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High-End Audio Industry News

10 / 31 / 06

  A recent auction by by Ocean Tomo in New York sold various Jimi Hendrix items in a single lot said to be owned by his former manager fetched $15 million, going to an anonymous bidder. This remarkable collection contains a staggering 15,000 items that include an archive collection of raw material, the lost Jimi Hendrix song "Station Break," and the master rights to thirty-three songs recorded by Hendrix with Curtis Knight. Add to that, fifty 7-inch reel-to-reel tapes thought to be Jimi's own tapes of studio mix-downs, jam sessions and band rehearsals. To quote the auction house's press release, "This music is pure, without overdubs or later manipulations — Jimi Hendrix raw, at his most expressive and profound. The collection also includes more than forty 10” reel-to-reel tapes, seven of which are of Hendrix’s live performances from Winterland (1968); other reels feature performances at Atlanta Pop Festival, at Berkeley, and a wealth of other live recordings and unreleased material, including rough mixes and mix-downs from sessions. There are also more than seventy rare test pressings and one-of-a-kind acetates of songs which highlight different takes and/or mixes from the released versions. Among these acetates are several from the personal collection of Hendrix bassist Noel Redding which feature tracks and mixes that have not been heard since they were first recorded including a searing version of "Purple Haze," Hendrix’s signature song."

The twist in this story is that reports are surfacing claiming the Hendrix family is disputing the ownership, with possible litigation as the outcome. To date the highest bidder from the auction is still unknown and we can only presume is mounting a legal defense to thwart off the claims that have been made by the Hendrix family.


10 / 30 / 06

Zero One Audio Mercury CD/HD Player  Zero One Audio has launched their Mercury CD/HD player ($2,380). This unit combines the functionality of Zero One Audio's award-winning Ti48 CD/HD Transport with a built-in digital-to-analogue (DAC) converter based on their Ar38 DAC. A 250Gb hard-disk drive can store upwards of 380 hours in uncompressed CD audio, which can be easily accessed via Zero One's proprietary interface software. Users can switch between different oversampling/upsampling rates on the fly (from 16-bit/44.1kHz up to 24-bit/192kHz), four different digital filters, and three different dither settings. Other features include fully discrete internal multi-bit DAC, zero-feedback, and a single-ended Class A output stage that is DC-coupled. The Mercury has a standard S/PDIF coax output with a data-transfer rate of up to 24-bit/96kHz.


10 / 27 / 06

Trends Audio UD-10 USB Converter  ITOK Media Limited 's Hi-Fi brand Trends Audio launched their new UD-10 USB audio converter ($89). This unit plus into your computers USB outlet as the audio source and provides 4 concurrent digital outputs (TOSlink, coaxial RCA and BNC plus AES/EBU). In addition, an analog headphone output is also provided. Digital; to analog conversion is accomplished with the aid of the Burr Brown PCM2704. Other circuit details include dual power regulation circuits, separated digital/analog grounds, highly accuracy crystal clock (±10ppm), transformers for each AES/EBU and coaxial outputs to isolate interference.


10 / 26 / 06

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)  The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade group that represents the Unites States recording industry including major recording labels, has released mid-year 2006 shipment data. Shipments of physical products combined with the estimated value of digital revenue streams was $4.9 billion during the first half of 2006, a 6.1 percent decline as compared to the first six months of 2005. Revenues from various digital formats, including downloads, kiosks and digital videos, grew by 86.6 percent in the first half of 2006. Sales of digital singles increased 71.3 percent in the first half of 2006. Full-length digital albums increased 112 percent in 2006, with 12.3 million units sold. Physical media is on the decline as shipments of CD, DVD videos, etc. to retail and direct and special markets decreased 15.7 percent as compared to the first half of 2005. The suggested retail value of physical product units shipped was $4.1 billion, which is a 15.0 percent decline from 2005. SACD sales are down a staggering 44.6 percent while DVD-Audio sales are down 35.1 percent. To see a complete breakdown of the data please click here.


10 / 25 / 06

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2006 Show  We have just posted our first of two Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2006 show reports! Photojournalist Todd Warnke chimes in with over thirty photos spanning three pages! This most important United States open to the public event has grown over 30 percent, to now span over 100 rooms of high-end audio gear. A report by Ron Nagle will appear online in short order. See our current coverage by clicking here.


10 / 24 / 06

  Enjoy the Music.com now offers Version 9 of the world's only audiophile equipped Internet browser! While version 1 (released May 12, 1999) was a success, over the years we have incorporated new links as features have also greatly improved. Because Version 9 works in concert with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7, new features include the ability to add RSS/XML Web feeds, the facility to enjoy multiple home pages and an intuitive Search box for high-end audio topics. We care about keeping your information secure from prying eyes so Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool is updated and free anti-phishing software is included. In addition, a new look and feel is combined with convenient tabbed browsing. Version 9 works with Windows XP, Server 2003, and the upcoming Vista operating system. To learn more and download Version 9 click here.


10 / 23 / 06

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)  The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an organization who represents the recording industry worldwide with over 1,450 members in over 70 countries and affiliated industry associations in 48 countries, has just announced filing over over 8,000 cases launched in 17 countries concerning illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) music file sharing. Legal actions have begun against thousands of music file-sharers across the world and include the first ever cases against the two biggest markets within South America and Eastern Europe. To quote the IFPI, "Legal actions are being extended to Brazil, where more than one billion music tracks were illegally downloaded last year and a country where record company revenues have nearly halved since 2000. Mexico and Poland are also seeing actions for the first time - while a further 14 countries are launching fresh actions against illegal file-sharing. Over 2,300 of people have already paid the price for illegally file-sharing copyrighted material, with average legal settlements of €2,420."


10 / 20 / 06

Star Sound Technologies Stage Platform  Star Sound Technologies Stage Platforms are manufactured from 100 percent hi-grade brass to exacting standards. The company's goal is to advance their 'Live-Vibe Technology,' mechanical and electronic methods that provide high-speed channels for vibrating resonant energy to locate earth's ground, to a much higher level functionality. In that regard, new Pointless Points and a more conductive series of Coupling Discs increases speed and overall capability of the Platform. Learning from their previous efforts, the Stage shelf permits a standard three, reverse three and a four point bearing system in order to accommodate all types of components and loudspeakers. The Stage is available in multi-shelf models.


10 / 19 / 06

Vivid Audio Chameleon Tube Stereo Amplifier  Vivid Audio has just introduced their Chameleon ($2999) single-ended stereo amplifier with stunning looks, hardwired in the U.S.A., and easy tube rolling of input, output and rectifier tubes. The list of usable tubes include 6V6, 6L6, 6Y6, 6F6G, EL34, 350B, KT66, KT88 for output, the 6Sn7, ECC32, and EC33 for input, plus a host of rectifier options. This is one of the most flexible tube swapping amplifiers in the marketplace. Only one voltage-gain tube is needed, so even some of the rarer tube choices can be tried. The Vivid Audio Chameleon is available in a variety of wood veneers and includes a wood base, or add $500 for those who desire a solid stone base.


10 / 18 / 06

Enjoy the Music.com Superior Audio  Enjoy the Music.com's midmonth edition of Superior Audio includes a review of Analysis Audio's award winning Amphitryon Planar / Ribbon Loudspeaker. Reviewer Wayne Donnelly says, "I was surprised time and again by how the Amphitryons captured the subtlety of small, quiet performance, whether vocal or instrumental." Please see the mid-September issue of our Superior Audio by clicking here.


10 / 17 / 06

Revolver Audio Cygnis Loudspeaker  Revolver Audio's new Cygnis loudspeaker system (£5999 per pair) is the culmination of 3 years intensive research and development. Features of this 3-way design include a high sensitivity of 91dB/W/m @ 8 ohm impedance, frequency response from 45Hz to 22KHz, and hand-built crossover utilizing air cored inductors, custom polypropylene capacitors and silver plated OFC wiring. The crossover network is acoustically isolated in a dedicated enclosure and bi-wireable/bi-amplification inputs are provided via heavy duty nickel plated binding posts. Driver compliment is a 26 mm anodized aluminum dome tweeter with shielded double magnet, 130 mm woven glass fibre diaphragm midrange driver with cast aluminum chassis, and 254 mm doped compressed paper diaphragm woofer with cast aluminum.


10 / 16 / 06

GREATech audioFLY  GREATech , manufacturers of Enjoy the Music.com Blue Note 2006 Award winning µVac tube amplifier, is now offers their audioFLY iPod wireless docking station. Using 2.4 GHz digital adaptive frequency hopping technology, users can take advantage of Bluetooth and WAN technology to stream their music collection homewide. Frequency response is from 20Hz to 20kHz with a single-to-noise ratio of -94dB. There is also a direct stereo output via unbalanced (RCA) connection. No pricing given at this time.


10 / 13 / 06

Gryphon Audio Mirage  Gryphon Audio Designs' Mirage (€16,900) control preamplifier is designed and built to the highest of audiophile standards and integrates with major home automation systems. This three piece modular configuration places the amplification and power supply well away from the listening position while the wireless controller can be places close to the listening position. Gryphon Mirage's solid aluminum 'magic wand' remote control can also be mounted to the preamplifier chassis for a more conventional appearance. The unit integrates with AMX and Crestron home automation systems.


10 / 12 / 06

DIY Paradise Maggie  DIY Paradise has announced the availability of their autoformer-based passive preamplifier called the Maggie ($400 completely assembled). The autoformer is self-wound on a C core transformer and is claimed to take over 30 hours to wind a pair needed for a stereo preamplifier. The advantage of autoformer volume control over resistor types is said to be enhanced fidelity due to the signal integrity being maintained throughout the entire volume range. Another benefit is that an autoformer presents a more benign load to the preceding audio stage (source component).


10 / 11 / 06

Triode Corporation TRV-M300SE Tube Monoblock Amplifiers  Triode Corporation of Japan's Triode TRV-M300SE ($3999) is a parallel single-ended mono block amplifier that outputs 20 watts. Tube compliment consists of a pair of 300B output tubes, one 12AX7 and one 12AU7. This users-friendly design has fixed bias for ease of use and has output taps for 6, 8, and 16 Ohms loudspeakers. Frequency response is from 10Hz to 60Hz (+1, -3db) with total harmonic distortion at 0.3 percent (1KHz) and signal to noise ration of 89dB. Both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) inputs are provided.


10 / 10 / 06

Wavelength Audio Crimson USB DAC  Wavelength Audio 's new Crimson USB DAC features directly heated tubes and upgradeable intelligent DAC modules that run on batteries. The intelligent DAC module means that certain parts of the USB controller are located on a separate module. According to designer Gordon Rankin, "The first DAC code named 416 will have 4 parallel separately regulated and biased TDA1543N2 DACs. There will also be DACs available with 24/96 in the future. Each DAC that is plugged in will result in a overall code change for the USB controller which will result in a completely optimized system for that DAC." Standard Wavelength Audio Crimson DAC with 71A output tubes and 6V4 tube rectifier copper output transformers is $7500 retail, with a silver outputs upgrade version being $15,000. Other options include Penny & Giles volume control with option Western Electric 101M/L required for higher gain output add $1500 retail to above. A headphone DAC with preamplifier output, pair of 6H30 tubes, H/M/L output settings, copper only using MagneQuest/Peerless TL404W output transformers is $7500. Standard wood options are Walnut, Cherry and Figured Maple with exotic woods at additional cost. Also of note is that Wavelength Audio is celebrating their 25th anniversary and will offer the Cardinal monoblock amplifier with 100 percent silver wire output transformers.


10 / 09 / 06

  Krell Industries is now shipping their Evolution 403 and 900 amplifiers ($20,000 each). The Evolution 403 is a three-channel power amplifier rated at 400-watts while the Evolution 900 is a 900-watt monaural amplifier. Both units features Krell's proprietary CAST (Current Audio Signal Transmission) circuitry which utilizes current gain topologies allowing the signal to remain in the current domain from input to output. The company claims keeping signals in the current domain avoids unnecessary current to voltage conversions that add distortion, require heavy feedback and severely limit bandwidth. Other features include internal high current line conditioning circuitry that filters RF noise on the AC mains. The rails powering the amplifiers' low level and gain stages are regulated twice to avoid fluctuations in the AC mains. Both models are available in diamond-cut silver or luxurious black finish.


10 / 06 / 06

Channel Islands Audio PLC-1  Channel Islands Audio has introduced their PLC-1 ($899) remote controlled passive linestage controller. Features include four inputs, tape loop, and wireless control of volume, Mute, input scroll, and direct access to any input. A 12v trigger output is provided for systems that can turn on/off remote devices. Of note is the fourth input can be internally configured as a home theater bypass input. Internal switching is accomplished by high quality relays with gold-plated contacts while volume control is via a custom ALPS Blue Velvet motorized potentiometer. Circuit boards are gold-plated and assembled with lead-free silver solder.


10 / 05 / 06

Toshibe SD-L902A HD DVD Drive  Cutting edge electronics' manufacturer Toshiba, a company with worldwide sales of over $54 billion, has introduced the world's first HD DVD writer for mobile PCs. This new development will allow notebook PC users to both read and write high-definition audio and video content while enjoying backward compatibility with all DVD and CD formats. At only 12.7 millimeters in height, the SD-L902A will have 8MB of memory buffer meets the constraints of the mobile PC environment. No pricing has been set and expected shipments should begin before then end of this year.


10 / 04 / 06

KEF Five-2 Series Loudspeakers  Longstanding and critically acclaimed loudspeaker manufacturer KEF has announced their new Five-2 series. Claiming to achieve five channel sound with two speakers, the Five-2 series features the Model 7 ($1000) bookshelf speaker system with seven drivers and the Model 11 ($1800) floorstanding system that has eleven drivers. Both models feature a slender and elegant "racetrack" shaped enclosure and are available in either a matt silver or high gloss black finish. Optional matching floor stands and wall brackets are available for use with the Model 7s. The press release states that KEF achieves true five-channel sound from two speaker enclosures by combining their patented Uni-Q 'point source' drivers in a multi-driver array with a uniquely new application of NXT flat panel technology. Although housed in only two enclosures, true, discrete left/center/right and left/right surround signals are fed to and reproduced by different drivers within the enclosures. The inherently broad dispersion pattern of KEF's patented Uni-Q drivers creates a center-fill, while the wide and diffused soundfield from the dipole NXT flat panels provides spacious surround and ambient effects.


10 / 03 / 06

Wavecor  Wavecor , located in the Southern Guangdong province of China, is a newly established loudspeaker driver company with roots in the Danish speaker industry. The company's two first lines cater to the high-end audio market, where sound quality is first priority, and a line for the car audio market. The WAVE line is specially designed for audiophiles and manufacturers with no-compromise designs suitable for home Hi-Fi, home theater and multi-media systems. The SOUNDtuning line is aimed at the mobile audio industry. Individual drivers are available for the DIY community for those who choose to design their own system. Wavecor can also provide complete speaker system turnkey solutions for those who desire kits.


10 / 02 / 06

  Our largest audiophile monthly magazine update is now online! Enjoy the Music.com's October issue of our Review Magazine features show reports of Italy's Top Audio & Video show plus the CEDIA event and our Best Of 2006 Blue Note Awards. We are very critical when it comes to bestowing a product with such accolades, so less than 25 percent of the products reviewed in 2006 achieved this honor. The October issue of Superior Audio has a grand total of six new reviews covering everything from ultra-fi tube amplification, to a USB DAC, a legendary manufacturer's preamplifier, a complete system from another manufacturer... and a turntable/tonearm review! That is nearly two complete system's worth of equipment reviewed! See the October issue of our Review Magazine by clicking here and Superior Audio by clicking here.

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