Audio News for June 16, 2015

Apple Unveils 24-hour Streaming Service –  Apple Music is the new service with Beats at its core, launching later this month in 100 countries on Macs, PCs, Apple mobile devices and later this year also on Android devices. The price is $10 a month (and $15 for up to six users) and subscribers can try the service for free for three months. It will have everything in the iTunes library, anything you have purchased in iTunes, and a new Internet radio service called Beats One. Siri helps users find the music they want; they can look for top-charted tunes in select genres and call up songs from specific eras. The service is not hi-res or even CD quality and there was no mention of either. Will Apple Music lure away the 15 million paying members of Spotify or the 45 million who stream it currently for free (not to mention the others using Pandora and other free services)? Apple will surely remain a strong force in the digital evolution of music.

Live Symphony Concerts Present Scores to Favorite Films – A trend in symphony programming is providing audiences with the thrill of watching their favorite films on a big screen with live orchestral accompaniment by local symphony orchestras. The Hollywood Bowl recently had Back to the Future, and others have done performances of Lord of the Rings and Psycho. The Seattle Symphony is doing the Alex Wurman score to March of the Penguins next month. The conductor of the original movie soundtracks will conduct the Seattle Symphony. He said it’s a natural fit for a live performance due to the film’s visual scope and beauty and the important role of the music. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the Oscar-winning documentary was a box office hit and outgrossed the “Best Picture” nominees of the same year.

New Onkyo Home Theater Receivers – A good AVR is at the core of a basic home theater. These devices have added a number of features in addition to just providing a central place to hook up all your music sources and providing the power for your speakers. The entry-level Onkyo TX-SR343 ($400) has a 5.1-channel configuration of 65 watts per channel, 3D and 4K pass-thru HDMI 2.0 connections, and decoding and processing for most of the Dolby and DTS surround sound formats. Bluetooth is built in, and there is an actual illustrated rear connection panel with images of the types of devices you can plug into each connection, plus a speaker layout diagram example. There are two other step-up models at $500 and $600 which add more channels, more decoding (such as Dolby Atmos), and in the third AVR, network connectivity and Apple Airplay access.

Special Movie Showings for Autistic Children – The NCG Cinemas in Gallatin, TN, have what they call “sensory-friendly” screenings for families with autistic children one Saturday a month. There are no previews, no one tells them to be quiet, the lights are kept up so the screen doesn’t overwhelm them, and the sound is somewhat down so it doesn’t cause any issues.

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