Audio New for September 28, 2015

Panasonic Announces Blu-ray, DVD and HDD Recorder – The DMR-BWT850 is a networked 3D Blu-ray player and recorder with a twin HD tuner and 1TB built-in hard drive. The Freeview Play allows you to scroll back thru an electronic program guide for up to seven days to view catch-up content from selected broadcasters. You can play content from 4K cameras, and it features 4K upscaling. You can record 4K content to the hard drive at up to 100mbps and a resolution of up to 3840 x 2160. FLAC and WAV files are supported and it comes with Panasonic’s Pure Sound Mode, said to improve sound quality when listening to music. TV Anywhere allows you to view recorded programs and live TV on a smartphone or tablet over the Internet. Apps available include Amazon Instant Vi9deo, Netflix, the BBC iPlayer, and further content can be accessed from USB devices and SDXC cards. Available next month at  £599 in the U.K.

New Apple iPod Nano – The latest in Apple’s iPod series, the nano is a compact portable digital music plays with good quality sound which also displays photos, plays video clips, and can be used as a fitness tracker. It only weighs 31 grams and is 5.4mm wide, and handles MP3, up to 320 kbps format, and Apple’s ALAC format, plus hi-res uncompressed WAV audio format. The display is 2.5-inch and displays the album cover during play. The capacity is 16 GB. If you give it a shake it shuffles to a different song in your music library. It has a Bluetooth connection and also a built-in FM tuner that displays the station’s name. It supports Nike+ and has a built-in pedometer. If you enter your heighth and weight it can track your steps, distance, pace, time and calories burned. ($150.)

Hi-Res Audio Pros & Cons – CES has put out a special web page devoted to hi-res audio. And there is a special logo for it now. It is promoted as offering listeners greater sound clarity and detail than compressed MP3s and other compressed digital audio formats. But bear in mind that most of the so-called hi-res downloads available online originate from analog original tapes which cannot be hi-res. Only those made with more than CD quality (44.1K/16-bit) since about 1988 are really hi-res. You are just paying extra monies for a hi-res download of a non-hi-res original analog tape. True, your playback gear should be carefully selected to be able to play back true hi-res sources. And it requires a quiet environment with a quality home system to hear the enhancement, not the usually noisy environment of listening on a smart phone with less-than-high quality headphones and perhaps without a dedicated headphone amp. Or a high-quality player, DAC, amp and speaker system.

Consider the FiiO X1 Hi-Rec Audio Player Before You Buy –  Plays any audio files at all up to 192/24. 122 dB SN/N.  Good controls, though not a touch screen. Uses micro-SD cards. Good price ($99).

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