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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for May 8, 2002

Speaker Pioneer Paul Klipsch Dies - Paul W. Klipsch, who developed the corner-horn speaker company in Hope, Arkansas in l946 that still bears his name, died last week at age 98. As a child he became enamored with audio after his mother moved the family wind-up phonograph into a corner and the sound improved. The Klipschorn uses the walls of the room to effectively extend the horn effect, creating a richer sound.

Catchy Theme Songs On Way Out - Once upon a time - first in network radio and then network TV - theme songs or music were a vital part of any entertainment program. There are hundreds of CDs available of various TV theme music, which sometimes was the best thing or even the only good thing about a particular program. Today, with the bean-counters now in control, it has been demonstrated that completely eliminating the opening and closing themes of TV series can often result in the program gaining a couple of share points in the audience ratings. So say goodby to such favorites as the themes for Friends, Peter Gunn, Cheers, and remember the subtle introductions to classical music we oldsters had with themes for shows such as The Shadow, The Lone Ranger and Flash Gordon?

Plasma TVs - Hot But Flawed - Home theater fans are gaga over the new Plasma flat panels, in spite of price tags running from $6000 minimum to over $30,000. The sci-fi idea of hanging the TV screen on any wall is finally here, but at a price. First, in spite of recent improvements, their resolution still doesn't match standard-screen HDTV. The high-def signal must be scaled down to fit the fixed lower resolution of the plasma screen, losing detail in the process. Second, the life of a plasma screen will probably be much less than standard direct-view or projection systems. One Portland dealer says to expect no more than five to ten years. And when pixels start to break down, no repair is possible. It is felt that flat screens of some sort will eventually outshine standard screen technology but for now it might be wise to wait. From direct comparisons at the recent CES, my vote goes to DLP (Digital Light Projection) technology for both rear-screen and front projection. Unfortunately, it is also very new and still fairly expensive.

Telarc & Chesky Reduce SACD Pricing - In an effort to improve the availability of multichannel recordings, both Telarc International and Chesky Records have announced a retail price reduction of all their SACD product from $24.99 to $19.99 per disc. They feel this will support the recent entry-level pricing of multichannel SACD players (as low as $200) and HtiB systems to make the new format a success in the marketplace.

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