Let the Music Play During the Recession – Don’t forget you can make music yourself in spite of the recession, and it doesn’t have to cost much or even anything. Active music-making has many benefits, such as stress relief for adults and better academic performance for children. Of course the least expensive way to start is vocal music: join a choir or chorus – they’re everywhere and no equipment is needed except your voice. The recorder is a terrific and inexpensive musical instrument for both kids and adults. It can also offer therapeutic benefits to those with cardiovascular issues. When you get proficient at your tootling, there are record consorts in a number of cities. Drumming is an easy way to get some of benefits of music-making. Kids love to discover rhythm with their very own instruments, which you can often make yourself. Yamaha makes some inexpensive electric and acoustic guitars which are a great way for a guitarist to start out. There are several music creation softwares available for PCs and Macs that let the user create his or her own customizable tunes and sounds. Mac’s Garage Band can be a fun introduction to music, recording and electronics. Even entry-level digital pianos are not inexpensive, but they (and any instruments) can be rented, and remember that digital keyboards don’t require tuning (that’s one of the reasons I sold my grand piano). The DIY approach to music is a stress-reliever that can’t be beat.
Chesky Introduces 192K/24-bit Gold DVD-Rs – In a move similar to Reference Recordings’ HRx series, Chesky Records has released the first five titles in a projected series of hi-res DVD-Rs. As with the Reference series, the DVDs will not play on a DVD, CD or SACD player – they are 192K/24-bit WAV files to be played on a computer’s disc drive and then burned onto its hard drive. Following that, they are played back on any device supporting 192K/24-bit files. (The Reference series is at 176.4K/24-bit but otherwise similar.) The Chesky discs are one-to-one copies of the label’s 192K/24-bit two-channel master tapes. David Chesky reports that on a good computer system the files will sound more like analog than any other digital source. The first titles include The Music of Herbie Hancock, Monty Alexander playing Nat King Cole as well as Tony Bennett, The Larry Coryell Organ Trio, and The Music of Pink Floyd. HDtracks, the hi-res download service for many labels, operated by Chesky Records, has just offered a DRM-free 96K/24-bit download of the acclaimed album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand. The entire album is $15.98 in the hi-res download, and $11.98 at CD quality or MP3.
The Sirius/XM Radio Merger – has been approved and each service is now offering some of the satellite channels of the other one. Programming on many of the channels has been changed, actually offering less choice than previously, and there are some subscriber complaints. The $13 a month basic charge will probably also be raised. Howard Stern continues to be the big draw for the satellite service. With the current financial struggle of most people to reduce spending, some subscribers are bailing out in favor of free Netcasting, which offers a much higher variety of program sources. Of course satellite radio’s major ace in the hole is its ability to reach vehicles on the road, which the Internet so far cannot.
Controversy Over More Efficient TV Displays – The California Energy Commission is considering rules banning the sale of TVs in the state that fail to meet new energy-efficiency standards by 2011 and even tougher rules two years later. Similar regulations on appliances have made California the most energy-efficient state in the U.S. TV manufacturers would be forced to produce sets using one-third less electricity by 2011 and 50% less by 2013. About 400 TVs current meet the 2011 standard. The state’s biggest utility, PG & E, supports the proposal, but the Consumer Electronics Association (CES) strongly opposes it – saying the changes would ban the sale of 25% of LCD and plasma large-screen displays and all of the current plasma displays larger than 60 inches. They say new developments such as 3D and Internet-enabled TVs could be delayed or squelched by the new tules. The Plasma Display Coalition says its newest screens are 15% more efficient than last year’s models, but plasmas continue to suffer from being considered the SUVs of displays as concerns energy efficiency.