Audio News for February 12, 2010

by | Feb 12, 2010 | Audio News | 0 comments

Classical Recording Artists Top Billboard Charts with Few Sales – There’s been much publicity about violinist Hilary Hahn.  She’s appeared on The Tonight Show and has been touted by many music publications. Here new album “Bach: Violin and Voice” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard magazine classical charts. Seems like a huge success, no? Well, the truth is classical album sales are so low that the charts are almost meaningless. 200 or 300 CD sales are enough to land any album in the top 10. Only 3% of total music sales are classical, and album sales in all genres have been declining for years. SoundScan, who provides album sales data to Billboard, does not reveal exact sales figures to journalists. Instead, all numbers are rounded to the 1000 – so sales of 501 CDs are reported as 1000, and anything less than 500 becomes “under 1000.” The official total sales of the top 25 classical titles last week amounted to 5000 copies – an average of 200 a recording, and that includes downloads. Another example comes from October, when pianist Murray Perahia’s CD of Bach partitas (which we reviewed here) was holding strong at No. 10 on the classical chart after six weeks. How many copies did it really sell?  Only 189.

British Jazzman Johnny Dankworth Dies – Sir Johnny Dankworth played sax or clarinet with the Who’s Who of jazz, and was married to singer Cleo Laine. He died this week at age 82. He had been one of the first British musicians to explore the bebop that emerged from New York after WWII. Dankworth cherished the prewar styles of Jimmie Noone and Benny Goodman but he was also invited to play alongside Charlie Parker. He started a jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music in London, which was highly controversial in classical circles at the time.

New Application Redefines TV-on-the-go – Axel Technologies has announced its Fuugo product, which is the first TV application to personalize a content stream by blending video choices from broadcast, mobile, and Internet sources.  Fuugo fits in with the convergence of TV and entertainment, and will help users to navigate and find what they want to see. It simplifies the way users fine the programs they want without having to think about where they are coming from.  It presents programming based on individual tastes and interests. Fuugo will be featured on a range of next generation devices such as netbooks, tablets and smartphones.

Computers vs. Old-Fashioned Audio – Steve Guttenberg has a wonderful short piece on Cnet comparing the reliability of computers vs. two-channel audio. (Being a surround-sound-for-music fan, I would of course expand that to all audio.) He pegs computers as the least reliable consumer products ever (keep that in mind if you’re attracted by all the music server hoopla). And that the best audio products have useful working lives measured in decades; no need to contrast that with computers!  Audiophiles don’t get an “error” message when playing vinyl. They usually get hassle-free operation all the time. How many times have you had to spend hours on the phone to tech support to get your audio gear working? The major problems in audio today are due to the increasing dependence on various computer chips used in AV components. Legacy products keep working and keep getting refurbished by fans; some listen to 40-year-old speakers that still sound great.

LG Profits Rise Over Fourfold – Seoul-based LG Electronics Inc. said its full year net profit rose more than fourfold from 2008, largely due to foreign-exchange gains and the improving performance of its flat panel affiliate LG Display Co.

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