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High-End Audio Industry News

11 / 30 / 00

EMusic  EMusic has identified and sent 600 names to Napster that should be banned from using Napster's service due to downloading Emusic's copyrighted material. This is only the very beginning as around 20,000 users are scheduled to be submitted to Napster for membership revocation in a few days. This list of 600 users, soon to be 20,000 or so, was generated since last week as EMusic has watermarked and is actively tracking offending files and those who download them. Of those consumers who have been e-mail to remove the copyrighted file(s) from their systems after downloading them from Napster, Hoffman says that about a third of them have complied with EMusic's request.

"What I think we're saying is that Napster is making your life miserable," CEO of EMusic Gene Hoffman said. "Napster could easily make this completely unobtrusive ... with some Computer Science 101... Some people were unhappy and had the usual vulgarities. But just as many people said, "Hey, thanks, we'll take care of it." Months ago Napster had to ban 230,000 users as hip-hop artist Dr. Dre demanded after his music was found being offered on the Napster service. Heavy metal band Metallica has also has Napster revote the membership of Napster users after going to court to have Napster remove copyright infringing users.

 

 

SDMIAs published on Enjoy the Music.com News Page on October 14th of this year, the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) offered a "prize" of $60,000 to those who could break/defeat SDMI's encrypted or watermarked audio files. So far there have been two official "winners" who effectively removed the SDMI system. William E. Palmer and Finn Olli Parviainen will each receive $5,000 fir successfully hacking the SDMI technology. On October 24th we reported that various groups from Princeton University, Rice University, and Xerox Palo Alto Research Center all claim to have successfully defeated the four watermarking technologies SDMI offered. While it may have taken two years for the SDMI to decide on the various encryption and watermarking to use, it only takes hackers a few weeks, or days to break them. Edward Felton of Princeton University said "In any case, I think 'golden-ear' tests are beside the point, because pirates would be satisfied to distribute music that sounds -- to everybody but a few highly trained experts -- just like the original." Mr. Felton feels as we at Enjoy the Music.com™ do, "...protecting music is not feasible with today's watermarking technology." 

 

 

Acoustic Energy AE1 Series IIReaching a huge milestone in the high-end audio manufacture community, loudspeaker manufacture Acoustic Energy has successfully sold over 10,000 pairs of their critically acclaimed AE1 mini monitors since it was first released in 1988. To celebrate this blessed event, Acoustic Energy has introduced two new cabinet finishes in Natural Cherry and Rosemar real wood veneers. At the same time UK retailers can buy a pair of the new finish AE1Series II at the original AE1's 1988 retail price! The new Series II is claimed to provide "greater clarity, transparency and harmonic timbre, coupled with a larger stereo sound stage and increased sensitivity". Critical matching of voice coils, the metal cone are said to improve the mid-range while a simpler, short path crossover network has been implemented to achieve a gentle first order acoustic slopes for a more seamless blend between the midrange/woofer and tweeter drivers.

 

 

It was reported that over nine million (9,000,000) web surfers stopped by the Microsoft Network sites throughout the world to watch the live stream Madonna concert last night held at the Brixton Academy. This 30 minute performance included six songs, five from her new album Music and her classic hit ''Holiday''. In contrast, Beatles legend Paul McCartney garnished three million viewers of his concert at Liverpool's Cavern Club. While it took well over two years and approximately $30 million Microsoft is said to be very happy with this event. They were hoping and planning on around seven million viewers, but due to the high interest and Madonna's popularity with her new record many viewers were turned away as the worldwide servers could no longer support more streams. One reporter claims that at 9:15pm Microsoft Network's U.K. site, msn.co.uk was accepting no new visitors, and neither was the U.S. site, msn.com. While the German site, msn.de, was accepting new visitors, none of the European servers were able to broadcast new streams due to high bandwidth demands. ''MSN withstood the biggest, trendiest battering of its life and survived with flying colors,'' said Niall MacAnna, special events producer for MSN.UK. ''The broadband streams were the most popular it seemed, especially in the United States.''

 

11 / 29 / 00

EdgeAudio SW-8  Loudspeaker specialist EdgeAudio Inc., known for their usage of Kimber Kable's Diaural technology, have just released their new SW-8 self-powered subwoofer ($349). The SW8 is also packaged with EdgeAudio's 502D satellite loudspeaker system that feature their patented DiAural® technology. This package deal consists of complete 5.1-channel system using five matching 502D satellite loudspeakers and one SW-8 and is priced at $999 through December 31, 2000. The new self-powered subwoofer features a front-firing eight-inch long throw woofer driven by a built-in 150 watts RMS amplifier. Five-way gold-plated binding post and RCA jacks allow for both high-level and line-level inputs. The crossover is variable between 50Hz and 150Hz while overall frequency response is claimed as 32-130Hz ± 3 dB with a sensitivity of 86.75 dB/w/m. As with all of EdgeAudio's loudspeakers, the SW-8 is constructed of 1" thick solid hardwood and available in a choice of cherry or walnut finishes. While EdgeAudio sells direct at the moment, plan are to offer their products though Amazon.com and other selected e-commerce sites shortly.

Dimensions (H x W x D) 16" x 9¾" x 17¼"
Weight (varies by type of wood) 34 - 37 lbs
Sensitivity 86.75 db
Impedance 4 Ohms
Amp Power 150 watts
Frequency Response 32Hz - 130Hz (+/- 3dB)

 

 

DigigramHigh quality computer audio hardware and software provider Digigram has released Xtrack Audio Suite Xtrack 4.0 software. This new version can merge a set of tracks, consisting of any combination of PCM, MPEG Layer I, and MPEG Layer II, to generate a single MP3 file. Format, sampling frequency and bit rate conversions are done by the export process. The software also allows users to convert their MP3 files into a single PCM, MPEG Layer I or MPEG Layer II file. A wide range of compression is offered, from 8 kbps at 22.05 kHz to 320 kbps at 48 kHz. "MP3 has changed the way people work with music, so it was natural to incorporate the popular file format into our latest Xtrack version," said Xtrack Product Manager Jean Marc Verrier. "Xtrack 4.0 can be used with any sound card. And you can create a mobile audio workstation by combining it with one of Digigram's laptop sound cards, such as the multichannel PCXpocket 440."

Other major features of Xtrack 4.0 include full support of Digigram's most complete laptop sound card, the PCXpocket 440. This PCMCIA card has LTC (SMPTE) time-code input for synchronization and a programmable clock. The Xtrack 4.0/PCXpocket 440 combination provides a great four in/out portable studio, which can be locked to an external video signal. Non-compressed AIFF audio files can be imported into other supported formats with the appropriate required conversion. 24 bit audio streams can be played on any sound card, even those limited to 16 bits. Conversion to or from 24 bits is done by the host computer. Recording at 24 bits is possible with a sound card providing this facility. Xtrack 4.0 is priced the same as its previous version at $500 while current Xtrack users may order an upgrade to Xtrack 4.0 for $100 directly from Digigram's website.

 

 

EMusicToday online music e-commerce website EMusic will hand over to Napster the names of offenders who have placed EMusic's copyrighted material on the Napster service. EMusic represents thousands of artists and hundreds of independent labels while Napster is a free trade and share mp3 music website. While Emusic has been in discussions with Napster for the past six months in search of a consumer-friendly way to prevent the unauthorized distribution of their music, EMusic claims that Napster refuses to explore reasonable alternatives to stop the theft of their copyrighted materials. Therefore EMusic has "developed a software application that will continually search for Napster users that are illegally distributing EMusic tracks. When an infringing user is identified, he/she will receive an instant message making them aware of the infringement and providing 24-hours to stop distributing the track," said Gene Hoffman President and CEO, EMusic. "If after 24 hours the user continues to make the tracks available via the Napster service, we will notify Napster of the infringement. Napster has told us that they will then block the account. As previously noted, Napster, in multiple communications, has said that this is the only action they will implement." Today is D-Day for many Napster users.

 

 

Possibly setting the rules for future innovations, the Asia-Pacific region has key elements in place to lead a second global wave of eCommerce. This new wave will include broadband connections to television sets for shopping, banking and communicate electronically. Because of the area's high potential including higher rates of TV penetration, more than any other region in the world, and a substantial and growing broadband subscriber base already in place in some markets the Asia-Pacific region is prepared for this new merger of internet and TV. This also opens up the ability to sell and stream true CD audio quality directly to consumers.

"For the business world, digital TV marks the second wave of the eCommerce gold rush, and is likely to have even more profound and wide-sweeping implications for business-to-consumer commerce than the Internet," said Steve Snyder, Managing Partner for Andersen Consulting's Asia Media and Entertainment Industry Group. "With high television penetration rates, extensive cable TV networks, strong growth in broadband internet penetration, and a youthful population, the Asia Pacific region is well positioned to carve out a leading role in a medium that will ultimately reshape the way the world lives, works and plays."

The all important governments across the region are actively encouraging the development of digital TV by deregulating broadcasting and telecommunications industries and opening markets to competition, the study says. Furthermore, the infrastructure required for the most advanced form of digital cable TV is rapidly being built across major markets in the region. The 470 million households connected to the region's existing cable and satellite TV networks are more extensive than those in either the US or Europe. For example in China's major cities cable TV penetration is close to 100 percent. In addition, all major Asian countries have acquired domestic satellites to meet the rising demand for increased bandwidth for corporate data, and multimedia and Internet services. In the more affluent countries and cities, the telecom companies look to compete with cable via broadband entertainment offers as well.

 

11 / 28 / 00

  Looking to improve the quality of digital audio amplification, Apogee Technology, Inc. has released their DDX-2000/2060 digital amplifier chip set. The DDX-2000 Controller device offers digital volume control, automatic muting, support for multiple audio serial interfaces and specialized digital processing. This new chip enables audio manufacturers to produce all-digital amplifier products using Apogee's patented high efficiency Direct Digital Amplification (DDXâ ) technology. Products that can benefit from this design include Audio/Video amplifiers, amplified loudspeakers and MP3 playback systems. The DDX-2060 produces 30 watts per channel into an 8 ohm load. The DDX-2000 is the first in a series of DDX semiconductor products planned by Apogee. The design includes two channels of DDX processing, digital volume/gain control, automatic mute and specialized processing to reduce distortion associated with signal clipping. Existing digital audio products use analog amplifiers to amplify analog signals produced by digital audio converters (DAC). Apogee Technology's new chipset eliminates analog noise problems while also increasing power efficiency by a factor three compared with traditional analog designs playing music. The DDX-2060 Power Device's surface mount package eliminates the need for an external heat sink. Over 88 percent efficient, the Power Device includes a power down mode, short circuit, over voltage and thermal protection circuitry with automatic recovery. The chip set can also be configured in a mono mode to provide over 60 watts into a 4-Ohm load.

"With the development of multi-channel home theater audio and the proliferation of digital audio recording and transmission standards, electronic manufacturers are driven towards all-digital high efficiency amplifier designs. The DDX-2000 meets this technical and marketing challenge by enabling 100% digital sound reproduction while at the same time reducing amplifier size and power supply cost," said David Meyers, Apogee's Vice President Business Development. This all-digital solution eliminates the DAC and increases amplifier efficiency by a factor of three over traditional analog designs, providing clear benefits for a wide range of audio applications." 

The DDX-2000/2060 chip set is priced at $6.98 in 1,000 piece quantities. Delivery of OEM quantities of the chip set is expected for the first quarter of 2001.

 

 

ThrasherCelebrating it's 20th year anniversary of skate and destroy, Thrasher Magazine has teamed up with EMusic in offering 30 days of free music online. Thrasher magazine has been the bible for diehard skateboarders worldwide and is also the only skateboard magazine still owned by its founders and not a huge corporation. EMusic is providing "Unlimited" service to Thrasher's readership. After 100 tracks (or 30 days), music fans can become EMusic Unlimited subscribers and simply continue their subscription for $9.99 a month. EMusic provides an ever-expanding selection of downloadable MP3 music. Over 6,700 major artists from greater than 600 leading labels, giving a total of more than 130,000+ MP3 tracks are offered from the EMusic website. Using high quality MP3 encoding equipment coupled with very high bandwidth internet accessibility, EMusic is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. From a single song to complete album, there are many downloads of music available. Those who choose a one year commitment of membership receive a bonus EMusic Unlimited fleece pullover ($60 value) for free. A three month commitment is $14.99 per month.

 

11 / 27 / 00

  To bring more value to consumers purchasing DVD-Audio capable DVD players this holiday season, Panasonic and Technics are offering two mail-in offers. The first offer is a $75 rebate with the purchase of a Panasonic DVD-A7 or $100 with purchase of a Technics DVD-A10 DVD-Audio/Video player. In addition, if consumers buy a Technics SA-DA8K, SA-DA8N or SA-DA10N DVD-Audio Ready receiver on the same date they will receive an a bonus $50 rebate. The second offer allows consumers to choose two or three free DVD-Audio recordings (depending on product purchased) from a selection of albums including Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Natalie Merchant, Big Phat Band, Aaron Neville, Willie Nelson, Bobby Short and Daniel Barenboim Beethoven. This offer is valid until January 31, 2001.

 

11 / 26 / 00

Ogg Vorbis  As Enjoy the Music.com first reported on June 21st of this year, a new contender to the open-source, royalty-free audio encoding format called Vorbis entered the marketplace to compete with the mp3 format. On August 15 of this year they released version 1.0 beta 2 and are now claiming to have their music technology implemented into various future software players and portable devices. Vorbis is a digital music encode/decode method that was designed by programmers in the Silicon Valley. The .ogg compressed music file format faces stiff competition against the already entrenched formats such as mp3, Windows Media Audio (Microsoft), ATRAC-3 (Sony) and AAC (Fraunhofer and others). While a paid license is needed for the aforementioned encode/decode formats, Vorbis' .ogg is a "copyleft'' agreement just like the popular Unix-like operating system Linux. Vorbis claims it's format is currently equal to mp3 in its Beta format, yet hopes to supercede mp3 in future releases. Having their technology included in consumer products is a first step to better market saturation and bringing more awareness to its format.

 

11 / 24 / 00

Linn Sizmik 10.25  Longstanding high-end audio manufacture Linn has announced their new Sizmik 10.25 subwoofer. Employing the Linn "Class V" 1000 watts amplifier with a 10" long-excursion drive unit, the Sizmik 10.25 is said to deliver "clean, pitch accurate extended low frequency performance with installation versatility and a discrete appearance." Aided by digital signal processing (DSP) and adjustable triple filters, Linn's new subwoofer provides a wide operating range to match preexisting main loudspeakers currently used in both music and home theater systems. The "Class V" amplification system consists of fast Switch Mode Power Supplies, high density linear power amplifiers and digitally controlled signal processing. Linn also offers the Sizmik 10.25 Kustom that is a fully-accessorized kit for recessed or hidden location in custom installations and marine applications. Available finishes include black ($1,700), American Cherry and new Maple ($1,750).

 

 

Taking watermarking technology to their MP3 files, EMusic is actively searching out those who are infringing on the copyrights of music sold through their website. Specifically targeting Napster users, EMusic send e-mail to the Napster member who posts EMusic's copyrighted MP3 files. If the user does not eemove the file from Napster within 24 hours, EMusic sends an e-mal to Napster asking that the member's account be blocked. Over 140,000 music tracks are licensed exclusively to EMusic. Due to EMusic selling their music through unsecured mp3 files, so far no major labels have joined their service. Instead, many smaller labels have joined in in hopes of expanding their revenue base. Due to a known property of the Napster software, EMusic can properly watermark their music with a "MD5 hash". While this hash differs in each individual song title, same song mp3 files from EMusic will have the same, detectable MD5 hash.

Gene Hoffman, EMusic president and chief executive officer, said ''The other day we looked on Napster for an Apples in Stereo track, a somewhat obscure band we have. ''We basically ran a test for 15 minutes across 10 percent of all servers in Napster. And we found 600 users infringing with the exact copy of the song that we sell. That was one, limited, 15-minute test. If you extrapolate out, there's probably 20,000 copies of that one song on Napster.'' When illegal tracks are found Napster is is legally bound to remove them as is dictated by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and to remove offending tracks and users. In May of this year over 330,000 users were blocked by Napster when Metallica have then a listing of users who illegally posted and/or downloaded Metallic's copyrighted music on their service. While EMusic has not filed a lawsuit against Napster, "it's an option that we're considering," Hoffman said.

 

11 / 23 / 00

One Night Only: The Greatest Hits  Sir Elton John has recorded his performances at Madison Square Garden this October in 24-bit/96kHz resolution for an upcoming DVD-Audio release. The album will be titled One Night Only: The Greatest Hits. This will feature various classic and modern hits from Sir Elton John. While the Compact Disc (CD) was just released, the DVD-Audio disc release is forthcoming. The song list on the CD includes:

1. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
2. Philadelphia Freedom
3. Don't Go Breaking My Heart
4. Rocket Man
5. Daniel
6. Crocodile Rock
7. Sacrifice
8. Can You Feel The Love Tonight?
9. Bennie & The Jets
10. Your Song (Elton John With Ronan Keating)
11. Sad Songs (Say So Much) (With Bryan Adams)
12. Candle In The Wind
13. The Bitch Is Back
14. Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) (With Anastacia)
15. I'm Still Standing
16. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
17. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues (With Mary J. Blige)

 

 

For those wonder why Compact Disc (CD) prices are so high, the EMI Group (the third biggest recording label) admitted spending $64.4 million in ''legal, investment banking, public relations and accounting fees'' on the recent failed merger with Time Warner to form an AOL-EMI-Warner alliance. ''It is likely that our assessment will take some weeks, ''EMI's chairman Eric Nicoli said. ''The regulatory landscape has changed dramatically over the last year, and we need to fully understand the implications of any combination before we put a deal to our shareholders.'' Jay Samit who is EMI's senior Vice President of new media said ''Music fans have loudly declared that they want music on demand. Through Streamwaves, we are offering our artist's fans a user-friendly subscription service.''

 

11 / 22 / 00

Kharma Ceramique 1.0 Limited  Loudspeaker manufacturer Kharma is now shipping a "Hot Rod" version of the Ceramique 1.0. The new Kharma Ceramique Limited 1.0 uses the same high quality concave ceramic membrane technology in their bas and midrange drivers for extreme cone stiffness yet lightweight characteristics. A total of seven different acoustic absorbing/dampening compounds are used while the extremely rigid cabinetry is finished in high gloss black. This insures a virtual eliminating of cabinet resonances which increases the loudspeaker's clarity and performance. The "Hot Rod" version includes a special stand, adds silver coils in crossover network, a special damping coating of drivers, internal cables and cabinet. Kharma adds another run (two total) of its silver/gold internal wiring.

System 3-way
High Frequency Driver 1.5" cloth dome
Mid Range 4.5" concave ceramic
Bass Driver 11" Nomex Kevlar
R.M.S. power 200
Dynamic power 400
Frequency Range 30-25k
Cross-over 200/2k
Efficiency (1W/1M/dB) 90
Maximum SPL 113
Impedance 8
Internal cable Double run Pure Silver-Gold
Cross-over type Ultra high-end serial cross-over hardwired with  double run silver-gold cable and Ultra high-end silver coils.
Connections OFC - gold plated
  WBT - connectors
Height 44"
Depth 20"
Width 16"
Weight 139 lbs.
Suggested retail price $19,499
Piano black (option) $899
Stand (option) Included
Standard finishes Metallic Champagne, Metallic Aubergine, Metallic Green, Metallic Black, Metallic Bronze

 

Possibly starting an interesting trend with manufacturers, Kora has begun offering a new service to their customers. Specifically, on Kora's website is a special "Used Kora Market/Marché Kora d'occassion" section where their customers can buy and sell second hand Kora products. While their website says they can not guarantee all items submitted will be posted on their site, a special warranty is available by Kora that will extend a warranty to the prospective new owner of the second hand gear listing on their website. This gives the new owner an assurance and confidence to buy a used Kora products without the fear of expired warranty concerns.

 

11 / 21 / 00

  For those who feel Sony are making Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) for the love in their heart and not trying to unleash yet another one of their infamous proprietary formats to hopefully garnish financial benefits you may want to think again. Sony Music Entertainment has possibly showed its true colors this week. After settling with MP3.com for approximately $20 million months ago they now want to go back into court for more money seemingly for the same reason as before. Is double jeopardy legal? No. So why is Sony going back into court against MP3.com you ask? Because of MP3.com's recent $53.4 million settlement with the Universal Music Group . Maybe Sony's new slogan should be "Show me the money"?

 

11 / 20 / 00

High End Society  Germany's High End Society have announced their HIGH END 2001 show to be held from June 14th to June 17th 2001 at the Hotel Gravenbruch Kempinski near Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Of course Enjoy the Music.com will be there live reporting on the show. Details of the show are as follows:

HIGH END 2001
Location: Hotel Kempinski, Frankfurt-Neu Isenburg
Duration: 14th-17th of June 2001
Trade only: Thursday 14th of June from 10am to 8pm
(only by pre registration)
Public: Friday to Sunday, 15th-17th of June 2001 from 10am to 6pm

Admission:
Trade Visitors: 35.00DM by pre-registration (valid for all days)
50.00DM on the front desk by verifying the trade-status
Public: 20.00DM/day
Catalogue: Will be available at the Front desk at 20.00DM
or by mail and pre-payment at 35.00DM (outside Germany)

 

 

Looking to expand their market penetration into the computer field, Lucasfilm, working with Dell computers, has announced the world's first Tomlinson Holman Experience (THX) certified PCs under a newly developed THX program. With Lucasfilm realizing there are more and more people using their home computers to enjoy both music and movies, they felt it was paramount to insure their THX standards could enhance the multimedia user's experience. The first Dell PCs to be available with certification from THX under the new program are the 8100 and 4100 Series from Dell, which combine THX certified multimedia speaker systems and Dolby Digital surround sound with a PC subsystems. THX PC certification also brings with it a software-based program that simplifies setup and allows users to easily switch between the THX settings optimized for audio/video performance and settings for other PC applications.

"Our objective with this new program is to do for the PC what we did for the movies and home theatre — provide standards to ensure the best possible picture and sound," said Monica L. Dashwood, Lucasfilm THX General Manager. "We see the PC rapidly expanding its role as an entertainment content delivery device, so it's natural for THX to apply our two decades of experience and expertise in sound and image reproduction to this new category."

Commenting on the announcement, John Hamlin, Vice President of Dell's U.S. consumer division, said, "Our direct relationship with customers and suppliers allows Dell to provide the latest technology to consumers and the THX certified PCs will offer the best multimedia experience available from a PC."

 

11 / 18 / 00

Pass Labs X250  From the legendary Nelson Pass comes the new Pass Labs X250 stereo amplifier which is now reaching dealers worldwide. This "X" series 250 wpc. stereo amplifier employs "ultra matched components" operating in a minimal parts balanced Class A circuitry. No signal capacitors are used within the signal path. There are only two gain stages. One balanced single-ended Class A voltage stage for driving a bank of high power, precisely matched Mosfets used as followers with very little feedback around the output stage. The "X" series amplifiers use Pass Labs patented Supersymmetry™ circuit. This type of circuit is claimed by Pass Labs to "improve the performance of a balanced amplifier by precisely matching the characteristics of the two balanced halves. To the extent that distortion and noise can be made identical on the two output connections, they will not be seen at the balanced output. Ordinary matching techniques can achieve improvements by a factor of 10 or so under the best conditions, but the Supersymmetric technique lowers distortion and noise by another order of magnitude." Single-ended (RCA) and balanced (XLR) inputs are provided for while heavy-duty five-way binding posts are used for loudspeaker outputs. The X250 measures 19" x 9.5" x 22" (WxHxD) and weighs approximately 100 pounds.

 

11 / 17 / 00

  A huge amount of movement is happening in the online music delivery segment of the industry. Audiohighway has laid off 21 of its 30 employees due to a lack of funding after losing $12 million dollars with sales of only $2 million from original seed money from Microsoft, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group. A deal for additional funding fell through. Audiohighway not only offered music online, but also audio books, news, education and entertainment.

Meanwhile Napster-like file swapping website Scour is turning off the lights as they filed for bankruptcy protection because of legal battles with Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) due to alleged copyright law violations. In its death throws comes multimillion dollar buyouts of the Scour service from from Listen.com ($5 million and 527,918 shares) and also from CenterSpan Communications Corporation (a deal reportedly worth more than $5.25 million).

With all this happening, the recent settlement between the final of the Big Five labels only days ago, Universal Music Group (UMG), MP3.com is hoping to re-launch their My.MP3.com service with both free and a subscription based service. The free service will have financial support through various advertisers whereas the subscription service is planned to be free from advertisements.

 

11 / 16 / 00

Totem Amber  Loudspeaker specialist Totem Acoustic have announced two new offerings... with an interesting twist. While normally making top-quality loudspeakers for audiophiles, Totem Acoustic has verged into the integrated amplifier industry with their new product called Amber. Realizing that amplifiers of high accuracy and finesse were needed to show off their popular loudspeaker products, Totem Acoustic decided to make a microprocessor-controlled, conservatively rated 125 watts per channel into 8 ohms integrated amplifier. Employing symmetrical circuitry (dual mono), no overall feedback and the fabulous WBT loudspeaker terminals, the Amber looks to be an impressive unit indeed!

Totem Acoustic's new Hawk floorstanding loudspeaker is much like their other offerings with a slim front panel (6.75" wide) with two-way driver configuration. As the design is not finalized, the preliminary specifications are as follows:

Frequency response: <38 Hz +/- 3 dB
Impedance: 8 ohms
Sensitivity: 86 dB
Power handling: 120W max. program
Crossover: 2.5 kHz, 2nd order
Woofer: 5.5" with 3" inch voice coil
Tweeter: 1.25"
Dual concentric diaphragm.
Controlled directivity design
Wave guide center plug
Maximum SPL in average listening room: 107 dB peak from pair at 2 m.
Dimensions: 6.75" x 9.5" x 36" (WxDxH)

 

11 / 15 / 00

Casablanca II Music and Cinema Controller  Theta Digital is now shipping their new Casablanca II Music and Cinema Controller ($6,000 to $17,000 depending on configuration). This new improved version offers "significant improvements in flexibility, performance, and ease of use, eliminating the need for customers to choose between audiophile music reproduction and video-based surround sound" according to Theta Digital. Being one of the wiser digital companies, Theta's "Open Architecture" design allows the Casablanca II Music and Cinema Controller easy hardware upgrade ability through various self-contained, field-replaceable, circuit card modules while DSP software upgrades are available for download over the internet. Two quality levels of DACs for digital to analog conversion, both of which processes 24-bit/96kHz. The Superior DACs are of the three-channel variety (balanced and single-ended) while the Standard offers yet another configuration choice (6-channel single-ended or 3-channel balanced). Consumers can choose either a 6- or 12-channel digital output configuration, all of which can send a 24-bit/96kHz signal to an outboard DAC. The Casablanca II base model includes Dolby Digital, Pro Logic, and DTS processing. Circle Surround provides a convincing multi-channel soundfield from any stereo source. Also included is the Theta proprietary "Jitter Jail" that is claimed to "virtually eliminate" jitter. For those who desire pure analog, the Casablanca II is also a high-quality fully analog preamplifier. Owners of the original Casablanca can upgrade their unit to full version II status.

Casablanca II Standard Features

  1. Digital Input Cards: 6 coax RCA, 3 TosLink, 1 AES/EBU, 1 coax BNC; 2 digital coax RCA digital tape outputs.
  2. Analog input board (6 stereo analog inputs, 2 stereo analog tape outputs).2 RF inputs for Dolby Digital laser disc
  3. 96kHz/24-bit capability in all twelve channels (depending upon DAC choices). Circle Surround, Dolby Pro Logic, Matrix, Special Matrix, Stereo, Mono modes all capable of 96kHz/24-bit.
  4. RS232 control
  5. Ability to download new software: DSP software and control system software can be downloaded as a file from the Theta Digital web site to a PC (not available for Macintosh computers), then sent to the Casablanca II.
  6. Twelve channel capability (1. front left / 2. front center / 3. front right / 4. surround left / 5. surround right / 6. side left / 7. side right / 8. front left sub / 9. front right sub / 10. surround left sub / 11. surround right sub / 12. front center sub or center rear surround)
  7. Surround Center capable.
  8. Full speaker configuration for each input (can help optimize the system for two-channel playback on one input, home theater on another).
  9. 3 different types of crossovers selectable for each speaker set (speaker set = left/right, center, surround, Theta Center Surround™ Types of crossovers = phase perfect, Butterworth, Linkwitz-Riley.
  10. 6 crossover frequencies and four slope options available for each speaker set.
  11. Capable of 5 subwoofers (left/right/center/left surround/right surround).
  12. Two options for a two-subwoofer setup: left/right or front/rear.
  13. Hi frequency equalization in all channels.
  14. Jitter Jail, digitally stores audio samples in a buffer, then clocks them to the DACs using a high-quality crystal oscillator section. (You can spend near $2,000 for a similar circuit in a standalone box!)
  15. Side channels, with separately adjustable levels and delays.
  16. Can optimize level and delay settings for Dolby Digital; DTS; and Circle Surround — each process has separate controls for speaker levels and delays.
  17. Dolby Digital®
  18. DTS®
  19. Ability to apply matrix, special matrix, Circle Surround (optional) to stereo (two channel) Dolby Digital sources.
  20. Discrete IR command to bring Casablanca in and out of standby.
  21. Serial number will be programmed into the unit at the factory, accessible when the unit boots up via the LCD
  22. Maximum Level Limiter: governor is set and released by owner to protect system from being overdriven by zealous or experimenting friends and loved ones.
  23. Casablanca II owners can password-protect the unit's settings.
  24. Highly readable blue vacuum fluorescent display.
  25. Inputs can be given any name you choose.
  26. Customizable Un-mute trigger. You select the response of the Un-mute function: Does pressing the volume Un-mute the unit if muted? Or only by pressing mute again?
  27. Stand-by Release now offers customizable level. You select the volume level at which the Casablanca comes out of standby. Choose either a pre-defined level, which you program in, or set it to resume at the same volume level at which it was put into standby.
  28. Overall delay (applies to all channels), by input, to match video delay through a video.
  29. Party mode (send sum of all channels to all speakers, with dominance of speaker's main source).
  30. Stereo front/rear mode
  31. Complete cabling/setup freedom — any jack can be routed to any and every input select button.
  32. Four 12v trigger jacks with variable timing; pulse or dc, variable pulse length.
  33. Comprehensive "template copy" capability for fast, easy setup. Optimizing your Casablanca's many functions is streamlined, because you don't have to do repetitive steps that are the same as related settings you have already made, which you can just copy, then modify as needed. Includes ability to restore factory defaults to all settings.
  34. Central Power Redistribution™ (patent pending) corrects for theater sound mixes, which bunch up much of the sound in the center channel — great for a vast theater, but terrible in a home environment where the center channel is often the weakest. Central Power Redistribution enhances the spaciousness of sound while making much better use of the most important speakers.
  35. "Center Circle Surround"™ (Theta's proprietary application of Circle Surround) offers superior channel separation to THX EX on Theta Center Surround.

Casablanca II Options:

  1. Your Casablanca II can have from 2 to12 channels: choose among these three 3 types of DAC's for your configuration — (a) 3 channel superior DAC (balanced and single ended), can handle 96kHz source. (b) 3 channel standard DAC (balanced and single ended), will mute on 96kHz source. (c) 6 channel standard DAC (single ended only), will mute on 96kHz source.
  2. Circle Surround®
  3. Broadcast quality video switching: 6 composite, 4 s-video inputs, 1 composite tape out, 1 composite main out, 1 s-video tape out, 1 s-video main out.
  4. Broadcast quality video switching: 8 s-video inputs, 2 s-video tape out, 2 s-video main out.
  5. Rack mount
  6. Anodized aluminum cover (vibration resistant, heat dissipating, and an aesthetic match for the brushed aluminum front panel)
  7. Tape DAC, for recording or sending to a second zone one digital source while listening to another.
  8. PC control software, for saving the full CBII setup to your PC and for fully controlling / setting up the unit from a PC (This option is not available for use with Macintosh computers). (Future option.)
  9. 6 or 12 channel digital output card, 96kHz capable, with or without center channel superior DAC (also 96kHz capable). (Yes, you could hook up 6 Generation V 96kHz 's and have all twelve channels be 96kHz compatible).

 

 

MP3.comPopular internet audio company MP3.com, whose stock has plummeted from a 52-week high of over $64 to closing today of approximately $4, has settled yesterday with Seagram's Universal Music Group (UMG) to the tune of $53.4 million to resolve the copyright infringement suit. This settlement was a last ditch effort that was made literally only minutes away from the federal judge's official ruling on the case. So what does MP3.com gain by paying UMG this huge sum of money? It helps MP3.com as now all of the Big Five record labels (Universal, Sony Music Group, Bertelsmann's BMG Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Recorded Music) have agreed to allow them to include their music titles in MP3.com's "Storage Locker" service. This new service allows users to have their music available online and downloadable from their account to any computer the user may be on. "Universal Music pursued this case to send a strong message that copyrights will be protected and that copyright owners and artists need to be properly compensated for use of their work," said Zach Horowitz, Universal's chief operating officer. Zach continued "Although we believe our proof at trial would have led to a greater damage award, we are satisfied with the award." 

Of course where there is a lawsuit against an internet company concerning online music, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) will be there. In fact the RIAA's chief executive Hilary Rosen was not one short on words as she stated that the RIAA is "pleased that this matter has finally been resolved. This case was never about stifling the technology or putting this company out of business but rather about protecting the copyright owners' and artists' rights to be compensated for their works. We believe through this judgment that message has been sent." An interesting statement as no judicial judgment was made, instead, a settlement out of court was agreed upon.

 

11 / 14 / 00

Dunlavy Cantata  From the craftsmen at Dunlavy Audio Labs (DAL) comes their new Cantata floorstanding loudspeakers ($4,995). Aiming to be an efficient, "pulse-coherent" loudspeaker that produces a very smooth, yet flat frequency response was not an easy challenge. DAL feels they have met their goal with the Cantata whose 90 dB/w/m with a 4 ohm nominal resistance is said to have a frequency response of 35-20,000 Hz, +/- 1 dB with a -4 dB point at approximately 20 Hz. To achieve this impressive frequency response, a single downward firing carbon fiber 10" woofer is mounted on the near bottom of the cabinet, two 6.5" drivers cover the bass and midrange frequencies while a single 1" dome tweeter is employed for the highest frequencies. While the 90dB sensitivity and the harder 4 ohm load could be seen as a challenge to those with enjoy the single digit wattage of many single-ended tube amplifier, DAL says that an amplifier with a 40 watt or better rating can drive their new Cantata to 106 dB SPL on peaks. Complete specifications are below:

FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 35-20,000 Hz, +/- 1 dB. Minus 4 dB at approximately 20 Hz. (Measured on axis at a distance of 10-12 feet within a large anechoic chamber.) 

SENSITIVITY: Approximately 90dB SPL (ref: 1 meter, on axis) for an input level of 2.83 Volts RMS. 

IMPEDANCE: Nominal 4 ohms (3 ohms minimum, 7 ohms maximum) 

PULSE-COHERENCE: An impulse response equal to or better than most top-of-the-line CD players and Digital Processors. 

RADIATION PATTERNS: Precisely symmetrical in both horizontal and vertical planes (above about 80 Hz.). 

DIFFRACTION DISTORTION: Virtually eliminated by the use of efficient sound absorbing material on all relevant surfaces. (US Patent #4,167,985) 

DRIVERS: - One 10", high performance, carbon fiber, "down-firing" woofer
- Two 6-1/2" bass/mids
- One 1" dome tweeter. 

RECOMMENDED AMPLIFIER POWER: Minimum of 40 watts/channel into 8 ohms

RECOMMENDED LISTENING DISTANCE AND ROOM SIZE: 8 to 12 feet, on axis, in a room not smaller than about 12 feet by 18 feet.

 

11 / 13 / 00

BuzzNet  As first announced by Enjoy the Music.com™ on October 6th to alert college student in California of an upcoming event, the BuzzNet 2000 tour has concluded roaring through college campus'. Thousand of students experienced high quality music and movie experiences. BuzzNet was an educational project of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) produced by Keith Hatschek & Associates. Sponsor companies include Alpine, Denon, Dolby Laboratories, Klipsch, Runco, Sherwood America, Toshiba, Yamaha and Hachette with additional support by 5.1 Entertainment and Cinepro. Besides allowing students to experience top quality audio and video, there was over $20,000 in equipment given away. BuzzNet appeared at the California State University at Long Beach and the University of California at Davis where it received rave reviews by students. "Someone on campus told me this thing called BuzzNet was happening but I had no idea what to expect," said student Tiqula Bledsoe. "After experiencing it, all I can say is 'Wow!' This new stuff pumps the music straight into your head!" Another student said "In a way, it breaks my heart," laughed fellow student Foster Chen, "because I thought I had a killer sound system! Now I've got something really great to shoot for." Added his friend Greg Davis: "I knew about surround but I had never heard a side-by-side comparison with stereo like this and that was really cool." Everything from car audio/video to MP3 to a fully implemented home theater experience was available during the BuzzNet tour.

 

11 / 12 / 00

  With consumers buying ever increasing dollars of CD-R discs, re-writeable DVD (DVD-RAM) is getting ready to flood the marketplace. With a storage of 4.7GB over CD-R's standard 650MB, higher resolution audio and full frame video recording can be stored on DVD-RAM discs. With high resolution DVD-Audio and the capability of recording and mastering music at 24-bit/96kHz and above, home and small recording studios are welcoming the DVD-RAM format. Hitachi and Panasonic, currently the leading producers of re-writeable DVD drives, are proudly featured at the DVD-RAM Pavilion at Comdex with systems and solutions from more than 40 partners including Eastman KODAK, FujiFilm, JVC, Maxell, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, TDK, Compaq, Hitachi, IBM, LaCie, Panasonic, Ricoh and VERITAS Software.

4.7GB DVD-RAM Features

> Recording capacity -- 4.7GB on single-sided disc 
> More than 100,000 write/rewrite cycles 
> Backward write and read compatibility with 2.6GB DVD-RAM discs 
> Read compatibility with DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, DVD-R discs
> Read compatibility with CD-formats
> Transfer rate of 22Mbits/sec
> DVD-ROM drive and DVD-Video player support

 

11 / 11 / 00

  Brining more music to the awaiting DVD-Audio enthusiast, on December 5th Reprise Records will release a new Neil Young album titled Road Rock Vol. 1. Recorded live at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado over two nights in September before a live audience, this new DVD-Audio disc shows it's superiority to the proprietary SACD counterpart by providing both high resolution six-channel surround sound and also high resolution stereo plus Dolby Digital surround or stereo mix if played on a DVD-Video unit. In other news, Amazon.com has the new Aaron Neville Devotion DVD-Audio disc on sale for only $13.99 bringing the price equal to many popularly priced CD releases.

 

 

As forming alliances is a great strategy to bring each individual company more profits and visibility, the EMI Group has been approached Bertelsman Media Group (BMG). While the recent Time Warner, Inc. and EMI deal was cancelled due to disapproval by European regulators, it seems BMG is hoping to become the leading force within the music industry. While EMI and BMG are only in initial talks, there is no formal announcement to any solidified deal.

 

11 / 10 / 00

  In the never-ending battle at 12 volt audio sound off contests to achieve the highest volume levels, Team RF (Rockford Fosgate) sponsored vehicle by Greg Cobbs at the 2000 International Auto Sound Challenge Association (IASCA) World Finals has achieved a new world's record. Specifically, his 1995 Chevy AstroVan reached 174.2 dB using 24 Rockford Fosgate Power 1000 amplifiers and 12 Rockford 15-inch woofers. How do they do it? Volume, volume, volume.

 

 

Warner Music Group (WMG) has pushed back the release date of their initial DVD-Audio titles by one week to November 14th. Citing "typical production" said Jordan Rost, WMG's senior vice president of technology. WMG plans on releasing 5-7 new titles each during the first few months and eventually ramping up production of new releases. Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery is among the very first DVD-Audio titles offered by WMG.

 

11 / 09 / 00

SDMI  Yesterday the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) admitted that three of their six technologies were successfully hacked. As we reported on October 14th, the SDMI offered a "prize" of $60,000 to those who could break/defeat/hack their technologies. Our sources told us that there were 447 entries showing their technology was defeated. On October 24th various groups from Princeton University, Rice University, and Xerox Palo Alto Research Center all claim to have successfully defeated the watermarking technologies SDMI offered. While the SDMI has now officially admitted that only one of their technologies was compromised while three others survived hacking. Upon hearing this news yesterday, representatives from Princeton University, Rice University, and the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center are steadfast in their claims of successfully defeating four of the six technologies. "What we were trying to show is that, under real conditions, pirates could break the watermarks," said Edward Felten, professor of computer science for Princeton University and the leader of the interdisciplinary team." The current state of the watermarking technology is not up to this task... They would be broken -- it's pretty clear," Felten continued as he admitted that "A real pirate would have greater access to the information and more time than we have to work on breaking the technology."

 

11 / 08 / 00

  It deeply saddened this reporter to learn that Akai Electric Company Ltd., famous for their high quality cassette decks and receivers in the 80s, filed for protection in Tokyo from its creditors on November 2. With a debit of $435.2 million USD, it seems we will be saying goodbye to an old friend. This will have no effect on Akai Professional Products USA as they are separate companies with separate ownership.

 

 

LAMM L2 ReferenceLAMM Industries new L2 Reference preamplifier will be first shown at the CES 2001 yet is available now at LAMM dealers. This is their top of the line preamplifer that employs both tubes and solid state for preamplification duties. LAMM claims it offers "extraordinary transparency of perceived sound and recreation of a three-dimensional soundstage in the home, recording studio, etc., without boundaries and limitations". The L2 Reference utilizes unique circuitry including specially selected superlinear high voltage MOS-FET transistors operated in "Class A" operation yet without the use of overall feedback. All stages are operated in single-ended while an electronic protection circuit enables manual muting of the outputs until the preamplifier has stabilized after a turn-on. The L2 Reference includes three inputs, one tape loop, output signal phase switch, balanced and single-ended outputs plus built-in remote on/off for LAMM power amplifiers. The power supply is housed separately from the sensitive preamplification circuitry.



LAMM L2 Reference The power supply takes advantage of a choke contained filter, vacuum tube rectifier and voltage regulator. The high voltage (+350V) high speed vacuum tube voltage regulator used in conjunction with other specialized circuitry is claimed by LAMM to offer "reproduction of tiniest nuances and three-dimensional subtleties in the music palette". The use of both a high voltage vacuum tube power supply and superlinear high voltage MOS-FETs is said to attain an "enormously large output swing while retaining practically constant harmonic contents of the signal with an absolute dominance of the second harmonic". Meanwhile the preamplification section (seen left) includes military graded low noise DALE metal film resistors, TKD stepped potentiometers (41 position), PRC wire wound resistors, Electrocube and Roederstein film capacitors and high frequency switching grade Cornell Dubilier electrolytic capacitors.

 

 

Nagra PL-LAs first seen by the world on our Milan Top Audio & Video show report, the new Nagra PL-L preamplifier closely resembles their well received PL-P unit yet lacks the PL-P's phono stage and is priced worldwide to be 30% below their PL-P unit. The PL-L includes four stereo inputs (one XLR and three RCA) that are selectable from the front left knob. Audio output are via two stereo RCA and one stereo XLR jacks. Volume and balance adjustments are via the front, center knobs.

 

 

As Steven R. Rochlin, founder of Enjoy the Music.com™, has long been a proponent of balanced power. Balanced power uses specially designed transformer windings to turn the normal 120+/neutral/ground lines in the USA into 60+/60-/ground. This greatly lowers the AC line noise by about 16 dB and can reduce line noise, EMI and hum pickup from power wires. In fact Steven wrote the very first audiophile review of a recording studio balanced power unit back in 1996 on this website's Tweaks Page (Balanced Power) and yet another article appearing in print magazine Ultimate Audio (Volume 1 Number 4). At that time no audiophile company offered balanced power filtration. Years later PS Audio and others have entered the market with their audiophile balanced power units. By a vote of 17-1, an amendment to the National Electrical Code extends the use of balanced AC power beyond recording studio and audio/video products into all areas of highly sensitive electronics. Taking effect in the 2002 edition of the National Electrical Code, Article 530 Part G will be deleted and a new Article 647 concerning the use of balanced power titled "Sensitive Electronic Equipment" will take its place. The National Electrical Code is the reference book for electrical contractors, engineers and inspectors.

 

11 / 07 / 00

Play Red  Italian company Synthesis Art in Music has added to their visually stunning NAÏF line of products. To match their critically acclaimed Nimis integrated amplifier that comes in many colors (reviewed by us in our July 2000 Review Magazine) they now are offering their Play line of loudspeakers. Coming in Red, Yellow, Purple, Orange, Green, Blue and Night Blue, the Play loudspeaker includes a 6" midrange/woofer driver and 1" soft-dome tweeter. The ported cabinet is color matched to their Nimis amplifiers.

 

 

Cyrus CD7British manufacture Cyrus has been busy releasing new models in time for the holiday season. Their new Cyrus CD 7 (£800.00), using their completely new Cyrus CD platform, includes advances in power supply and circuit layout. The CD 7's new decoder uses 24-bit/96kHz DACs that are built directly onto the main PCB. Due to ongoing technology advancements, Cyrus is taking advantage of their upgrade port to keep their players up to date through future software and hardware upgrades. To further aid in the upgrade ability, the port for the PSX-R intelligent power supply can separately power the CDM 12.1 CD mechanism.

 

 

AlónWallThe new AlónWall ($549/pr) in-wall speaker caters to many custom home installers looking for high quality loudspeaker solutions. In home theater systems, insuring all the loudspeakers share the same timbre is paramount to a quality system and therefore Alón has entered into the in-wall marketplace. Using the same high standard as their other models, it features a true wood (MDF) thick baffle for the drivers to work against whereas other manufactures employ thin plastic baffles. Alón's 6.5" long throw midrange/bass driver is mated with and 1" silk soft-dome tweeter (same as used in their Li'l Rascal minimonitor). The crossover is hand wired and uses audiophile quality polypropylene capacitors and air-core inductors.

 

11 / 06 / 00

Krell Master Reference Subwoofer  As we brought the world its first first view of the new Krell subwoofer during our Frankfurt Show report in May 2000, it can now be seen at your local dealer. The Master Reference Subwoofer (approximately $25,000) weighs in at a hefty 420 pounds, includes amplification producing 2,600 Watts of pure Class A power and is capable of reproducing frequencies from 20 Hz on up at 120 dB levels. A one-inch machined aluminum chassis holds two 15-inch subwoofer drivers. Krell's Active Motion Control monitors and governs the subwoofer's performance while the subwoofers themselves have a three-inch front-to-back excursions. The flexible crossover offers both high and low pass points, filter type, slope, level, and phase for each of four selectable presets.

Krell's Master Reference AmplifiersAlso new and now available is Krell's Master Reference Amplifiers. These units include Krell's CAST circuitry which claims to provide "unparalleled sound reproduction and the most accurate signal transfer between analog components". A total of 216 proprietary Krell output transistors and 64 identical power regulator transistors enable flawless power output under any condition of signal and load while Krell's Current Mode amplifier and driver stages deliver high quality audio. The entire design is fully balanced and operates in "Class A". Also employed is their Sustained Plateau Bias II that assists in delivering pure Class A operation while dual microprocessors continually monitor and control both power and bias as determined by the loudspeaker load requirements and AC line conditions.

 

 

Loth X  C-102Loth-X's new C-102 preamplifier employs 100% battery powered operation. Silbatone, "sil" for silver and "ba" for battery helps name Loth's new statement tube preamplifier. Completely silver wired using all silver components and power supply circuits whose source is batteries assure that no detrimental AC noise artifacts contaminate the music's signal. Each unit is handmade while the casings are double chassis, anodized aluminum of highest quality. As this is Loth's statement, no compromises have been made to assure the utmost in music reproduction capabilities. The C-102 preamplifier uses two 12AY7 (6072) tubes in the line stage. The MM phono stage uses the classic 12AX7 tube. An internal MC step-up transformer is available (optional). The volume control uses dual-mono attenuators to insure right and left channel purity and separation. Four line inputs, one phono input and tape output are provided.

 

11 / 04 / 00

Kenwood Five DVD-Audio Player  DVD-Audio players could be the hottest DVD product this holiday season. Stores are expecting many units to be available by a variety of manufacturers as soon both hardware and software makes a big splash. While Toshiba has started shipment their SD-9200 to join the already available Technics and Panasonic units, the JVC XV-D723GD is already showing up at various stores. Kenwood will have a five DVD-Audio carousel (pictured above) while Onkyo is aiming for the high-end mass marketplace with their DV-S939 ($1,799.95). The Onkyo is THX Ultra certified and also offers progressive scan and "Direct Digital Path" (sends raw digital data from the laser pickup circuitry to the digital output). Meanwhile Pioneer will also be targeting the upper end as well with their Elite line THX Ultra certified DV-38A ($1,800). More new units by other manufacturers are expected to join in on the popularity of the DVD-Audio. As for software, Willie Nelson's Night and Day, Debussy Piano Préludes Book I & II with Joan Rowland, Bobby Short Piano, and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band plus Devotion by Aaronn Neville will be some of the many new titles available during the holidays.

 

11 / 02 / 00

  The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is now offering an objective, comprehensive source of information for consumers called Switched On. With consumers getting a bit soured by conflict of interest sites like eTown who claim to offer unbiased reviews/opinions yet also sell the reviewed products, Switched On neither sells nor reviews specific products. They simply educate consumers with an overview about a product category and what accessories you may need. Located at www.ce.org/switchedon, the Switched On site covers a wide variety of information from audio to computers to video products and much more. True industry experts, audiophiles and technology gurus have helped to provide top quality information for consumers. "The incredible variety of new consumer electronics products has given shoppers more choices than ever," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. "Switched On helps consumers sort those choices out in a logical, practical way."

 

 

Microsoft Corporation has officially acquired Pacific Microsonics Inc. (PMI). PMI is known by audiophiles as the company who has developed and delivered the popular HDCD digital audio technology. Microsoft is planning on using the HDCD technology into future offerings for the PC and other consumer devices. HDCD has been used in the recording of more than 5,000 CD titles that account for more than 300 million CDs sold. PMI's HDCD technology can be found in hardware from manufactures including A&R Cambridge (Arcam), Denon Nippon Columbia Co. Ltd., Harman Kardon Inc., Kenwood Corp., Linn Products Ltd., Madrigal Audio Laboratories Inc., Marantz Japan Inc., Rotel, Sansui Electric Co. Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. "PMI has done amazing work to improve the sound quality of audio CDs with HDCD, which has been embraced by the recording industry," said Will Poole, vice president of the Digital Media Division at Microsoft. "Its wealth of experience and innovative technology will be a tremendous addition to our industry-leading audio technology." Bennet Goldberg, CEO of PMI, said "Joining Microsoft means we can continue to innovate for our existing customers while expanding our efforts to include a whole new range of customers. We look forward to working with the great talent at Microsoft working on digital media technology and continuing to create exciting new innovations for the industry."

 

 

According to the International Recording Media Association (IRMA), DVD-Audio will reach over 97,000,000 units by the end of 2002. IRMA's 413 page market study said that at the close of 2001 over 40,000,000 DVD-Audio units will be sold to consumers worldwide. IRMA President Charles Van Horn said "Estimates say it will take 8 to 24 months to build a meaningful catalog of titles for DVD-Audio."

 

 

Listen.com will acquire the Napster-like file-swapping website Scour.com for upwards of $5 million and over 500,000 shares. Scour, who recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Central District of California in Los Angeles, will be absorbed by Listen.com who plan on taking advantage of the popularity of online music delivery. While lawsuits are still pending against Scour, Listen.com feels they can settle these issues out of court and become highly profitable. The advantage of the Scour Exchange software is that, unlike Napster, Scour's Exchange software include the sharing of images, videos and other files (and of course MP3 music). "We're making a bet here that peer-to-peer really does matter," Reid said. "But we think if we can get an excellent peer-to-peer system, without the legal baggage, we can create something huge." The RIAA has been keeping a very close eye on this deal... "I have been assured by Listen.com's management that prior to the acquisition of Scour.com the file exchange service and search engine service will be shut down," RIAA chief executive Hilary Rosen said in a statement. "Any resolution of the lawsuit will depend upon Scour and Listen.com following through on this commitment." According to Wilkofsky Gruen Associates, online music sales will reach $390 million dollars by 2002 and could reach $1,513 million by 2004.

 

11 / 01 / 00

  Coming under the headline "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is the agreement between Bertelsmann AG (BMG) and file exchange giant Napster. Not only has Bertelsmann AG withdrawn their lawsuit against the file exchange giant, they are giving Napster substantial funding as well! Napster is planning on using their millions and millions of subscriber base and turn their free service into a membership-based one. Bertelsmann has created their new eCommerce Group (BeCG) that will offer loans to Napster to assist in their new membership/subscription service. "There's no question that file sharing will exist in the future as part of the media entertainment industry," Thomas Middelhoff, Bertelsmann's chairman and chief executive officer, said today at a press conference held here. Middelhoff alluded to a long-term goal the companies had set together to apply the file-sharing model to Bertelsmann's video content as well.

 


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