Weekly AUDIO NEWS for Sept. 24, 2003

Rome Hi-Fi Show - Those who appreciate speakers and components that look like striking modern sculpture will be in their element at Rome Hi- End 2003, which takes place guess where November 8th and 9th. There have been previous shows in Milan the past four years and this year it has been moved to the Eternal City. The prestigious venue? The Jolly Hotel Midas. While there will be variety of exhibitors from around the world, a hint of the slant of the show will be that it is sponsored by a web site called The Sound of the Valve, and is being promoted as Europe’s only true stereo Hi-Fi Show (no TV, surround sound [boo!], home theater or car audio admitted!).

Digital Rights Management a Go-Go - DRM services are the big thing in the distribution of music and movies on the web today. Dolby Labs has just announced acquisition of an anti-piracy technology firm Cinea, based in Virginia. A Dolby spokesman said that they have a history of offering technical innovations but realized that content protection is another area where innovative and comprehensive solutions are clearly needed. Another active player in DRM is eMediaPartners in San Diego. They have developed subscriber technology maintained on a secure web serve outside of the webcast network which it protects. Therefore no changes need be made in the networks and the popular music streaming formats are supported: Quicktime, Windows Media, MP3 & MP4.

eMediaPartners’ software products can be licensed for in-house use by webcasting radio stations. Online radio seems to be on the upswing again, and these products can protect client links, increase banner ad revenue, memberships and donations. It appears that an increasing number of specialized streaming audio sites are now charging a flat rate access to their webcasts using such technology. Some of those include Virgin Radio, JazzFM, MusicMatch, Radioio, and CinemaNow.

DVD-A Update - Yesterday was the announced release date for Universal’s first batch of DVD-Audio titles. The content includes classical, pop, jazz and rock. None of the titles so far appear to duplicate Universal’s previous SACD releases. Craig Eggers, Dolby’s Director of Consumer Electronics Technology Marketing, reported that there are over 30 DVD-A hardware makers and over 50 DVD-A products on the market today, with as many as 100 by the end of the year. The price range runs from $149 up to $18,000 (Meridian).1.4 million DVD-A players were sold last year and a projected 5.5 million is expected by the end of 2003. The new DVD Audio Marketing Council is also realizing that establishment of the new format “is not just about jazz and classical releases.” Rap and hip hop material on DVD-A has begun to hit the shelves. The possible inclusion of MP3 files on the same discs is also viewed as attractive to the youth market.

Aussie CD Tweak - A scientist in Melbourne has discovered that dipping your CDs in beer changes their sound. He didn’t say in what direction. (Maybe it only works Down Under.)

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