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Audio News for February 6, 2015

Now Neil Young Attacks Vinyl Too –  In a talk at the recent CES, Neil Young, promoting his Pono hi-res player and web site, claimed that most vinyl reissues today are actually made from digital CD masters, and that it is nothing but a fashion statement. (Sales of vinyl albums grew 52% last year to 9.2 million copies.) There have been supposed blind experiments pitting Pono hi-res against iTunes and other MP3-type sources on iPhones, with test subjects actually preferring the iPhone. Sounds like the bogus AES paper on SACD vs. CD. One review calls the Pono Player “a tall, refreshing drink of snake oil…”  Bear in mind that not all recordings sold as 192K or 96K hi-res came from hi-res sources, and occasionally some hi-res recordings actually sound worse than CD quality.

High-Fidelity Bluetooth Headphones and Speakers on the Way – Onkyo and entertainment experience innovationists Woox (owned by Gibson Guitars) are working together on improved headphones and speakers using wireless Bluetooth. They see a market opportunity to bring these popular devices to market later this year. A spokesman said “the market for high resolution audio [is] already at an advanced stage in Japan, the partnership also provides the opportunity to establish Onkyo’s expertise in this area worldwide.” Onkyo runs the largest hi-res music download store in Japan and has launched new hi-res audio stores in the US, UK and Germany.

Classical Music News –  Alan Gilbert is stepping down as music director of the New York Philharmonic at the end of the 2016-17 year. He has enlived the programming mix since his arrival six seasons ago. Yannick Nezet-Sequin has had a contract renewal with the Philadelphia Orchestra, thru the 2021-22 season, at the close of which he will have been in the job for ten years. The orchestra’s President and Chariman have also recently announced contract renewals. Stephane Lissner will have his first fully-planned season as Intendant of the Paris Opera. The programming will have a broader repertory staged by occasionally iconoclastic directors. A new production of Schoenberg’s Moses and Aaron will be in the same season as a trilogy of Verdi operas.

RadioShack Bankruptcy –  The Ft. Worth company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptscy protection in a prepackaged plan to sell upward of 2400 of its stores to majority shareholder and lead lender Sprint. RadioShack began in 1921 as a Boston ham radio shop and was acquuired in 1963 by one-time Texas leather supplier Tandy. It had a disastrous holiday season in 2013 and the death watch was on.

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