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High-End Audio Industry News


07 / 31 / 07

Summer Against Hunger Fundraiser  For the 12th year, during The Cable Company's month-long Summer Against Hunger fundraiser, they set aside 5 percent of all customer purchases for donation to CARE. This amount is matched by their participating vendors and reaches upwards of 60 percent. Each year CARE helps The Cable Company to line up an additional matching grant of at least 5:1 (and as much as 10:1 in the past) from a large donor for our total contributions. What this means is that when The Cable Company contributes 5 percent of a sale (all sales) in August, and this is matched by one of our participating vendors, this 10 percent total donation also receives another five times this amount in matching funds. So as much as 60 percent (minimum 30 percent for products where the manufacturer is not participating in the matching funds program) of the amount the audiophile is spending on their audio passion in August can also end up helping some of the world's neediest people. CARE's poverty-fighting work reached 455 million people in 66 countries last year.

 

07 / 30 / 07

Bryston BCD-1 CD Player  Bryston has announced the introduction of an audiophile CD player called the BCD-1 ($2395). The design emphasis of the BCD-1 has been placed on build quality and sonic performance. The unit uses fully discrete Class-A analog circuitry and a 192kHz/24-bit Crystal DAC and 128 times oversampling. Within the digital domain, bit timing errors (jitter) have been eliminated by perfectly synchronizing the player's master clock and drive. The Crystal CS4398 DAC is an advanced generation chip using a combination of several different conversion methods to optimize the processing. Each premium DAC boasts dedicated power supplies — a separate, closely regulated and filtered digital power supply as well as a heavily regulated and filtered analog power supply with carefully routed electrical grounds. Finally, careful trace routing throughout the complete circuit architecture of the BCD-1 eliminates potential noise via capacitive coupling, which delivers those critical extra dBs of noise and distortion reduction marking only the most outstanding equipment. The Bryston BCD-1 uses discreet operational amplifiers after the DAC instead of the commonly used integrated circuits. The use of discrete devices enables Bryston engineers to exactly match the needs of the DAC and allow for a more robust output than IC-based amplifiers. The use of discrete devices also allows Bryston to select components with carefully matched input and output impedances based on specific in-circuit requirements. The BCD-1, like all Bryston products, is hand assembled and individually tested before leaving the factory. Both RCA and XLR analog outputs are provided as are transformer-coupled SPDIF and AES/EBU digital outputs.

 

07 / 26 / 07

Parasound 2100 NewClassic Preamplifier  Parasound has introduced the precision Model 2100 stereo preamplifier ($600) in its high-value NewClassic series of components for custom installation. In keeping with Parasound's 26-year reputation for delivering high quality and problem-solving gear at high-value prices, the Model 2100 also offers a unique solution that enables audiophiles to add high-quality stereo reproduction to their existing or planned home theater without compromising performance for either music or movies. The Model 2100 is "first and foremost an audiophile-grade stereo preamplifier, featuring a high-current power supply and low-noise circuit topology for optimal signal path integrity. It includes seven line-level inputs, one of which can be switched to a phono input with correct gain and load impedance for both MM and MC phono cartridges. Additionally, it features a front-panel input jack for MP3 players with an automatic 12dB gain offset to match the volume level of an iPod with other source components" says their press release. The Model 2100 includes analog bass management and uniquely creates a sub out channel with a continually adjustable low pass filter from 40Hz to 140Hz. Stereo sources are completely isolates from the A/V receiver for optimal signal integrity. The NewClassic Model 2100 includes a number of useful features designed to simplify integration in large systems and custom installations, such as full remote control, two-way RS-232, discrete IR codes for power on and off and IR input and loop out jacks for jack for use with IR repeater systems. The unit includes optional automatic turn-on for either AC power or 12-volt trigger input with both 12-volt trigger input and output jacks. The Parasound Model 2100 preamplifier is rack-mountable with the company's optional RMK22 2u mounting kit. Frequency response is an outstanding 10Hz to 100kHz (+0/-3dB) with a low THD distortion of < 0.008% at 20Hz and S/N ratio >105dB.

 

Rives Audio sub-PARCRives Audio took a few years in development and now finally releases their sub-PARC ($4500) as first reported by Enjoy the Music.com with our 2006 CES show coverage. This unit combines a crossover, parametric, and digital switching amplifier (for bass section only). The sub-PARC can be used to actively bi-amplify a set of loudspeakers or can be used with stand alone subwoofers. It also has the ability to automatically change settings both crossover and parametric when going from home theater to stereo listening. This is a pure analog design with no digital conversion and the crossover is programmable from 40Hz to 300Hz. A 1000 Watt amplifier is built-in to drive virtually any subwoofer driver. A 12 volt trigger will automatically switch into home theater mode, bypassing the crossover and using the LFE channel. When the trigger is off it uses the crossover and the saved parameters for music.

 

07 / 25 / 07

Aperion Audio  Aperion Audio, a manufacturer and direct Internet seller of loudspeakers, heralds the launch of their new website. The new site is the result of two years of rigorous work, incorporating research into online shopping trends, tempered by a compilation of customer feedback. The site includes enhancements to Aperion's exclusive tools for creating personalized system configurations, as well as additions to their generous offerings in audio technology and buyer education. For the visitor who is beginning the purchase process with research, Aperion Audio delivers extensive resources in the 'Aperion University', offering an array of audio and home theater courses designed to both educate and entertain. Additionally, there is a new community forum, unfiltered user reviews, and greater access to industry reviews and award information. "The site was designed to greet our customer's where ever they are in their buying process," says Aperion Audio VP of Marketing, John Wanderscheid. "Our 'Store' offers an expedited path to featured systems and a quick trip to checkout. It's ideal for customers that have either completed their research or for those who come to the site after reading a compelling review or receiving a personal recommendation."

 

Fadel Art Aphrodite Series Of CablesFadel Art, a cable company with over a decade in audio and video cable manufacturing, announces their latest cable series called Aphrodite. It required more than one year of extensive research and studies to create these cables with studying of how the electrical signal passes through various configurations. For the Aphrodite cable series, with the application of extraordinary materials including special cotton for insulating material claimed to be superior to other material including Teflon and air. For the conductors, Fadel Art chose three OFHC copper conductors and two silver conductors, where they employed a special process to extract ultra pure silver by a chemical method from silver nitrate. This kind of silver is claimed by Fidel Art to be absolutely free from any impurity and its' molecular composition is strictly identical at any point of the material. Versions of the Aphrodite series include loudspeaker cable with banana or sleeve termination, interconnect cable with RCA termination, digital cable with RCA or BNC termination, and power cord with German-French or with US termination.

 

07 / 24 / 07

Beyerdynamic A1 Headphone Amplifier  Beyerdynamic's A1 (€990) high-end headphone amplifier makes no technical compromises according to the company as it provides the sensitive converter systems of the headphone in a direct way, without adaptive circuits reducing the sound. The result is breathtaking sound quality and excellent dynamism in any kind of music. With thanks to a high supply of voltage, it provides output signals without distortion, even on high-ohm headphones. Output power is 100 mW with 600 Ohm capsule impedance with power reserves for brief peak levels. Beyerdynamic also now offers their Edition 2007 of DT 440, DT 660 und DT 860 premium headphones. This recent facelift provides an attractive, modern design with their top-of-the-range engineering. A matt chromium coated, computer-optimized housings contain highly efficient electroacoustic systems with Neodymium magnets. Beyerdynamic's hinged clamp construction allows space-saving folding and turning of the shells by up to 90 degrees for optimum comfort.

 

EMT Studiotechnik EMT TSD15 LZi  Moving Coil (MC) CartridgeEMT Studiotechnik GmbH presents their EMT TSD15 LZi short body, low output and low impedance moving coil (MC) cartridge. Built in EMT Broadcast T-series head shell, but with a tone arm connector with international standard, the new EMT TSD15 LZi has an output level of approximately 0.250 mV and generator coil impedances of <6 Ohms. Suggested tracking force is 2.5 grams while the cartridge itself weighs 30 grams. Diamond tips available include either in SPH (15u) or SFL (6u) version. Note that these handmade units are made in very small numbers and is available in limited markets.

 

07 / 23 / 07

Muse Electronics Erato II CD DVD-Audio / DVD-Video  Muse Electronics is now shipping their Erato II ($7300) multi-format CD DVD-Audio and DVD-Video optical disc playback unit. Built upon the concept of MAP (Modular Audio-video Platform), the Muse Erato II strives to raise the expectations of even the most experienced audio or video aficionado. The exhaustive engineering effort in design and engineering the Erato II assures its owner a flexible and upgradeable platform. Provisions for virtually all possible system configurations have been incorporated into the Erato II. The video system, handles NTSC/PAL/PAL60 and has composite and component output. Digital to analog audio conversion is via 24-bit at 768kHz sampling rate. Analog audio output is via single ended (RCA) or balanced (XLR) with 2 Volt RMS.

 

Newer Technology miniStack V3Users of various computer audio devices need massive storage, and so Newer Technology has just released their miniStack V3 with integrated powered hub and a massive 1 TB of storage ($550). With plug n' play ease of use with any Mac or PC and available FireWire 800/400, USB 2.0, or eSATA port, the 'Quad Interface' provides rear and side port configuration of one eSATA, two FireWire 800, one FireWire 400, and three USB 2.0 ports. Extremely fast data transfer is easily possible via the eSATA port with its 150 Megabytes per second transfer rate. As more and more audiophiles begin to move their music to home networks, massive storage and outboard digital to analog converters become a critical component. The miniStack provides fast data delivery and large storage capabilities.

 

07 / 20 / 07

Accustic Arts Tube DAC  Accustic Arts handmade in Germany Tube DAC ($10,500) is a true hybrid DAC said to be the first of it's kind with dual 32 bit mono digital processing for left and right channels. The top quality Class A stage uses technology derived from Accustic Arts studio engineering. Two beefy, magnetically shielded and encapsulated toroidal core transformers with carefully selected premium quality 84.000 µF capacitors easily handle power supply duties with room to spare. The hand selected tubes include a pair of 12AX7WA / ECC83. These tubes are lab tested by Accoustic Arts and burned in for 100 hours prior to shipping. Inputs include AES/EBU (XLR), SPDIF (RCA), and BNC. Outputs are XLR and RCA.

 

gagatree RoboCardgagatree's new RoboCard is perhaps the coolest new retro-futuristic accessory for music lovers to come to my e-mail inbox in a long time. Offered in either Giant Robot or Crazy Robot form, this cool intergalactic planetary bot holds 14 digital discs in the middle opening and a roll of toilet paper for dusting off your stereo gear or cleaning up spills. These limited-edition designer motifs hark back to my love of Remco's Rudy the Robot as a child or perhaps the more recent Beastie Boys awesome music video. Standing at a 'towering' height of 46cm and measuring width of 22cm by 16cm in depth, RoboCard is made from corrugated board and would look great with many a high-end audio system. RoboCard is a great gift for children of all ages! 

 

Pioneer Electronics BDC-2202 Blu-ray BD-ROM DVD CD DriveBurn your own DVD discs, but not Blu-ray, as Pioneer Electronics' just announced their BDC-2202 ($300) BD-ROM/DVD/CD drive that comes bundled with Corel Corporation's WinDVDR 8 LE digital media software for playback of multiple Blu-ray formats including film titles. Ulead  supplies their VideoStudio 11 SE video authoring software to create DVD movies and Burn.Now SE for secure backup of personal data and media files to DVD or CD plus burning music CDs. "Our new Blu-ray Disc combo drive is one of the most exciting introductions for Pioneer, as it is one of the industry's most advanced optical drives for business and consumer users," said Andy Parsons, senior vice president at Pioneer Electronics Inc. "With BD-ROM compatibility, the new drive enables users to play Blu-ray movies and explore their impressive new interactive features on their PC. We've also included a solid software bundle from Corel that allows creative individuals to assemble and preserve their own video, photo and music projects onto CDs and DVDs." Of note is there appears to be no way to playback DVD-Audio nor SACD discs. Perhaps these audiophile formats are no longer considered necessary by Pioneer Electronics as higher resolution audiophile software sales may appear lackluster.

 

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade group that represents the United States recording industry whose members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90 percent of all legitimate sound recordings within the country, have once again sent out a round of settlement letters. This time it is 408 pre-litigation settlement letters to 23 universities nationwide yet with a new twist as the accused can resolve copyright infringement claims against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed. Each pre-litigation settlement letter informs the school of a forthcoming copyright infringement suit against one of its students or personnel and requests that university administrators forward that letter to the appropriate network user. Because of the summer schedule, the RIAA is extending the amount of time that the recipient of a pre-litigation letter has to contact the organization's legal representatives to work out a settlement.

 

07 / 19 / 07

Wireworld Equinox 52 Interconnect And Loudspeaker Cable  Wireworld's has begun shipping their Equinox 52 (pronounced 'five-squared') interconnects and loudspeaker cables, incorporating the same Delineated Neutralizing Array (DNA) technology found in the company's reference audio cables yet at a significantly lower price ($200 for 1-meter interconnect pair, $30.00 per foot for loudspeaker cable). Wireworld's DNA cable design utilizes a unique geometric structure that employs a set of flat, parallel-stacked conductors to optimize the electromagnetic coupling between the two polarities. In the Equinox interconnects, this parallel array is then precisely wound into a helix shape to maintain consistent spacing between the conductors over the cable's length, effectively neutralizing the electromagnetic losses. While the helical DNA design is ideal for interconnects, it is too bulky and stiff for practical use in the larger sizes required for speaker level connections. For the Equinox single and bi-wire loudspeaker cables, Wireworld has adapted the stacked conductor arrangement for improved flexibility. The result is a series of twelve flat conductors stacked diagonally within a flat overall outer profile, a structure Wireworld calls Diagonal DNA. Each of the flat conductors is composed of a parallel group of six strands encased in high-density polyethylene. This arrangement provides for uniform conductivity across the entire spectrum, and minimizes all types of audible distortion for greater clarity and dynamics than previous speaker cable designs.

 

It is a good day to be 7 inches! Forget CD, DVD-Audio, and SACD, the hot product is that quirky-sized 7-inch vinyl record within the UK! While the RIAA, IFPI and others cry about declining digital disc sales, in the UK we find that 7-inch vinyl record sales are experiencing tremendous growth as annual sales increase from just over 200,000 units in 2000 to more than 1 million units in 2006. During the first half of 2007 there has been a further increase in sales of 12.9 percent compared to the same time period in 2006, with the White Stripes' Icky Thump as the best seller. This report comes from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), an organization that represents the UK recorded music industry, with membership comprising of hundreds of music companies including all four major record companies, associate members such as manufacturers and distributors, and hundreds of independent music companies representing literally thousands of labels.

 

07 / 18 / 07

The Audiophile Voice  Our exclusive preview of Volume 12 Issue 3 of The Audiophile Voice is now online! This issue includes many think pieces, a CES report, plus various music reviews. Equipment reviews consist of the Arcam A70 integrated amplifier, Thorens TD-2030 turntable, PS Audio Trio C-100 control amplifier and ATC SCM-11 loudspeaker. See the complete table of contents and subscribe to receive your copy filled with many pages of great information and equipment reviews by clicking here.

 

Absoluta Calliope PreamplifierThe Absoluta products from Italy are a combination between technology and refined aesthetics. The company looks to Mediterranean character thanks to the choice of harmonious aesthetic shapes, which disclose the artistic and architectonic taste of the ancient Greece, re-thought in its essential lines from a modern viewpoint. As they manufacture and test their products at the company's workshop near Venice, you can image the artistic value brought forth to their entire product line while they name products according to Greek mythology. Seen here is the Calliope named after the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne. This stereo preamplifier uses two EF86 and four E188CC, has four line inputs, two stereo outputs, a tape loop, and has a frequency response from 5Hz to 701kHz (-2dB). To ensure the line stage does not suffer from electrical noice, the power supply is within a separate box. Other products by Absoluta include the Ermes phono preamplifier, Orpheus and Apollo OTL monoblock amplifier, and Mithras external power conditioner.

 

Behold  Gentle G192 Digital Integrated AmplifierBehold Gentle G192 digital integrated amplifier offers much more than the usual units on the market. With its 7-inch colored touch screen and a big knob for setting the volume up front, inside are two 80 watt (@ 4 Ohms) and two 160 watt (@ 4 Ohms) amplifiers to supply all necessary final stages to run bi-amplifying while having a pure stereo setup. The analog stage consists of 8 analog and 6 digital inputs to run several stereo channels or one multi-channel 5.1. All configurations are user selectable. Four of the digital inputs are Toslink format up to 192kHz data rates, the remaining two electrical inputs (Cinch) accept also up to 192kHz input rates while a FireWire 6-channel input and outputs round out the possibilities. Furthermore, there is an active digital crossover with phase-linear band-pass-filters and room correction via the use of the SHARC ADSP21369 DSP. Behold says the Gentle G192 unit works with the Ascendo RoomTools.

 

07 / 17 / 07

SoundExchange  As we reported weeks ago (on July 5th, see below), SoundExchange announced a proposed voluntary cap on the minimum fees charged against royalties for sound recordings played on Internet Radio. Now a United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied all motions to stay any aspect of the ruling by the Copyright Royalty Judges (CRJs) on the new rates webcasters are required to pay recording artists and record labels. According to SoundExchanges press release says that yesterday's ruling means that recording artists and content owners can move forward confident that they will receive fair pay for their hard work in producing music for all to enjoy. "We are pleased by this decision, which vividly demonstrates that the Copyright Royalty Judges got it right when they set royalty rates and terms for the use of music on Internet radio," said John Simson, Executive Director of SoundExchange. "This is a major victory for recording artists and record labels whose hard work and creativity provides the music around which the Internet radio business is built. Notwithstanding this victory, we continue to reach out to the webcasting community to reach business solutions." Meanwhile SoundExchange has confirmed that a minimum fee offer for webcasting set by the CRJs means that a cap of $500 per channel minimum fee and a maximum of $50,000 per year for webcasters who agree to provide more detailed reporting of the music that they play. Webcasters will also seek ways to stop users from engaging in 'streamripping,' a way to record music as it streams over the Internet. Naturally there will be no way to stop people from recording streaming music, so that point is impossible to fulfill. It still makes one wonder why webcatsers have to pay for music while AM/FM radio stations have not paid for the music they use as content for many decades.

 

McIntosh LaboratoryTrade up to a Big Mac as McIntosh Laboratory, longtime high-end audio company with over 56 years of experience, has announced a limited time trade-up incentive program valid until August 31. During the limited-time program consumers may trade in their McIntosh multi-channel, stereo or monoblock amplifiers regardless of age and receive up to 75 percent of its original MSRP toward a new current model McIntosh power amplifier. All trade-ins must be functional and maintain their original design. "McIntosh owners tend to be extremely passionate about the audio performance of their home entertainment products" said McIntosh President Charlie Randall, "They're also, not surprisingly, renowned for their loyalty to the McIntosh brand. Our Trade-UP program is a way for us to reward these valued owners for their loyalty and support, and provide an easy way for them to upgrade their current components to the very latest in McIntosh style, quality and performance."

 

07 / 16 / 07

  Enjoy the Music.com's mid-July Review Magazine and Superior Audio update is now online. The Review Magazine features Bill Gaw's ongoing Audiolics Anonymous series. In Chapter 94 he discusses his experience with optimizing the Lexicon MC-12 and writes, "When the DSP was switched in, there was actually an increased clarity to the soundstage. Also, for some reason, the subwoofers didn't go as crazy with record warp subsonic information. In addition, the MC-12 has separate controls for bass and treble, and has a tilt control which allows adjustment of bass in relation to treble across the frequency band. Judicious use of these can significantly improve the sound of those many vinyl recordings which were injudiciously jimmied with by the recording engineers, especially those Columbia's and Dynagrooves with their screwed up sound. In addition, with the best of the minimally mic'ed vinyl having hall ambiance information, its recovery and placement in the surround channels significantly improves the image." Read his complete assessment in the midmonth issue of our Review Magazine by clicking here.

Mid-July's Superior Audio takes a close look at the status of SACD and DVD-Audio software by Andreas Spreer Of Tacet. The company sells high-quality music discs and developed Tacet Real Surround Sound in 1999, followed by Moving Real Surround Sound in 2002, so they have many years of experience in this field. Andreas discusses the pros and cons of each format plus you can find out which one achieves higher sales figures. The outcome may surprise you! See the July issue of our Superior Audio by clicking here.

 

The Audiophile VoiceInternet website Enjoy the Music.com and print publication The Audiophile Voice mark their first five year milestone in what is assured to be a longstanding and successful relationship. Over the past five years, Enjoy the Music.com has published the table of contents and complete editorial to each issue of The Audiophile Voice. This has brought tremendous worldwide exposure for both publications while also bringing new subscribers to the print magazine. "When we started our association, I commented that Steven and I shared 'a strong common vision about the future of web and how much it will influence music distribution" said Gene Pitts, Editor and Publisher of The Audiophile Voice. "A quick look at how successful Apple is with the iPod and iTunes will prove that our vision of the future was correct. I also think Steven has the proper vision of how to do a web-zine."

"Partnering with The Audiophile Voice over the past five years has enabled each magazine the ability to reach out to both newcomers and well-seasoned audiophiles," said Steven R. Rochlin, editor of Enjoy the Music.com. "The Audiophile Voice is an important magazine that provides great information concerning industry events plus equipment and music reviews. Gene has a great vision regarding the high-end audio industry and each issue reflects that. It brings me joy to announce this prosperous partnership over the past five years and we expect it to continue for many years."

 

07 / 13 / 07

Magico V3 Loudspeaker  Standing at 42 inches tall and weighing 180 lbs each, the slim floor-standing, four-driver, three-way Magico V3 ($22,800) is the company's latest loudspeaker creation. Continuing to take a lead in the "creation, development and manufacture of the most advanced loudspeaker systems in the world. Magico uses state-of-the-art computer-graphic modeling, precision real-time analysis and the most sophisticated CAD acoustic simulators and emulators available today." Based on a platform similar to the Magico Mini by employing the new propriety Nano-Tec drivers, which are claimed to be the world's first "Elliptical Symmetry Crossover" (ESXO), the V3 continues Magico's tradition of pursuing accuracy and musicality. This is accomplished by not using off the shelf drivers, conventional materials or construction methods. The Magico V3 encapsulates all the company has learned in the past 15 years, bringing better than a decade of technological expertise to their newest and most compact product. Magico says, "The V3 sets a new price/performance benchmark in high-end audio and exemplifies the unwavering commitment of Magico to deliver innovative construction, flawless execution, and cutting-edge performance."

 

Performance Company of Australia (PPCAAs if radio stations and Internet streaming fees were causing grief to companies worldwide, with some possibly going out of business and shutting their doors, now Australian recording artists and record labels have been awarded the ability to charge higher fees by an Australian Copyright Tribunal within the Federal Court of Australia or nightclub and dance music venues. This new legal decision is in response to an application by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA), which asked for an increase in music license fees paid to artists and record labels by dedicated nightclub venues and commercially organized dance parties. To quote the PPCA, "With respect to nightclubs, a rate of $1.05 has been set for each person per night of operation, to be calculated on the basis of the venue's capacity. Further, for dances and dance parties, the Copyright Tribunal adjusted the rate to $3.07 for each person that attends each event. A hearing has been scheduled for 27 July 2007 in which more detailed provisions for the implementation of the new schemes will be considered by the Tribunal." Previous rates were 7 cents per person in nightclubs and 20 cents for dace parties. So this is a dramatic new increase that is well over ten times the current rate. The Tribunal found, "The object of the tribunal in approving the proposed scheme is to fix upon a license fee that can be regarded, as nearly as it is possible to estimate, on the basis of the evidence ...as the fair market price for the privilege of playing the recorded music in respect of which (PPCA) is able to grant a license. If it be the fact that the market rate is 30 times the rate that has hitherto been charged ...that is no reason why it should not now charge that rate." Fortunately, these new rates will not have any affect at the community level with events including weddings or family functions.

 

07 / 12 / 07

Russ Andrews Torlyte Racks  Russ Andrews, a hi-fi and home cinema company founded in 1986 and based in Cumbria (UK), have reduced the size of their respected Torlyte racks to cater for the growing number of half width hi-fi separates products. Initially designed to complement Russ Andrews' own range of high quality desktop audio products, the compact Torlyte racks bring the proven advantages of low mass, high rigidity racking to users of smaller audio and video components. The Torlyte like was originally developed by Russ Andrews after careful research into the negative effects of solid metal and glass stands on musical enjoyment. In all hi-fi systems, the vibrations generated by the act of a loudspeaker moving air in the room are amplified by the microphonic components within the hi-fi, such as capacitors and resistors, and fed back into the audio chain. These amplified and delayed vibrations are claimed by the company to have a degrading influence on the music reproduction, the natural rhythm and timing. The use of solid, heavy stands in effect traps the vibrations within the equipment/stand combination, delaying the feedback and resulting in a constantly worsening situation. Torlyte, with its incredibly light, honeycomb structure, substantially overcomes these problems by channeling the unwanted vibrations towards the ground. This results in a more coherent reproduction of music, without the unwanted influence of time-delayed vibrations.

 

Nielsen SoundScanNielsen SoundScan, a company that tracks sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada, has reported that the first half of 2007 marked a 15 percent decrease in hard copy album sales while digital music (online) has increased by a staggering 49 percent. A reported 229.8 million albums were sold in the United States during the first half of 2007 while 417.3 million digital tracks were purchased. SoundScan has also reported that during 2007 until March 18, approximately 89 million music CDs were sold to United States consumers as compared to 112 million during the same time period in 2006. The outlook in the UK is very much the same as sales in the United Kingdom are down 10 percent according to the British Phonographic Industry, the British record industry's trade association. They report that "90 percent of all singles now sold through online and mobile platforms, while digital album sales are beginning to have a significant impact on the albums market. With 60 million album sales in the first half of 2007, the UK market remains strong in a time of significant challenges for the global recorded music industry." The CDs remain very attractive to consumers because of the flexibility and outstanding value for money they offer and for this reason they still represent the overwhelming majority of sales, "says British Phonographic Industry Chief Executive Geoff Taylor. "Consumers vote with their pay packets and 58 million CD album sales in just six months is a very significant number indeed. Album units have dipped year on year, but we are still selling 32 percent more CDs than 10 years ago."

 

Last.fmLast.fm, a UK-based Internet radio and music community site with more than 20 million user in over 232 countries, has signed a deal with Sony BMG. Owned by CBS from a $280 million deal in May 2007, the site boasts one of the largest online catalogs to date. The service does more than stream music, as Last.fm's unique music recommendation system dubbed 'Audioscrobbler' takes into account a user's profile and logs the songs they listen to, then forms a list of recommended music. "This partnership affords Last.fm users a whole new set of terrific content for building community" says co-founder Martin Stiksel. "We've always aimed to have everything ever recorded available to listen to on our site, and having access to Sony's collection of some of the world's most popular music takes us another huge step closer."

 

As reported here on July 6th (see below), a court in Belgium ruled that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must take responsibility for stopping illegal file-sharing on its network. Today, British ISPs are touting how they should not be held liable for illegal file-sharing over their networks. Naturally it is nearly impossible for a provider to somehow sense 100 percent of the time in the difference between honest file transfer and illegal files that are sent over their networks. U.K. Conservative Party leader David Cameron said, "ISPs shouldn't be set up to play judge and jury. What we wouldn't want is corporate censorship. Any kind of censorship of the Internet has to be at the government level. ISPs are not law enforcement. We understand that ISPs play a part in combating instances of illegal activity on the Internet, which is why we engage with rights holders and work with government authorities on that basis, but we wouldn't say we're the gatekeepers of the Internet. The people responsible for unlawful content going up on the Internet are the people who put it there."

 

07 / 11 / 07

Introductory Guide to High-Performance Audio Systems  Robert Harley, editor of The Absolute Sound and author of critically acclaimed The Complete Guide to High-End Audio, now offers his new book Introductory Guide to High-Performance Audio Systems ($19.95). This 240 page book continues his extremely informative writing concerning high-end audio and video as this new title explains in clear, non-technical language how to buy, set up, and enjoy a high-quality audio system for music, surround-sound, and home theater. Some of the topic covered within this 12 chapter book include how to choose the perfect system for your needs, living room, and budget plus how to get the best sound for your money. Other tips of interest are how to set up and fine-tune your system for maximum performance and a simple two-second test to separate the well-built speaker from a cheap imitation. "Introductory Guide to High-Performance Audio Systems bridges the gap between the non-technical music lover and the world of high-end audio" says author Robert Harley. "My first book, The Complete Guide to High-End Audio, could be a little intimidating to the novice with its technical depth, 640 pages, and $34.95 price. With this new book, I demonstrate how anyone can get great sound in their home. My goal is to make high-quality music reproduction accessible to anyone who loves music."

 

07 / 10 / 07

Tubeopedia  Following the sensation of shared knowledge in encyclopedia form (Wiki), the just-launched Tubeopedia follows suit as a resource of electron tube data and related topics collaboratively written by its users. By spreading the creation of content among many editors, content isn't dependent on a single site administrator, and site growth and existence isn't dependent on one person's time or energy. Enjoy the Music.com, with extensive 300B reviews and DIY articles, has already begun adding to Tubeopedia to help others from around the world find information they desire concerning tubes and various DIY projects. Over time this could be the largest knowledge base for specific tube data plus resource for finding new old stock tubes and which tubes may be best for certain circuits.

 

XTZ Class A-100 DII Integrated Stereo AmplifierXTZ new Class A-100 DII (€600) is an integrated stereo receiver designed to produce high quality sound with a simple way choose between Class A operation for optimal sound quality or Class AB for high power operation. This enables users to choose the perfect balance between great performance and higher output power. In Class A the unit produces 50 wpc while in Class AB the output doubles to 100 wpc. Other new products by XTZ include their XTZ 99 W12 DSP (€800) subwoofer with built-in DSP and 12-inch subwoofer plus 400 watt amplifier, XTZ 99 W12 (€380) with 12-inch driver and 400 watt amplifier, and XTZ 99 W10.16 (€330) subwoofer with 10-inch driver and 400 watts if power.

 

Boston Audio Society (BAS) The Boston Audio Society (BAS) is a 100 percent member-supported organization devoted to the exploration and enjoyment of all aspects of audio (BAS) is a 100 percent member-supported organization devoted to the exploration and enjoyment of all aspects of audio. For 30 years it has offered informative and thoughtful non-commercial commentary on the audio scene. Some of their contributors, Henry Kloss for example, have gone on to professional prominence in the audio industry. While current members receive the BAS Speaker, a magazine with monthly-meeting summaries, letters, articles by members, reviews, etc., they have now posted many of their vintage editions that date back to 1972! Articles found in the BAS Speaker are written by various authorities within the audio industry including David B. Hadaway, Stanley P. Lipshitz, E. Brad Meyer, and Tom Nousaine.

 

07 / 09 / 07

Michael Brecker Pilgrimage  Jazz music lovers take note as multiple Grammy Award winning saxophonist Michael Brecker has teamed up with legendary pianists Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau, the outstanding guitarist Pat Metheny, drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist John Patitucci. Sadly, after a two-and-a-half-year battle with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and leukemia, Brecker passed away on January 13, 2007. While in the midst of his debilitating illness, however, Brecker persevered. His work in the studio at the time of his death includes some of the finest music he has ever recorded. His SACD album release on Heads Up International titled Pilgrimage (HUCD 3095) is said to "chronicle Brecker's final journey – one in which the music itself served as a sustaining force. Those present in the studio recall moments when the rigors of recording were so physically taxing – nearly to the point of collapse – for the leader whose health was compromised. In the end, it was Brecker’s sheer will, and a dedication to completing the recording, that pushed him, his colleagues and the project as a whole across the finish line." Pilgrimage on the Heads Up label, the jazz sister to classical music label Telarc, is an excellent addition to any jazz and fusion lover's collection.

 

MGL Audio Laboratories Symphony BasicMGL Audio Laboratories new Symphony Basic ($1295) is a stereo integrated amplifier that offers a 100 wpc of UcD Class-D power amplifier, analog and digital input, plus can use the company's optional 24-bit/96kHz DAC featuring Wolfson WM8740 converters. While providing Squeezebox users "Clean Linear Power," connections to an iPod are standard as is analog preamplifier output and stereo analog inputs. Digital inputs are via coaxial, BNC, Toslink, USB, and WordClock (via BNC). The analog volume adjustment is digitally controlled and offers 0.5dB attenuation steps with virtually no tracking errors. Frequency response is from 10Hz to 20kHz and signal to noise ratio is >105dB. A convenient remote and 5 year worldwide warranty is included.

 

07 / 06 / 07

The Absolute Sound  We now have the world preview of The Absolute Sound's August 2007 (Issue 173) online! This edition marks the magazine's not to be missed prestigious 2007 Golden Ear Awards! With Robert Harley's editorial titled The Bulldog And The Hummingbird, he writes "Reviewing two affordable loudspeakers for this issue's "Start Me Up" drove home a fundamental truth about high-end audio: The smaller your audio-system budget, the more important component selection becomes. This isn't to say that those with a big budget can indiscriminately assemble products and expect to achieve a satisfying whole. Rather, budget products have more trade-offs than expensive products, and choosing products that have the trade-offs most acceptable to your tastes and congruent with your listening preferences results in the best sound for the money and the greatest long-term satisfaction." See the table of contents and read the complete editorial by clicking here.

 

Bowers & Wilkins 683 Floorstanding LoudspeakerAs first reported within the Enjoy the Music.com Munich High End 2007 show report, Bowers & Wilkins has announced their 600 Series of loudspeakers. Incorporating technologies from their reference-standard 800 Series, they can afford to offer this high-value line due to a significant investment in their new purpose-built factory in China. Bowers & Wilkins owns this facility and has spent enormous time with factory managers and engineers in supervising training, construction and operating staff. The new 600 Series Nautilus tube-loaded tweeter has been completely redesigned and employs a powerful new neodymium magnet that now allows it to be placed closer to the midrange driver for more seamless integration and vertical dispersion. Other changes include utilizing a single layer edge-wound ribbon voice coil wire and a copper plate on the pole piece. These techniques put more copper in the voice-coil gap, increase efficiency, lower distortion and extend the high frequency response. Kevlar cones for midrange/bass drivers feature a fixed center "bullet" piece that improves smoothness and dispersion in the upper frequencies. High quality, die-cast driver baskets minimize chassis resonance and rear wave turbulence. The top line floorstanding 683 ($1,400 per pair, pictured right) have the added benefit of the Fixed Suspension Transducer (FST) midrange pioneered in the Nautilus 800 Series. The 683's twin woofers have been given an increase in magnet diameter from 100mm to 120mm, as this provides higher sensitivity and tighter bass. The cone material consists of dual layers of aluminum and paper/Kevlar, in a technique known as constrained layer damping, to reduce cone breakup and lower distortion. Cabinet construction has also been improved by increasing the baffle thickness by 30 percent as compared to other models by Bowers & Wilkins. Other models in the new 600 line include the 686 compact two-way, slightly larger 685, and 684 two-and-half-way vented-box floorstander ( $450, $600, and $1,000 per pair respectively).

 

Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SABAM)A court in Belgium has confirmed that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must take responsibility for stopping illegal file-sharing on its network per a lawsuit filed by the country's the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SABAM). As the first of its kind legal finding in Europe and, since it implements EU legislation, it sets an important precedent in the fight against piracy internationally. The judge said that ISPs have the technical means at their disposal to either block or filter copyright-infringing material on P2P networks and gave the ISP Scarlet (formerly Tiscali) six months to implement such measures. The judgment pointed in particular to the filtering technology developed by Audible Magic and six other possible solutions to block the traffic of unlicensed music. IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy said, "This is an extremely significant ruling which bears out exactly what we have been saying for the last two years -- that the internet's gatekeepers, the ISPs, have a responsibility to help control copyright-infringing traffic on their networks. The court has confirmed that the ISPs have both a legal responsibility and the technical means to tackle piracy. This is a decision that we hope will set the mould for government policy and for courts in other countries in Europe and around the world."

 

07 / 05 / 07

DK-Technologies Audio Levels and Readings  DK-Technologies, a manufacturer of high-quality audio and video equipment for broadcasting/production for over 20 years, now offers their Audio Levels and Readings booklet. The booklet, written by independent audio consultant and AES member Eddy Bøgh Brixen, is supplied free of charge to those who purchase an audio meter from DK-Technologies and is available for free download by clicking here. Karsten Hansen, CEO of DK-Technologies, says "Good audio requires technological as well as musical skills. Customers who have purchased an audio meter from DK-Technologies have already invested in a high quality product that offers a wealth of useful features. The aim of this booklet is to reinforce their purchase by providing useful information that will help develop their understanding of audio levels and readings. We know that our customers want to create perfect audio and the combination of our products and our expertise can only help them move further towards this goal." Written in an easy to digest style, the booklet is recommended as a quick reference for those who want to brush up on their audio metering knowledge. Engineers who want to take the subject further can do so by purchasing Eddy Bøgh Brixen's Audio Metering book, which is also available via the DK-Technologies website.

 

EminenceTo keep up with customer's demands, Eminence loudspeaker company has opened their new manufacturing facility in China after over 18 months of hard work. Supporting their own branded drivers, custom work, re-coning, and other duties their Kentucky-based plant handles, this new 160,000 square foot facility heralds in a new ability to supply the world's demand for their products. This 41-year-old Kentucky-based company supplied drivers to the audiophile market and professional audio companies all around the world. Eminence president Rob Gault said, "To keep growing in the speaker industry we had to either create a presence where the demand was or resign ourselves to shrinking. The new facility in Dongguan is not an effort to replace the Kentucky factory. Eminence USA remains very healthy and very competitive both in the USA and in our export markets. Our Eminence branded product line has become popular in over 100 different markets, and we will continue to concentrate on that production here in the USA to meet our distributors' needs. On the other hand, Eminence Dongguan will logistically address the needs of our OEM customers manufacturing in Asia. Additionally, we will be serving many of those customers with turn-key products - something that Eminence has never been able to offer before, and with a level of quality and on-time delivery that you just can't find anywhere else in China."

 

SoundExchangeSoundExchange announced a proposed voluntary cap on the minimum fees charged against royalties for sound recordings played on Internet Radio. SoundExchange proposed capping such advance payments at $2,500 per service as recently handed down by the United States. The recently-enacted regulations (due to go into effect on July 15) require each webcasting service to pay a $500 minimum fee 'per station or channel' regardless of the overall number of stations/channels they are streaming. This new deal addresses webcasters' concerns about their liability for per channel minimums where large commercial services such as Yahoo and others provide hundreds of channels that broadcast music online, thereby reaching fees that can add up the tens of thousands of dollars. "There was a lot of misunderstanding out there about how the minimum fee would apply, and frankly some people were wrongly stating SoundExchange's policy on this matter," said John Simson, Executive Director of SoundExchange. "We certainly don't want anybody to get unduly hurt by the minimum fee, but there is a value to music and a cost to administering the digital royalty program, and we wanted to ensure that everyone was treated fairly -- artists, webcasters and record labels." SoundExchange is also in negotiations with small commercial webcasters and non-commercial webcasters including public radio and college stations to provide below-market rates under terms similar to those they enjoyed in previous years under the Small Webcaster Settlement Act.

 

07 / 04 / 07

  What if you you have the LP yet no CD available, or you need a CD of an unavailable album on vinyl? Fear not as Vinyl Revolution can send you a CD of your favorite LP that is professional remastered at 96kHz to CD's 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution. Simply send them your LP or search their inventory of vinyl that you can purchase along with remaster.

 

Nordost Odin Reference CableNordost's new Odin Reference cable range (starting at $14,000/pr for interconnects and $20,000/pr for loudspeaker cables), this revolutionary design combines the evolution of existing Nordost proprietary technologies with the fruits of fundamental new research. Silver-plated copper solid-core conductors are used with the latest Dual Mono-Filament and extruded Teflon construction, while the interconnects are shielded using Nordost's newly developed Total Signal Control technology, said to provide a uniquely effective response to signal maintenance and protection. Nordost's engineers take the company's Dual Mono-Filament construction a stage further than previously available by first twisting two FEP Mono-Filaments together, before winding them in an open spiral around each solid-core conductor. The results, according to Nordost, are a significant reduction in conductor contact area and far greater geometrical consistency, especially when cables are bent. Another technology within these cables are Total Signal Control (TSC) shielding. Developed to match the theoretical performance of solid copper pipes without the resultant problems of inflexibility that such rigid structures impose, each of the eight conductors in an Odin interconnect is individually shielded using this Nordost developed technology. This technique minimizes both signal leakage and external interference in today's increasingly electronically polluted environment. Conductor materials remain silver plated copper, with silver plated WBT NextGen RCA or Furutech XLR terminations on the interconnects, rhodium plated low mass Z-plugs or spades on the loudspeaker cables.

 

HiFi-Tuning Noise Detector and Noise Destroyer UnitsHiFi-Tuning now offers their Noise Detector and Noise Destroyer units. The Noise Detector converts mains interference to a modulated sound and handles low frequency (even DC offset) and high frequency interference. This innovative tool easily detects mains interference (EMI/RFI) and, depending on the kind of distortion (narrow-/wideband), the audible signal is a hum or a crackle. The intensity is adjustable by means of the volume control to assist in analysis. The mains outlet on the plug of the Noise Detector is an extra outlet for the company's Noise Destroyer. The Noise Destroyer employs shunt filtering so no dynamic losses possible. Add to that, 'super fast reaction speed' covers wide frequency range up to nearly 1GHz and is claimed to lower the main electrical impedance. Simple plug & play installation means users just plug the unit as close as possible to their source component or near the source of the distortion-causing unit (light dimmer, fluorescent lightning, transformer, etc.).

 

Richard Gray's Power Company (RGPC) Ground Loop EliminatorRichard Gray's Power Company (RGPC) announced the availability of its Ground Loop Eliminator, an HD/Digital compatible product that safely removes Ground Loops from the coax line. Ground loops are generally caused by leakage to the Ground (usually through chassis) of a component or by the presence of an unbalanced load. With multiple devices are connected to a common ground via different paths a ground loop occurs that causes 50Hz/60Hz hum in audio equipment. This new unit may solve ground loop problems and restore a clean, silent background to a high-end audio system that is also connected to video equipment.

 

Samsung Electronics is offering their Blu-ray and HD DVD combo player that, unlike the LG universal unit, will support full interactive features from both formats. Samsung's Duo HD player, model BD-UP5000, will fully support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats and their interactive technologies, HDi and BD-Java. "We welcome Samsung's Duo HD player as another solution in the marketplace that will help reduce consumer confusion and buyer hesitancy towards HD media," said Ron Sanders, President of Warner Home Video. "This is an innovative product that can move us closer to mainstream consumer adoption of HD technologies." Samsung's press release goes on and states, "As a member of the DVD Forum and contributor to the DVD Industry, we recognize that both HD-DVD and BD formats have merits. As such, we have decided to market a dual format player. Samsung is flexible to market a stand-alone HD-DVD player whenever consumers demand it. Our main concern is not technology but consumer choice," said Dongsoo Jun, Executive Vice President of the Digital AV Division at Samsung Electronics.

 

07 / 03 / 07

Enjoy the Music.com Internet Browser Version 9.1  Enjoy the Music.com, the Internet's leading resource for audiophile equipment reviews and show reports, began offering the world's first Web browser back in May of 1999. With over seven years of experience in Web browser development and research, Version 9.1 refines and streamlines our previous efforts with links to online equipment reviews, music reviews and highly respected high-end audio magazines. We also provide hundreds of links to equipment manufacturers from all around the world. An additional feature to aid audiophiles includes a Search box customized to deliver query results specifically geared towards high-end audio topics. Optional components for multimedia enjoyment such as the Microsoft Media Player, iTunes, YouTube, Rhapsody and others works seamlessly in concert with the browser to deliver Internet-based audio and video entertainment. Improvements to our previous version marks the availability and support of over 20 languages including French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese (simplified and tradition), Japanese, and German. To download Version 9.1 of the Enjoy the Music.com Internet browser click here.

 

07 / 02 / 07

Mondo Systems Mint System  Mondo System Inc. launched their Mint Digital Music Station that consists of a Class-D digital amplifier, two bookshelf speakers, a remote control, and a wireless dock designed to remotely stream music from an iPod mobile digital device. The unit has iPod, USB, Wireless Audio and Line In connections for use with a PC and/or Mac computer, iPod, MP3 player, CD player, etc. PurePath Digital technology from Texas Instruments, 70 watts of amplification (at 4 ohms), and two-way wood-construction loudspeakers with four-layer piano coat white finish and removable front grilles are just some of the details of this system. The drivers within the speakers are a 1-inch Peerless neodymium tweeter and 4-inch AuraSound aluminum cone woofer. A pair of Canare 1.5-meter loudspeaker cables with banana-type connectors are included. When placed up to 100 feet away from the amplifier, music can be streamed, volume controlled, play lists managed, and more via Mondo's proprietary technology.

 

07 / 01 / 07

Audiophile Equipment Review Magazine Enjoy the Music.com's July Review Magazine is now online and filled with new equipment reviews plus 3-D analysis of the legendary Stradivarius violin! We kick off this edition with scientific data and other thoughts regarding this special violin plus how measurements still fall short of answering the golden question. Equipment reviews include the Black Mountain Pinnacle silver interconnect, Cayin's A-50T amplifier, the Merlin TSM-MME and Trend Audio's newest TA-10.1 Class-T amplifier. Of note is that we have articles for you DIY'ers who want to make your own cables, a DIY passive preamplifier tutorial, and tweaks for fans of the legendary Dyna ST-70! We also have many new music reviews and various editorials for your reading pleasure. See the July issue of our Review Magazine by clicking here.

 

July's Superior Audio marks out third manufacturer focus! Our deHavilland Electric Company tribute begins by a conversation with the company's chief engineer Kara Chaffee. We continue with reviews of the company's GM70 SET monoblocks, Aries 845-G SE monoblocks, Mercury 2 line preamplifier, and UltraVerve line preamplifier! Add to that, we have a world premiere of Antique Sound Lab's Flora EX DT line preamplifier! See the July issue of our Superior Audio by clicking here.


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