Headphones Category Continues Growth – With yearly sales of $2.6 billion, total headphone sales rose 14% in 2013, and those priced over $100 or more were responsible for $1.1 billion of the sales. Bluetooth and the fitness segments have also contributed to the huge growth. The growth rate is expected to slow this year, but new segments such as biometric sensors embedded into ear cups, and hi-res-audio-capable headphones can gain traction to maintain the growth rate in 2015. For 2013 the five top headphone brands based on dollar sales were Beats Electronics, Bose, Sony, Skullcandy and JVC. Jaybird cracked the list for 2014 – they are sports-focused and wireless.
North American Sales of Portable Navigation Devices Falls – PNDs fell 23% to four million units in 2014. They face competition from factory-installed car navigation systems and smartphone navigation apps, and PND suppliers are diversifying into GPS-equipped sports watches and other wearables. Sales are falling faster in North America than in Europe.
Onkyo Intends To Have the Largest Hi-Res Platform Available – Unlike some other hi-res sites, Onkyo Music is strictly a digital download platform where you pay for albums or individual tracks, there is no streaming option. They have partnered with 7Digital to offer both 24-bit 44.1 to 192K as well as CD-quality 16-bit FLAC files. Dedicated apps for both iOS and Android are being developed. Purchased files can be downloaded to multiple devices and are stored in a cloud locker to re-download at any time. Universal Music and others are colaborating. The beta website is onkyomusic.com
Determining Whether Actually Hi-Res or Not – Using the free software Audacity, one may determine if they are buying true hi-res files or just audio which has been up-converted from CD quality. The link is: http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue60/hirez.htm Set the spectrogram in Audacity to 0K to 48K. You can expand or contract the scale by right or left clicking on it just to the left of the spectrogram.
GoRave Multi-room Wireless Audio System – The Canadian maker Levven means serious business with their GoRave sysem (around $2000 total). You can start listening after plugging a GoRave audio sender into an approved electronic device. Setting up for a home system is a bit tricky, and they have an online step by step guide. It doesn’t need a specific iOS or Android app to work. It makes sense to optimize music, video and audio for the entire home, and GoRave does that. Of course it’s incompatible with all the other multi-room wireless brands.
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