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Audio News for April 22, 2014

Opera and Symphony Ouches – Met Opera general manager Peter Gelb is having a huge fight with Alan Gordon, head of the American Guild of Musical Artists, whose union contract is up in July. Gelb threatens to take his fight to the Supreme Court. The general director of the San Diego Opera—which only puts on four operas a year—just suddenly quit, along with this wife also is on the payroll for about half what he gets annually: $501,000. The conductor of the National Symphony at Kennedy Center just got renewed for another two years at $1.93 million a year. He’s Christoph Eschenbach. The Birgit Nilsson Foundation awards $1 million to “artists who have made a difference.” The last recipients were two of the richest classical musicians in the world, Placido Domingo and Riccardo Muti. This year it’s the Vienna Philharmonic.

Blaupunkt Adds Multimedia Head Unit with Navigation – Blaupunkt has added the San Diego 530 ($429) aftermarket unit with feature a front-panel MciroSDHC slot accepting a memory card loaded with navigation maps, which are displayed on a 6.2-inch 800 by 480 touchscreen. The unit has an FM/AM tuner, RCA, CD/DVD player, Bluetooth hands-free phone book access, from USB and AV inputs, video output, and decoding of MP3, WMA, MPEG, MPG, AVI, Xvid, JPEG and JPG files. It has a four channel 45-watt amp, subwoofer output, ten-band EQ, rear-camera input and IR remote.

New Record in Recycling – The consumer electronics industry has set a new record in 2013 with the responsible recycling of 620 million pounds of electronics in the U.S. accord to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). It resulted from increased collaboration among CE manufacturers, retailers, collectors, recyclers, non-governmental organizations and governments on all levels. The figure was more than twice the amount recycled in 2010. Leaders in e-cycling were Apple, Dell, Best Buy and DirectTV.

Sony Picks Up Hi-Res Audio Efforts – Sony says they are stepping up efforts in promoting hi-res audio (HRA) downloads while the CE and music industries are working together to develop a common HRA definition, a unified message to consumers, and strategies to promote better audio to music enthusiasts. Representatives of the Digital Entertainment Troup (DEG) and Universal Music Group participated in a press briefing, saying that many younger music enthusiasts don’t realize their downloads don’t sound anything like what the artists intended. Compressed music sacrifices quality in order to get convenience, but now with hi-res downloads and low-cost data storage (but don’t forget to back up!) consumers can get better sound with sacrificing convenience. Digital downloads accounted for 60% of the American music industry’s dollar volume in 2013, but the volume of downloads fell 2% from 2012.  Participants said there is a need for more hi-res portable media players and smartphones. (But how can you possibly get better audio without the most expensive headphones and headphone amps?)

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