."

 

 

Aperion SW-8PR/150Aperion Audio, formerly EdgeAudio, has announced the July availability of their new SW-8PR/150 ($387) self-powered subwoofer. Employing a 150-watt amplifier and two eight-inch passive radiators, the SW-8PR/150 takes up only a single cubic foot of space. The front-firing eight-inch driver is augmented with two eight-inch passive radiators to eliminate the "chuffing" noise sometimes associated with vented enclosures according to Aperion Audio. Five-way binding posts are provided for high level inputs and outputs and RCA connectors are provided for low-level inputs and outputs. A variable crossover between 40Hz and 180Hz, level control, phase switch and three-position power switch assist to insuring system/room matching. Claimed frequency response is from 35Hz to 180Hz with a sensitivity of 88dB. The SW-8PR/150 comes wrapped in cherry hardwood stained to a medium cherry furniture-grade finish. Physical size of the unit is a small 13" x 12.25" x 12.5" (HxWxD) and weighs in at 27.5 pounds.

 

06 / 06 / 01

Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI)  As we hinted at during yesterday's news about the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) dying, many major companies have walked away from the group as after years of discussion, no final format has been decided upon. With both political and technical underpinnings, it seems that the old saying is quite true; too many cooks spoil the broth. Flying in the face of this news, major electronics retailer Best Buy, who has already inked a deal with Liquid Audio, MTV and the House of Blues, has now added RioPort in their partnered venture to sell downloadable/streaming music online. Pricing should be around 99 cents to $1.99 for music single and $11.98 to $18.98 for an entire album. Speaking of the House of Blues, they will soon have the world's first 24 hour interactive music channel using Liberate Technologies' interactive TV software with the backend handled by RespondTV. This new service can be broadcast through both cable and satellite boxes that use middleware from Liberate, Microsoft, OpenTV, PowerTV, Sony and WorldGate. For now RespondTV only has a solid deal for distribution with AT&T Broadband.

 

 

FAP-V1Fosgate Audionics has planned a special vacuum tube surround sound unit, the FAP-V1 ($7,499), to be available in January of 2002. This is a very limited availability product under the Jim Fosgate Signature series. Using the new Dolby Pro Logic II specification, for now this is the only tubed unit set to appear in the market. Of course the FAP-V1 will playback normal 2-channel stereo as well as have the ability to decode analog surround sound to a 5.1-channel output via the Pro Logic II system. Some of the features within this unit include center width adjustment, bass blend and equalization. The FAP-V1 also includes a three year parts/labor and labor warranty. Some of the preliminary specifications are:

Model Number: FAP-V1
Description: Vacuum tube Pre-amplifier with 5.1 channel surround sound and Dolby Pro Logic II decoder
Frequency Response: TBA
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): TBA
Cabinet: Copper and Babingga Wood
Dimensions: 10.22" x 19.87" x 15.14" (HxWxD)
Processor Type: Dolby Pro-Logic II
Preamplifier Circuitry: Vacuum Tube

 

06 / 05 / 01

RIAA  With high-speed internet being more prevalent within consumer's homes in only a few years, the great debate of delivering music online has urgency. Laws set today could have long-term consequences to delivering uncompressed CD-quality sound, or better than CD sound, over the Internet. Going under the heading "Turnabout Is fair play", the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) who represent all major labels and were filing lawsuits like children eat lollipops, are now on the other end of the stick as many webcasters are now bringing the RIAA into court. LAUNCH Media Inc. has now joined four other companies who deliver music over the web is a lawsuit against the RIAA. LAUNCH Media's LAUNCHcast service to deliver music over the web and what payment is rightly due to the music's copyright holders is the key issue. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court of Northern District of California, alleges that the RIAA's recent effort to have a proper payment rate and concerns whether various Internet radio stations are eligible for a compulsory license as provided for in Section 114 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. "LAUNCH has always respected copyrights and has consistently made every effort to work with record labels, music publishers and artists to provide appropriate compensation for use of their works," said Bob Roback, President of LAUNCH. "We believe that in this industry wide issue we have been unfairly singled out. While we intend to defend vigorously the litigation at hand and assert all appropriate counterclaims, we are hopeful that all parties can quickly return to their efforts to work out a negotiated, industry-wide resolution of this issue." As for SDMI and delivering secured media using a single set standard, SDMI seems to be dead due to the fact that no real standard can be fully agreed upon and made finalized after many years of debate within the music industry.

 

06 / 04 / 01

Sampo DVE-620  Sampo's new DVE-620 DVD player (MSRP $169) is possibly the worlds least expensive DVD player that also plays MP3 audio discs and includes component video output (Y/Cb/Cr) too! Packed with features found in much more expensive models, the Sampo DVE-620 offers component video outputs, optical and coaxial digital outputs, Dolby Digital, DTS, standard S-Video and also composite video outputs. Another interesting feature is that the core firmware is upgradeable and easy to install by downloading the firmware over the internet. Specifications include:

Plays DVD-Video, SVCD, CD and MP3 Encoded Discs 
10-bit Video D/A Converter 
24-bit Audio D/A Converter 
Component Video Output (Y/Cb/Cr) 
Display ratio conversion for standard and widescreen TV formats
      (16:9, 4:3 Letter Box, 4:3 Pan & Scan) 
Digital video marker bookmarking 
4X Picture Zoom 
Muilt-Language onscreen display 
2/4/8/15/30X Fast Forward / Reverse Scan 
1/2X / 1/4X / 1/8X Slow Motion Forward / Reverse Scan 
Wireless Remote Control

 

06 / 02 / 01

Musicbank  Will legally selling streaming and downloadable music online be profitable? Maybe not... yet, as Musicbank was heralded by the president and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Hilary Rosen as the first new online music company to legally deliver secure downloadable music online last year. With Sony Music Entertainment, the Warner Music Group (WMG), Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), Universal Music Group (UMG) and EMI all agreeing to allow their music to be sold online by Musicbank, now it seems Musicbank has gone out of business. Why? They simply ran out of money as no one wanted to continue funding this legal online music venture. Meanwhile Napster is the cat with nine lives and still lives on.

 

 

BetterCables.com Silver SerpentBetterCables.com has designed and developed a new line of broadcast-quality video cables. Their Silver Serpent Series of cables are geared to provide optimal performance for high-end home theater/video systems. The Silver Serpent cable series includes RGB and component video cables, VGA and VGA breakout cables, and S-video cables, plus composite video and digital coax cables. All Silver Serpent cables provide low pF per foot capacitance and triple shielding for high resistance to outside distortions from RFI and EMI.

 

06 / 01 / 01

Prism Nexa Loudspeaker Cable  Longstanding and critically acclaimed cable manufacture Tara Labs has redesigned their website to offer both existing and prospective customers more information about their products. Sections of the website cover Tara labs news, product information, technology and also a cable consultant. They also offer information as to why they feel cables sound different.

 


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