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7 / 29 / 00

Napster  A recent court order to shut down Napster on Friday (yesterday) was followed by literally thousands of downloads from the Napster service each minute by its users. Napster asked for a stay on the judges order.. and it was granted. Two judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that Napster could stay in business pending a further resolution of its case as there are many questions the court wanted answers to. This means that Napster can continue operating and serving its many users. "I am happy and grateful that we do not have to turn away our 20 million users and that we can continue to help artists," said Napster founder Shawn Fanning. "We'll keep working and hoping for the best." As expected, the strong-arm tactics of the major record labels as represented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been put on hold. President of the RIAA, Hilary Rosen, said "We remain confident that the court will ultimately affirm once it has had an opportunity to review the facts and the law... It is frustrating, of course, that the tens of millions of daily infringements occurring on Napster will be able to continue, at least temporarily." A recent court decision has proven the major labels in violation of abusing their copyright and forcing distributors/dealers to higher than necessary pricing of CD music software.


7 / 28 / 00

MP3.com  Among the ranks of legal music downloading over the internet and offering subscription services, MP3.com has reached an agreement with the EMI Group. MP3.com is said to be paying EMI approximately $20 million in damages which will settle a previous lawsuit while also having MP3.com paying a fee each time that label's CD is registered by a user. There will be yet another fee each time a user accesses one of its songs. ''We're in negotiations with all of the remaining companies,'' an MP3.com spokesman told Reuters, but declined to comment further. EMI executives declined to comment. So far there has been no settlement with Sony Music Entertainment and Seagram Co.'s Universal Music Group.


Resolution Audio CD55 InnardsThe new Resolution Audio CD55 compact disc player employs not one, but four 24-bit Burr Brown 1704 digital-to-analog (D/A) converters. This additional decoding power is paramount to take advantage of their proprietary DSP filter algorithm that upsamples the audio signal from the standard compact disc 44.1 kHz/16-bit signal to 705.6 kHz/24-bit. While the design is based on their research from the never  released D98 DVD processor, the CD55 retains an analog volume control to allow for the elimination of a preamplifier if desired. The newest generation high-end P10500 mechanism from Philips is used which is claimed to "significantly better disc reading capabilities than its predecessors." The Resolution Audio CD55 can read unfinalized CD-RW discs! HDCD decoding is also included. Suggested retail price is $3,000.


7 / 27 / 00

  Recording Studio Sterling Sound is the world's first independent audio mastering facility to license IBM's EMMS (Electronic Media Management System) technology. EMMS is a digital rights management package capable of watermarking data for copyright owner's protection (among other things). While Sterling Sound's president Murat Aktar admitted that no one is asking for the IBM EMMS system for encoding their music, he feels that in the future there will be a huge demand for such watermarking systems. The main advantage of using the IBM system is that it enables Sterling Sound to offer a complete solution from compressing audio in multiple formats and adding copyright encryption to also watermarking, liner notes "I think that one of the things we've seen is that it's pretty easy to distribute music electronically, with no security features and no quality control," said Aktar. "To distribute a high-quality product and to monitor the rights and to distribute it securely is very complex, and requires the cooperation of lots of groups."


Liquid AudioTrying to get a bit more legal in this world of revolving courtroom doors, Napster and Liquid Audio have made an agreement to share eachother's technology so each can gain. Liquid Audio is one of the main providers of secure internet pay-for-play online music reseller. "We are working with Liquid Audio because of their extensive knowledge about MP3s, how they work, how they move. We will be looking to share what we've learned with one another," said Hank Barry, chief executive officer of Napster. "Liquid Audio's technologies can be used to benefit artists and millions of music fans using Napster," said Gerry Kearby, chief executive officer. 


NapsterD-Day finally came for Napster as yesterday at a hearing in Federal District Court in San Francisco, Chief Judge Marilyn Hall Patel has issued an injunction which will shut down many key operations of online music file swapping provider Napster. The judge also declined to stay her own injunction which would give Napster's attorneys time to submit an emergency stay and keep Napster's key operations working. This basically means that Napster will be fully shut down on Friday at Midnight PT. The immensely popular Napster already has approximately 22 million users and valued at $64.5 million as of May.


7 / 26 / 00

  And now some statistics...

Of the top 20 web retailers for June 2000, according to a PC Data Survey, Amazon.com ranked #1 with almost 16 million users of which 9.3% bought goods. Concert and event ticket supplier Ticketmaster ranked #2 with only almost 5 million users yet 12.7% bought from them. CDNow ranked #6 with approximately 6 million users of which 5.5% bought goods. Meanwhile RealNetworks, makers of RealAudio/RealVideo and other streaming media products, ranked 16 with over 12 million users though only 1.2% of visitors spent their hard earned cash with them.

According to a recent article by Nora Isaac Liquid Audio (worth $264 million) has garnished over 12,000 client downloads per week as they offer one of the only mainstream secure music download formats. While music sales reached $1 million in 1999, it is estimated that it will reach to upwards of $1.1 billion in 2003. In contrast, with CD music sales at $16 for each CD means that the actual musicians receive only $1 of the sale. If a musician sells a CD-equivalent on the EMusic site for only $8.99 the musicians receive $3.30.

Online Music companies seem to be thriving as Liquid Audio's first quarter of 2000 net revenue was $3 million, EMusic's was $450,000 and heavy hitter MP3.com was $17.5 million.


7 / 25 / 00

Art Audio Concerto  Art Audio, whose products have been well received in many international magazines, have released a KT-90 III version of their Concerto Mk.II amplifier. Using the David Manley designed KT-90 output tube (now in it's III version) in ultalinear operation joins their previously available 6550-based version of the same amplifier. Art Audio claims the new KT-90 version produces better dynamics and sound quality. MSRP is $4,350. Optional GoldPoint volume attenuator option adds $200.


7 / 22 / 00

  According to a recent survey by Jupiter Communications consumers who use the Napster service, and other file-swapping networks to trade MP3 files, also are more likely to buy more music than those who do not use such services. While a previous survey by Soundscan in May said CD sales are declining at stores near universities while overall sales have grown 8 percent over last year. "Because Napster users are music enthusiasts, it's logical to believe that they are more likely to purchase now and increase their music spending in the future," said Jupiter's analyst Aram Sinnreich.


7 / 21 / 00

Dolby Digital  Soon we will be seeing more convergence of computers with high-end audio as Dolby Laboratories has officially begun their Dolby Digital 5.1 PC Licensing Program. This will spell the first time where computer manufacturers will be able to boldly display the Dolby Digital trademarked logo on computer systems that meet Dolby's multi-channel performance standards. This logo will let consumers know that the computer they are looking at offers Dolby Digital multi-channel sound from either an S/PDF digital or analog multi-channel output. Already signed on to this new licensing is Hitachi, NEC and Sony.


Topping the delivering your dinner in 30 minutes or less and your tape is free deal. Seven years ago a pizza delivery boy took it upon himself to abscond with an audio cassette from none other than the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia's home kitchen counter. Eventually he took it upon himself to post the deceased Dead Head's home studio recordings of him playing with mandolin player David Grisman and guitarist Tony Rice on vintage acoustic instruments. This early 1993 recording have since garnished the name "pizza tapes". Now Grisman has decided to not press charges with the delivery boy and instead has made the music from the master tape available to the public on an official release. Songs such as "Man of Constant Sorrow", "Shady Grove", "House of the Rising Sun" and a recording of Garcia singing "Amazing Grace". Also on the new release are instrumental jams. So next time remember to tip your pizza delivery boy and check your tape collection before he leaves your home.


PSB AlphaPSB, Canadian loudspeaker company, has just announced new models to their Alpha family. Two new versatile, ultra-compact monitors, the Alpha Intro LR and Intro CLR, are hoped to fit a wide variety of needs for home theater enthusiasts. According to PSB founder and chief designer Paul Barton "These speakers will sound excellent and fit beautifully on a bookshelf, a dedicated speaker stand, the side or back walls of a home theater, or the desktop. They take the Alpha concept a step further by packing what we think is maximal attainable performance into ultra-compact speakers that are outstanding in visual design and have amenities you associate with much more expensive speakers. They profit in every way from the breakthroughs we've made in the design of our Image Series speakers, which have received an unprecedented reception in all of our markets."

Both of the Alpha Intros use PSB's new 0.75", anodized aluminum-dome tweeter plus a new 3.5" midrange/woofer made of polypropylene cone and rubber surround (claimed to move air at low frequencies with unusual effectiveness for its size). The Intro LR measures only 4.25" wide by 6.75" high by 6.25" deep while the Intro CLR is the same configuration except for adding a second 3.5" mid/woofer and measuring 9.75" high. Both have magnetic shielding to allow placement in close proximity to a television set or computer monitor. PSB will begin shipping the Alpha Intros in August with an MSRP of $199/pair for the Alpha Intro LR and $169 each for the Alpha Intro CLR.


CDNowFinancially troubled online music merchant CDNow has finally found a buyer. Bertelsmann AG, which controls major label BMG Entertainment, has announced a merger deal which Bertelsmann will acquire CDNow in an all-cash offer for $3 per share (approximately $117 million). In the meantime Bertelsmann will advance CDNow approximately $42 million to pay off existing loans and to keep CDNow operating until the close of the buyout.


7 / 19 / 00

Buena Vista Social Club  Tonight at 9:00pm on American's PBS television (check your local listing for exact time) will be Buena Vista Social Club by filmmaker Wim Wenders. This Oscar nominated feature portraits of a group of elderly Cuban musicians who were all but forgotten - until an album and this film rejuvenated their careers. The film focuses on none other than Grammy-winning guitarist Ry Cooder's 1996 trip to Havana to record the country's traditional music, and captures the creative group in recording sessions and reminiscing about their youth.


Theta David IINow available is the new Theta Digital David II DVD/CD Transport that offers high quality video and audio processing. Superceding their highly regarded David, the David II build upon the strengths of the previous version yet add greater quality and features. By taking advantage of the latest developments in fundamental DVD technology, the David II can accommodate digital audio with sampling rates of 44.1, 48, and 96 kHz as well as resolutions of 16, 20, and 24 bits. Meanwhile the video and audio sections are completely independent and isolated from each other to prevent any interference/interaction between them. Separate very low-jitter crystal oscillators are used for the audio and video frequencies. This allows the signals to be processed independently, dramatically reducing the digital noise that can compromise both sound and picture. Because the use of dual lasers, the David II can play DVD discs and also CD, CD-R, CD-RW and Video CDs. This enables the David II to automatically select the correct laser for the type of disc being played. Special low-jitter servo circuits control the motor speed, laser tracking, and focus, while sophisticated parametric statistical analysis is used to correct errors caused by fingerprints, dust and disc warping.

Digital video signals are converted to analog with 10-bit/27 MHz digital-to-analog converters (DACs) and sent to Theta-designed filters and high-speed output buffers, which provide stunning picture quality. Images are clear, perfectly color-balanced, and almost palpable in their dimensionality. The audio side is equally remarkable Through the newly designed audio output section, David II delivers dramatic soundstaging, pinpoint imaging, and an extremely wide dynamic range. The result is unrivaled sound quality from both movie and music sources. Theta's design further enhances the isolation of its circuits by utilizing multiple analog power supplies, including six low-flux Theta-designed transformers and 16 highly filtered and regulated supplies. Each supply has its own integral RF-suppression filter, which reduces the interaction between the stages in each circuit and between the audio and video sections.

The David II's complete complement of video outputs includes one Component (Y, Cr, Cb on BNC connectors), two S-video, and two Composite (RCA and BNC). On the audio side, David II provides digital outputs for PCM Only (RCA) and PCM/DTS/Dolby Digital 5.1 (RCA, BNC, XLR). An optical output (AT&T or Laser Linque) is available as an option. Also available as an option is Theta¹s UltraSync progressive-scan output (480p) in both Component and RGB with sync outputs for sync on green, horizontal, vertical, and composite. Users can also add a 4:2:2 digital-video output to service an outboard video processor with digital inputs. The David II's suggested retail price is $5,000 in platinum or ebony.


7 / 18 / 00

Martin Logan Theater  The new Theater curvilinear electrostatic loudspeaker by Martin Logan replaces their Logos and is said to offer fast transient response, expanded dynamics and center channel clarity that is paramount to the high performance home theater experience. "Given today's high performance home theaters and very discerning enthusiasts, many are well aware that an outstanding theater experience hinges on the center channel and its capacity to render the real world in all its texture and power," said Gayle Sanders, Martin Logan founder and president.

"We started with the exclusive curvilinear electrostatic technology found in all our stereo and surround-speaker systems," said Sanders. "We formed all this technology into a new center channel form factor, while retaining all the power and dynamic range needed for no-compromise home theater. The net result is a reference level center channel speaker capable of providing extended levels of power, dynamic range and clarity." 


7 / 17 / 00

PS Audio  Power to the people folks PS Audio have announced their new Multiwave technology which they claim is a performance-enhancing breakthrough in providing AC power. Multiwave technology take advantage of simultaneous multiple waveforms to achieve what they feel is their best power enhancing/conditioning product yet. Furthermore, PS Audio's Multiwave technology allows users, for the first time, the ability to dial-in/customize both the level and quality of AC power for best results. PS Audio will make this new technology available as an optional feature for all Power Plant models. To learn more please visit PS Audio's detailed Multiwave page by clicking here.


Casio MP3 Wrist WatchCasio has released their new WMP-1V MP3 audio wrist watch. This unit is the world’s first wrist-type wearable MP3 stereo audio player. It includes software to upload MP3 files via USB that have downloaded from the internet or have made on their own. The unit also comes with stereo inner-ear headphones while the included rechargeable batteries will last four hours and take four hours to recharge. Up to 33 minutes of "CD quality" music, 44 minutes at near CD quality and 66 minutes of FM broadcast-level quality music can be stored in the unit. MSRP $249.95


7 / 14 / 00

MP3.com  The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), representing EMI Music, Sony Music and the Universal Music Group, served legal papers on Monday in court to MP3.com which detailed the damages it is seeking due to MP3.com's alleged repeated copyright infringement. Since MP3.com has been found guilty of violating copyrights due to its My.MP3.com locker service, it is now time for the RIAA to help retrieve the claimed $40 million in losses. These papers were officially filed with Federal District Court judge Jed Rakoff on July 21. A hearing will follow on July 28 and Rakoff will most probably make his decision by Aug. 28. ''If you saw the Congressional hearings yesterday, you'll see that the copyright law is far from crystal clear,'' says Michael Rhodes, MP3.com's attorney. ''The question here is whether the judge should penalize a dot-com with financial ruin.''


Spinal TapThe world may not be worthy, yet our friends from Spinal Tap are at it again. Actually MGM Home Entertainment is behind all the hype as they are re-releasing the cult classic movie "This Is Spinal Tap". Do not worry as drummers will still spontaneously combust, guitars are still sustaining, dwarfs will still dance around Stonehenge and there are enough cucumbers to go around. There will also be a re-release party where Spinal Tap will play a few of their legendary songs and give away many prizes. The new DVD will include the sound remixed in Dolby for 5.1 surround sound. Just remember what Marty said "The Gospel According to Spinal Tap -- This pretentious collection of religious rock songs begs the question, 'On what day did God create Spinal Tap, and couldn't he have rested on that day too?'" So when you get the DVD remember to turn your amps to 11 and rock on!


7 / 13 / 00

  On the fun and wacky side of things...

Telarc has rejected using any watermarking on their upcoming DVD-Audio discs. Since there were no real trials as to the audibility of the new watermarking system, and odds are strong it will be defeated by pirates in a few weeks after release, there seems to be no reason to negatively alter the music by the usage of a watermark on DVD-Audio discs.

Sony, the bringers of defunct Elcassette, beaten Beta, Minidisc, and overpriced Memory Stick have done it again. Enter Sony who is now trying a double density CD-R format. Of course the double-density format discs are not compatible with current CD/DVD drives. Enter this into the "What were they thinking" files as DVD-R is around the corner and holds much more information than Sony's double-density CD.

Napster is fighting back hard! As was previous reported here, it has been legally proven how record companies have abused their power through price fixing of their music titles and pricing politics. This constitutes copyright abuse and as such Napster just may have a good case in fighting off the RIAA. Abuse of ones copyright could spell the loss of copyright benefits. In addition, we are allowed to make free copies of our music, so here is another angle for Napster to win. Of course all this could be moot as we at Enjoy the Music.com were the first high-end magazine to report about the Freenet program which makes the likes of Napster seem old school. Freenet allows the downloading of files over the internet without the need of a central server and also makes said downloadings totally anonymous.

While Panasonic and Technics DVD-Audio players are here, many folks are wondering "Where's the beef?" Imagine owning a Ferrari yet having no gasoline. The world awaits software, for which DVD-Audio has none. Score one for Sony's proprietary SACD format.


7 / 8 / 00

Monsoon iM-700  Audiophiles looking for under $200 computer loudspeaker may find the new Monsoon flat panel iM-700 ICE ($169 MSRP) for the Macintosh to be the answer to their prayers. The iM-700 brings the audiophile Macintosh user planar technology that have earned the Monsoon line of speakers wide acclaim in mainstream computer publications. Monsoon flat panel audio systems are built with proprietary planar technology developed by Sonigistix. Unlike conventional cone speakers, Monsoon systems use thin, planar magnetic satellite drivers that work with a separate 5.25 inch 22 watt self-powered subwoofer. Monsoon claims "The flat panel design enables a PC's digital signal processing capability to position sounds and create 3D effects to make multimedia applications more intensely realistic."


7 / 7 / 00

JBL Ti10K  The new TiK series loudspeakers by JBL uses their latest generation titanium tweeter and JBL's most advanced design and materials technologies for higher levels of fidelity and sonic realism. The JBL TiK Series is comprised of three models: the two-way, bookshelf Ti2K (1 -inch tweeter, 7-inch woofer) and two floorstanding designs. Specifically, the three-way Ti6K (1-inch tweeter, 4-inch midrange driver, dual 7-inch woofers) and four-way Ti10k as shown to the right (1 -inch tweeter, 4-inch and 7-inch midrange drivers, dual 8-inch woofers). The ultramodern curvilinear enclosures are carefully crafted from individual laminated layers and finished in natural beech or black. The nonparallel enclosure shapes help to reduce the buildup of internal standing waves and at the same time provide high stiffness and structural rigidity.

The titanium cone tweeter material is ultra-lightweight and rigid, and operates in conjunction with a soft, yet lightweight surround and aluminum voice coil to achieve 94dB sensitivity, yet with a resonant frequency below l kHz. JBL's all-new 4-inch midrange driver utilizes an inverted titanium dome driven by a 1-1/2-inch voice coil for what JBL claims is "virtually perfect 'balanced drive" characteristics that cancel internal resonances within the dome and provide nearly ideal pistonic behavior to a frequency well above the driver's crossover point". The woofers used in the TiK Series use cast-aluminum driver baskets and a heavy-duty magnet systems (JBL's Symmetrical Field Geometry) that helps to maintain magnetic field symmetry to vastly reduce the negative effects of flux modulation. Pricing per pair of the Tik2, Ti6K and Ti10K is $2,400, $5,000 and $7,000 respectively.


During an eBrain Market Research (a service of the Consumer Electronics Association) poll in September 1999, consumers were asked various questions. The below is their findings:

Internet Enabled CE Products

Which ONE of the following stereo products would you prefer to purchase in the future assuming you had to purchase one or the other and they were both the same price?

Base 1000
Plays CDs and Internet audio 55%
Capable of playing CDs only 40%
Don’t know 4%
Refused 1%

Why would you prefer to purchase the home stereo with Internet music capability? Prefer player capable of playing CDs and music from the Internet Sample:

Base 547
Want extra capabilities or features 45%
Internet will be more important 14%
Like to keep up with technology 16%
Better value 3%
Versatile 2%
Have computer 1%
Like Internet 2%
Lots of music on Internet, more variety 5%
Can take advantage of music online 1%
Other 7%
No reason 0%
Don’t know 5%

If the home stereo with Internet music capability cost $25 more would you still prefer to purchase it? Prefer player capable of playing CDs and music from the Internet Sample:

Base 547
Yes 81%
No 14%
Don’t know 5%


More Statistics:

Of the "Generation Y" (15-21 year old) who have bought products online, their purchases consist of (source eBrain Market research):

58% Music CDs/Cassettes
42% DVD/VHS Movies
40% Portable MP3 Players
24% Any Other Stereo Product
24% DVD Player
16% VCR


Still more statistics (provided by NPD Intellect):

Home Theater sales of the first quarter of 2000 was 0.2% lower than the same time period of a year earlier (135,988 units in Q1 2000). DVD player sales during the same time period comparison is up 287% (825,030 units in Q1 2000). CD recordable drives are up 98% to 529,367 units in Q1 2000 and blank CD sales (CD-RW/CD-R) are up 99% 6,496,301 units in Q1 2000.


7 / 6 / 00

Telarc  Possibly another blow to Sony's SACD front comes Telarc who is soon to release an all new DVD-Audio disc. This will be a 5.1-channel mix of Weather Report's soon to be released new album. As Enjoy the Music.com was the world's first magazine to announce the SACD format and also how Bob Woods of Telarc was happy to be releasing SACD recordings. Of course we all may wonder if the same recording and mix would be available for Sony's SACD format so that audiophiles can compare the two formats. At this time there was no announcement for the new Weather Report recording being available in SACD format.


Pioneer DV-434Pioneer is now offering their new DV-434 ($449.99 MSRP) that betters their older DV-333 unit. This new product features digital progressive scan output, high speed loading and resume, a 10-bit video signal DAC, 96KHz/24-bit audio DAC, Dolby Digital and DTS output, Twin-Wave laser pickup that can also play CD/Video and CD/CD-R playback. Also included is Pioneer's exclusive Viterbi Error Correction which is claimed to offer superior disc reading accuracy.


7 / 01 / 00

  Today marks the first showing of Panasonic's new first-generation 192kHz/24-bit DVD-Audio DVD-A7 player ($999.95 MSRP). Consumers can go to any one of 70 Good Guys outlet stores and buy one. This marks the beginning of the mainstream availability of the long awaited DVD-Audio format system. "Good Guys' customer base of early adopters and tech-savvy consumers, who have enthusiastically embraced our DVD-Video products, is the ideal audience for our cutting-edge DVD-Audio line," said Gene Kelsey, vice president and general manager of Panasonic.


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