Audio News

Weekly Audio News for March 9, 2005


Published on March 9, 2005

Surround Sound – The Future? – An item at CNET News is titled Is
Surround Sound the Future, or Another Betamax? Stimulated by a visit to
the studio where the original Talking Heads albums are being remixed
for 5.1 by the band’s keyboardist Jerry Harrison, he is quoted as
saying the new acoustic effects can help revitalize the listening
experience. And that there are a lot of other people’s records he would
love to remix for surround. Jeff Dean, President of Silverline Records,
also states: “I think it’s rapidly on the road to mass appeal and mass
market.”

Yet the article goes on to observe that
with surround “it is even harder than with stereo to find the perfect
place to listen.” And that “The average consumer doesn’t have the
acoustical knowledge to set up a perfect 5.1 system…” Hogwash, we
say. True, some unfortunates still just stack all six speakers on top
of one another next to the TV (I’ve seen it). But then some people
stack their stereo speakers on top of one another too. Both are a
minority, as purchasers of home theater surround systems find it hard
to escape the diagrams of exactly how to locate their speakers. And the
exciting sonic envelopment that results makes it all worthwhile.

DVD Pricing in China
- Video piracy is a major problem in China and in an attempt to fight
it Warner Home Video now markets bare-bones DVDs at only $2.65 and
complete DVDs with extras at $3.38. (They are also trying to keep U.S.
DVDs at $18 or less.) However, on the street in China you can easily
find pirated DVDs for just under $1, so perhaps the Warner pricings are
intended mainly for American tourists to take back on the plane with
them.

New PC AV Decoder Chip -
Philips Electronics has introduced the first integrated dual video and
stereo audio decoder for PC desktops and notebooks. The PCI Express AV
decoder will also capture multiple broadcast TV signals, offering a
universal broadcast video and stereo decoding solution. Users will be
able to watch one channel while recording another.

Swedish Radio Surround Sound
- We reported some time ago that DTS had aided the Swedish Radio in
putting 5.1 DTS surround downloads of some of their broadcasts on their
web site. Now the two have paired up to offer high-quality 5.1 sound
over a streamed Internet connection. Taking a 1.5 mbps connection, it
sounds like DTS audio on DVDs. That is considered difficult for most
DSL connections in the U.S. but might work with a good cable modem.
Sweden is ahead of everybody on broadband digital audio.

- John Sunier




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