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High-End Audio Industry News


08 / 31 / 05

Boston Acoustics  D&M Holdings, a Tokyo based company that owns Denon, Marantz, McIntosh Laboratory, and ReplayTV, has acquired Boston Acoustics (including Snell Acoustics). For decades Boston Acoustics has been producing very high quality loudspeakers with constant investments into innovation. The company's audio business includes tabletop systems, micro systems and home theater products plus in-wall/in-ceiling loudspeakers. Boston Acoustics has formed strategic alliances with Chrysler in offering their branded speakers for the Chrysler 300, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Magnum, and the Dodge Charger. The Snell Acoustics brand is generally aimed at audiophiles and those seeking top-notch sound reproduction.

 

08 / 30 / 05

Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro Soundcard  Sound Blaster has released new X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity line of soundcards for computers that consist of their X-Fi Elite Pro ($400, pictured), X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS ($280), X-Fi Platinum ($200), and X-Fi XtremeMusic ($130). Capable of upsampling MP3, WMA, CD and other files to 24-bit DVD-Audio quality, X-Fi also supports up to eight different 24-bit hardware effects, synthesis capabilities with 24-bit SoundFont sampling and 3DMIDI (providing surround sound MIDI). Internal DAC chipset is rated at 118dB SNR with internal electronics processing conversions at 135dB for both upsampling and downsampling resolution from 44.1kHz to 96kHz. Audiophiles will enjoy X-Fi's Modal Architecture audio creation that shows only those things a music enthusiast needs in a dedicated user interface. Audio technology in the new Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor includes 51 million transistors that can process over 10,000 MIPS, this is 24 times more powerful than Sound Blaster's previous soundcard. Compact disc (CD) audio can be converted to 24-bit/96kHz files with ease. Headphone lovers can take advantage of Creative's X-Fi CMSS-3D feature and EAX Advanced HD 5.0, EAX MacroFX, EAX PurePath and Environment FlexiFX technologies to aid in producing realistic sound. The top of the line X-Fi Elite Pro offers an I/O module with a comprehensive selection of connectivity for audio creation with easy-to-use control knobs for the X-Fi 24-bit Crystalizer, X-Fi CMSS- 3D (Creative Multi-Speaker Surround), 3DMIDI, and EAX. The Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro has 64MB of on-board X-RAM, built-in pre-amplifier for direct recording, and high-impedance inputs for electric guitars.

 

08 / 29 / 05

Dual COnnect Cable Systems  Upstart cable manufacturer Dual Connect has a long connection with audiophiles. Danish Audio ConnecT (DACT) is now producing complete cabling systems with the same high quality as found within their attenuators, switches, phono stage, etc. under the Dual Connect name. Because any loss of signal is considered unacceptable, the philosophy behind their cabling systems is on basis of rules for electronic circuits as the electrons are the same. The use of PTFE as insulation is a natural, though air is better so they have designed their cables for best insulation properties while minimizing capacitance. Dual Connect also believes that twisting wire increases energy losses and each wire design must include the same number of metal conductors for each direction of the signal. As for the metals themselves, it will be either 99.99 percent pure silver or gold. RCA connectors will be specifically modified Eichmann Bullet Plugs as they are claimed to produce the best signal transfer. While there is an extensive catalog of assembled cables, there are also kits available for the DIY enthusiast.

 

08 / 26 / 05

Olive Media Products Symphony  Olive Media Products, developer of digital audio systems, will soon release their new Symphony ($899) wireless digital music center designed for audiophiles. Based on a central device that stores, manages and wirelessly distributes digital music throughout the home, the Symphony combines a 32-bit IBM PowerPC for processing of audio in lossless quality. Due to cooling fans associated with other manufacturer's products incurring unwelcome noise, the Symphony uses no fans and also offers a digital output for use with high-end digital to analog converters (DACs). CDs, vinyl and tapes are recorded onto the noiseless 2.5-inch 80GB hard-drive that can store upwards of 20,000 songs while the front panel display identifies, tags and archives CD automatically. The music streams wireless via 802.11g to up to 5 rooms simultaneously. Other features include updating iPod via USB or use the built-in CD-RW drive to burn and duplicate CDs. Olive Media Products' Symphony is compatible with both MAC and PC, though the unit comes bundled with Playlist Mac OSX software.

 

08 / 25 / 05

Design E GT3 Series Loudspeaker  Design e's stunning new GT3 Series loudspeaker provides music lovers the enjoyment of premium sound and high quality build, yet at reasonable pricing (£745 per pair, approximately $1,350 USD). Visually, a unique fusion of solid wood craftsmanship with the latest composite technology is a feast for the eyes, yet very functional at insuring internal standing waves are at a minimum. On the rear of the unit is a port to assist in lower frequency reproduction while on the bottom of the unit are gold plated loudspeaker binding posts. Frequency response is from 50Hz to 20kHz, impedance is 8 ohms, and sensitivity is 87dB/W/m. Each loudspeaker weights in at 7 kg.

 

08 / 24 / 05

Bob Moog  It saddens us to report that Bob Moog, creator of the Moog synthesizer, has passed away. His legendary Minimoog synthesizer made its first debut in 1970 and has been said to have revolutionized the role of keyboardists. This was the first truly portable electronic keyboard and years later helped to bring about MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), a set of mathematical tables and programming instructions designed to allow various musical instruments to communicate with one another during the digital recording process. Bob Moog was born in New York in 1934, took piano lessons as a child, and later built Theremins (electronic sound instruments). Bob Moog founded the R. A. Moog Company in 1954 as a part time venture, eventually becoming full time in 1964. Over the years Bob Moog earned many awards for his work including the Silver Medal of The Audio Engineering Society and the Trustee's Award of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy organization). From the Beatles, Yes, Parliament/Funkadelic, to Keith Emerson (of rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer) to hip-hop, jazz and funk; odds are if you have a good-sized music collection you have heard Bob Moog's creations. Various Moog creations include the Micromoog, Minitmoog, Multimoog and Memorymoog. In fact during Enjoy the Music.com's private tour of Peter Gabriel's Real World recording studio you can see within the photos some of Moog's keyboards. Moog is survived by his wife Ileana and former wife Shireleigh Moog.

 

08 / 23 / 05

Grammy Awards  For the sixth consecutive year the Recording Academy has requested Enjoy the Music.com™ to list recordings that will be considered for the next Grammy Award ceremony. The upcoming 48th Grammy Awards is scheduled for February 2006 and will be reported by Enjoy the Music.com™, the only audiophile magazine who are longstanding members of The Recording Academy. See our critically acclaimed coverage of the 46th Annual Grammy Awards by clicking here.

 

08 / 22 / 05

  Boston Audio Design goes Podcasting with their series that will focus exclusively on high-end audio. Each Podcast will be approximately 30 minutes long and highlight various luminaries within the industry. Questions from audiophiles can be e-mailed in and may be answered during the next new interview within the series. New Podcasts will be released monthly and may be downloaded automatically via RSS or manually by visiting the Boston Audio Design website. The first podcast will feature Simon Yorke of Simon Yorke Designs while future scheduled Podcasts are to interview with 47 Laboratory and Avantgarde Acoustics. "We’re very excited to offer this free service to the audio community," said Austin Jackson, President of Boston Audio Design. "By serving as a conduit for communication between audiophiles and manufacturers, we’re able to help people learn what they want to know and to better understand the innovative points of view that make ground-breaking audio products a reality."

 

08 / 19 / 05

Paradigm Electronics UltraCube 10 Subwoofer  On the heels of Sunfire  introducing an uprated Super Junior subwoofer only days earlier for $995 (see August 11 industry news below), Paradigm Electronics has just announced their UltraCube 10 subwoofer ($799). UltraCube features a single 10-inch down-firing mineral-filled co-polymer polypropylene cone plus a side-firing unit while the Sunfire only has a pair of 8-inch drivers. Both the Sunfire and Paradigm include a 1,500 watt amplifier and flexible crossover to insure ease of integration into an existing system. The UltrCube 10 measures 12.3 x 11.5 x 11.5 (HxWxD in inches) and is available in Black Ash.

 

08 / 18 / 05

M-Audio BX8a Studio Monitor  M-Audio's new studio monitor BX8a ($599) is making big news as music lovers on a budget. The two-way magnetically shielded studio reference monitor uses a 1-inch silk soft dome tweeter and 8-inch Kevlar midrange/bass driver to produce frequencies from 40Hz to 24kHz. Of interesting note is that Class AB bi-amplification of 60 watts for the tweeter and 70 watts for the midrange/woofer is enclosed within the cabinetry. Crossover duties are via a 4-order Linkwitz-Riley at a frequency of 2.2kHz. Rear inputs include XLR balanced and 1/4-inch inputs, though audiophiles can use an adapter for standard RCA input. The black vinyl-laminated rear ported MDF enclosure is 12 x 10 x 15 (HxWxD) and weighs 26.4 lbs.

 

08 / 17 / 05

Oracle Audio Technologies Temple Phono Stage  Oracle Audio Technologies, known for serving analog lovers for over 25 years, is now offering their Temple phonostage. Single ended RCA stereo inputs include MM, MC1, and MC2, with input impedances of 47KOhm for MM, and fixed MC1, MC2 of 25, 50, 100, 200, 330, and 470 Ohm via a rotary switch. Input capacitance selections include 0, 33, 100, 200, 470, and 1000 PF. Outputs are both RCA and XLR stereo pair and output impedance is a low 560 Ohm. The amplification circuit is discrete 'Class A' push-pull with variable gain setting of 40, 44, 48, 52, 56, and 60dB. Other technical highlights include a S/N of >80dB, distortion of 0.05 percent, and a frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz.

 

08 / 16 / 05

  This just in as Reference Recordings has been saved!

Reference Recordings is pleased to announce that, after a long and costly legal battle, we have won our lawsuit and are now separated completely from The Dorian Group. All assets and rights to the label and catalogue have been returned to us.

Plans are under way to re-establish RR in the music marketplace by early October, 2005. RR has just signed an exclusive distribution agreement for the United States and Canada with Allegro Corporation and Allegro Entertainment Canada Ltd., of Portland, Oregon. Allegro distributed RR prior to the failed merger with The Dorian Group.

RR is now reconnecting with its network of international distributors in more than 25 countries, and looks forward to resuming these excellent business relationships. Export sales will begin in October.

RR's most recent releases (below) will be re-promoted in an ambitious program by Allegro in the Fall, and review copies will be available to all publications by request.

New releases will begin in January, 2006, starting with Five O'Clock Foxtrot, a collection of orchestral music by Maurice Ravel, with Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra.

2006 will mark the 30th Anniversary year of Reference Recordings. Our multi-Grammy awarded and nominated label remains completely dedicated to the highest standards of recording art and technology.

 

08 / 15 / 05

Enjoy the Music.com August 2005 Audiophile Review Magazine  Enjoy the Music.com's Review Magazine has once again began offering midmonth updates with two new equipment reviews! Kit builders will rejoice as Jeff Rabin shares his findings concerning Audio Note's Kit 1 amplifier. This 300B stereo unit has been receiving quite a bit of talk in certain audio circles. Our second midmonth update involves Marigo Labs' Signature 3-D Stabilizer Mat. Audiophile Audition's John Sunier takes a close listen and tells it as he hears it. See both midmonth reviews by clicking here.

 

08 / 11 / 05

Sunfire Super Junior Subwoofer  Sunfire introduced an uprated Super Junior subwoofer, with the uprating being a lower price and new dark gloss lacquer finish. With 1,500 watts driving a pair of 8-inch long-throw drivers, the 9-inch square cabinet is one of the smallest in the industry featuring high wattage amplification. The unit weighs 29 pounds and is claimed that the unit can achieve peak output of 108dB/W/m. Other features include automatic signal-sensing, turn-on and stand-by modes, various inputs, phase adjustment, crossover frequency and volume level, and a detachable IEC-style line cord. Sunfire's Ebonized Rosewood lacquer cabinetry finish is multilayered so that it looks black until a light is shined upon it. The suggested price of the Super Junior is now $995 (was $1,095).

 

08 / 10 / 05

Buena Vista Social Club Singer Ibrahim Ferrer   Grammy Award winning Buena Vista Social Club's singer Ibrahim Ferrer passed away at the age of 78 due to emphysema. Born in Santiago, Cuba, on February 20, 1927, Ferrer's career began in 1941 at various clubs in Santiago. Ibrahim would stand in as a guest singer with other Cuban legends like the Orquesta de Chepin and Beny Moré, Toda Cuba Le Gusta, and eventually finding a home with Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club. The Buena Vista Social Club turned into a worldwide hit which earned many sold-out tours and spawned an Oscar-nominated documentary. Ferrer has already recorded a collection of boleros titled "Mis Suenos" ("My Dreams") and is said to be released in a few months. Ferrer is survived by his wife Caridad Diaz.

 

08 / 09 / 05

River Cable Flexygy 8 Loudspeaker Cable  River Cable's new flat Flexygy 8 loudspeaker cable is made with eight conductors of 16 AWG in parallel and comes in standard or bi-wire version. The "Hyper fine stranded 4 Sigma laminar copper" is insulated with a lead- and cadmium-free polymer jacket while end connector choices include gold plated banana plugs, gold plated pins, or gold 0.25" spade cable lugs. Flexygy 8's capacitance specification is an extremely low 10 pF/ft, DC resistance of 0.003 ohms/ft, and inductance of 300 nHy/ft.

 

08 / 08 / 05

Sennheisher M145 Headphones  Sennheiser Electronic Corporation has introduced a computer/multimedia headset specifically optimized for users of Apple's computers and portable iPod. Their new M145 (msrp $125, street price $89) headset combines high-fidelity stereo headphones with hands-free noise-canceling microphone. The M145 features include a dedicated USB adapter with built-in soundcard for both input and output regardless of the audio sub-system present in the host desktop or laptop. Independent input and output connectors on standard 3.5mm stereo plugs allow the M145 to function as standard headphones. The transducers feature carefully focused unidirectional Sennheiser element while integrated noise-canceling electronics insure outside interference does not greatly hinder music enjoyment.

 

08 / 05 / 05

Meridian Audio Limited SW5500 Subwoofer  Meridian Audio Limited  just announced two new subwoofers, the SW1600 ($3,945) with a single 300mm driver and the SW5500 ($4,995, shown here) with dual 300mm drivers. Both units are designed to emphasize extreme bass, depth, clarity, control, and articulation. Each subwoofer includes digital and analog inputs, thus allowing them to be connected either to a Meridian digital surround controller or to a standard digital source, with the option of analog RCA or XLR preamplifier/surround unit. Digital inputs are processed in 24-bit/96kHz. Separate analog and digital power supplies are used while the entire electronic assembly is supplied from a substantial toroidal transformer feeding high quality, audiophile-grade capacitors. Meridian's high-efficiency, long-throw 300mm (12 inch) custom bass drivers are mounted within a sealed enclosure and driven by Class G high efficiency amplifiers. The SW1600 and SW5500 are supplied with feet, spikes and castors, allowing maximum versatility of mounting and position, including built-in or cabinet installation. Included are the cables required to use the subwoofers in a Meridian system.

 

08 / 04 / 05

Dynaudio Focus Series Loudspeaker  Dynaudio's new Focus series feature the company's latest driver technology mated to a more traditional Danish aesthetic. With four models to choose from, the Focus series include the Focus 110 ($1,400 per pair) and Focus 140 ($1,800 per pair) stand-mounted monitors, the Focus 220 ($3,000 per pair) floor-standing loudspeaker, and the Focus 200 C Center Channel ($1,000 each). Dynaudio's Esotec+ driver design employed in the Focus series is directly evolved from the company’s flagship developments. Other technology found in the series include proprietary MSP (magnesium silicate polymer) material woofer cones, large diameter lightweight aluminum wire voice coils, specially treated soft-dome tweeter diaphragms, and phase-correct first-order crossover networks. The top range Focus 220 (pictured here) is a 2.5-way floorstander with two Esotec+ 17W-75 woofers and an Esotec+ T380 tweeter. It is 87dB/W/m sensitive, can handle 250 Watts, presents a 4 Ohm impedance, and produces frequencies from 32Hz to 25kHz (±3dB).

 

08 / 03 / 05

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)  The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an organization that promotes the international recording industry with a membership that comprises over 1,450 major and independent companies in more than 75 countries, has published their 12th annual Recording Industry in Numbers. It is claimed by the IFPI to be "the most complete and authoritative source of music industry statistics worldwide." The newly released worldwide market share figures for 2004 shows global revenues from the collection of performance rights, along with data, statistics and trends in 65 countries' music markets. These newly released figures also include licensing income from webcasting and simulcasting plus traditional radio, TV broadcasting, and public performance revenues from bars, hotels, nightclubs and restaurants. Recording label Universal is still the dominant force with a 25.5 percent share of the world market with Sony BMG following at 21.5 percent. EMI achieved 13.4 percent, Warner 11.3 percent, and the independent sector holds steady with a 28.4 percent. Performance rights collections totaled $493 million in 2004, this is up 4.5 percent over the previous year and up 19 percent over the past five years. Internet sales of physical product, according to the IFPI, "are growing rapidly reaching 15 percent in Germany, 10 percent in the UK and 6 percent in the US. The internet was the fastest-growing retail channel for CD sales in 2004." Other interesting facts released in the report include:

Per capita album sales are higher in the UK than anywhere else in the world
- with an average 2.9 albums bought by every man, woman and child in the country every year. Norway is second at 2.7, with the USA third at 2.6

The average age of music consumers is increasing. In 1999 music consumers over 30 accounted for less than half of all music sales. Now 55% of music is bought by the over 30s. The world's 'oldest consumers' (% of over 30s) are
in: Hungary (73%), Netherlands (73%), Austria (71%) and Germany (69%). 'Youngest consumers': Brazil (37%), Mexico (26%) and Japan (30%)

Singapore has the highest number of CD players per household in the world - at almost four (390%). The USA is next (257%) followed by Hong Kong (212%) and the UK (166%)

At 94%, US households have more DVD players than anywhere else in the world. The top ten markets for music DVD sales are USA, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Brazil, Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Spain

Canada has the highest broadband uptake in North America (46%). Denmark has the highest broadband penetration in Europe (44%) and Chile has the highest broadband penetration in Latin America (8%)

Taiwan has biggest number of mobile phones per household (110%) - at least one for every person in the country. Mobile penetration reached 100% in three other markets in 2004 - Czech Republic, Portugal and Sweden

 

08 / 02 / 05

  This year marks the 10th year The Cable Company, in concert with over forty manufacturers' products they sell, are holding their Summer Against Hunger fundraiser. This fundraiser supports relief and development efforts of the International Rescue Committee and CARE that assist the poorest people in the most ravaged regions of the world with basic human needs like food, shelter, clean water, and medical attention. Five percent of each sale goes to the fundraiser plus The Cable Company (and UsedCable.com) efforts are greeted by matching funds from our vendors for sales of their products. Last year the US Agency for International Development (US AID) combined to match the audio industry efforts on a 3:1 basis. Last year's event raised a grant total of $40,000 this and over the past nine years the program has raised well over $250,000.

 

08 / 01 / 05

Enjoy the Music.com August 2005 Audiophile Review Magazine  Enjoy the Music.com now offers the August edition of our critically acclaimed audiophile Review Magazine! This new issue features reviews of Artemis Labs' PH-1 phono stage, an expert assessment of Raysonic's SP-100, the Cain & Cain Company Abby loudspeaker, and Skorpion's HV-1 stereo headphone OTL triode amplifier. Naturally there are many music reviews and various editorials. See the August issue of our Review Magazine by clicking here.


 

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