President's Message
March 2001

00. At our exec meeting we voted to raise dues a small amount to $40. I hope that this, combined with other changes will bring our finances in order.

0. Vol. 23 No. 3 of the BAS Speaker has been published electronically. It features 4 meeting summaries including Steve Owades' report on the concert hall acoustics conference at Tanglewood, guest Ken Kessler, Ira Leonard's report on hearing conservation and home theater installation, and our meeting at Genelec. It also features a quote from Henry James (the BAS literary gazette?).

1. For environmental reasons, lead in solder is being replaced by tin alloys. Unfortunately a side effect of "tin whiskers" has shown up--a single crystal growth following a spiral pattern above the tin surface growing up to 9 mm in length, causing short circuits. The failure of Satmax's geostationary satellite Solidaridad 1 and partial failure of 4 others is attributed to tin whiskers in relay contacts. The incubation period can range from several days to months or even years, and can lie dormant for years and then rapidly grow. And not just on spacecraft, but on earth-based equipment. A test for potential whisker growth has not been developed. (TV Technology 15Nov00). [Have you inspected your printed circuit boards lately?...and just when you thought your HiFi was safe. DB Systems pledges to continue to use environmentally toxic lead solder...--DBH]

2. Frustrated by the recording industry's lack of interest in recording classical music, the St. Louis Symphony formed the Arch Media label last year, with plans to record Beethoven, Mahler and Bruckner cycles under Hans Vonk. The first release sold 4,200 copies, a strong sale for a classical release. However costs have overwhelmed revenues--after 4 CDs future plans are on hold. [NYT 15Oct2000]

3. Sony's response to an inquiry: "Although we no longer manufacture or sell consumer Beta cassette recorders (including the SLHF2000) we do repair them and we would suggest that you take or send your unit to the nearest Sony Factory Service Center for service if needed." In 1988, when Sony first started coming out with VHS machines, they advertised "Beta is forever. It's our word of honor. The word of Sony." [Sony Betas are still being sold in Japan--DBH].

4. In the NYT magazine section (3Dec00) is an article "Eavesdropping on History" featuring Stephen St.Croix. [He's a columnist in Mix mag]. Among his interesting projects is a scheme to recover the 18-1/2 minute gap in the Watergate tapes. He maintains that no erasure is complete, and by building a special tape machine with 200 heads he can extract the signal from the noise. [It seems to me you would end up with the same result if you divided the track into 200 parts, read them and combined them versus reading with one large gap--DBH]. He also has a Speech Extraction System (sold only to law enforcement agencies) which is claimed to retrieve speech buried 80 dB below the noise.


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updated 11/11/04