NEW YORK -- The SongBank SL CD Memory System, a device that combines many of the features of a CD player, a CD megachanger and a CD recorder, is being launched nationally by Lydstrøm Inc. The SongBank lets a user strip as many as 7,000 songs off CDs onto a hard drive and then play back the songs in any number of combinations and ordered playlists.
"The SongBank was designed by an audiophile for audiophiles," said Lydstrøm co-founder Ashwin Kochiyil Philips. "But I believe it can turn anyone into any audiophile because it makes it so easy to enjoy music."
While the SongBank uses a hard disk drive to store all the music, it doesn't operate like a computer. Instead, the device works and looks like any other deck a consumer would have in a home theater set up. Philips said this was a top priority when designing the player. "By it's design and functionality, it's not at all about the technology - it's about the music," he said. "We want the SongBank to be about the experience of listening to and enjoying music."
The SongBank strips CDs, at a higher quality than MP3, in about one-quarter of the disc's normal playback time. While the initial capacity is for about 7,000 songs - or more than 14 days of continuous music, according to product spec sheets - the capacity can be increased by attaching more hard drives through USB connections.
The deck organizes music according to song, album, artist, mood and genre, all of which are viewed and controlled by menus that appear on a user's TV screen. The user can also easily program any number of playlists that are available at the touch of a remote control button.
"We thought about how a consumer would want music: quick access and a personal experience," Philips said.
The SongBank is also designed with downloadable music in mind. While most music isn't yet legally available for download off the Internet, the SongBank is equipped with a 56K modem and an Ethernet card. A software upgrade provided by Lydstrøm will enable the download function. Market availability is expected around June 2001.
The SL version of the device is actually the first of three in a series of SongBank systems. In late fall, Lydstrøm is planning to introduce additional high-end versions that offer storage capacities of up to 18,000 songs along with enhanced and more flexible programming features.
The SongBank SL is priced at $799.95 and is available now. The company can be reached online at www.lydstrom.com or by calling 877-LYDSTROM.