Audio News for May 16, 2014

Hi-Res Activities – Lots of classical and pop releases are appearing as hi-res downloads now. Unfortunately, most of the pop titles are only at 24-bit/44.1K, which is not so bad because the 24-bit is a noticeable improvement over the 16-bit CD standard, but many of these have terrible compression imposed on them. HighResAudio in Europe rejects about 30% of what labels send them due to brick wall compression. HDTracks doesn’t do that. In some cases the vinyl version—especially if remastered by somebody with renown in that area—is uncompressed although the CD is. Haven’t auditioned any more SACDs from the German label who was cutting DMM masters from the original tapes and then dubbing them to SACD to preserve “that vinyl sonic.”

Putin’s Behavior Causes Protests in Classical World – Outside Carnegie Hall banner-carrying protesters carried signs in Russian, Ukrainian, Cyrillic, English and German claiming that Valery Gergiev is a war criminal. He tacitly supports Putin in his latest adventures. In the UK, Gergiev has been urged to leave his post with the London Symphony for supporting Putin’s Ukraine Invasion, and his enforcing of anti-gay laws. He may not even be aware of the protests against him; he’s one of the busiest men in conducting. He is preparing to be the Musical Conductor of the Munich Orchestra next year. The NYC critic said his conducting style with the Munich Orchestra was disconcerting. The most he could say was that Mr Gergiev made no mistakes. Following his concert he flew back to Britain.

Music Streaming with Chromecast – The $35 Chromecast gadget thorns your smart phone into an all-powerful sonic remote with a few sacrifices in fidelity. The streaming audio is low to mid-quality, maxing out at 192kbps. It was designed for the streaming of TV and movies. Google Play Music offers 320kpbs streaming, and so does Beats. The right HDMI-to-VGA adapter enables you to plug your Chromecast into your audio receiver or preamp, creating a cheap version of a Sonos or Beep setup. There are many options for streaming music via Chromecast: Google Play Music, YouTube, Pandora, Rdio, Vevo, Songza, Plex and Rhapsody/Napster (so far just Android but iOS support in the works). Here is Google’s official Chromecast apps list.

World’s Most Integrated Digital Radio Chip – Kino 4 is the next generation digital radio chip which integrates four previously separate chips to deliver significant improvements in performance, cost, and power consumption. It combines RF, baseband, application processor, audio decoding and DAC functionality on a single piece of silicon. It is designed to power all major categories of consumer digital radio devices. it will also enable the next generation of smart radios coming broadcast and IP return party functionality.

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