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Audio News for July 18, 2014

Omnifone to Deliver Catalog for PonoMusic – Omnifone claims to have the”largest licensed hi-res audio catalog in the world” and will power Neil Young’s PonoMusic service, due to launch before the end of this year. Pono was the third most successful Kickstarter campaign of all time, and will include a PonoPlayer, the PonoMusic Media Center desktop app, and the music store. Omnifone’s cloud music platform has some 35 million hi-res tracks. It began encoding in-house of master recordings from the labels in 2006. Files will be available in PCM format as either FLAC or WAV files. DSD will also be added. Hi-res albums will cost between $15 and $25.

Panasonic to Integrate aptX Codec in Viera TVs – Panasonic will be among the first to launch digital TVs able to wirelessly stream CD-like audio quality, using CSR’s aptX audio codec and Bluetooth. Some bit rate reduction is required in order to fit audio tracks within the Bluetooth “pipe” in wireless transmissions.

Computer Audiophile Says Hi-Res Is Not Coming From Apple – The rumor out there is that Apple will shortly introduce hi-res downloads to compete with Pono, HDTracks and others doing so. Computer Audiophile, however, disagrees and names seven reasons: The wireless carriers don’t want hi-res downloads or even CD-quality streaming, the record labels want control and revenue again (which they’re getting from expensive hi-res downloads while Apple has control of the CD-quality and MP3 music business), the Beats acquisition—which is all about streaming and not headphones, Apple asked the labels and artists for hi-res masters for iTunes to begin with but have no plans to offer them to customers, Apple isn’t a specs company, not enough Apple customers care, and iTunes doesn’t support native automatic sample rate switching (resampling everything is Apple’s way to go—even though it’s been proven it doesn’t really upgrade the sonics). They say this is why Apple is not going to flip the hi-res download switch. We’ll see.

Vinyl – Back in Vogue – The media have hailed the second-coming of vinyl. It has a most fashionable attraction, even aside from the audiophile achievements of 45 rpm remasterings of classic recordings. (Which are now $65 each—albums some of us paid $3.99 for in the ‘60s.) There is larger and more beautiful artwork, notes, posters, two sides to each disc, and a warmer, more realistic sonic compared to many CD releases. Musicians and producers are encouraging the production and reproduction of limited editions and rare collectibles and unusual pressings. The recent second solo LP from singer-songwriter Jack White sold over 40,000 copies on vinyl the first week of its release. It has hidden tracks and holograms for fans. There have been six straight years of vinyl growth globally. But Mark Waldrep of AIX points out that vinyl is still very much a niche market, making up less than 2% of the albums sold, according to Nielson—actually less than the sales of hi-res album audio downloads.

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