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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for June 6, 2001colored line

Is Napster Dead or Not? - A pair of new software tools are aiding in the fight against the free-file-sharing online music lovers. First, Napster itself has introduced its latest software version, Beta 10. It more accurately and extensively blocks access to barred music files. It also utilizes something called acoustic fingerprinting. This fingerprint is a small piece of data that delineates the distinctive sound recording of a music file, even distinguishing different versions of a single recording. Every so often the Napster server requests the Napster application to create a fingerprint of the file a user is sharing and then transmit it back to the Napster server. The fingerprint is stored with other information about the particular file in a database on the server. This database can then be used to identify and block barred copyrighted music from the Napster community. Users won't know acoustic fingerprinting is taking place. The files chosen to check will be chosen at random from the files that one user makes available to other Napster users.

The other software tool is called Songbird. It's the first publicly available Internet search app that can track the usage of copyrighted music on file sharing services. Songbird can identify thousands of copyrighted songs in just minute; then if they desire the copyright holder can get the song removed. This will be very useful for individual performers and small record companies who were not part of the Napster litigation and want their music blocked. Songbird also gives a snapshot of the popularity of a particular authorized song on Napster. Songbird only searches files on Napster and only one track at a time, but there is no limit to the number of tracks it can search, and spelling variations don't throw it as occurs with Napster. Songbird is available at

New Phono Processor System - Millennia Media has introduced the LPE-2 "Analog Legacy" Modern and Archival Phonographic Playback System, which should improve even further the already amazing remasters from old 78s which we have been enjoying lately on CD. The analog processor offers a virtually unlimited array of compensation networks for LPs and 78s. For sources in really bad shape it also offers four bands of Class-A signal path equalizing filters for surgical corrections. Other features include both moving magnet and moving coil inputs, stereo matching, mono functions, polarity reversal, and decoding of vertical-groove pressings. One of the first customers for the phono processor was the National Library of Canada, which acquired three of them. Millennia Music & Media is one of the world's leading manufacturers of critical audio recording products, used in the production of nearly half of all Hollywood feature films and other professional venues. Want one? Cost is $9,500.

- John Sunier

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