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High-End Audio Industry News

6 / 30 / 99

  It has finally happened.  A highly acclaimed high-end company finally admitted to selling computers and is even saying in their press release "Built like a computer because it is a computer" (italics theirs!).  Although Theta has long been telling people they are a computer company, Meridian is now saying it to the public as well (or at least in their press release).  Meridian's new 800 Reference CD/DVD player is now their top-of-the-line statement piece.  Using a DVD-ROM drive, the 800 also make use of upgradeable plug-in cards to decode the audio and video signals.  The software on the cards are upgradeable by downloading updated version(s) from Meridian's website!  This is the same as we all update the Bios or other software in our home computers.  This guarantees that the most up-to-date decoding is available to their worldwide customers.  No need to take the computer into the store as this upgrade can be done in the customer's home via a standard RS-232 jack which virtually all home and laptop computers have.  As for processing, three levels of memory-based "de-jittering" and error correction are included to insure the most precise signal to the digital-to-analog stage(s) which i believe tops out at 24-bit/96kHz as there was no mention of the better 192kHz decoding rate on the press release.  The new 800 is claimed to decode many formats yet seems to omit the popular MPEG 1 Layer 3 decoding (also known as MP3).  Still, the 800 also uses its powerful DSP engine to to upsample data!  Therefore a CD's 16-bit/44.1kHz signal is upsampled to 24-bit/88kHz!  To learn more simply see the 800's owners manual (Adobe Acrobat needed) by simply clicking here.  Because of various available configurations, retail pricing is between $12,000 and $16,000.


6 / 27 / 99

    Federal appeals court ruled earlier this week that the Diamond Multimedia Rio, which plays MP3 files, is a legal product.  This now paves the road for many other companies to join in on the high-demand MP3 playback device market!  Of course as expected the losing Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) played down the win.  Of course if the RIAA won and shot down MP3, you just know they would now be singing to the high mountains.  Fortunately the RIAA rightfully lost and now manufactures will soon be in full swing releasing their own MP3 players.  Thompson and others are already planning their own MP3 playback device(s).  Sony, on the other hand, has said they have no interest in the MP3 hardware or marketing MP3 software at this time and will be streaming media using the new Microsoft Windows Media Player file format.  In a statement made on the RIAA website about the loss of the lawsuit "We’re obviously disappointed we lost in the Appeals Court.  The court appears to have concluded that, despite Congressional intent, the Audio Home Recording Act has limited application in a world of convergent technologies.  We filed this lawsuit because unchecked piracy on the Internet threatens the development of a legitimate marketplace for online music, a marketplace that consumers want.  Fortunately, the shared interest in such a marketplace has overtaken the lawsuit; the technology and music industries have already come together, in voluntary initiatives like the Secure Digital Music Initiative, to create a secure environment in which consumers can access the music they love in new ways."

Still, there is a joint venture to offer digital music online using the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).  SDMI will create a secure environment in delivering digitized audio on the web and is being supported by many manufacturers including Diamond Multimedia.


6 / 23 / 99

  New internet startup CoolAudio.com is launching what they are calling a "revolutionary e-retailing venture".  Both domestic and foreign products from manufactures such as Toshiba, Harmon Kardon and Pioneer with exclusives from manufacturers such as Wilson Benesch, Roksan, Chord, BC-Acoustique, and Audes.  CoolAudio has combined the convenience of the Internet with the added benefit of an exclusive local dealer/installer network.

The exclusive brands serve as the linchpin to the development of CoolAudio.com's local affiliate dealer/installer channel to service customers nationwide.  Their website is being developed by IXL ("IIXL" NASDAQ), will offer both real-time online and telephone technical support with trained audio/video experts seven days a week.

"The home theatre experience seems to be relatively uncharted territory for the majority of consumers,'' added Marco Protano, CoolAudio.com's President.  "Our new e-retailing model is designed to eliminate the widespread frustrations of today's often ill-informed, under-serviced, audio and video equipment buyers.  In sharp contrast, our goal is to demystify the audio/video experience by bringing uniformity and understanding to the audio and video retail environment.''


6 / 21 / 99

  Again in the news, Sony Music has now adopted the Microsoft Windows Media Technology 4.0 for offering secure streaming audio.  Microsoft and Sony are working closely with the new Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) which is widely accepted by many music labels as the best standard for delivering secure music over the web.  Microsoft's plans are to enhance their current Windows Media Technology 4.0 to include SDMI this summer.


IBM, in their labs, have been able to produce a hard drive that has the storage capacity of 20GB (20.3 billion bytes to be exact) per square inch!  While not appearing in your local computer store anytime soon, this shows that soon the public will be able to very easily enjoy their all digital VCRs with vastly larger hard drives then are available in today's "cutting edge" units.  Of course 20GB can store quite a bit of high resolution music as well.


Sega, not to be outdone by the upcoming Sony Playstation2 with DVD drive, are also going to add DVD capabilities in their upcoming 400mHz 3D graphic chipped unit code-named "Dolphin".


Liquid Audio is on the move as Tower Records will be using the Liquid Distribution system to sell "CD-Quality" downloads from the internet.  The new service for Tower's on-line sales is called DigitalTower.com.  Liquid Distribution has also been selected by Alligator Records, Sub Pop, Vanguard, and Mammoth to sell their music on-line as well.


6 / 18 / 99

  First Sony is offering music to retailers through Digital-On-Demand (see story below) and now they are planning to offer their hardware products on-line as well!  Will they fall into the same trap Compaq did by offering their products through e-commerce?  Only time will tell, but Sony is obvious on shaky ground here.


MonsterCable has released their new Sigma Retro Gold line.  Using "ultra-pure" copper and drawn to Monster's specifications, a special annealing and sealing process is then used for the highest in signal transmission yet resisting detrimental corrosion.  Their patented Microfiber is employed as is their PEX-2 cross-linked polymer dielectric.  To quote their comments about the new speaker cable "PEX-2 dielectric reduces capacitive effort of insulation for better transmission of high frequency. Super MultiTwist™ construction rejects audio bandwidth distortions for greater clarity and imaging. Ultra High Purity 6x strand copper construction for the purest and most detailed midrange."   Pricing is $2,000 for an 8 foot pair of speaker cable (SRGS 8/8FT) while a 3 foot length of the new interconnect (SRGI-3) is $1,000.


Failing streaming media software company Liquid Audio is going for an IPO. Their planned IPO of 3.6 million common shares is about 21 percent of the company.  Initial stock pricing should be between $10 and $12 according to our sources. This might be the very last breath of air for Liquid Audio as many companies are finding their encoding software not as easy to implement, or the Liquid Audio decoders as widely used as RealNetworks RealPlayer which holds over 75% of the streaming media market. Meanwhile Rounder Records has selected Liquid Audio for their on-line music distribution.


DIVX is dead.  The public has spoken. MP3 is gaining in popularity while Sony's new SACD might be the next DIVX (or Betamax).  Is Sony's unapproved by the industry consortium (WG-4) SACD another Betamax/DIVX?  Quite possibly.


6 / 16 / 99

  This just in:


David Manley resigned as President of Manley Laboratories, Inc. and assigned his total shares in the Company to EveAnna Manley as part of an agreement signed on June 10, 1999.

EveAnna Manley has officially assumed the duties of President, CEO and sole owner of Manley Laboratories, Inc.

David Manley is no longer associated or affiliated with Manley
Laboratories, Inc. Manley Laboratories, Inc., founded in 1993 by David and EveAnna Manley, manufactures vacuum tube high fidelity and professional studio products under the MANLEY and LANGEVIN brand names.

EveAnna Manley has been de facto operating CEO of Manley Laboratories, Inc. since David Manley's departure in 1996.

New products released during this time by EveAnna Manley's design team headed by Craig 'Hutch' Hutchison and assisted by Baltazar Hernandez include the 1998 TEC award winner,
the Manley VOXBOX, The Stingray Integrated Amplifier, and the 1999 Studio Sound Industry Recognition Award winner and 1999 TEC award nominee Manley Massive Passive Stereo Equalizer.

The success of these innovative products distributed by over 100 dealers worldwide have contributed greatly to the 75% growth Manley Laboratories, Inc. has experienced under EveAnna Manley's leadership.

We wish to thank all of the audio community for their continued


EveAnna Manley, President
Manley Laboratories, Inc. 13880 Magnolia Ave. Chino, CA. 91710
Tel: (909) 627-4256 Fax: (909) 628-2482


6 / 14 / 99

  This just posted on the Enjoy the Music.com discussion group:

From:  JAZZESINGER 1:53 am  
Hi, Steve:

Funny you should be talking about the possible death of print "zines", and the internet taking on much more importance. As it happens,..."The Audiomeccazine.com" is on the way!

Dick Olsher, publisher, feels that with 20 years of experience as Senior Contributing Editor at two formerly esteemed audio magazines, and having reviewed some of the best equipment in the audio world, well, he still has lots to say. But without the petty politics, it will be a lot more fun, and a lot more honest.

With so much still to express, and because other writers want the chance to tell it the way they see it, "The Audiomeccazine.com" concept was born. The expected launch date of " The Audiomeccazine.com" is Jan l , 2000 (excluding Y2K disasters). Just wanted you to be the first to know!

The focus of "The Audiomeccazine.com" will be on affordable gear, diversity of opinion (real diversity, not artificial), and the needs of the hobbyist.

Ciao, and good listening. The JazzESinger

Click here to see the actual posting and join the
Enjoy the Music.com discussion group.

6 / 10 / 99

  Can you believe it took this long for a major label like Sony to realize they can operate more efficiently by delivering their software data over a digital network to dealers rather than via the "legacy system" physical product delivery?  Sony struck up a deal with Digital On-Demand in hopes of keeping their retailers happy yet keeping their internet strategy in focus too.  Digital On-Demand operates via a high-speed network to send data.   Because of this new agreement, even if a store is out of the "legacy system" version of a software title, the store can make a CD-R, DVD-R, Mini-Disc, VHS tape, etc. of it on-demand and be able to deliver/sell the product to the customer in the store.  "The beauty of this agreement is that everyone benefits," Danny Yarbrough, chairman of Sony Music Distribution, said in a statement. "Sony Music can make more of its catalog available than ever before, retailers will be able to provide their customers with an expanded inventory, and music fans will now be able to find the albums they want when they want at their local retailer."  There will be a big announcement tomorrow that one of these new kiosk devices will be at the newest Virgin store opening July 16 in Columbus, Ohio.


6 / 09 / 99

  There's a new huge investor into the .mp3 format. Cox Interactive Media purchased a 10 percent stake in MP3.com with a 45 million dollar investment.  This is wise as MP3.com is planning an IPO shortly.  Talk about great timing for Cox.  Cox Enterprises operates a vast amount of media properties which include newspaper, broadcast, cable television distribution to name a few.


6 / 08 / 99

Linn Klimax Monoblock Amplifier  As reported in the Enjoy the Music.com Hi-Fi '99 show report, Linn just officially announced their Klimax 500 Solo power amplifier.  Linn's new  high performance monoblock power amplifier designed for use in multi-amplified sound reproduction systems and delivers over 500W of power.  Ivor Tiefenbrun M.B.E., Managing Director of Linn, says "The new Klimax Amplifier technology demonstrates how Linn sets new standards for performance, value and application versatility."  The Linn patented "noiseless" "4-G" power supply and amplification circuitry is used in the Klimax while overload protection can activate in less than half a microsecond.  Both single-ended on RCA jacks and balanced via XLR inputs are standard.  The Neutrik Speakon 4 contact speaker sockets are used for the speaker wire output. Optional binding post output terminals are available upon request.


6 / 04 / 99

  While some are just now enjoying the recordable CD format (DVD-R) and re-writeable CD (CD-RW), the recordable DVD has been around for quite some time.  Now announcing the world's first re-writeable DVD (DVD+RW)!  Hewlett-Packard announced they are beginning to ship the DVD Writer 3100i.  This unit will read and write to DVD+RW disc which have 3.0Gbyte of storage capacity.  Record speeds of 1.7 Mbytes per second are obtainable claims the manufacturer.  The DVD Writer 3100i can also read DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, CD-RW, CD-R, CD-ROM and CD audio discs.


Bright Star Reference SeriesBright Star Audio has released their new Reference Series (pictured) and Gemini Isolation Twin vibration/resonance control devices.  The Reference Series build on their other award winning designs to achieve an even higher performance.  The Air Mass Reference uses carbon fiber, heat-fired glass crystal, and dual-layer air cell for both vertical and horizontal controlling.  The Air Mass 2 Reference is 19.5"x17"x2.75" and retails at $750 while the Air Mass 3 Reference is 17.25"x14"x2.75" and retails at $650 (both in Black Pearl Finish).

The Bright Start Audio Gemini Isolation Twin uses an Air Mass pneumatic system plus their standard Big Rock platform for dual controlling effectiveness.  A bubble level and hand pump are included as are solid bras feet.  The Gemini 2 Isolation Twin is 19"x17"x2.75" and retails for $379.  The Gemini 3 Isolation Twin is 17.25"x14"x2.75" and retails for $279 (both in Dark Granite finish.  Add $20 for the Black Granite finish).


April/May 1999 News













































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