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High-End Audio Industry News

 

06 / 14 / 02

Portal Audio Panache  Online sales are heating up as Portal Audio has announced their new Panache integrated amplifier ($1,795). The Panace is strictly a minimalist design to insure the least amount of parts in the signal's path while also providing 100 watts for loudspeaker or a special headphone amplification circuitry. A four input passive line stage includes balance control and is mated with a high gain, dual mono "Class A/AB". Headphone users will enjoy the fact that Portal Audio eschews from the usual fare of using a lowly chip amplification in favor of using the loudspeaker output, yet with a simple protection device so as not to overpower delicate headphone transducers.

 

Longstanding British manufacture Mordaunt-Short has introduced two new loudspeaker designs. Their MS914 floorstanding (£300) and MS912 (£200) stand mounted/bookshelf loudspeaker feature a 165mm driver with large voice coil for midrange/bass and specially designed 25mm aluminum dome tweeter. Both also have a unique "damped second order crossover" to enhance the overall sound quality. The internals of the cabinet have differential bracing to the top of cabinet to reduce the negative effects of cabinet resonances. As Marantz distributes Mordant-Short in various parts of the world, none other than golden eared audio guru Ken Ishiwata (of Marantz fame) has assisted in voicing this new design.

 

06 / 13 / 02

Vantage Point Loudspeaker Stands  Vantage Point Products Corporation has announced the launch of their new line of loudspeaker stands. Their SoundStage line features furniture quality sound finishing and can be customized to blend with virtually any decor. With aesthetics as key to their design, Vantage Point's SoundStage loudspeaker stands allows consumers to mix and match wood tone bases with metal risers with a total of 24 different configuration possibilities. Bases are available in black, silver, dark cherry and light oak wood tones and can be paired with 12-inch, 24-inch or 34-inch black, or silver heavy gauge aluminum risers ($40, $70, and $90 respectively). Matching feet are sold with the risers and have rubber tips for hard floors and optional isolation spikes for carpeted floors.

 

 

S.A.P. Cryogenic TechniqueItaly based company S.A.P. has been conducting continuous research and development with the University of Europe (Politecnico di Milano) and have applied for new patent. Beginning three years ago concerning applying a special cryogenic technique (using nitrogen) to to audio and video amplifiers, SAP found that the self generated noise in all the semiconductor devices is very much depending upon the working temperature. This long-term investigation study is said to clearly demonstrated that signal/noise ratio is improved, while the frequency spectrum distribution of the noise changes significantly when cryogenic techniques are implemented. To quote S.A.P.'s Vincenzo Fratello, "In our opinion, while it is possible to reach the same result in terms of S/N measurements with other and more traditional techniques, it is not possible to obtain the same sound purity (directly connected to the frequency spectrum of the noise) with any other traditional existing methods." More applications are said to follow within microphones and other electronic devices. Demonstrations are planned during the upcoming Top Audio & Video show in Milan.

 

06 / 12 / 02

KaZaA  So you think free music via the file-swapping program KaZaA is fun and safe, think again. Besides the known Trojan within their program that can remotely take over the use of your computer to do whatever KaZaA desires, you may also be exposing sensitive files on your hard drive! Nathaniel S. Good, a computer scientists with HP Labs, and Aaron Krekelberg of the University of Minnesota, conducted research and found that quite a large percentage of KaZaA users also have been (probably unwanted) exposing of their sensitive, private files that can be downloaded by other users of the service. In fact, during a brief twelve hour period the study found 443 instances of "unintentional file sharing". These instances can include e-mail files, cookies, Web browser cache, word processing documents, and in one case, sensitive financial data. Some blame this problem on the KaZaA installation/configuration software. Regardless, the end result is that if you use KaZaA, you may be allowing millions of others to access your sensitive data, not just music files.

 

 

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) in a report released yesterday, "Global sales of pirate music discs rose nearly 50 percent to an all-time high of 950 million units in 2001. The total world music pirate market was estimated to be worth $4.3 billion, a slight increase on the previous year." They clearly point out that the blame is largely on both large and small scale CD-R "garages and laboratories". Jay Berman, IFPI Chairman and CEO said "Piracy is sometimes and mistakenly called a 'victimless crime'. It is not. The economic losses due to piracy are enormous and they are felt throughout the music value chain. Piracy also nurtures organized crime across the world, and it stunts investment, growth and jobs... The global recording industry is responding to this problem but it critically needs help from governments. We need proper laws and above all effective enforcement of those laws. It is time for governments to prove, with tough actions and not just words, that copyright piracy has no place in the development of modern economies." The piracy report details include:

An estimated total of 1.9 billion pirate recordings, including discs and cassettes, was sold in 2001 (up from 1.8 billion in 2000). This means that two in every five recordings sold worldwide is an illegal copy

Pirate disc sales rose 48 percent from 640 million units in 2000 to 950 million units in 2001. Within that total, pirate CD-R disc sales tripled to 450 million units while factory-manufactured discs rose slightly to 500 million units, compared to 475 million in 2000

The increase in the value of the music pirate market (up from $4.2 billion in 2000 to $4.3 billion in 2001) was limited by sharply falling prices of pirate CD-R discs. The report values the illegal market at pirate prices and does not estimate losses to the industry, which are far greater than $4.3 billion

Illegal music sales outnumber legal sales in 25 countries - predominantly developing markets - compared to 21 in 2000 and 19 in 1999

Countries in the spotlight where piracy is at a rate of over 25 percent and notably worsening include: Brazil, Central America, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Thailand and Russia. Ukraine, where the US has imposed sanctions over the failure to effectively regulate optical disc plants, remains a largely pirate market, and is also still a main distribution point for pirate CDs

The top five priority countries in terms of domestic piracy levels are: China (90 percent), Russia (65 percent), Brazil (55 percent), Indonesia (85 percent) and Mexico (60 percent)

South Asia remains the hub of pirate CD manufacturing - the region provides seven of the top ten disc manufacturing countries. Chronic overcapacity is driving the increase in pirate production

In the USA CD-R piracy increased significantly in 2001: 2.8 million pirate CD-R discs were seized, up from 1.6 million in 2000

 

06 / 11 / 02

  At the recent PRIMEDIA show held in New York City (see show report here) Sony announced that ABKO will be releasing dual-layer reissues from the Rolling Stones repertoire. Remastered by the critically acclaimed talent of Bob Ludwig, the titles include 12x5, Beggars Banquet, December's Children, Let It Bleed, and The Rolling Stones, Now!. These releases will be playable on normal CD players for 16-bit/44.1kHz playback, or higher resolution via a SACD compatible player. Retail price is planned at $18.98 for each single-disc package.

 

 

Clearaudio Strobeoscope Test RecordClearaudio of Germany announced at the recent Frankfurt show (see show report here) their new high-tech uni-pivot carbon fiber tonearm called the Unify ($850). Features of this new tonearm include precision machined headshell and base, inverted jeweled sapphire (Swiss) bearing, carbon fiber, and a direct RCA cable version with male interconnects. A version with female RCA connector box is also available for those who enjoy using their own cables. Also new by Clearaudio is their Strobeoscope test record ($50, pictured right) and a special Speed Strobe light ($100) to assist in clearly reading the disc. Unlike other flimsy plastic test disc, the Clearaudio version is made of 120 gram vinyl and has grooves on both the outermost an innermost section so you can test the speed of your turntable with the needle on the record.

 

06 / 10 / 02

Mission Pilastro  Mission's new Pilastro floorstanding loudspeaker ($35,000) is their all new flagship design. After two full years of research and development, Mission has employed advanced Granitech material for the enclosure that is extremely inert and is said to be an ideal platform to attach the drivers. The drivers are in-house developed and manufactured by ScanSpeak. The tweeter is a 28mm ring-dome with a high frequency response that extends smoothly to 56kHz. Midrange units are an all new cone material from hemp, which is said to be one of the strongest natural fiber materials. Each Pilastro has ten 8" low frequency drivers to produce ample, yet accurate bass response. This entire design enables the Mission Pilastro to achieve a 95dB/W/m sensitivity.

Enclosure Type: Three-Way ABR loaded, floor-standing 
Frequency Response: 25Hz - 56kHz (±3dB)  
Sensitivity: 95dB/W/m 
Crossover Frequencies: 110Hz and 2.2kHz 
Effective Volume: 82 Litres 
Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms (minimum 3.2 Ohms) 
Recommended Amplifier: 15 - 500 Watts 
Cabinet Dimensions: 57.5 x 12.2 x 20.1 (HxWxD in inches) 
Net Weight: 340 lbs.

 

 

NAD T 562 DVD PlayerNAD's new T 562 DVD Player ($799) feature advanced progressive scan with 3:2 pulldown for DVD and offers high quality CD sound at an affordable price. The T562 also supports playback of CD-R/CD-RW disks and includes built-in MP-3 decoding capable of delivering more than 10 hours of music from a single MP-3 encoded CD-Rs. NAD's T 562 employs the latest generation of MPEG decoding technology while keeping signal paths short and direct to minimize any interference. The 10-bit Video DACs running at 54MHz and offers composite, component and the S-Video output. Three audio connections are available and includes analog RCA jacks plus coaxial and optical digital selectable for 44.1 kHz, 48kHz or 96kHz output.

 

06 / 07 / 02

HGP SUB_600  Germany based loudspeaker company HGP is now shipping their new SUB_600 (€3,600) self-powered subwoofer and Donna floorstanding full range unit. The SUB_600 (pictured right) includes four 12" drivers are mounded in a dual compounded design to reproduce frequencies from 20Hz to 150Hz. The included 600-watt "Class D" amplifier circuitry is augmented by an adjustable crossover that enables users to tune the unit to their room and current full range loudspeakers. Also new is HPG's Donna (€1,350) full range floorstanding design that uses a single 25mm silk soft-dome tweeter for high frequency reproduction. It is mated with two coated paper 13cm midrange/woofers. The enclosure employs front porting to enable the loudspeaker to reproduce frequencies from 42Hz to 25kHz. Sensitivity is rated at 89dB/W/m at an impedance of 6 ohms. Overall dimensions of this floorstander is 105 x 16 x 26.5 [HxWxD in cm].

 

 

Lehmann TwinLehmann audio is now offering a Black Cube Twin phono stage for those who have two turntables or two tonearms and, therefore, need two phono stages. Powered by one PWX electrical supply, the Twin is two single Black Cubes SE units in one chassis and provides low noise amplification of 40dB (MM) and 61dB (MC) of gain while each is fully independently adjustable to achieve two completely different gain and impedance load. Switchable impedances loads include 47 kOhms, 470 Ohms, 100 Ohms, 80 Ohms plus an empty slot is provided for using a custom load of the users choosing. The passive RIAA network includes WIMA foil capacitors while all electrolytic capacitors on the audio board are low ESR Panasonic types. Gold plated RCA connectors are used for input/output while the unit's case is made from aluminum with mechanical resonance absorption in the top cover.

 

06 / 06 / 02

San Jose Symphony  With bills totaling over $3,000,000 and barely any assets, the San Jose Symphony is forced to reorganize. While the San Jose Symphony has over 123 years of operations, the recent lack of financial support through attendance and subscriptions has left them in deep financial troubles. In fact the 89 musicians, who are owed $2.5 million, have agreed to perform four benefit concerts ending June 8th. This last performance may mark their final concert to leave one of America's largest cities without a working orchestra. There is a chance of restructuring and a comeback for the orchestra in a year or two, though nothing is certain. Viola player Janet Sims said "I think it's the shame of San Jose that it's happened. It's a very painful time."

 

 

Recording Industry Association of AmericaWith reports of file sharing network KaZaa about to fold due to legal troubles, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) successfully has appeared to "kill" online file sharing website Napster. Now the RIAA, with the help of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), have their sights set on Audiogalaxy. Having yet another file sharing company forced into court by songwriters, music publishers, and the recording industry for wholesale copyright infringement, Audiogalaxy has a long and tough road ahead if they are to survive. While Audiogalaxy has in place a terms of use that state they will "terminate the accounts of users who repeatedly violate others' intellectual property rights", it is a fine line to tread when virtually all online file sharing networks have illegal content. To quote the RIAA website "The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York on Friday by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA), on behalf of its member labels, and the National Music Publishers Association, Inc. (NMPA), on behalf of the music publisher principals of its licensing affiliate, The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. and their thousands of songwriter partners. The complaint specifically accuses Audiogalaxy of "willfully and intentionally" encouraging and facilitating "millions of individual, anonymous users to copy and distribute infringing copyrighted works by the millions, if not billions."

 

06 / 05 / 02

ATC ACTIVE SCM 50  ATC's new ACTIVE 50, 100 and 150 loudspeakers, replacing their previous iteration, include a revised line-up of drive units for all three loudspeakers. All three units use ATC's 25mm tweeter that features a silver voice coil and double magnet system to produce a flat frequency response and high cut-off frequency. They also share the improved ATC mid-range driver. The Active 50 features a 9" ATC bass driver, incorporating Super Linear Magnet technology. The Active 100 has a 12" while the 150 boasts the 15" professional level SLM bass drivers. All three of these bass drivers have been improved by the addition of voice coil spacers. Existing owners of all three of these loudspeakers can opt to have their units upgraded accordingly.

 

 

Marantz SA8260Marantz America is now shipping their SA8260 multi-channel SACD player ($1,050). This unit features three premium Crystal CS4397 24-bit/192kHz D/A converters, as used in the Marantz Reference Series SA-12S1, for exceptional resolution, dynamic range and channel separation. The SA8260 also incorporates copper-shielded Marantz HDAM (High-Definition Amplifier Module) discrete output stages, premium capacitors and passive components in the audio signal path, a heavy duty power supply, and many additional refinements. Playback capabilities include two/multi-channel SACD, CD, CD-R and CD-RW.

 

06 / 04 / 02

Napster  Napster Incorporated has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday on the heels of their founder and CEO Konrad Hilbers resigned from the company (see our May 20th Industry News article). Napster was the belle of the ball just over a year ago with a staggering 60 millions users! Alas, it was not to last as major recording labels such as AOL-Time Warner, BMG, EMI, Sony Music, and Universal Music began suing Napster for illegally distribution copyrighted music. Today with a reported $7.9 million in assets and nearly $100 million in liabilities, Napster is seeking protection against their debtors.

 

 

Naim NAC 552Naim has announced the availability of two new products to their already impressive line of audio offerings. Specifically, the NAC 552 pre-amplifier ($21,000, pictured right) and SL2 loudspeaker ($7,950 including externally mounted passive crossovers ready, $7,650 without crossovers). Power supply design has been well thought out with the NAC 552 pre-amplifier with a new "split rail power supply configuration", housed in a separate unit from the main analog section, is said to virtually eliminate power supply noise in the signal earth. An impressive 800 VA toroidal transformer, three large smoothing capacitors, and fourteen hand selected power regulators are just an example of this extensive new design. As for the analog stage, six inputs can be selected directly from either the front panel or the FLASH system remote. In addition to the usual din plug inputs, preferred for their superior earthing and impedance matching, the naim NAC 552 owner can configure two of the inputs for use with the more common RCA phono type connectors, enabling the use of alternative components with pre-owned interconnects. Each of the six inputs has separate listen and record facilities. A dedicated unity gain input is provided for use with the naim AV2 processor or similar units.

Their new SL2 loudspeaker is, technically, two cabinets separated by the naim PAR (precision acoustic resistance) design. Cabinet colorations and resonances are further controlled and reduced by the application of naim thermally stable aluminum mass dampers to the internal cabinet walls. A cast aluminum plinth decouples the two boxes while adding stability and controls the critical interface between loudspeaker and floor. Specially designed midrange/woofer driver was completely computer modeled and is attached to an aluminum chassis and features a split-mass aluminum phase plug to improve heat dissipation and sound dispersion. A Scan-Speak tweeter is arm mounted (an arm, attached at the mechanically stable aluminum plinth and totally separate from the rest of the loudspeaker holds the tweeter).

Specifications:
naim NAC 552
Analogue Inputs: Six (configurable)
Tape Outputs: Three
Input Sensitivities: 75mV, 47kohm
Output Levels, Tape: 75mV, 600ohm
Main Output: 0.775V, <50ohm
Overload Margin: All inputs, all audio frequencies 40dB
Dimensions: 76 x 430 x 300 (HxWxD in mm)
Finish: Black, brushed aluminum

naim SL2
Frequency Response (in room): 30Hz - 20kHz (+/-3dB)
Sensitivity: 89 dB/W/m
Impedance: 6 ohms (min)
Power Handling: 100 Watts (music program)
Dimensions: 1027 x 282 x 350 (HxWxD in mm)
Finishes: American Cherry, Maple and Black Ash

 

06 / 03 / 02

nyNOISE  Continuing our excellence in show coverage, Enjoy the Music.com has finalized our PRIMEDIA Specialty Group Inc. (Stereophile) pre-show coverage with live reporting beginning on Thursday, May 30th, the very first day of the show. Those who are in the New York City area on Saturday, June 1st are highly recommended to attend the nyNOISE event. As 2002 marks the fourth consecutive year of this show hosted by both JC Morrison and Blackie Pagano, nyNOISE shines the spotlight on those who design their very own equipment. From highly exotic, non-commercial single-ended tube amplifiers to loudspeakers and all in-between, this affair showcases many artisans whose craft is within the audio field. For more details concerning the upcoming nyNOISE show (and read our past three years coverage) please click here.

 

Enjoy the Music.com has released their June edition of their Review Magazine! While we have been around for well over seven years, our June edition finalizes our third year of always on time monthly equipment and music reviews. This month we are four days ahead of schedule as we pride ourselves in providing more content than most audiophile magazines offer. Please feel free to see the June edition of Enjoy the Music.com™'s Review Magazine by clicking here.

 


 

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