DVD Group Nixes Blue Laser for Now - The standards organization for the fantastically-successful DVD format - the DVD Steering Committee - has voted to continue with the current red laser technology for the next generation of DVD players and recorders. This means that the Blu-ray DVD format, developed to accommodate more data, and especially HDTV programming on DVD, will not happen immediately and may be bypassed by use of new compression technologies that allow squeezing even more data unto a standard DVD. (Similar to what MP3 does with music files.) The fine-focus Blu-ray allows more than four times as much material to be fit unto a standard-sized DVD - thus enabling it to hold feature HDTV films which would require several present DVDs. The committee claimed switching over to Blu-ray would be too costly, but some media pundits feel the real reason is an effort to separate DVD playback and recording formats as a concession to the big media corporations who are paranoid about copy protection. DVD for playback would have never gotten to the present peak of 28 million players sold in the U.S. alone if there were competing formats. Yet in recordable DVD there are DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R and DVD-RAM - all mostly incompatible with one another.
Surround Sound Composer Henry Brant Wins Pulitzer - The 2002 Pulitzer prize for music composition went to 88-year-old composer Henry Brant for his spatial work for nearly 100 performers and two conductors, Ice Field. Brant, who musically continues the wild and iconoclastic style of Charles Ives, is the worlds leading composer of works in which the performers are spaced around the venue in specially-mapped locations for surround effects that continue the tradition originated by Giovanni Gabrieli in St. Marks in the 17th century. Now therell be no excuse for someone not bringing out a multichannel SACD or DVD-A of some of Brants music (or Gabrielis for that matter).
High End Firms Offering Upgrades to Preamps and Processors - Several high end manufacturers are now reflecting the increased pace of audio developments by offering upgrades to their components as formats and enhancements are made available. Some of these upgrades are made automatically via RS232 serial ports connected to the owners PC and the companys web site via the Net. Others require returning the component to the manufacturer for a stiff fee plus shipping, and a wait as long as 8 to 10 weeks. Among the enhancements are adding 6.1 or 7.1 channel capability to an original 5.1 system, with or without Dolby Surround EX and DTS-ES for the center rear surround channel. Also HDCD decoding, room equalization, raising the D-A processor chip rate from 48K to 96K or to 192K, and even the ability to switch six digital inputs from upcoming SACD and DVD-A players.
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