Audio News for January 1, 2005

by | Jan 1, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

 HDTV Tuners for All? – Part of the HDTV bill currently going thru Congress moving the ending of analog TV broadcasts to April 7, 2009 is – finally – a system to deal with the estimated 70 million viewers currently using analog TVs to receive transmissions direct from stations (OTA – Over-The-Air). It sets up a subsidy to cover the cost of the basic set-top tuner boxes which will be distributed and which will convert DTV signals to analog. The co-pay cost is expected to be around $10.

“Podcast” Word of the Year for 2005
– Only a year ago “podcast” was almost unknown to anyone, and now if you enter the word in Google you get over 81,300,000 sites linked to it. The editor of the New Oxford American Dictionary, who selected the Word of the Year, observed that it had finally caught up with the rest of the Apple iPod phenomenon.  As an indication of the increased interest in audio on the Internet, Yahoo has set up a new “Audio” tab on their front page; any creators of audio files online may submit to it. Video Blogging is expected to be the Next Big Thing.

– DTS Inc. will premiere their new hi-def surround sound solution for next generation hi-def media at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 5-8.  DTS-HD Master Audio features 7.1 discrete surround channels which are bit-for-bit identical to the master multichannel soundtrack. It has already been selected as an option in the standards for the upcoming Blu-ray and HD-DVD hi-def disc formats. DTS President Jon Kirchner said “…for the first time we have sound that matches high definition video images and allows people to truly live the high definition life.” [Are we truly still facing two incompatible hi-def DVD formats?  After the unparalleled success of the original single DVD format due to the compromises made by Sony, Philips and Toshiba?  Is this an audio Dr. Strangelove scenario or what?…Ed.]

Plugging the Analog Hole
– Another bill has been introduced in Congress to add copy protection to analog video signals. It mandates that electronic hardware and software made after an as-yet-to-be-set date respond to a “watermark” embedded in a video signal and passed along even when that signal is converted between digital and analog. Currently analog video signals copied from hi-def digital sources are open for copying, although standard-def signals can be protect with software like Macrovision – used on many VHS tapes. The system is called Video Encoded Invisible Light, or VEIL. Audiophiles should be concerned about this because it appears to be another attack on fair-use rights. The major record labels would like to move toward having consumers purchase only single-use licenses – not the music content itself. Plus VEIL is largely unknown, as to cost, operation and licensing status.

[The last time a “watermark” copyright protection system was used on analog signals was around 18 years ago.  It was called Copy Code (developed by CBS) and AUDIOPHILE AUDITION (in its radio series form) was probably the first to audibly point out that it was intrusive and very obvious – crudely damaging certain frequencies of the sound spectrum.  HIGH FIDELITY magazine then put it on its front cover and the proposed process was quickly withdrawn.]

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