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High-End Audio Industry News

9 / 30 / 00

  The January 2001 International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) being held from Saturday, January 6 through Tuesday, January 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada is expected to be the largest to date. So far more than 1.1 million net square feet of exhibit space is already sold according to organizers. Expected to attend the show are more than 110,000 industry professionals from 125 countries. On the high-end side of things, The Home Entertainment Show (T.H.E. Show) has also sold more space than ever before and is expected to be the place to see the vast majority of high performance audio products. Over 180 manufactures/distributors are currently slated in from heavyweights like Sony and Philips to recent rave 47 Labs and WAVAC Audio Labs. Both shows will be filled to the brim with new products, though it seems the high-end has spoken against the CES and in favor of T.H.E. Show. Of curse we here at Enjoy the Music.com™ will be there doing our "virtually live" show coverage.

 

 

As the European Commission has finally giving the nod to allow America Online's proposed $135 billion buyout of Time Warner they have also decided to not allow the $20 billion joint venture between Warner Music and EMI Group said a source close to the decision makers. A final ruling ruling in this case will be made by Oct. 24 while a decision on the Warner-EMI Music venture is expected on Oct. 4 or 11. ''If it sorts out the EMI/Warner Music problems, either by blocking the deal or resolving the issues of market dominance, it's hard to imagine the Commission having any problems with AOL-Time Warner,'' the source said. ''Discussions are still going on with (EMI and Time Warner), and they could still produce further commitments, but they'd have to be pretty clear-cut and that could be difficult.''

 

9 / 29 / 00

MP3.com  As news of the ''Music Owners' Listening Rights Act of 2000" hit the streets yesterday, MP3.com was fast to react to this favorable news by kicking off a ''million e-mail march.'' This bill could save MP3.com many millions of dollars while also legitimizing their previous practices of offering copyrighted music on demand when consumers showed they owned the music. A link on MP3.com's home page will read ''hands off my music!' and this will allow people to directly e-mail their Congressional representatives by zip code. In July of this year MP3.com asked users to write Senators Orrin Hatch and Patrick Leahy to pass legislation that would overturn the copyright-infringement judgment against MP3.com in April. It seemed to work as Leahy was bombarded with over 17,000 e-mails. This was, in fact, more than he received concerning President Clinton's impeachment! Due to receiving so many e-mails, Lehey had to temporarily shut down his e-mail system due to the overflow. ''People buying CDs are the lifeblood of the music industry and they should be permitted to use new technologies that give them exciting ways to access their music,'' said mp3.com's Chairman and CEO Michael Robertson. ''We applaud and support elected officials and those seeking office who are working to give consumers access to the music they have purchased, anywhere and anytime.''

 

9 / 28 / 00

Martin Logan Ascent  MartinLogan has now officially announced their new Ascent loudspeakers that were first seen publicly in our Hi-Fi News show report last week. The Ascent features a natural evolution from previous designs by MartinLogan. The Ascent features advanced construction techniques and finishes including specially designed stator supports and composite headpiece for maximum stator rigidity (which assists in providing for better clarity). A new, top-quality crossover network, thicker cabinetry, and MartinLogan's own energy transfer coupler (ETC) spikes are said to help maintain better lower frequency resolution while increasing dynamic performance. A single 10" high excursion low frequency driver gives the Ascent bass frequencies down to 35 Hz. The full frequency response of the Ascent is claimed as 35-22,000 Hz (±3 dB) while sensitivity is 90 dB/2.83 volts/meter.

 

 

Giving a new life to what be the death of MP3.com's recent lawsuit, several U.S. congressmen have introduced a new bill that would legalize online music services that have caused so much grief for streaming audio providers like MP3.com. The "Music Owners' Listening Rights Act of 2000" bill would allow companies the legal right to stream music online to consumers who can prove they own the music. Alas, it is doubtful this bill would be approved in time before MP3.com will have to pay Universal a $118 million due to a willfully infringing lawsuit.

 

 

At the Audio Engineering Society convention Apogee Electronics Launched their new IntelliDAC 9616 multichannel D/A converter. While this is more a recording studio product than one for home use (being a 16-channel, 24-bit/96kHz D/A converter system), we felt the IntelliDAC's use of "intelligent" two-stage re-clocking system was newsworthy as many top recording studio technologies can make their way into consumer's homes. IntelliDAC designer Lucas Van Der Meer said "Traditionally, Apogee converters have removed jitter from the incoming clock signal, but this time we've done something different. The IntelliDAC solves this problem by utilizing two clocks. A fast-responding 'read' clock, with a wide locking range, fills a dedicated buffer and an ultra-low-jitter 'write' clock, which writes the data out of the buffer, is used to clock the converters."

 

 

Furman SoundComing from the folks who helped begin the use of balanced power worldwide now gives audiophiles, custom home installers and, of course, recording studios their all new IT-REFERENCE line of balanced power filters. Enter Furman Sound's next generation of balanced power products. Using Discrete Symmetrical Power technology that works with all analog, digital, and video components to typically provide more than 24 dB reduction of AC line induced noise. There are four individually isolated, electrostatically shielded, Symmetrical Power banks for equipment consuming low or intermediate power (eliminating digital noise and performance-degrading power supply "backwash" from neighboring components). For high power components such as power amplifiers and powered subwoofers, a separate High Current bank gives ultra-low impedance, filtered, non-symmetrical (balanced) AC. Top quality toroidal transformer is employed, yielding extremely low magnetic field leakage. For electrical outlets, industrial quality "super-spec" isolated-ground outlets used throughout. The new IT-Series currently includes 120-volt models in 10-, 20- and 30-Ampere configurations.

 

9 / 10 / 00  to  9 / 27 / 00

  As we have much more news and new product information on the four shows we covered than could be simply listed here, we felt it best to provide links to the four show reports below:

The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) Show

Milan Top Audio & Video 2000

Live 2000 Event

Hi-Fi News 2000 Show

 

9 / 09 / 00

Cisco Systems, Inc.Looking for a way to fully monitor and control the home environment, while also having complete internet implementation, leading internet technology leader Cisco Systems, Inc., has unveiled its "Internet Home". Their 1700 square foot Internet Home demonstrates the benefits of having a high-speed always-on Internet connection. Joined by developer Playa Vista, this technology is being developed for use in not just homes, but also for the commercial community development. Other developers such as Digital Interiors, The Great Indoors, Hewlett-Packard Company, Sears, Roebuck and Co, and Whirlpool helped to demonstrates the power of the Internet in enhancing daily living for consumers and business'.

Since the Internet offers everything from shopping for groceries to listening to music or sending family photos to grandparents, it makes since that one day we will have fully web enabled homes. "The Internet Home drives home the message that always on, high speed Internet connections are available in today's home, whether it's an older home or brand-new development. It also demonstrates how an always on, high-speed Internet connection is as easy to use as turning on a light or a water faucet," said Mike Moone, group vice president and general manager, Cisco's Consumer Line of Business. "We are pleased to be working with leading consumer companies and community developers to help make Internet Homes a reality for consumers."

 

 

Dominating computer operating system owner Microsoft is said to be readied to purchase MongoMusic.com. Mongo Music is vast search engine specifically geared for music lovers. Price? A cool $65 million or so. As Microsoft has been stepping up its Windows Media Player, they seemingly would also like to incorporate MongoMusic's search engine capabilities for its own online entertainment services.

 

9 / 08 / 00

Parental Advisory  Putting more emphasis in their controlling of music on the Internet, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has decided to change the guidelines for the so called voluntary "Parental Advisory Label" on sound recordings. The RIAA wants various websites who stream music with qualifying lyrics to kindly display the Parental Advisory label. The RIAA notice says "It is understood that in most cases, the online sellers of music are not affiliated with the record company and therefore will make their own decisions with regard to this policy... But, record retailers have been important and conscientious partners in informing parents about the Parental Advisory Label and it is important to continue to work together." The RIAA quotes their President, Hilary Rosen, who said "The recording industry takes seriously our responsibility to help parents identify music with explicit lyrics. We believe that not all music is right for all ages and our Parental Advisory Label was created for just that reason. Parents can use the label to identify music that may not be appropriate for their children and make the choice about when – and whether – their children should be able to have that recording. Music can also be an opportunity -- an outlet for parents or other adults to talk to kids and an opportunity for adults to tune into what kids are thinking and feeling. Listen to the music they choose and ask them why they like a certain song or album. What do they think the artist is saying?"

 

9 / 07 / 00

MP3.com  In the near final to the MP3 saga, in the U.S. District Court has decided to fine MP3.com for "willfully infringing" the copyrights of Universal Music Group (UMG). The judge has decided on a fine of $25,000 per compact disc. While some say it could add up to $118 million while others feel it could be upwards of $250 million. Of course we will be seeing MP3 appeal on the ruling and thereby keeping it in the judicial system for quite some time. Judge Jed Rakoff said MP3.com had "expressed in no uncertain terms its recognition of the basic prohibitions of copyright law and the considerable potential for their violation in the context of MP3 downloading and streaming." He also said "There is no doubt in the court's mind that the potential for huge profits in the rapidly expanding world of the Internet is the lure that tempted an otherwise generally responsible company like MP3.com to break the law and that will also tempt others to do so if too low a level is set for the statutory damages in this case."

MP3.com's lawyer Michael Rhodes held discussions with the judge the day before the ruling. He passionately told the judge that a penalty of more than $500 per CD was a virtual death sentence for MP3.com. Meanwhile Universal desired a judgment to award upwards of $450 million proclaiming MP3.com copied between 5,000 and 10,000 CDs though MP3.com puts the number at only 4,700, which would add up to "only" $118 million in damages. 

Cary Sherman, senior vice president and general counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), issued a statement in response to the ruling saying "We're obviously pleased with today's ruling. This should send a message that there are consequences when a business recklessly disregards the copyright law. We trust this will encourage those who want to build a business using other people's copyrighted works to seek permission to do so in advance. That's the best and quickest way to create a vibrant marketplace for music on the Internet."

 

 

In an effort to bringing legal music downloads to internet users, Yahoo!, Inc., is working with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to pay royalties to artists and record labels for the music streamed via their network. Approximately 15 to 22 percent of Yahoo!'s gross revenues could be paid to cover various royalty fees. "Our agreement with Yahoo! confirms that music on the Internet will thrive when parties work together," said Hilary Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the RIAA. "We commend Yahoo! for blazing a trail in the marketplace and demonstrating its commitment to the artists who create music." As the decision against MP3.com illegal actions went down, there are other sites that are legally working with the RIAA such as OnAir.com (formerly WWW.com), Soundbreak.com and Musicmusicmusic.

 

 

Website Hifi.com, a sister company of Cambridge SoundWorks who uses the legendary Henry Kloss designed loudspeakers, offers various audio and video products in a business to consumer (B to C) e-commerce scheme has now made available their new CustomHiFi.com website. This will offer the custom electronic design and installation professionals, such as those who attend the CEDIA Expo, access to leading audio/video products plus installation support. CustomHiFi.com is a business to business (B to B) scheme and of course uses it's sister business to sell their own Cambridge SoundWorks' products. "To date, the custom install professional, who has a need to purchase high quality audio/video products at discounted prices, has not had a one-stop alternative," said Michael Sullivan, president of Hifi.com. "CustomHifi.com was built on this premise and offers the first true e-commerce enabled business to business custom electronic product procurement alternative."

 

9 / 04 / 00

  A total of 34% of U.S. colleges and universities have chosen to ban the use of Napster on their campus servers. Colleges fear either the very high demands of their servers and bandwidth as needed by the vast amount of Napster. Still, their worst fear is that the RIAA or music software copyright holders may start to sue colleges and universities which could become very costly to defend. "I would not want to be the university president who neglected to update the school policy regarding music downloads this year," said Labatt. "Long legal battles can be costly, and one school could easily be singled out to set legal precedent this year."

 

 

Linn KatanLinn releases two new loudspeakers. Katan loudspeaker is an attractive, compact, two-way bass reflex loudspeaker designed for multi-channel applications and is claimed to outperform their similarly-sized award-winning Tukan. A new dome tweeter employing a very powerful neodymium magnet structure and new custom midrange/bass polypropylene drive unit using a strong die-cast chassis and dual field shaping magnets. The Katan loudspeakers are magnetically shielded for placement close to a television or computer without causing picture interference. Separate binding posts for the tweeter and midrange/bass unit are including for those who wish to bi-wire their loudspeakers. The Katan comes in either black ($945 msrp) or cherry, maple or white ($995 msrp).

Linn Ninka Linn also now offers the Ninka two-way, three driver infinite baffle floor-standing loudspeaker designed mainly for two channel and multi-channel applications. Linn claims the Ninka outperforms their similarly-sized Linn Keilidh. Using the same tweeter as their new Katan, the midrange/bass drive unit uses polypropylene cones and twin magnets designed to inhibit coloration and minimize distortion. Also like the Katan, the Ninka is fully shielded to enable placement close to a television or computer without causing picture interference and is also bi-wireable. The Ninka includes it's own stand and is available in black ash ($1,495 msrp) and maple or cherry ($1,565 msrp).

 

 

The media giant Bertelsmann AG, the owners of BMG Entertainment who recently acquired CDNow, has decided to allow GetMusic LLC and their own CDNow to sell their music over the internet. "When combined with Bertelsmann's 25 million unique monthly online visitors through such sites as BOL.com and GetMusic, CDNow will be an important platform in the digital revolution," said Andreas Schmidt, president and chief executive officer of Bertelsmann e-Commerce Group.

 

9 /03 / 00

Model 1200S  Richard Gray's new shelf/rack mountable power line conditioner Model 1200S offers the power of two RGPC 400S wired in parallel internally, 12 Hubbell Outlets, 20 Amp system and is claimed to remove A/C Line noise without limiting current. Designed to meet the heavy demand for a single, all inclusive parallel power enhancer device to supply cleaner power to multiple components in a rack mount form, the Model 1200S was produced. Richard Gray Power Company (RGPC) states this unit is like an "Electric Flywheel" and in effect stores and releases energy instantaneously-on-demand to supply energy to components so are often starved for current by the resistance on a soft A/C line. RGPC quenches A/C line noise, internal cross talk, and reflected back emf without current limiting, and its unique design makes it a very effective surge protection system. Installers need not incorporate other surge protection when specifying RGPCs into their systems.

 

9 /01 / 00

  According to a recent survey by one of the leading internet visitor tracking firms, the below statistics are true for July 2000 (numbers below represent unique visitor count):

top 10 most visited music/entertainment

real.com 12,500,000
windowsmedia.com 4,750,000
planetofmusic.com 2,750,000
mtv.com 2,750,000
mp3.com 2,500,000
mp3s.com 750,000
sonic.net 750,000
rollingstone.com 600,000
launch.com 600,000
www.com 500,000

 

Top Music Software Download Sites

real.com 12,500,000
shockwave.com 4,500,000
napster.com 3,750,000
winamp.com 1,500,000
spinner.com 750,000
musicmatch.com 600,000
soundblaster.com 500,000
myplay.com 400,000

 

Top Music Retail Sites

amazon.com 13,750,000
barnesandnoble.com 4,250,000
bmgmusicservice.com 3,750,000
cdnow.com 3,250,000
buy.com 3,000,000
mp3.com 2,500,000
columbiahouse.com 1,750,000
bestbuy.com 750,000
netradio.com 750,000
cduniverse.com 750,000

 

Pioneer DVR-S201The Pioneer DVR-S201 DVD-Recordable drive has been available for a while, but it came with "trial version 1.9" firmware. Pioneer, showing good faith and flexibility to its products, has now released version 2.0 firmware. This new firmware is backward compatible to discs made using the 1.9 but also expands the drive to upgrade to be compatible with the DVD Forum's new 2.0 initiative. Pioneer's DVR-S201 with the firmware upgrade supports 4.7GB specifications, book version 2.0 DVD-R for authoring, is compatible with the majority of existing DVD Video players and DVD-ROM drives, records both 3.95GB and 4.7GB discs , write-once technology prevents accidental erasure of valuable information and the DVD-R discs can be used as a "Press Cutting Master Disc". The DVR-S201 offers speeds of 1X write and 2X read and uses the SCSI-2 interface. MSRP $5,400.In a special promotion, Pioneer is offering 10 free blank DVD-R discs to new buyers.

 

 

TannoyCatering to their customers needs, Tannoy is now offering their Tannoy Custom program. Tannoy will custom design and manufacture cabinets for their loudspeakers according to the needs of their clientele. Each speaker cabinet is literally hand made by Tannoys craftsmen. This may be exactly what those with raw drivers of Tannoy dual-concentric Gold Monitors were waiting for while home theater buffs looking for perfect cabinet/speaker fit can rejoice too.

 


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