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Audio News for April 11, 2017

Hi-Res Streaming on Smartphones, PCs, and Tablets –  Qpbuz Sublime+ will offer hi-res streaming next month for about £300 annually. It will offer 24-bit hi-res streaming of 60,000 albums. Currently the highest Qobuz tier is Sublime, offering CD-quality 16/44.1 audio for £190 per year. If you want to purchase any hi-res album via downloading, there will be permanent discounts for Sublime+ subscribers. Tidal introduced hi-res streaming of its Masters-quality albums on desktop-only PCs in January using their MQA format.

“WAV could Become the New Record Player” – says Dustin Bates of Starset, whose new album, Vessels, is available in a 360-degree mix for maximum VR enjoyment. He says you can definitely tell the difference between 16-bit and 24-bit recordings. He also says he sees the streaming of WAVs and FLACS as being the inevitable standard. And that he finds it encouraging that the major labels have reached consensus regarding making hi-res streaming options the standard operating procedure. And that the cost of storage of files is an irrelevant argument at this point. He says their good songs, especially with all the sampled strings, sound their best in hi-res form. Several Starset sci-fi videos are available on YouTube (in compressed audio, of course).

Pulse 2 Sets a New Era of Hi-Fi Wireless Speakers –  The Pulse 2 from Bluesound has no DLNA nor UPnP support or DSD file compatibility, but has a full-range presentation from a large woofer flanked by mid-range drivers on both sides. The rear of the unit has an optical/analog minijack input, Ethernet, a dedicated headphone output and USB. There is an upgraded Wi-Fi chipset and a powerful 1GHz ARM Cortex-9 multi-core processor. Though heavy, it is also a portable player, designed to sit on a tabletop or bookshelf. Bluesound’s built-in Vault 2 is a hard drive CD ripper with its own analog and digital outputs.. It rips CDs to WAV or FLAC and downloads hi-res audio files from commercial sites to its 2TB drive. CDs are then playable from the app’s Music Library. It also really lights up a room and is about $170.

New Sonos Slab-like Playbase is a Stand for Your TV – It can hold up to 77 lbs. and it tries to meld into the AV cabinet. The Playbase has ten internal speakers to ensure that you are pumping out a full range of audio. It works best with a movies and media; when connect to Sonos sub-woofer and a pair of satellite speakers, it makes a superlative surround sound system, though not a audiophile’s system. Devialet’s Phantom afford more clarity at high volumes. Sonos also offers a service called Trueplay which tunes the speakers in your room using your smartphone. It can add clarity to the movie studio and can improve music immensely, especially with surround setups. About $700.

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