Time flies. I was looking for something I had posted a while ago and discovered that this site has been live and somewhat regularly updated since October 24, 2004. So I'm about a month late noticing, but this site is an eight year old! We're a tween!
While her advice is not new, Adrienne Maxwell has about as strong a pedigree to say it as anyone. She's written and edited home theater magazines at the highest levels. And while she can geek out with the best of them -- I've met her at trade events and can confirm this firsthand -- she, well, she's a girl. I'm not suggesting that men can't write about women's issues, but that women do bring inherent credibility to the discussion.
Read the comments. I love the practical advice on hiring women as salespeople so that the firm can pitch men and women with gender-appropriate messaging/messengers.
OK, now go back and read my column - it stands up pretty well despite its age and my gender.
Apple’s iTunes now sells more music than any other retail outlet and CD sales are famously in decline, so you’d be forgiven if you thought nobody makes CD players any more – or at least nobody would be foolish to launch new ones. That's why I was somewhat delighted to read this press release: Parasound has just introduced a new CD player, the Zcd. This isn’t a CD player aimed at the mass market, but it isn’t targeting money-is-no-object audiophile snobs, either. It costs $400; mass market CD players start at $17.99 at Target, and audiophile brands can top $4,000. Instead, the Zcd is aimed at the custom installation market (the giveaway is that it is described as being “half rack width”).
Parasound apparently thinks there is a market for a high quality CD player where the home owner wants to insert a single disc and listen to it, as opposed to a hard drive-based music server. In other words, the Zcd is intended to be used for dedicated listening sessions, not strictly background music. In that sense, the Zcd is a throwback to the other physical music format with a focused use case – vinyl (though vinyl is explicitly "old school," and all the limitations of the format are typically celebrated as features). The Zcd has top of the line DACs and does fancy things with the volume control and analog converter power source to give installers something to talk about when justifying its cost. While the Zcd can also play back music from USB or a line in jack, it doesn't support dead music formats like SACD or DVD-Audio that few people today seem to even remember. It's a CD player. It plays CDs. It isn't something you're going to find in Best Buy, but it's nice to see someone thinks there's still a market niche left that calls for a dedicated optical disc player.
Gibson is looking to diversify away from musical instruments, and is buying Onkyo USA. Onkyo has been doing reasonably well in the shrinking A/V receiver market - I own an Onkyo NR3007 myself - but I just can't figure out why Gibson decided to invest in the incredibly challenged A/V industry rather than, say, ANYTHING ELSE. Here's the press release:
Gibson Buys Stake in Onkyo Japan and Majority Interest in Onkyo USA
Forms Strategic Alliance to Take Consumer Audio Experience to a New Level
Nashville, TN. January 04, 2012: As part of its continued diversification into the music and audio lifestyle arena, Gibson Guitar Corp., the world’s premier musical instrument manufacturer, today announced a strategic partnership with Onkyo Corporation, a worldwide leader in consumer audio. With a reputation of excellence for high quality audio equipment and home theater systems, Onkyo offers Gibson’s newly-formed Pro Audio Division substantial technology resources. Gibson will provide Onkyo with its marketing resources and expertise. The result will be an ability to deliver a far superior audio experience to the consumer who has become more and more used to hearing only inferior compressed music through inexpensive ear bud headsets.
Through this venture, Gibson will acquire a majority of Onkyo USA (Onkyo’s exclusive distributor for North America and a distributor for Central and South America) and become the second largest shareholder in Onkyo Corporation. Gibson will make a strategic investment in the company, and Gibson Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz will be given a position on the Onkyo board of directors. Likewise, Onkyo will invest in Gibson, and CEO and President Munenori Otsuki will take a position on the company’s Board of Directors. Together, the two entities will form a Hong Kong-based joint venture focusing on design and development of unparalleled consumer audio products. Through this alliance, Onkyo USA becomes the latest addition to the Gibson Pro Audio division, which already includes KRK, Cerwin-Vega! and Stanton.
“Onkyo makes some of the world’s best audio equipment, and this partnership will give Gibson the ability to bring a deeper and more enhanced audio experience to music lovers around the world,” says Juszkiewicz. “While people may be listening to more music, they are listening to it primarily in a severely compressed format. The aural disparity between a real system and compressed sound is vast, and as a result, they are simply not hearing tremendously rich sounds. With Onkyo, our goal is to bring the same exceptional experience artists demand in the studio to a larger consumer base.”
“This partnership has significant positive implications for Onkyo as we are always seeking ways of creating new value,” says Otsuki. “Gibson is a leading global company with a massive fan base, best-in-class products and superior marketing skills. Coming together in this way opens the door for amazing opportunities for both companies and, more importantly, fans of Onkyo and Gibson.”
All agreements are subject to Japanese regulatory clearance, negotiation of definitive agreements and financing approvals of lenders.
ABOUT GIBSON GUITAR CORP. Gibson Guitar Corp. is known worldwide for producing classic models in every major style of fretted instrument, including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, and banjos. The Gibson Les Paul Guitar is the bestselling guitar of all time and is a tribute to the late, famed musician of the same name. Collectively, the Gibson Robot Guitar, Gibson Dark Fire, Gibson Dusk Tiger and the Gibson Firebird X represent the biggest advances in electric guitar design in more than 75 years. Through the Gibson Foundation, Gibson Guitar Corp. has become equally known for its philanthropic efforts on behalf of music, education, health and human services. Founded in 1894 in Kalamazoo, MI, and headquartered in Nashville, TN, since 1984, Gibson Guitar Corp.’s family of brands includes Epiphone, Cerwin-Vega!, Dobro, Kramer, Onkyo, KRK Systems, Steinberger, Tobias, Echoplex, Electar, Flatiron, Slingerland, Stanton, Valley Arts, Maestro, Oberheim, Baldwin, Sunshine Piano, Take Anywhere Technology, J&C Fischer, Chickering, Hamilton, Wurlitzer and Gibson Pro Audio. Visit Gibson’s website at www.gibson.com. Follow Gibson Guitar at www.facebook.com/gibsonguitar and www.twitter.com/gibsonguitar.
ABOUT ONKYO Since 1946 Onkyo has been passionately committed to developing audio products that deliver uncommon performance, quality and value. Bundling proprietary technologies and innovations with other sound-enhancing exclusives, Onkyo continues to created award winning products that are lauded by many of the industry leading audio publications. The company's philosophy is to deliver products that are superbly designed and built to a consistently outstanding standard of excellence. The results can be seen in the obviously high quality of any Onkyo-manufactured product, even before it is turned on. Visit Onkyo’s website at www.onkyousa.com. Follow Onkyo USA at www.facebook.com/OnkyoUSA.