This month’s drawing will be for a dozen Audiophile Audition readers to select a free hi-res DVD or CD of their choice from the library offered by custom audiophile label HDTT. 12 names will be chosen at the end of the month and emails sent out with the HDTT URL for selecting one of these $25 hi-res classical titles to be shipped to each winner who has Registered Here on our site this month! (The titles displayed above are just a sample.)
Last month’s winners of the 6-CD John Coltrane set on Prestige were: Heidi Kukta, Woods Cross UT; Eric Rodda, Colorado Springs CO; Carolyn Barnett, Lyles, TN; Fancisco Media, Miami FL; Joel Waldman, Chalfont PA & Bill Carroll, Loganville, CA. Congratulations to the winners!
I’ve been a Macintosh fan since the mid-80s, but I haven’t been at all happy that Apple has bought into the security-focused DRM (Digital Rights Management) world wreaked on innocent consumers by the major music companies and Hollywood studios. And done it in some ways that are even more restrictive. Christopher Jones says in this month’s The Perfect Vision that he agrees with the French government’s claim that Apple’s iTunes tracks are too restrictive. They lock users into DRM using AAC encoding, which is playable only on Apple’s own iPods and not on all the other MP3-type portable devices which abound. Plus the files are not easily converted to MP3. I’ve been struggling to do that to radio programs I’ve time-shifted with Griffin’s radioSHARK, which records them on the hard drive as AAC files. They are not even paid downloaded files from iTunes, yet I cannot easily burn them to a CD-R to listen to in my car or portable CD player.
Plus most of the iTunes tracks are highly compressed 128Kbps files, which now that more people are feeding their iPods into higher-quality audio systems, are realizing that they really sound pretty bad. AAC sounds better than equivalent MP3 but not that much better. There are some sites offering higher quality tracks with better resolution – among them MusicGiants and Emusic. Yes, such files take up more hard drive space, but smaller and smaller drives with greater and greater capacity are becoming available at falling pricing, so that becomes less of a concern.
It may not even be worth mentioning, but surely our readers have not been convinced to sell their audio systems because Steve Jobs said his iPod Hi-Fi speaker-dock sounds just as good as his cost-no-object home audio system, to which he claims to no longer listen.
Similar frustrations are rampant in the rapidly growing field of downloadable movies. Both Apple and Amazon are among those now offering them – the former only for purchase and the latter for either purchase or rental. The intended target seems to be impulse buyers who want a movie Right Now. Neither is a 100% success yet. The purchase price can often be more than if you bought the physical DVD, the resolution is very poor in order not to have to spend forever in downloading (although a 45-minute TV show can still take almost two hours to download via DSL). Both video stores prevent you from burning a DVD for use in another player or computer you may have. The Amazon rentals automatically disappear from your computer after 24 hours whether you have watched them or not. Watching poorer-res Windows Media files on a computer monitor often results in pixelated fuzzy images because they are designed for standard TV displays rather than either the higher-res progressive computer display or an HDTV display. It’s similar to poor audio recordings sounding even worse on a state-of-the-art audio system.
Amazon’s downloads require having to take both the so-called “DVD quality” download and an even more data-reduced version especially for portable video devices. I can’t imagine many of our readers hankering to watch feature films on their iPods! How about holding up that mini gadget in front of your face for three hours to watch Lawrence of Arabia? (Thru our reading glasses, for many of us!) There aren’t that many movies available for download as yet, and the effort required is probably not worth it vs. just renting a DVD in person or by mail. Some other services may do a better job; one of them doesn’t even involve a computer – we hope to be trying that one soon. Apple promotes their latest inexpensive Mac Mini as a home multimedia center, but you must purchase and struggle with many other pieces of hardware and software to set up anything like a converged home entertainment unit. The solution to true and convenient convergence in the home may yet come from Apple, but it isn’t here yet.
— John Sunier
October 06 is our 92nd issue and we’re in our eighth year! All reviews – about 100 a month – are now added throughout the month as they are written and received. This ensures you get the latest reviews, without having to wait a month for new content. We have reorganized the web site to make it easier to navigate and find content. The most recent reviews appear at the top of each Section Index. To read the full review, click on the headline and you will be taken directly to that review. The Home Page lists the five latest published reviews, the Section Index lists the past two months of reviews, the Archive goes back to June 1, 2005, and for all reviews by month prior to that you need to click on the Old Archive, which goes back to 2001. The Disc Index also lists past reviews in every section.
You probably have some friends who would like to know about Audiophile Audition. Please pass our URL on to them and help expand our elite group of readers and collectors. It’s easy to do at the bottom of every review, by just clicking on the “Email this page to a friend” link. Thanks in advance for your help in getting the word out!
We welcome your feedback, and we have a “Reader Feedback” section. Please send us your comments, and we will review and possibly post them to that section. Check back with us frequently for more reviews and news, and be sure to register for our monthly giveaway! When you do, please give us the few requested facts, including a working email and street address – otherwise we can’t send you your winning item! We don’t share your information with anyone else.
— The AUDIOPHILE AUDITION staff
STAFF WRITERS: Dalia
Geffen, Donna Dorsett, Patricia Rimmer, Laurence Vittes, Tom Gibbs,
Lemco, Brian Bloom, Clay Swartz, John Henry, Peter Bates, Ron
Legum, Paul Pelon IV, Jeff Dorgay, James A. Fasulo, Calvin Harding Jr.,
Birney Brown, Jeff Krow, Hermon Joyner, William Sommerwerck, John Sunier.
503-977-2189 © John Sunier 2006
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