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AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - web magazine for music, audio & home theater  

December 10, 2003

Consumer Electronics Investment Outlook - According to BusinessWeek the subindustry index for consumer electronics has reflected a strong showing over the past two years. It posted a 132% rise for the past year thru Dec. 5 vs. only a 21.9% rise for the Standard & Poor 1500. It’s now considered the longest-lasting entry on this list. There just one detail investors should keep in mind, says BusinessWeek: the Consumer Electronics subindex containus only a single company - Harman International. Most the large consumer-electronic manufacturers in the world are based overseas and not included in the S&P: Sony, Matsushita and Royal Philips Electronics among them. Based on sales from manufacturers to dealers, the market for consumer electronics in the U.S. for 2003 is expected to total $99.5 billion. That’s 3.5% up from the 2002 level. Recent growth areas are pegged as DVD players, digital TV and digital cameras.

iTunes for Classical? - Apple has made a huge success out of paid online music downloading with their iTunes Music Store, but it stands to reason that an online music store with over 400,000 selections would be heavily concentrated on pop music. Fans of classical and jazz haven’t been as happy with the new setup - finding that searching for a single piece - even something as standard as Beethoven’s Ninth - brings up way too broad a list of items. Well, it’s in process of being revamped now. It’s become easier to search by soloist, conductor and composer. And while still not high fidelity, with AAC instead of MP3 the sonics are improved. But Apple needs to line up deals with the small independent labels - which is now where all the good classical and jazz is sourced from.

Everything But the Kitchen Sync - Have you noticed how frequently “lip sync” is off in broadcast TV lately? In other words, the sound of the words being spoken is heard in advance of seeing the lips move on the screen. The brain is much more confused by this than by seeing something occur prior to hearing the sound it produces (since we all know sound travels much slower than light). The reason for the lag in the picture to the sound is the increasing video processing carried out by TV networks and stations. The audio is less processed and it occurs faster because there is less data there, so it ends up ahead of the picture. It tends to fluctuate during programs and seems to be especially poor on many PBS programs. And it seems to occur more on HD transmissions for some reason. In addition, many of us are using video scalers and other processors at our end of the chain, and those delay the picture elements varying numbers of milliseconds. What to do? Well it turns out many AV preamps have an adjustment for this, but it is often difficult to access or mislabeled. For example Sunfire calls theirs Video Delay - it is not, it’s Audio Delay. The new Rotel AV Preamp has a handy sync-adjustment button right on the remote. But since the delay often changes from program to program or during programs, better just leave this alone and suffer - unless you yourself are the cause with your video scalers etc. In that case set the proper amount of delay to sync up those lips and then just leave it.

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