Audio News

Audio News for August 13, 2010

Naxos Takes Over Warner Classics Distribution; Netflix Adds Big-Name Movies to its Online Service; Panasonic Acquiring of Sanyo Hits a Snag; An Exceptional HTiB System; Sam’s Club to Upgrade Stores to Wi-Fi by November

Published on August 13, 2010

Naxos Takes Over Warner Classics Distribution – Naxos, now the leading classical record label, has announced a partnership with Warner Classics to distribute all of their CD audio content in the U.S.  Beginning September 1, this will include the repertory of Warner Classics, Teldec, Das Alte Werk, and Erato labels. More than 2000 classical discs are part of the agreement, including many currently unavailable in the U.S. Some of the artists associated with the various Warner labels include Jose Serebrier, pianist Joanna MacGregor, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Daniel Barenboim, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Ton Koopman, Mstislav Rostropobich and the choir Chanticleer.

Netflix Adds Big-Name Movies to its Online Service – Netflix has spent nearly $1 billion to add films from Paramount, Lions Gate and MGM to their online subscription service, starting September 1.  The expensive move was necessary due to more and more of their DVDs-by-mail customers switching to downloading streaming video via the Internet. A Netflix officer said they would essentially be taking the $600 million a year they pay in postage for DVDs by mail, “and starting to pay it to the studios and networks.”  Existing deals with pay-TV operators such as HBO made it impossible for Netflix to get many of the major film releases – thus most of the movies on the “Watch Instantly” Netflix service were titles you had never heard of.  The Pay-TV arrangements help Hollywood studios to get more money out of both their blockbusters and their flops.  In 2008 Netflix cut a deal with Starz to give them films from Sony and Walt Disney, and this summer they made a deal with Relativity Media. The rights-holder for the Paramount, Lions Gate and MGM films is Epix, a new competitor to HBO. They will add to the Netflix catalog such recent films as “Iron Man,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Panasonic Acquiring of Sanyo Hits a Snag
– Earlier it was announced that Panasonic would be acquiring 50% of Sanyo as part of a restructuring plan that would see them owning 100% of the company. Shortly after this Sanyo reported a net profit for its fiscal quarter more than double what it had forecast, which upset shareholders. Japanese analysts want the deal to be scrapped. One said: “It’s like someone buying your car knowing there’s a bag of money in the trunk, but hiding the fact so they don’t have to pay you for it.”  Panasonic may have raise its bid if it still wants Sanyo.

An Exceptional HTiB System – Home Theater in a Box audio systems are usually entry-level components – perhaps only some basic speakers and nothing else – and often cut many corners to meet a supposedly bargain price point. The new HTiB system using the best of Harman International’s brands in a single system is quite different.  Perhaps the Synthesis One Array ML Premiere should be better: its SRP is $88,100. It provides the speakers, interconnects, cables, digital equalizer and THX Sound Processor, with four Mark Levinson 500H amps to power everything.  Installation and setup is extra.  But that’s only part – not all – of the home theater; you will still need to get a large-screen display or projector with a screen, a dedicated media room with sound damping and theater seating, and some sort of universal remote or home automation system.

Sam’s Club to Upgrade Stores to Wi-Fi by November
– Sam’s Club warehouse stores will install Wi-Fi at all their national locations, serving more than 47 million U.S. members. Members will be able to view Facebllk, Pandora or Vudu on large screen TVs, and the stores will offer live IPTV demos and display 1080p resolution. They will also offer a comprehensive smart phone app for iPhone, BlackBerry and Droid platforms. Members will have great use of their Wi-Fi enabled smart phones while shopping and will be able to view other Internet-connected devices in real time.

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