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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for Oct. 30, 2001


Nimbus Records Spins Down - Nimbus, the independent UK classical label, CD-pressing-plant owner and distributor of other CD labels, has gone into receivership. Gerald Reynolds, a director at Nimbus, made the announcement last Wednesday. He reported it reflected the current problems in the classical market, and with the events of 911 and what he called "the collapse in U.S. Consumer confidence" it was impossible to continue. All 16 staff were laid off.
The extensive Nimbus catalog made it a mainstay of the British market for over 15 years. It was central to fans of SSfM [Surround Sound for Music] because nearly its entire catalog was recorded in UHJ Ambisonic, which is the most successful method of achieving surround sound from only two channels. Nimbus even issued a successful series of historical recordings from old 78s which were played on a restored acoustic phonograph with a large "morning glory" horn and then recorded Ambisonically in a hall with excellent acoustics. In recent years Nimbus had stopped mentioning the Ambisonic encoding on the booklets or jewel boxes due to wanting to reduce confusion in the prospective buyers as to whether they had the proper equipment to play back the discs. (They are stereo compatible but tend to sound overly-reverberant without the most basic of passive decoding.)

Book Says Handel Was Gay - A new book by Ellen Harris published by Harvard University Press claims that George Frideric Handel of "Messiah" fame was homosexual. She says avoidance of gender for singers in a number of his cantatas, as well as a homosexual subtext in his operatic works points to this. She also describes the gay circle that strongly supported Handel in his day, which continues today. The book is "Handel as Orpheus, Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas."

Drop in Worldwide CD Sales - Not just the classical CD market is suffering - mass-scale CD copying and piracy are having a strong impact on music sales worldwide. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry announced sales for the first half of 2001. They feel by 5% in value, the first decrease in a decade. The IFPI blamed CD burning hardware and websites with illegal music downloads, especially peer-to-peer networks such as Napster. The National Association of Recording Merchandisers also issued a similar statement blaming the decrease in music sales on the proliferation of CD-R and P2P. Taking a closer look at the quandary, it appears that all parties share blame in the downturn in recorded music - the record labels, the websites, and consumers themselves.

Negative Aspect of 911 on Consumer Spending Exaggerated - A new survey from the CEA shows that consumers in general now feel that "spending time/keeping in touch with family and friends.? "Staying abreast of world events" and "letting others know your whereabouts" to be much more important now that before the terrorist attacks. Respondents showed a 12% increase in phone use, 9% in surfing the Net, 4% more likely to buy wireless phones, and 7% more likely to sign up for broadband Net access.

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