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The Absolute Sound

From The Editor...
April / May 2005
By Robert Harley

TAS Increases Publication Frequency

  I'm pleased to announce that after thirty-three years of quarterly or bi-monthly publication, The Absolute Sound will now be published ten times per year. This new schedule, which begins later this year, will allow us to bring you more equipment reports, features, news, music reviews, and other coverage of the high-end scene. And because we're keeping the subscription price the same, you'll receive those four additional issues per year at no extra cost.

We're increasing the publication frequency in response to the tremendous growth in circulation and advertising TAS has enjoyed over the past three years. The move also demonstrates the deep commitment of Absolute Multimedia, Inc., our parent company, to high-end audio, music, our readers, and this special industry which creates the products that bring us so much pleasure.

It may be of interest to readers to know that in an age when mega-corporations control the world, Absolute Multimedia is a small, privately owned company founded and run by dedicated audio and music enthusiasts. AMI's founder and CEO, Tom Martin, has been a TAS subscriber since Issue 1. He's equally passionate about music, equipment, and expanding high-end audio to a larger audience.

After leaving Dell Computer (where he was Vice President of Worldwide Marketing) to start a private equity firm, Tom invested in The Absolute Sound and its sister publication, The Perfect Vision, and launched our free digital publication, AVGuide Monthly and our Web site AVGuide.com." Tom's sensibilities and aesthetic as an enthusiast inform everything we do. This is an editor's dream scenario that allows us to produce the kind of magazine we'd want to read ourselves.


The High-Resolution Future

I think it's fair to say that the great promise of DVD-Audio and SACD has been left unfulfilled. Although there are many wonderful titles and some great players in both formats, neither DVD-A nor SACD has achieved its unstated goal of replacing the Compact Disc. The consequence for audiophiles is that a great deal of music remains unavailable in either of the high-resolution formats, and the number of players is also limited. As a further result, the CD format, created when a personal computer meant a Commodore 64, continues to hang on well past its second decade.

So what's next?

There's a glimmer of hope that next year we'll get a music carrier that finally fulfills the promise of high-resolution digital audio, not just sonically (as DVD-A and SACD do), but in terms of a universal standard that makes high-rez audio the norm rather than the audiophile exception. This hope is based on the fact that both of the new optical-disc formats designed to replace DVD the Blu-ray Disc and the HD DVD have provisions for up to eight channels of high-resolution audio. There's no reason why these discs couldn't be used as music-only carriers.

There are two clouds on the horizon, however. The first is that the inevitable format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray may render both platforms moot, as consumers sit on the sidelines waiting for a "winner" to emerge. The second threat is that the music-only capabilities of these discs may be trampled in the stampede toward the greater riches provided by the discs' video capabilities.

A new high-rez disc would serve the artists who create the music, deliver better sound to listeners, and revitalize the music industry by giving consumers a reason to buy packaged media again rather than listen to pirated MP3 files. We've been stuck with the CD format long enough.




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