Panasonic Reports Higher Sales & Profits – Consolidated group sales in the third quarter of 2013 increased 10% compared to the same quarter the previous year. Panasonic said that in spite of economic slowdown in some emerging countries, the economy continued to expand in the U.S. and Japan. Their sales decreased in digital consumer products, but the company said it was “focusing on profitability rather than sales volume.”
Pianist Christopher O’Riley Brings Rock to Classical – While considered a classical pianist who has recorded Schumann, Liszt and Ravel, O’Riley has performed and recorded music by Radiohead, Tori Amos, Kurt Cobain, Roger Waters and Nick Drake. His affinity for rock has him interpreting songs usually heard on classic rock and alternative rock radio stations. Two of his Radiohead CDs have reached Billboard’s Top 20 on their classical crossover chart.
Bandwidth Continues to Increase with Esoteric Components – High-end maker Esoteric is shipping new components in April, including an SACD transport (“Grandioso”) using a pair of HDMI cables to transport 352.8K/48-bit PCM, DSD and double-DSD digital signals to a pair of companion (“D1”) monoblock DACs. ($88K for the whole package.) This ups the firm’s previous delivery of of 176K and 352.8K, but only at 24-bit, over a pair of XLR cables to a companion stereo DAC. They developed a new proprietary data transmission format called ES-LINK4 to transmit ultra-sideband signals between their transport and the new mono block DACs. The dual-mono configuration delivers a richer stereo image and greater sonic depth. The new data transmission technology enables the transport to perform a large amount of digital signal processing to reduce the processing load on the DACs. All the units apply a proprietary 36-bit D/A processing algorithm to convert PCM signals to analog with 36-bit resolution—the first company to offer 36-bit D/A processing. Exoteric claims 36-bit is 4096 times higher resolution than 24-bit encoding, making subtleties and details in recordings much more audible. [Audio physics, however, claims only a lowering of the noise floor and improvement of dynamic range with a higher word (bit) count, NOT an increase in resolution…Ed.] Integra now distributes the audiophile-oriented Esoteric brand in North America, and both brands are owned in part by Gibson, who has stakes in Integra owner Onkyo Corp. as well as Esoteric owner TEAC. Esoteric manufactures disc players, transports, DACs, amps, preamps, phono stages and audiophile cables.
SiriusXM Has Record Q4 Revenue – but the satellite radio company lost subscribers ($13 a month) for the first time since 2009. The company said that a loss of paid-for trial subscriptions occurred because a major OEM shifted to unpaid trials during the period. Their CEO noted that as satellite-radio penetrates more mid- and low-end vehicles, the lower-income subscribers will probably drop the service after the three-month trial period, but they are still profitable due to falling subscriber acquisition costs. About 25% of vehicles on the road have satellite-radio now, and those 60 million vehicles will supposedly double to more than 110 million in five years. [However, in-car Internet radio (for which there is no monthly fee) is making inroads…Ed.]