Audio News for June 20, 2006

by | Jun 20, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

Symphony Orchestras Looking to Downloading Sales – A recent NY Times article observed that there is more classical music offered now, on both recordings and in concerts, than there was in what nostalgists think of as the golden age of classical in America. A reported 12% of Apple’s iTunes sales have been classical, and that is four times the classical music sales in the CD market! Downloads accounted for almost 20% of Hilary Hahn’s recent Mozart sonata sales, and while classical sales overall were down 15% in 2005, classical album downloads were up 94%.  When the BBC offered the free downloads of the Beethoven symphonies last year it was an unexpected success, and the downloads of live concerts by the New York and LA Philharmonics are showing excellent initial sales figures for Universal Music. We have also reported the new Milwaukee Symphony live concert downloads recorded binaurally for all the headphone users on PCs.

The Minnesota Orchestra’s president Tony Woodcock said that younger people without a classical music background “make no distinction between Led Zeppelin, Techno and classical music.  They heard that Beethoven is really great, or that Tchaikovsky writes good tunes, and they download.”  The American Federation of Musicians is considering an improved contract which will cover Internet recording from live concerts. When asked if CDs would be around in a decade, one authority said “bandwidth trumps plastic.” One of the major challenges is the difficulty in organizing classical music online because its data is so much more complex than the pop music for which iTunes was set up originally.
[from correspondent Laurence Vittes]

Brief Audio Items [from the Boston Audio Society Speaker]
– An audio professional gave a seminar at Southampton University in the UK on the subject “High Quality Audio  – From the Instrument to the Domestic Listener.”  He reported that had he given the same talk 15 years ago he would have been laughed at for suggesting the audience didn’t already know what he was telling them. In this case his audience was attentive and greatly appreciated what he said.  In a letter to a European audio magazine, a BBC employee suggested that audio quality in general had peaked around the year 1992.

Watch out for the ill effects of air cleaners sold to allegedly provide allergy relief and easier breathing. One user reported the belts in four CD & DVD players, three computer CD drives and a vacuum cleaner were all destroyed by the ozone emissions of his home air cleaner. 

A device has been invented called The Mosquito (“small and annoying”), which emits a pulsing very high frequency sound that can be heard by young people, but almost no one over 30.  It is intended to be more effective than the use of classical music to disperse teenagers from store fronts and other areas where they congregate excessively. In a test it was described “as if someone had used anti-teenager spray around the store entrance.” However, some teens are already using the Mosquito to their advantage: they took its signal for their cell phone ring tones so they can receive calls during classes without teachers hearing it.

Frustrated with the terrible sound of PA systems in many public venues?  One cause might be the light-dimming systems they use in theaters and performance places. The general adoption of switching power supplies causes huge amounts of harmonic distortion in the AC line, causing EMI in the audio lines.

Recent papers on speaker testing published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society seem to agree that “nonlinear phase response of speakers is unlikely to have any audible effect in typical rooms.” One paper reported that nonlinear distortion was not audible under the test conditions. The conclusion is that the audibility to most listeners of phase and distortion is greatly exaggerated. Expect to hear a loud refuting from the “absolute polarity”  camp.

Confused about recording DVDs, and in fact everything video? (As I was when reviewing the Toshiba DVD Recorder in our Components Section.) Try the aptly-named web site                    

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