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High-End Audio Industry News


 

12 / 30 / 05

  It appears Sony will soon be settling out of New York State court a class action lawsuit filed by Girard Gibs and Kamber and Associates concerning Sony BMG's rootkit. The situation involving Sony BMG's protected media rootkit has been reported upon by Enjoy the Music.com quite extensively, and it appears a preliminary settlement was filed and is pending judicial approval. The basic terms to the agreement include immediate recall all XCP discs and to cease manufacturing discs with the offending protected media software (MediaMax and XCP). Sony BMG will also waive provisions is said software concerning the End-User Licensing Agreements (EULA). Furthermore, Sony BMG will make updates/uninstall software available to consumers. As for compensation, consumers will be able to return the offending music titles for replacement CD that do not have protection software plus provide a set amount of free music downloads. Specifically, consumers can choose to settle for three album downloads from a list of over 200 titles, or claim a cash payment of $7.50 and a free download of one album. More details about the lawsuit can be seen within this Adobe Acrobat file.

 

12 / 29 / 05

  It is no secret that increased Web advertising is leading towards increased sales. While mainstream Amazon.com had their best holiday sales season ever, with more than 108 million items ordered from November 1 through December 21, audiophile companies are also experiencing the online growth factor. Music is at the top of most people's list with Apple Computer's iPod achieving the top spots for many mainstream electronic retailers. Goldman, Sachs, Nielsen//NetRatings, and Harris Interactive eSpending Report had a recent survey that showed online shoppers were overwhelmingly happy as 25.9 percent were somewhat satisfied and an astonishing 44.4 percent were very satisfied. In total, according to the survey, online shoppers spent $18.6 billion (excluding travel from October 29 to December 9) during the 2005 holiday season. Online spending resulted in a 16 percent increase (+/-3.1 percent margin of error) from the same time period in 2004, with 19 percent of consumers having indicated that they have yet to start their holiday shopping when this survey was taken. The below chart was compiled by comScore using various available data concerning online retail sales.

 

12 / 28 / 05

Thor Audio  High-end audio goes to Hollywood with Thor Audio leading the way as the company has singed a "Run Of The Show" contract with the Emmy Award winning FOX Network television series "House." Audiophiles can begin looking for Thor Audio products beginning January 24. Products to keep a close eye out for include Thor Audio's Line and Phono Preamplifiers plus the 150 watt monoblock amplifiers in Dr. Gregory's home (Hugh Laurie).

 

12 / 27 / 05

Digital Foci Media Buddy  Digital Foci's new Media Buddy ($229 on up depending on internal hard drive size) is a complete portable audio playback and digital file storage system. Unlike other digital file players, the Media Buddy has an internal hard drive plus has the ability to read and/or copy files from all popular memory card formats including CompactFlash I/II, MicroDrive, Smart Media, xD-Picture Card, Multi-Media Card,Secure Digital Card, Memory Stick, MS PRO, MS Duo, and MS PRO Duo. This allows the transfer of music files to/from virtually any portable memory storage device. Computer interface for file transfers is via fast USB 2.0 and the unit includes a rechargeable Li-Ion battery.

 

12 / 26 / 05

hi-fi+  UK-based print audiophile publication hi-fi+ has been purchased by Absolute Multimedia, owners of longstanding United States magazine The Abso!ute Sound. The Abso!ute Sound has been experiencing impressive growth in content  under the same ownership for many year. Roy Gregory, editor of hi-fi- plus, wrote, "Hi-Fi Plus has changed hands. The new owners are Absolute Multimedia Inc. the owners of American high-end magazine The Abso!ute Sound, a title we've long held in the highest regard and which has, in a very real way, shaped what we do here at Plus." The Abso!ute Sound is also a partnered magazine with Enjoy the Music.com®, one of the Web's leading sites with over 100 show reports and a immense variety of both audiophile equipment and music reviews.

 

12 / 23 / 05

The Sound of the Valve Hi-End 2006 Show  The Sound of the Valve Hi-End 2006 show will take place in Milan on February 11th and 12th, 2006. This is the seventh edition of this show at this year will take place at Milan's prestigious 4 star Jolly Hotel Milanofiori (Assago-Milan). The Sound Of The Valve show is strictly two channel (stereo) only featuring high-end audio from around the world. As an established tradition, the organizers have paid attention to the quality of the sound into the rooms, using acoustic corrections so to get results from a hi-fi system.

 

12 / 22 / 05

Vacuum State RTP3D Preamplifier  Vacuum State's new RTP3D preamplifier utilizes differential operation, an optimized form of balanced, to ensure absolute internal stability and freedom from noise. The unit achieves very low distortion from correct design of the circuits themselves, without the crutch of negative feedback as there is no loop negative feedback that can add distortion to transient purity. Wish care to all details, each component is operated well within their ratings to ensure reliability, stability and long life. Modular construction allows for: 1/ phono + line, 2/ line only, 3/ double line, or 4/ double line with electronic crossovers included in the circuitry. Also available is an ultra low noise, MC phono stage with only two gain stages from input to line level output. All primary signal path wiring is hard wired point-to-point with either solid core pure silver wire or pure silver foil. Vacuum State's RTP3D power supply is regulation with SuperRegs current sourced shunt regulators. Absolute phase selection is available on all inputs via the input selector switch. Inputs are both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA).

 

12 / 21 / 05

Concord Music Group  The Concord Music Group, owned by Act III Communications and Tailwind Capital with multimedia interests in broadcasting, motion pictures and music, have acquired Telarc International Corporation. Telarc has long history, since 1980, of releasing critically acclaimed classical and jazz recordings. Also acquired in this transaction is Telarc's Heads Up International label with their catalog of contemporary instrumental and world music. Of not is the recent purchase of Fantasy, Inc. by the Concord Music group, thereby making it one of the world's largest independent record companies. Telarc's president, Bob Woods, said "The cultures of our companies are very similar and we see lots of synergies through the merging of our talented staffs and our mutual goals. Glen Barros and I have known each other for some time and I respect the creative indie mentality our companies share, which allows us to respond quickly to the constant change and abundant opportunities in our industry. We'll be a larger entity, but we won't move slowly." Glen Barros, president and CEO of the Concord Music Group, said, "We are incredibly proud to welcome Telarc and Heads Up to the Concord family, as we truly admire these great labels. Telarc's history of impeccable audio and musical standards has made it one of the world's most respected independent labels and we are honored to be the ones chosen to safeguard this rich legacy."

 

12 / 20 / 05

  The following 17 recordings have been selected by the Classical Recording Industry Hall Of Fame for their 2006 Awards. The list is as follows:

Dvorak-"Rusalka". Milada Subrtova, Ivo Zidek, Eduard Haken and others. Prague National Theatre
Orchestra and Chorus/Zdenek Chalabala. Recorded by Supraphon (Prague 1961). CD# SU 0013-2.

Rachmaninov-"Symphony 3". Philadelphia Orchestra/Sergei Rachmaninov. Recorded by RCA (Philadelphia 12/39). CD# RCA 62532.

Saint Saens-"Violin Concerto 3". Arthur Grumiaux (violin), Lamoureaux Orchestra/Manuel
Rosenthal. Recorded by Philips (Paris 12/63). CD# Philips Japan UCCP 7024.

Mussorgsky-"Pictures at an Exhibition". Sviatoslav Richter (piano). Recorded in Sofia (2/58).
CD# Philips 464 734 2.

Brahms-"Piano Quintet". Rudolf Serkin (piano), members of the Budapest Quartet. Recorded by Columbia (Guilford, Vermont 9/63). CD# Sony MPK 45686.

Janacek-"Sinfonietta". Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Bretislav Bakala. Recorded by Supraphon (Prague 1951). CD# SU 3616 2.

Grieg-"String Quartet". Budapest Quartet. Recorded by HMV (1937). CD# RCA 61826.

Sibelius-"6 Humoresques for violin and orchestra". Aaron Rosand (violin), Southwest German
Radio Symphony Orchestra/Rolf Reinhardt. Recorded by Vox (1957). CD# Vox 5116.

Berlioz-"Symphonie Fantastique". Lamoureaux Orchestra/Igor Markevitch. Recorded by DG (Paris 1/61). CD# DG 423 957 2.

Vivaldi-"The Four Seasons". Alan Loveday (violin), Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Neville
Marriner. Recorded by Decca (London 9/69). CD# Decca 466 232 2.

Sibelius-"Symphony 5". Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan. Recorded by DG (Berlin 2/65). CD# DG 457 748 2.

Lalo-"Symphonie Espagnole". Henri Merckel (violin), Pasdeloup Concert Association Orchestra/Piero Coppola. Recorded by French Columbia (Paris 1932). CD# Opus Kura OPK 2028.

Manuel de Falla-"Nights in the Gardens of Spain". Artur Rubinstein (piano), St. Louis Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Gloschmann. Recorded by RCA (St. Louis 11/49). CD# RCA 63018.

Roussel-"Bacchus and Ariadne Suite 2". Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Jean Martinon. Recorded by RCA (Chicago 12/64). Original LP# RCA LSC 2806. Not available on CD.

Stravinsky-"The Rite of Spring". Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Igor Stravinsky. Recorded by Columbia (New York 1/60). CD# Sony 88910.

Vaughan Williams-"Hodie". Dame Janet Baker, John Shirley-Quirk, Richard Lewis. London Symphony Orchestra, Bach Choir, Westminster Abby Choristers/Sir David Willcocks. Recorded by EMI (London 1965). CD# EMI 67427.

The Walter Legge Award presented each year for outstanding contribution to the world of recording classical music. This year we are honoring a recording for performance and technical achievement:

Dvorak-"Symphony 9-The New World Symphony". Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Istvan Kertesz. Recorded by Decca in the Sofiensaal, Vienna (3/61). Producer-Ray Minshull. Engineer-James Brown. Original U.K. LP # Decca SXL 2289. CD# Decca Japan UCCD 7005.

 

12 / 19 / 05

  ShenZhen CanRong Mechatronic is now offering their CanRong new cartridge load meters. The CanRong Arm Load Meter is ultra-accurate electronic stylus force gauge for the serious audiophile. Made in China and incorporating special transducer technology, this high precision measuring device allows easy, repeatable and precise setting of phonograph cartridge tracking force. Featuring  a large measuring area and easy to read digital display, this provides ease of use and operation. The CanRong gauge is available for two models: the CR-B5g/0.01g, accurate 1/50th of a gram, and the CR-B15g/0.05g, accurate to 1/200th 0f a gram. Both units are battery powered and built-in bubble level to insure flat surface.

 

12 / 16 / 05

Soundations  Soundations, manufactures of impressive equipment supports for stereo and home theater applications since 1982, now offer their new audiophile-quality HF, AV, F1 and top-of-the-line Ultimo Racks. Combining innovation, aesthetics, and non-resonant chassis. The HF and AV Series racks employ a combination of coupling, absorption and mechanical isolation techniques to ensure maximum isolation. All internal shelving is decoupled from the outer 'isolation cradle' using adjustable bushings for critical leveling of sensitive components. Materials are a combination of MDF, aluminum and steel for the isolation cradle, and supply shelving in heavy duty glass or MDF. F1 Series Racks are unique in that they require no shelving. Audio components appear to be suspended in mid-air but are supported by infinitely adjustable 'fingers' that ingeniously clamp components in a manner that eliminates chassis resonance, while also ensuring maximum space utilization. Soundations top-of-the-line Ultimo HF Equipment Rack employs the same technology as the HF and AV Series models. In addition, all internal shelves are double-decoupled from the outer 'isolation cradle' using an adjustable rubberized suspension system that allows for highly effective acoustic isolation. A system for precisely adjusting each shelf's height allows for critical leveling of sensitive components and maximum space utilization. The chassis is constructed of double MDF slabs, big diameter oval aluminum tubing and steel tension rods to provide a very rigid cradle for the MDF shelving suspended within. It comes supplied with skeletal shelves and is available in any standard Soundations finish. Also available in the Ultimo series are hi-fi stands, amplifier stands and speaker stands.

 

 

Enjoy the Music.com once again updated our CES / T.H.E. Show pre-event report. This page will be updated often as the show draws near. See what we have to date by clicking here.

 

12 / 15 / 05

Wireworld  Wireworld, manufacturers of high-end audio and video cables, has introduced their new 52-Series power conditioning cords. From left to right is their Gold Electra 52, Silver Electra 52, Electra 52, Aurora 52, and Stratus 52. All of the new cords feature a unique flat geometry that exploits inductive and capacitive filtering effects to minimize unwanted power line noise and harmonics. This is said to improve imaging, dynamic range, and resolution of audio and video electronic components. The cords' two low-impedance copper shields are closely-coupled to each of the conductors, which maximizes capacitive filtering while creating phase cancellation of differential mode noise. Wireworld President, David Salz, said "Our 52 series power cords' unique flat shape is a reflection of their innovative structural design, where the conductors are formed in a spiral coil arrangement that increases inductance. We also employ a sophisticated composite insulation that absorbs far more high frequency energy than conventional single-material insulation. The overall effect is that these cords do a significantly better job of removing electrical resonances and power line noise, whether used in conjunction with power conditioning electronics or straight out of the wall." Pricing for 2-meter length and details for each cable is as follows:

The Stratus 52 employs oxygen-free copper conductors and brass contacts ($99.95).

The Aurora 52 uses silver-clad oxygen-free copper conductors and brass contacts ($179.95).

The Electra 52 employs Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) copper conductors, and silver-clad brass contacts ($359.95).

The Silver Electra 52 employs OCC silver-clad copper conductors, and silver-clad brass contacts ($699.95).

The top of the line Gold Electra 52 power cord features OCC solid silver conductors, and silver-clad brass contacts for optimal signal transfer ($1999.95).

 

12 / 14 / 05

Outlaw Audio Model RR 2150 Retro Receiver  Outlaw Audio, manufacturers of high-performance, high-value consumer electronics products marketed exclusively via the Internet, is now offering their Model RR 2150 Retro Receiver ($599) that reaffirms the company's belief in filling the high quality receivers niché. With two-channel analog music performance in mind, the unit also boasts a unique separate subwoofer output that includes selectable, analog bass management. Model RR 2150 produces 100 Watts per channel at 8 Ohms (160 at 4 Ohms), with a signal to noise ratio of 96dB. Also included is a MM/MC phonostage, tone control, tone defeat, and AM/FM tuner. Measurements are 5.75 x 17.1 x 15 (HxWxD in inches) and the unit weighs 27 lbs. "Five or seven speaker surround sound is great for movies," said Outlaw's president, Peter Tribeman, "but for music it is still hard to beat the inherent simplicity of a traditional stereo. Just two speakers for two ears…it’s elegant, satisfying, and much easier on your room decor than having to place a half-dozen or more speakers plus a subwoofer around your living room."

 

12 / 13 / 05

Acoustic Zen Adagio Loudspeaker  Acoustic Zen's new Adagio loudspeaker ($3,700 per pair) uses a pair of 6.5-inch midrange/woofer driver in a specialized sandwich design with ceramic external layers around a fabric internal layer for maximum stiffness while minimizing cone breakup, flexing, and resonance. A shortened, under-hung voice coil inside a long magnetic gap is said to results in having the voice coil behave in an extremely linear fashion throughout its entire travel, thereby reducing both harmonic and TIM distortion. A limited production modified 1.62-inch circular ribbon tweeter has high power handling characteristics along with a linear impedance and phase response. The 0.01mm heat resistant Kapton membrane is almost weightless, providing an immediate and precise response to any transients in the original music signal. The tweeter is flanked above and below by the 6.5-inch driver, with all drivers mounted on an enclosure with curved surfaces to minimize external diffraction. At the bottom of the cabinet is the internal transmission line port. Nominal impedance is 6 ohm with sensitivity being 89dB/W/m. Overall frequency response is from 30Hz to 30 kHz (±3dB).

 

12 / 12 / 05

  Ultralink/XLO now offers the UltraPower PS-1060 and the UltraPower PS-1040 ($169.99 and $219.99 respectively) high-end surge protector/power conditioners as part of the company's new UltraPower product line. Along with advanced performance and protection features, the PS-1060 is equipped with a convenient 12V remote DC trigger and one-touch On/Off remote control. Gold-played RJ-45 phone and coaxial connections cover voice/data and video line protection. Reverse polarity and ground detection is included to insure safety. Switched outlets are augmented by high-current always on outlets for electronics that need constant power. An unsafe voltage indicator changes from green to red confirming when the ASP (Active Surge Processor) has detected under-voltage or power spike over-voltage condition. Both units come with a limited lifetime warranty plus 5-Year/$250,000 Connected Equipment Protection Policy.

 

12 / 09 / 05

  The 48th Annual Grammy Award nominations include not just popular music, but also jazz, classical, recording engineers, etc. As the only audiophile magazine that is also a longstanding members of the Grammy organization that reports virtually live, Enjoy the Music.com will be providing coverage from the event as we have done in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004! Musical talent nominated for the 2006 Grammy Awards include Mariah Carey, John Legend and Kanye West who each earned eight while legendary singer/pianist Stevie Wonder earned six. Blues and Folk nominees include Make Do With What You Got (Solomon Burke), Twenty (Robert Cray), Bring 'Em In (Buddy Guy), Cost Of Living (Delbert McClinton), and Electric Blue Watermelon (North Mississippi Allstars). Best Contemporary Folk Album feature Ry Cooder's Chávez Ravine, Rodney Crowell's The Outsider, Nickel Creek's Why Should The Fire Die?, John Prine's Fair & Square, and Bruce Springsteen's Devils & Dust. Best Clasical Album category consist of Bolcom: Songs Of Innocence And Of Experience [Naxos], Chávez: Complete Chamber Music, Vol. 3 [Cambria Master Recordings], Martha Argerich And Friends: Live From The Lugano Festival [EMI Classics], Mendelssohn: The Complete String Quartets [Deutsche Grammophon], and Shostakovich: Sym. No. 13 [EMI Classics]. Neil Portnow, President of The Recording Academy, said "As we celebrate the Grammys coast-to-coast, this year's nominations truly reflect a dynamic and vibrant community of music makers that includes artists, producers, engineers, songwriters and everyone involved in the creative process. As this is the only music award that is voted on by music makers, the Grammy continues to be the preeminent symbol of excellence and achievement as well as the most coveted demonstration of peer-recognition and honor." The 48th Annual Grammy Awards will be held on Wednesday, February 8, 2006 and will be broadcast in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound 8p.m. to 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The complete Grammy nominations can be seen by clicking here.

 

12 / 08 / 05

ReQuest  ReQuest, manufacturers of home-entertainment systems for high-end digital media storage, management, and playback, has announced the release of an important software update for the company's multi-award winning VideoReQuest Digital Video Controller. Among the significant changes found in version 1.2.0 are Automatic Cover Art for more than 6,000 popular DVD titles, improved DVD Information Lookup that automatically connects to the Internet to the All Movie Guide (AMG) database, and improved graphical user interface.

 

12 / 07 / 06

National Retail Federation (NRF)  Once again consumer electronics are the hot ticket for the holiday season as the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world's largest retail trade association that includes department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, etc., says 145 million shoppers were busy on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) in 2005 versus 133 million in 2004. Shoppers average spending was $302.81 during the entire weekend event that, in total, reached $27.8 billion versus $22.8 billion in 2004. This is a sharp increase of 21.9 percent. The reason it is called Black Friday is because it is said on that day retailers move from in the red (deficit) to black (making profit) on that day. NRF President and CEO, Tracy Mullin, said "As expected, retailers offered substantial discounts and savings on Black Friday to bring people into their stores and consumers held up their end of the bargain by shopping. Even though many retailers saw strong sales this past weekend, companies will not be basking in their success. Stores are already warming up for the next four weeks because the holiday season is far from over." NRF claims that 59 million people shopped online during "Cyber Monday," the Monday following Thanksgiving. Executive Director of Shop.org, Scott Silverman, said "Online retailers will be ready for the surge in traffic and will be offering sensational promotions on Cyber Monday. Though millions of consumers spent the weekend in stores, they will be rounding out their shopping by heading online to look for gift ideas, compare prices, and buy." Online price comparison site PriceGrabber.com said it experienced a staggering 77 percent increase in comparison shoppers in 2005 over 2004.

 

12 / 06 / 05

  Enjoy the Music.com has began their CES & T.H.E. Show 2006 pre-event report. We will be updating the page frequently with new items, world premieres, and details on amazing products. Both shows take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, with our official live coverage beginning January 5th, 2006. This is the worlds largest and most important consumer electronics show of the year and is attended by hundreds of thousands of people. Our 2006 report will mark  11 years in offering online reporting of the event! See our pre-event coverage by clicking here.

 

12 / 05 / 05

Grammy MusiCares  Music lovers looking for very collectable items should shop the Grammy Charity Holiday Auction on eBay that benefits MusiCares. Enjoy the Music.com, longstanding supporters of Grammy's MusiCares that help musicians with personal, medical and financial hardships, is proud to help assist this effort. On the auction block are a variety of memorabilia items and VIP experiences from celebrities including B.B. King, Brad Paisley, Cher, Dave Navarro, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, Maroon5, Ozzy Osbourne, Rascal Flatts, Ringo Starr, Slash, Scott Weiland, The Eagles, Tim McGraw, U2, Wynonna and more. Also up for bid is a 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards VIP Experience. Hurry fast as the auction ends December 8!

 

12 / 02 / 05

  With the holiday season upon us, the increase in online activity has added up to more money being spent with E-tailers. Visa USA has released figures for what America calls "Cyber Monday," the Monday that follows Thanksgiving. Sales reached $505 million in Visa-related transactions versus 2004's biggest holiday shopping day on December 1 that achieved $481 million. This bodes well for the days to come as sales climb to new record highs. To date, online sales reached $3.4 billion for 2005 and accounted for nearly 14.9 percent of Visa-related transactions. In fact Visa USA reports very strong online sales that have climbed in transactions to an outstanding 41 percent on Thanksgiving day. Cyber Monday has an effect due to workers enjoying their company's high-speed Internet connection and taking their lunch break by shopping online. Brad Nightengale, Visa's vice president of emerging products, said "...I would expect to see even higher volumes than this in the next few days. E-tailers will have a banner year this year."

 

12 / 01 / 05

  Enjoy the Music.com is pleased to announce that due to popular demand we have doubled our efforts and now publish Superior Audio on a monthly basis! Both December editions of our Review Magazine and Superior Audio are now online with the Review Magazine covering LiTe & Baddymod LiTe DAC-Ah, Dynavector 507 MkII tonearm, Slim Devices Squeezebox 3, plus holiday gift ideas in our first annual Great Audiophile Gifts article. We also herald in our Music Blue Note Awards for outstanding recordings during 2005. Superior Audio features a review of Consonance's Cyber 211 monoblocks and KR Audio's VA340 integrated tube amplifier. See the December issue of our Review Magazine by clicking here and Superior Audio by clicking here.

 

CES / T.H.E. Show Announcement
Is it really almost time for the Las Vegas shows? Enjoy the Music.com® will once again be featuring our pre-show coverage online! Manufacturers and distributors attending the shows should send us press releases with product details (features, specifications, price, etc.) and a web-ready image. Make sure to include a link to your product/site. Please send your pre-show press releases by clicking on this special e-mail link. See our 2006 CES show introduction here and T.H.E. Show here.



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