Don't take my word for it that the major labels and the system that propped them up for so many years are dead. John Mellencamp, who sang a string of rock hits back in the 1980s and '90s, thinks the business is dead as well. In an articulate and passionate essay on the Huffington Post, he argues that the long slide started well before the rise of file sharing, back to when the business started relying on SoundScan and Broadcast Data Systems (BDS).
With SoundScan, instead of relying on surveys from record stores, the labels could see exactly how … Read more
In the beginning of recorded sound, there was mono. One speaker, period.
Mono speakers were plopped wherever it was convenient, and that was that. Consumer audio remained strictly mono until the late 1950s with the introduction of stereo tape and LPs. Now you needed two speakers.
Home theater upped the ante to 5.1 channel surround sound--five speakers, plus a subwoofer--and setup hassles were getting tricky. Dolby's Web site offers very specific requirements for the placement of the front left, center, right speakers, and the side surround speakers. 6.1 and 7.1 systems add rear surround speakers.
It's one thing to look at a diagram, but your room probably doesn't look like the diagram. Reality sets in, so very few 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 system buyers get remotely close to the recommended speaker placements.
I've seen countless 5.1 home theater in a box systems in real people's homes with all five satellite speakers clumped in a row under or over the TV. Some buyers spread the speakers out across their entertainment furniture, still with all the speakers in front, near the TV. Obviously, those people don't want to string wires across the room. I don't blame them.
On one hand it'll sound "fine," but the envelopment the film sound mixers worked so hard to achieve will be lost. Don't worry, the Dolby Police won't arrest you for improper placement and the certain destruction of the filmmaker's intent.
If you have all of your speakers sitting in a pile, but I've made you a little curious, temporarily move the surround speakers out into the room. Put 'em on something to get them off the floor: A chair, bookcase, furniture, and so on. Play a few big action flicks and see what's up with surround. It might surprise you and just maybe you'll be inspired enough to make the effort to find permanent, around the room locations for the surround speakers. Hey, in 5.1 it's only two skinny wires.… Read more
Home-theater-in-a-box systems are often associated with tiny speakers and underpowered AV receivers, but Onkyo (like Yamaha) bucks the trend, packing its home theater systems with big, boxy speakers and component-grade AV receivers. The company announced two new HTIB systems this week, both of which look impressive in terms of value, at least from the specification sheet. Let's take a look at the new systems:
Key features of the Onkyo HT-S3200:5.1 home theater system with 110-watts per channel Two-way front and center speakers, each with 3.25-inch woofer and 0.75-inch tweeter Smaller rear speakers, each with 3.25-inch woofer 110-watt subwoofer with 8-inch driver Component-style 5.1 AV receiver Audyssey Dynamic Volume and Audyssey Dynamic EQ Three HDMI inputs Two component video inputs Three digital audio inputs (two optical, one coaxial) Currently available in black, $380 list price
Key step-up features of the Onkyo HT-S5200:7.1 home theater system with 130-watts per channel Two-way front speakers, each with a 5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter Three-way center channel with two 3.25-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter… Read more
The picture you see here is a bracelet modeled after the waveform of someone saying "I believe in you." Made by a group called The Sound Advice Project, it is a way for parents to record a message, which is then custom-made into a piece of jewelry as a gift to a teenage child. The purpose is for the child to always have a visual reminder of the advice.
I'm asked this question all the time: "Are there any great-sounding TV speakers?"
People want "something good," but they don't want hassles, and they sure as hell don't want to decipher techno-babble setup instructions. Nowadays there are plenty of single speaker systems to choose from, but most of them don't sound all that good, and setup--while way better than a bona fide multichannel system--is still more complicated than it ought to be.
We've tested a lot of sound bar speakers for CNET, but none as ambitious or expensive as GenevaSound's Home Theater system. It's a 2.1 channel virtual surround system with an all-digital 700-watt amplifier, seven speakers, and integrated 12-inch subwoofer.
There's also a CD player, radio, and an iPod/iPhone dock. Considering its $3,999 list price, you might expect this super-size home theater to include a Blu-ray player, or at least a DVD player, but you're on your own. Your TV can be placed on the cabinet or wall mounted.
Oh well, the GenevaSound … Read more
iPhone users have been inundated with apps that make a variety of different realistic sounds--some rather innocent and others quite crass. Now, your iPhone can make realistic cops-and-robbers sounds, too, with Bang!Bang! (iTunes Link) for $1.99.
The app recreates the sounds of firing different firearms using "cinema quality effects sourced from Oscar-Winning Sound Designers," according to the developer. In our experience, the "gun" sounds so real that it might be dangerous to use the app in the wrong circumstances--say, in a corner store or a crowded theater.
Bang!Bang! requires you to hold your … Read more
Finding surround-sound speakers that sound great isn't that difficult. Of course, if you want them to be small and inexpensive, those criteria raise the bar significantly. That's why the Energy Take Classic is a doubly impressive product. The 5.1 speaker package is a "remake" of Energy's much beloved Take 5 system from the 1990s. The Classic keeps the same overall design: four compact satellite speakers (under 7 inches high), a dedicated center channel (just over 10 inches wide), and a modestly sized 200-watt sub sporting an 8-inch woofer. Pair the Take Classic with any … Read more
Few people know this but for a little while last year, the music-royalty rates that Web radio stations have complained about for years appeared to be behind them.
In a midtown Manhattan law office last November 6, representatives from Webcasting companies and SoundExchange, the group that collects royalties for recording artists and labels, struck a deal "in principle," said sources familiar with the negotiations. The agreement was designed to restructure the royalty rates Webcasters have long said would decimate the sector.
But a week ago, came word that a final deal was never signed. The Digital Media Association (DiMA), the group that represents most of the largest Webcasters, including Pandora, Live365 and Yahoo, announced that the parties failed to reach an agreement. How could that happen? Both sides told members of Congress in September that they were close to a deal. In November, the blog All Things Digital reported a settlement was within grasp and quoted Pandora founder Tim Westergren saying "all the hard stuff has been done."
After interviewing multiple sources on both sides of the issue, the picture that has taken shape is that Webcasters blew a golden opportunity to reach an accord that would have given them much of what they asked for. What appears to have happened is that some in Webcasting were willing to play a game of brinkmanship with SoundExchange. At the very least, the actions of some larger Webcasters undermine their claims that they can't afford to continue for much longer without a settlement.
There is still a chance the two sides can come to terms. Talks are ongoing. But as it stands, time is quickly running out and nothing has occurred to indicate a breakthrough is near, according to sources on both sides. If a settlement isn't reached, its conceivable that some Web radio stations that legitimately can't afford to pay the performance fees set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) two years ago may be in jeopardy. Representatives from SoundExchange declined to comment. Westergren did not return repeated phone calls.
Did Real want a deal? There's no doubt who the music side blames for derailing the agreement. … Read more