Forbes Weighs In on Pono Probability – Forbes magazine has a new article on Neil Young’s Pono—his idea of a higher-res consumer music service—which still hasn’t happened. They say he wants to raise the bar on audio quality that has been continually lowered, to the public’s vast acceptance of the quality-impaired MP3 format. They mention that consumers have always gone for convenience rather than quality—from shellac 78s being replaced by less breakable vinyl records, then replaced by more portable cassette tape, then both replaced by the random-access digital CD, which has been supplanted in many quarters by easily-shared digital music downloads, and now even more convenient music streaming. They also point out the lack of convenience of Pono, with a special playback device designed strictly for 192K/24bit audio files, which take a very long time to download and take up a great deal of space on hard drives. And also stress the fact that most recordings today are done at 96K/24 at the highest resolution, not 192K. So that means upsampling or having the playback device handle lower sampling rates as well. Forbes concludes that in this quick-cut MTV world where convenience usually trumps quality, Pono (if it ever happens) could have a tough time.
GEEK USB DAC for Headphones – Light Harmonic of Sacramento, CA, hopes to have their GEEK thumb-drive-size device available sometime next year for about $299. It plus into any USB port, processes the digital signal, and amplifies the output especially for the best sonics via stereo headphones. Their idea is to bring good sound to a non-audiophile market. The GEEK will process files in all available digital formats, including DSD and DXD, and has spatialization software designed to create a 3D soundfield outside the listener’s head. Light Harmonic has already done super-high-end DACs and a special USB cable.
Three Classical Recordings Distributors Have Failed – 45-year-old Qualiton, the oldest classical distributor in the U.S., which had hundreds of different labels on its list, has ceased operations. Harmonia mundi’s Spanish and Portuguese division, Harmonia mundi Iberica, closed in May, and Codaex U.K.’s Benelux-based parent company has collapsed and the distributor is entering bankruptcy. Some of the classical labels faced losses of many thousands of dollars.
Other Classical News – The new contract terms of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have shrunk the size of the orchestra from 34 to 28 members. The negotiations went on for 18 months plus six months of a lock-out. The ten forced out have all served a minimum of 30 years with the orchestra and have been assured packages of up to $200,000. The Chief Executive of the English National Opera, Loretta Tomasi, has resigned after a decade with the company. A violinist in the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra somehow fell into the orchestra pit and die from his injuries.
Home Appliances Devour Major Amount of Energy – The U.S. Department of Energy reports that home electronics and appliances make up about 20% of your electric bill. The top energy consumers, in addition to electronics, are heating and cooling systems, water heaters and clothes dryers. Limit the cost of running electronics by turning them off when not using them, and better yet, unplugging them. Many use electricity even when turned off.