Audio News for May 31, 2013
Published on May 31, 2013
Sony Considering Splitting Into Two Companies – Sony has had rough financial times, with competitors such as Samsung and LG becoming more prominent in home electronics. True, the PlayStation is still making Sony money but seems like an entirely different business altogether. Billionaire and Sony shareholder Daniel Loeb has proposed that Sony split their company into two different companies: Electronics and Entertainment, and Sony is considering the split. The entertainment company would house the PlayStation brand as well as Sony’s film and music businesses.
Japanese Majors Investing in India – After consumer electronics, the foods & beverages market is growing in India as a slowing economy in Japan prompts players to look at investments abroad. India’s consumption has been relatively stable in the last few years. The Japanese players will have to compete with Korean rivals for a share of the Indian consumer’s wallet.
Pioneer Reviewing CE Business – Pioneer has had a $191.8 million annual net loss, and will undergo a major review of its home electronics business to try to establish “stable profitability.” AV products and optical disc are included in the Pioneer Home Electronics Division, and this business will be “streamlined,” with a narrower focus to “accommodate the current market size.” The sharpest drop in the home electronics business was in Japan, where sales fell 47.5%.
Dolby Atmos for Home Theaters? – Dolby’s Atmos, now used in more than 30 theatrical movies, has gained the support of seven major Hollywood studios and been implemented in over 90 theaters in 28 countries. It delivers individual sounds to up to 64 different speakers, including overhead, though the technology can support up to 128 simultaneous sounds. This is in contrast to current five-channel surround systems, which can mask many of the sounds when mixing multiple ones. With Atmos, sound studios attach specific X, Y, and Z coordinates to each sound to describe its location in three-dimensional space at any given time. This achieves freedom from trying to cram many sounds into a limited number of discrete channels.
Combined with psycho-acoustic techniques, this “sound-object” mixing creates a more lifelike experience. Sounds can smoothly pan around you, and the surround experience is improved no matter where you sit. The technology scales down to home theater systems with far fewer speakers. Atmos could be embedded in an active soundbar to deliver surround sound performance that exceeds that of current soundbars with virtual-surround processing. It can be calibrated to work in different-sized rooms with different acoustics. Atmos could be placed on Blu-ray discs right now; the players would spit out the Atmos bitstream thru the HDMI outputs to future AV receivers with embedded Atmos decoders. DTS also has their competing Multi-Dimensional Audio technology (MDA). The Blu-ray Disc Association is studying adding new technologies to the Blu-ray standard. Other proposed technologies being evaluated are 4K, new audio codecs, expanded color space, and higher frame rates.
New Features of 2013 Panasonic TVs – Last month’s press briefing from Panasonic introduced: My Home Screen, a personalized screen for everyone in the house; blacker blacks and redder reds in both plasma and LCD lines vs. 2012 models; Swipe & Share 2.0 – lets smartphone and tablet users share and send their photos to certain Panasonic sets; several models feature a full web browser, and some can be controlled by one’s own voice. Plasma sets now have an optional electronic pen that allows you to write notes on the screen, and to stop video action.