Audio News

Audio News for June 18, 2013

Awards for Under $1000 Turntables & Disc Players; Pricing of Hi-Res Online Downloads; Home Theater Is a Hobby; DTS Promises Wide Compatibility of HT Components with DTS-HD; New Apps Bring Live Concerts to Mobile Devices

Published on June 18, 2013

Awards for Under $1000 Turntables & Disc Players – The Absolute Sound published their Editors’ Choice Awards for turntables under $2000 and here are their choices for under $1000: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, Rega RP1, Pro-Ject Xpression III, Rega RP3, Pro-Ject RM-5 SE/Sumiko Blue Point No. 2. In disc players, they listed the Teac Reference PF H600, Oppo BDP-95 and Marantz SA8004 (two-channel only).

Pricing of Hi-Res Online Downloads – Concern has been expressed in forums about possible over-charging of some web sites for hi-res downloads, and also the situation of certain sites offering merely upsampled versions of 44.1/16bit files as hi-res for a higher fee. The higher fees are due to the files requiring more space on the servers, but check around for better prices if the particular album is not being offered in hi-res only by its own label online.

Home Theater Is a Hobby – There’s an interesting article in a recent Home Theater Review on “Let’s Not Forget That Home Theater Is a Hobby.”  It decries the loud battles some HT buffs have gotten into in forums, and mentions the sea change in the hobby as a result of the Internet, changes in real estate and the U.S. economy. One very bright note is that in recent years the best AV components have dropped in price faster than computers have, and one can get for $2500 today what would have cost $6000 five years ago. (However, one wonders about the recent huge price increases in 4K TV displays vs 1080p HDTVs.)  A notable point is that while possible home buyers are attracted to built-in home theaters and home automation, they are seldom willing to pay extra for them, so such improvements must be seen as strictly for oneself and not necessarily adding to a home’s value.

DTS Promises Wide Compatibility of HT Components with DTS-HD – Select Samsung HDTVs and Blu-ray decks are so far the only ones to be able to decode DTS-HD movie soundtracks streamed by CinemaNow, but DTS promises a variety of new and legacy AV receivers, soundbars and HTiBs will soon be compatible.  Streaming services can now deliver multichannel audio at data rats up to 512Kbps; if the network connection is good, sound quality will be nearly indistinguishable from lossless PCM soundtracks and from lossless codecs on Blu-rays. The data rate used by CinemaNow is unavailable. Formerly all streamed video was only two-channel, but that is changing. Vudu now delivers some of its HD movies in 5.1 or 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, and Netflix, CinemaNow, Amazon Instant Video and HBO Go all deliver select movie titles in 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus.

New Apps Bring Live Concerts to Mobile Devices – Among these are Livestream, Evntlive, Concert Window and Spacebar. Some of the concerts can be viewed for free, and charges for others range up to $6. Concert Window streams about 25 live concerts each week, and two-thirds of their profits go to the musicians. There are also social features to that fans can chat with one another in realtime, learn more about the artists, or watch related videos.  Spacebar is a new app just for the iPhone. It allows any musician with an iPhone to stream their performance, whether on a stage or in their home. The first five minutes of streaming is free to the musician, and then it is 99 cents a minute. It has about a dozen live concerts weekly. A spokesman said these online concerts are the next best thing to being at a live concert. (Whether any classical or jazz concerts are included we don’t know.)

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