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President's Message
May 2004

1.  "Hot Sounds from a Cold Trumpet? Cryogenic Theory Fails" leads a piece from the New York Times. It seems brass players have been cooling their instruments to -321 degrees Fahrenheit in hopes of improving their sound. Researchers at Tufts University did a blind study where instruments, both frozen and unfrozen, were played by musicians. There was no statistically significant difference. It was commissioned by Selmer Musical Instruments, a wind instrument manufacturer. 18Nv03.

2.  "All Shook Up Over Cutting and Selling Elvis Tape" chronicles a decision to cut up and sell a mastertape of a 1954 Elvis Presley recording session. Michael Esposito, president of Master Tape Collection, said the reel was discovered in 1992, was played once to preserve it digitally, and had suffered water damage and deemed too fragile to be played again. Two inch pieces will be mounted under Lucite and sold for $495 each. There are some questions about the authenticity of the tape. RCA, Presley's recording label, said "We possess the original tape of the recording. Beyond that we cannot comment." It's not clear whether more than one tape was made of the sessions. NYT 03.

3.  A hearing aid costs $2,200 on average. Meade Killion, a hearing aid pioneer, thinks that's crazy. An effective aid for mild-to-moderate hearing loss could be sold over the counter for around $100. The high cost is due to regulations introduced in the 70s to protect people from unregulated sellers, requiring them to see a physician before getting an aid. Licensed audiologists oppose the change, saying it could bring a return to the bad old days, when fly-by-night operators took advantage of the elderly by selling useless devices. Others say if the FDA doesn't require the public to see a doctor to rule out glaucoma or other diseases before getting reading glasses, why does it do so for hearing aids?

The FDA has rejected his petition. Killion says many stores already sell "listening devices" for people with normal hearing that differ little from hearing aids For example, sporting goods stores sell ear devices for hunters that muffle the sound of gun shots that also amplify quiet sounds, such as animals rustling in vegetation. He says the hunters' device is actually quite effective for people who have trouble hearing and illustrates his point that there's no technological barrier to an inexpensive over-the-counter hearing aid. To prove his point he recently played two recordings before an audience of 50 audiologists. One was of a person speaking in cafeteria noise, amplified by a $l49 sporting-goods device. The other was of the same speech amplified through a popular $2000 digital hearing aid. The audience rated the $149 device as having clearer sound.

David Hadaway

President, Boston Audio Society



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updated 11/11/04