Audio News for April 15, 2016

Black Contributions to Classical Music Thru Video Games – The National Endowment for the Humanities has given a start-up grant to faculty members of the American University School of Communications for a web-based game called The Search for Harmony, which explores the rich influence of African descent musicians on classical music. Players will understand vital multicultural influences on classical music, learn rudimenary composition concepts and discover the expressive power of music.

Tiny Tube Headphone Amp From Woo Audio – The WA8 Eclipse is pure tube, with two 6S31Bs and one 6021 tubes. It is built to the highest audiophile standards and plays from three to four hours on one charge. The built-in digital converter handles up to 384-kHz/24-bit files. It excels in transparency and seems to work with many different headphones. It has top-notch design and is currently about $1800.

Virtual Reality the Hottest Technology Today – The new release of Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and the Vive – from Bellevue’s Valve and Taiwanese phone company HTC – will be the biggest test to date as ot whether consumers are interested in a device that wraps an immersive screen around their faces. A cluster of start-ups are also watching the market evolve while polishing their software with the idea of releasing it into a more mature VR market down the line. VR devices replicate an environment that users interact with. They started some time ago with video gaming, but now increased computing horsepower and cheaper hardware components brought about via the smartphone revolution make it possible to create immersive experiences with making the wearer nauseous. You must have a powerful and expensive personal computer to pair with the VR, and the Rift is $600 while the Vive starts at $800. Sony is expected later this year to release its PlayStation VR. Although it may be starting slowly, some experts say in five years VR hardware and software will be an $80 billion-a-year industry.

The Underwriters Laboratories Makes Sure Our Electronics Don’t Blow Up Our Homes – The little-known UL labs has inspected most of our electronic appliances and gadgets for 122 years, almost single-handedly being responsible for making sure our products are built to safe standards. Located in Northbrook, IL, the UL’s headquarters recently tested hoverboards, since they have a nasty history of catching on fire. As new products come into the U.S., companies go to UL to have their safety measured. The company started when the 1893 World’s Fair took place in Chicago. Nicola Tesla illuminated the exposition, consuming three times as much electricity as the rest of Chicago at that time. Buildings at the fair were catching on fire and insurance adjustors wanted to know why.

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