October 2: The big money in vinylpurpledisc
     The action in music sales these days is streaming, right? We mean, Spotify, Apple Music...isn't that where the smart money is? Perhaps you should invest in a vinyl mine instead.
     Because here are some figures. Sales of those "obsolete" vinyl discs generate more money for the music industry than YouTube, ad-based Spotify, (that's the free version) and VEVO (whatever that is) combined. Granted, those figures are from the RIAA, whose word we take with a pinch of salt bigger than Lot's wife. Still, why would they lie about it?
     Mind you,
the on-demand, ad-based, music services are generating more money than ever — $163 million in the first half of this year as opposed to $128 million last — vinyl sales, at $222 million, look a lot better.

BY THE WAY: This weekend's Flash Sale, on until Monday morning, includes a great phono preamp and some high-end single-crystal cables you may never have seen before.

September 18: Laser TV returns
     We get calls about this all the time: our readers know we use a Samsung plasma TV as a reference, but they're finding it more and more difficult to find stores carrying them. They're also looking at 4K: the new UHD (Ultra High Definition) standard. How many UHD plasma TVs are there. Uh...none!
     But remember laser TV? Mitsubishi, a few years back, was showing a 3D laser TV that was just stunning. But it never reached the market, it was expensive ($7000 up...way up) and it was not 4K, because there was no 4K yet. A Chinese company, Hisense, intends to make 4K affordable by using laser projection.



    That's the Vidraa projection TV, which Hisense was showing at CES 2015 in Vegas. It's a very short throw projector that sits right in front of the screen (which can be the brand of your choice, or even a painted wall). Hisense isn't alone here. At the Montreal show, Sony showed a $52,000 projector, backed up by real 4K material. Wow!
     But Hisense is aiming at a lower price range, and in fact wants to use lasers to lower the cost, not raise it. The company claims that in modern TV sets, the LEDs account for most of the cost. Who knew? And are lasers cheaper than LEDs?
     Coming before the holidays, supposedly: a new 4K Blu-ray format. And we can buy our favorite movies all over again.

August 28: Got your electronic issue?MicrologoMaggie
     Maggie sent out e-mails mid-July to tell subscribers to her electronic edition of UHF that issue 96 was ready. But not everyone got the message.
     She says some of her e-mails bounced back, apparently because some subscribers had changed e-mail addresses without letting her know. And some others...well, who knows? The Internet moves in mysterious ways.
     If you're a subscriber and you didn't get the e-mail,
let us know. Maggie will make it right for you.

BY THE WAY: This weekend's Flash Sale includes special prices on some new LPs. That's not something we do often. It runs through Monday morning.

July 17th: UHF 96 arrivingmailbox
     Actually, we're surprised. CitÚPoste, which sends the magazine out to subscribers, got their issues Wednesday morning. The issues had to be placed in their plastic envelopes, labelled and taken to the central postal centre. Today, the first copies began arriving in mailboxes. Including ours.
     Subscribers to Maggie's electronic issue actually got their copies Wednesday afternoon, because pixels are faster than paper. If you want the electronic issue right now, use
this link:
     You can also subscribe for either 13 issues for $40, or 6 issues for $20.
     We have no plans to cease publishing the print edition, which remains overwhelmingly popular, but as of the next issue, Maggie is promising more features in her version. You'll be seeing links that will lead to extra information or pictures. When we mention a piece of music used in a review, you'll be able to click on it, and hear an excerpt.

July 15th: Maggie's back MinilogoMaggie
     Maggie is of course the nice lady who sends out the electronic version of UHF Magazine. She was doing well until March...when our long-time Web hosting company, Planet Velocity (cursed be its name), vanished without warning. In the weeks that followed, she was limping along by sending copies via e-mail, but she couldn't do that for the whole subscriber base. Fortunately, we reprogrammed the system, and this morning she sent out the notifications: your copy of UHF No. 96 is waiting for you.
     The system works just as it did before. You receive a reminder of your user name and your password, and the download link. You need them only for the actual download. After that, you can keep the magazine on your hard drive, tablet, etc. If you lose it, you can return to the link and download it again using the same user name and password.
     Maggie's version is pretty much identical to the print edition, except for some extras. It's interactive. Click on a title in the table of contents, and you are taken right to the article. See an ad for a product you want to know more about? Click on it, and whiz right over to the advertiser's Web site. Future issues will include even more interactive elements, and we'll be talking about them shortly.
You can visit Maggie here.
     In the meantime, we are continuing to distribute the print version of the magazine on newsstands in Canada and the United States, and across the world by mail. The print issue was delivered today. You can order your own print copy, or of course you can subscribe.


July 14th: Stand by for UHF 96mini96a
     We were expecting the print version of UHF No. 96 on Friday. In fact it will be here tomorrow morning.
     Of course, lots has to happen before you see it. The subscription fulfilment house has to pop the magazines into plastic envelopes, label them, stack them in order of postal code, and truck them to the postal centre. Other copies are going to Disticor, which sends them to a number of regional newsstand distributors.
     At our end, we're preparing to send out Maggie's electronic version, before the end of the day tomorrow. Maggie had a nice little database set up, but it disappeared in March when out long-time Web hosting service folded its tends without warning. We did some tests tonight, and we think it's okay now. We'll see tomorrow. Do let us know if you have problems downloading your copy.
     Then it's on to UHF No. 97...in early Fall.

June 19th: UHF 96 goes to pressmini96
     We know you've been waiting for it, and it will soon be here. Issue No. 96 went to press at Transcontinental this morning. Now the press people have it in hand, and we're eagerly waiting for it.
     There have been some changes in the lineup, and we'll update the Reading Room preview. We'll also prepare
Maggie's electronic version, and also the incomplete but free version. We'll let you know as soon as they're available.
     We'll be busy over the summer, working on issue No. 97. Target date: late September. We already have some reviews lined up. We expect to review two more DACs. Paul Bergman will be taking a look inside the Blu-ray disc…including the 4K version which has been announced. And Kather Lieber is preparing a retrospective of Ole Blue Eyes. You know who we mean.
     We've added a number of products to our Audiophile Store. We've been forced, alas, to raise some prices, because the Canadian dollars has followed the oil prices downward. Then again, remember that all our prices are in Canadian dollars.

June 11th: New LPs at the Audiophile Storeswing
     We've received a good stock of new titles, and we've put them on line at
our LP Store. There are new LPs from the usual (well-appreciated) sources, such as Reference Recordings and Opus 3. We even have a copy of Dick Hyman's From the Age of Swing (at right), which even Reference no longer has.But there are plenty of other from other labels. All are curated, which means there's nothing there we wouldn't recommend to our friends
     Among the goodies are Jennifer Warnes (The Well), Ricki Lee Jones (the original self-titled album), Peter, Paul & Mary (Album 1400), Mary Black (No Frontiers), Simon and Garfunkel (Bookends), plus Leonard Cohen and Count Basie.
     We also have our favorite set of complete Bach cello suites, that of Janos Starker. They were the best on Mercuty in the 60's, and they still are.
     Some time ago, we had warned you that, with the dropping value of the Canadian dollar (largely tied to the price of resources), our store prices would have to rise. And some have. But we've made some special purchases, and some LP prices have actually dropped. All prices are of course in Canadian dollars, curretnly trading around $0.80 USD.
     Also remember that LPs are now pressed in small numbers. If we run out of stock, we'll try to get more, but we may not be able to.

June 10th: Apple Music (but...)
     On June 8th, all eyes were once again on Apple and its World Wide Developers Conference.The presentation, by Apple CEO Tim Cook, was one of the longest we could remember. After the crew had gone over iOS9 and OS X El Capitan, Tim Cook announced "just one more thing." That one more thing was Apple Music.applemusic
     Apple is the world's largest music retailer, and it has been for years. Of late, however, its iconic iTunes store has been overtaken by streaming services, notably Spotify, Rdio and Pandora. When Apple paid 3.5 billion dollars for Beats Music, which included the Beats Music streaming service, it was clear that Apple was planning its own streaming service. Monday the service was launched.
     Naturally, the other companies in the streaming business "welcomed" Apple, though clearly convinced that Apple Music was too little , too late. Are they right? Apple has a history of moving into a market that already exists, and taking it over. Think iPod, iMusic, iPhone and iPad. But it has had failures too.
     But Apple is starting from a position of strength: it has a tremendous number of customers, and it has the world's biggest music catalog. More details will come out between now the and the time Apple Music goes live (at the end of June, in some 126 countries), but Apple seemed to be saying that the entire catalog would be available for streaming. If true, that would be a huge advantage. An "all-you-can-eat" service is of little use if there isn't anything you want on the menu.
     The service will be free for three months, and will then cost $10/year (in the US, of course), or $15 for a family membership, with up to 10 people having their own preferences and playlists. There is no free version, and that may be significant. Spotify does have a free version, ad supported, which is what most of its customers are on. But artists get a mere pittance from free streaming. Taylor Swift, notably, has pulled all her music off Spotify. Now who's taking music without paying for it?
     A film shown at WWDC seemed to promise that music would be treated as an art form rather than a digital commodity. If that should turn out to mean a better deal for artists, Spotify, which is bleeding money, could begin bleeding content.
     To be continued.

May 29th: Lighting your listening room
     Perhaps you like to listen to music in the dark, but probably not. After all, you need good light to read the tiny print on CD booklets. But if you're still using incandescent or quartz bulbs for light, you're throwing away money that would buy you more music.
     Light bulbs, as we have known them, were invented in the 19th century by Thomas Edison, who also came up with the phonograph. They are short-lived (typically 750 to 1,500 hours), and nearly all the electricity you pour into them turns into heat, not light. Have you noticed how warm your listening room gets? It's not just your power amplifier.
     At the start of 2015, production of incandescent bulbs became illegal in many countries, and a lot of stores laid in supplies. Don't buy them. A $1.49 bulb, over its mercifully short lifetime, can waste $30 of electricity.
     You probably don't like those curly compact fluorescents either. They're more efficient, sure, but they produce a light with peaky color response, and parts of the spectrum are missing entirely. They can even interfere with remote controls (read the label). They're also loaded with mercury. Break one, and you need a Haz-Mat suit to deal with it. And what do you do with them once they finally die?ledbulb
     We recommend LED bulbs. They have a normal spectrum, and their 25,000 life helps offset their higher cost (that means less time spent on a ladder too). Over our main desk at UHF is a trio of baby spots. The old quartz bulbs burned 50 watts each. Our new LED bulbs? Eleven watts each. Do the math.
     Most of the new LED bulbs are dimmable, but some older ones are not. Check the label.
     Shold you use a dimmer in a listening room? Old dimmers used to inject noise into the same power line your music system was drinking from. The newest ones are much better. Some modern dimmers are specially made for LED bulbs, with an input/output curve that is better suited to the new technology.
     Do you still have a cupboard full of incandescent bulbs? Don't "use them until they burn out." Don't give them to your friends, either. That wouldn't be nice.

May 15th: 4K content comingLogoBluRay
     You've seen those UHD (Ultra High Definition) TV sets, better known as 4K. The demos look great, but will your existing Blu-ray or DVD films look any better?
     Good news...possibly. The format for a future Blu-ray has been set, and the first 4K players should be available in time to make it onto Santa's sleigh. We would expect the discs to be both scarce and expensive at first. But film buffs will love the new format. Streaming services such as Netflix will offer 4K as well, but with extremely high compression that will pretty much nullify the advantage.
     Resolution aside (4K has, of course, four times as many pixels as Blu-ray), the new discs will offer a higher frame rate, for smoother motion, and an extended color gamut and tonal range for better shadow detail.
     What about compatibility, you ask?
     The new players will play older discs, no problem there. But will the new discs have an extra data layer allowing them to be played on conventional Blu-ray players, in the same way SACD can be played on normal CD players? No word on that yet.


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