Audio News for January 1, 2016

Another Sony Hi-Res Audio Walkman – The new NW-A25 is around $220 vs. the NWZ-A17 we reviewed recently. It comes in 16GB and 64 GB models (the latter is $300), supports Sony’s Bluetooth LDAC codec, streams at 96/24, and you can use wireless headphones with it if you wish. It als has a digital noise-cancelling function that works with Sony’s DNS headphones.When it plays a hi-res tune, it displays the HR mark. It has a S-Master HX digital amp, which uses simplified and fully digital signal path to reproduce the wide frequency range of hi-res formats. MicroSD cards of up to 128GB can also be inserted for storage. The 2.2” TFT display has LED backlighting so it can play video clips and photos as well. The NW-A25 battery will play about 30 hours with hi-res audio files.

CES Coming Up – Things will not be as up as last year at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show this month. Most segments of the audio industry are growing at a slower pace than before. Dealers will see more brands of Bluetooth and wireless multiroom-audio speakers, more soundbars – some equipped with Dolby Atmos object-based surround, and an expanding selection of hi-res audio gear. Hi-res will also turn up in more in-dash car stereo head units. There will be more wireless home theater systems using a wireless hub with HDMI inputs and WiSA wireless technology. One supplier will show a Bluetooth speaker with a 100-foot range. For the year ending in October 2015, retail level dollar sales rose 30%, down from the same period last year which had 91% growth.

Apple May Broadcast More Beats Radio Channels – A trademark and logo protection filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offce by Apple suggest that four new Beats radio channels will soon diversify its library of music.

Progress Sometimes Brings Regress – is what the Principal Analyst and Director of SAR Insight & Consulting said. He said “While device technology has advanced at a rapid rate over the last 20 years, bringing with it miniaturization and convenience, it has forced a regression in audio quality at the expense of this convenience”. (Just what we’ve been saying for some time now.) MP3s, downloading and streaming have made possible bringing music to more people, but now some of the download and streaming companies can improve their margins by offering premium services to their customers. There’s a general uplift in audio quality thruout the industry. CD-quality audio could become the dominant standard over time, with lossless hi-res a little further on the horizon.

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