Classical News – Musicians and management of the Philadelphia Orchestra have reached agreement on a new contract involving the AFM Local 77. Russian conductor Mark Gorenstein, director of the Svetlanov Orchestra, has been fired from the Tchaikovsky competition for making a racial slur about Aremenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, during a live international webcast. Hakhnazaryan went to win the Gold Medal. The conductor was apparently just as offensive to his players: during his time with the Svetlanov Orchestra 280 musicians were either fired or quit on their own.
McIntosh Has New Audio Line – Longtime high-end maker McIntosh has three new components and three new speakers at lower price level than most McIntosh gear. They include the firm’s first 3D Blu-ray player and a home theater preamp/processor—both able to stream content from a PC. The preamp/ processor will be AirPlay-enabled. The third component is a tabletop speaker systems, also with AirPlay. The new speakers include a bookshelf model and a new tower speaker. They will be available in early 2012. McIntosh also will introduce a $6500 tube amp in December to celebrate the anniversary of the company’s first tube amp in 1961.
Sony to Overhaul Its LCD TV Business – Sony’s initial TV strategy was to position themselves as an Apple-like brand, getting people to pay a premium for a perceived advantage. That didn’t work, and their TV business has lost money for eight eonsecutive years. Reuters says Sony stock is now less than 25% of the market evaluation of Samsung. They plan to reduce costs by selling off their TV plants to Chinese companies to compete with the likes of Samsung and LG.
The National Jukebox – is a new service from the Library of Congress making important historical recordings available online for listening only (no downloading). It began with about 10,300 tracks originally released between 1900 and 1925 by the Victor Talking Machine Co. Users go to www.LoC.gov/jukebox and can stream individual tracks or precompiled playlists, or assemble their own. During the initial two days, over a million people logged in. An authority pointed out that less than 4% of historically important recordings made before 1925 (the advent of electrical recording) have been available. The older a recording is, the less likely it is to be commercially available. This first quarter of the 20th century has the birth of jazz, blues, musicals, big bands, country music, pop songs, opera, ethnic music and the Great American Songbook. Putting together the Jukebox took nearly a decade. It took much time and labor to transfer over 5000 78s and cylinders to digital, but the hardest part was the copyright issues. It is incorrect to think such early recordings are in the public domain—most are not. Most of the early recordings were from either the Victor Talking Machine Co. or Columbia Records, and the Library of Congress thus approached their heirs: BMG and Sony Music.
Unity HT System, A New Audio Category? – In2Technologies, an AV product development and consulting firm, wants to simplify adding audio to TV purchases with its Unity Home Theater System, which packs surround electronics, speakers and a 3D Blu-ray player into a floorstanding platform holding up to a 60-inch HDTV. (Only about 3% of new TV buyers pick up any audio system for it at the same time.) The TV connects with one HDMI cable and there are seven speakers in the under-screen portion. A pair of wireless surround speakers create a 5.1 system. The built-in surround processor has both new lossless codecs, amps, and DSP to time-align the speakers. Delivering near-component sound quality, the system simplifies setup and operation and fits a room’s decor more easily, eliminating speaker clutter. The San Jose company hopes to license Unity’s design and technologies to manufacturers, but may bring the product to market on its own. The prototype could retail for $999.
Classical Music, the...