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High-End Audio Industry News

10 / 29 / 99


 
Kora Electronic Concept just announced their very first hybrid integrated amplifier. The new Explorer 90SE produces 60 wpc @ 8 Ohms (90 wpc on 4 ohms). It uses tubes for the voltage amplification and Mosfet transistors for current amplification. Five inputs, a monitor loop plus a direct input for the power amplifier. The preamplifier uses a ECC8. Frequency response is claimed as 7Hz - 40kHz (-3dB) and signal to noise ratio @ 100dB.

 

Longstanding cable manufacture Music Interface Technology (MIT) is now offering a new line of audio/video cabling. Based on the simple coax cable design, MIT uses various interfaces to allow their special coax cable to be used as anything from video cable to speaker or interconnect wire. This new wire, called MIT OneWire is RG-6 or RG-59 in nature and the special termination devices are called Tmax Terminator Modules. There is also a special OneWire CMR which is CL-2/CL-3 rated double shielded cable which helps reduce outside RFI/EMI interference.

 

The folks at InnerSound claim conventional amplifiers have serious problems when forced to drive electrostatic loudspeakers. Since InnerSound manufacturers electrostatic speakers they have decided to make the world's first amplifier specifically for electrostatics. According to their website "A capacitor stores an amplifier's electrical energy instead of dissipating it as heat, therefore, an ESL doesn't actually use power like magnetic speakers. ESLs are sometimes called "wattless" speakers because of this. But their behavior is highly reactive, which means that they send the electrical current back to the amplifier when the musical signal reverses polarity. Amplifiers tend to be unstable with reactive loads.... In a capacitor, the impedance is inversely proportional to frequency. So an ESL will have a high impedance at low frequencies, and a very low impedance at high frequencies typically 2 ohms or lower." 

By using a large output stage of capable of delivering a claimed 135 amps of current with a combined power rating of 4500 watts per channel, their new unit should easily drive the needs of most ESL speakers. The amplifier itself uses precision metal film with 1% tolerance, the connectors are gold plated while both balanced and unbalanced connectors are standard. The suggested retail price is set at $2995.

 

10 / 19 / 99

Dolby Surround Sound  Recent advertising by Dolby Labs in an industry magazine shows Dolby's new logos which will most probably be appearing on DVD discs. The logos to the right will show if a movie sound is mono, stereo, Dolby Surround, or 5.1-channel Dolby Digital surround. This will aid in consumer awareness to the audio output they can expect from the DVD software they are renting or purchasing.

 

Akio Morita, the co-founder and honorary chairmen of Sony, passed away October 3rd leaving behind a wonderful legacy of his great ideas, hopes and dreams. He was survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

 

Heading off others first, Thomson Consumer Corporation now offers their new online retail store selling their RCA-branded products directly to consumers from their main website at www.rca.com. Although RCA is downplaying the idea saying it's website will only "enhance" the sales of their products and also offers consumers directions to normal brick-and-mortar dealers if the consumer chooses to buy from a local dealer rather than over the internet. Approximately 100 products are available foe sale now with plans to ad substantially more in the near future. This could also help consumers knowing they are buying from an authorized dealer over the internet and help thwart off the vast amount of grey market good now available from various e-commerce websites.

 

10 / 15 / 99

  Those super Formula 1 high precision dude at Sound Alignment Systems by Checkpoint just introduced their LG-120 adjustable laser line generator. To give a truly professional system/speaker setup to high precision, the new the LG-120 creates a laser line angle from 15 to 120 giving the exact dispersion angle of the speaker for visual reference in acoustical and sonic work. The LG-120 can be used in concert with their point laser alignment system to give the most highly precise equipment positioning available today. "The LG-120 provides sound contractors with a single laser alignment source designed to allow the accurate positioning of speakers relative to their own unique sonic dispersion characteristic", said Jim Webb, founder and designer of Sound Alignment Systems. "For the first time a technician can visualize for the client where a speaker's sonic signature will be". Webb continues, " for example, if a speaker's dispersion specification is 40, simply adjust the Line Generator to the 40 mark and that exact angle line will be visualized enabling the speaker to be placed precisely where its optimum coverage and performance will be realized. In addition any acoustical treatments that may be seen or created for any condition are now visible. It's that simple." Enjoy The Music.com's Steven R. Rochlin proudly uses the SA-S system to insure precise system alignment. SA-S offers contractor certification, layout plot sheets and angle guides to facilitate accurate and repeatable installations.

 

10 / 14 / 99

  Following the lead of another Stereophile personality after the fairly recent purchase of Stereophile by Peterson (who in turn was bought by EMAP), Wes Phillips now works for an e-commerce internet company. Specifically, Wes now works for CoolAudio.com while the ex-owner of Stereophile, Larry Archibald, is employed by KnowledgeLINK who owns GetPlugged.com. To quote the Wes' Corner #1 - Friday, Oct 1, 1999 e-mail recently sent out "CoolAudio.com is dedicated to bringing you the finest audio/video products currently available... We'll also tell you what you need to know before the purchase-and long after it."  In the end the public will vote with their dollars as to which, if any, service may obtain market share. This is happening amidst recent discussions frowning upon the practice of product reviews appearing on the same website e-commerce is being conducted as many consider this practice  a very serious conflict of interest and ethics issue.

 

10 / 12 / 99

Net Aid  The internet had another record broken as Saturday's webcast of the NetAid concerts streamed audio/video to 2,385,455 people! The concert was partially sponsored by Cisco Systems, makers of hardware that build the internet infrastructure. "Cisco is always looking for ways to showcase the power of the Internet," explained company spokesperson Mojan Khalili. "In this case, we harnessed that power for a social cause -- ending world poverty." NetAid consisted of three overlapping concerts held in Giants Stadium in New Jersey, Wembley Stadium in London and the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. These concerts were streamed live over the internet to raise money to curb hunger and poverty around the world. With all the modern technology and riches around the world, it is still estimated that one billion people exist on less than one dollar a day.

 

10 / 11 / 99

  Larry Archibald (long time owner of Stereophile) no longer works for EMAP's Stereophile publications. This news joins the recent event of J. Gordon Holt (founder of Stereophile) leaving EMAP's Stereophile publications as well. Of course the rumors will be spreading like wildfire about the above news. Many will find it very interesting that the previous founder J. Gordon Holt now writes for a competing publication. Regardless, Larry Archibald joined KnowledgeLINK who owns GetPlugged.com. They are attempting the join high-end retailing and the internet via e-commerce like ETown, CoolAudio and other are doing today.

 

Tara Labs Prism NexaThe folks from TARA Labs have announced their new Prism series. The prism is a "fraternal twin to the popular Prism Bi-Wire". The Prism Nexa ($2.95/foot msrp and shown right) is a single wire speaker cable instead of an internal bi-wire and uses Tara Labs' Trio-Design which groups three solid core conductors in a triangular orientation. Tara Labs claim this offers "sound is clear and liquid throughout the frequency spectrum, with solid bass and clear, extended highs. And, because of its center space, the Nexa is also more flexible than typical solid-core cables."

 

10 / 8 / 99

proceed PMDT DVD  The Proceed PMDT ($5995) is a modular DVD transport and claimed by Proceed to be the first DVD machine to address audio, video and user interface with equal emphasis on high performance in all areas. For example, the power supply consist of a torroidal transformer with not two, but four separate secondary windings for its main power supply. This gives many different stages within the unit more than ample power for high precision operation.

Proceed PMDT BackThe PMDT is a digital audio transport and therefore has no analog audio outputs. Instead, it reads DVD video discs (including the Chesky and Classic Records 24-bit/96 kHz music recordings) plus the usual 16-bit/44.1kHz CD. The transport is also compatible with Dolby Digital and DTS. With hardware and software changes, the PMDT can be reconfigured to read future DVD Audio discs. The unit also includes a wireless remote control for all those comfy chair cowboys out there. The operating software is dealer upgradeable through the built in RS-232 port. The chassis is constructed of a seven-slot card-cage which allows for reconfiguration of the rear panel to address the user's changing needs.

 

B&W LM 1Add beauty to your home with the new B&W LM 1 series speakers ($350 pr.). These small minimonitors include color-matching stands to add visual flair and style. Coming on two-tone colors like black, pearl white, silver, burgundy red and turquoise (seen right), these speakers are very easy on the eyes. As for easy on the ears, the LM 1 benefits from B&W's long history of speaker manufacturing. A special polystyrene 1" tweeter delivers the upper frequencies while the 5" mid/bass  driver is a reinforced polypropylene design. Sensitivity is clamed at 91 db/w/m @ 8 ohm impedance which is very high for such a small design. Frequency response is claimed as 75Hz to 20 kHz (+-3db on reference axis).

 

10 / 4 / 99

  RealNetworks, the company that makes the web's most popular streaming audio player (the RealPlayer G2) is claiming to now offer "CD-quality" digital downloading using their MP3 compression software. According to the audio engineer John Seymour "The tests confirm in my mind that the 192Kbs and higher MP3 music files that are created with RealJukebox Plus are effective indistinguishable from the original CD." RealNetworks has released both the RealJukebox Beta 2 and RealJukebox Plus in late September in hopes of gaining more market share. As last reported, the RealPlayer already has a market share of about 80% saturation as the de facto standard plug-in residing in most consumer's internet website browsers.

 

The fastest growing computer peripheral, CD-RW, may be getting cheaper and thus more popular with the advent of news chips which now allow 8x write speed and 32x read while keeping manufacturing costs down. Oak Technology's new OTI-9790 chip provides manufactures with a cost-effective, high performance solution while also claimed to add support for MP3 audio files! Oak Technology is one of the industry leaders in the CD-Rom/CD-RW technology with already over 125 million of their controllers sold worldwide.

 

DVD-Audio delayed! That's right, the long awaiting by "audiophiles" DVD-Audio seems to be possibly delayed until the first quarter of 2000. While hardware may be available before the holiday season, three of the five leading recording companies are reported to delay the release of software for the new format until late first quarter 2000.  BMG, EMI, and WEA are said to not be releasing titles this fall while Universal Group Music Group may have a small amount of titles available. Meanwhile Sony had no comment on the matter.

 

Mark Levinson No. 383 integrated amplifierHarman International Industries Mark Levinson brand name is now offering their new No383 integrated amplifier which is priced at $5,995. The unit features dual-mono power supplies, balanced gain stages, software-based operating system that can communicate with other Levinson gear and wireless remote control. Power output is claimed as 100 wpc @ 8 ohms.

 

9 / 02 / 99 (note: no other updates for September 1999)

King Crimson circa 1996  In an all new venture, BootlegTV.com is being launched by Discipline Global, Inc (DGI).  DGI is home to such great bands as King Crimson, California Guitar trio, and Bill Bruford's Earthworks. To help launch this new venture you can hear King Crimson's concert as it was recorded during live concerts held in Mexico City from August 2nd through the 4th in 1996. This includes the band members Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto. As an Enjoy the Music.com added feature, we have preview audio clips and even the entire concert for you! BootlegTV.com will have many concerts from bands such as King Crimson available for streaming within 24 hours of the actual live event! The concerts will be available for a fee. Various fees will be available for a viewing the music for a specific time period of viewing or unlimited viewing. And now Enjoy the Music.com proudly give you a free song from King Crimson's 1996 tour.

 


July/August 1999 News

June 1999 News

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