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Audio News for May 27, 2016

Google Plans for New VR Hardware/Software – Google already has many virtual reality projects going: Google Cardboard, is now in the hands of ten million people. Google Jump is a part of a GoPro Odyssey rig with 16 HDR cameras set in a circular array allowing users to capture 360-degree sterereoscopic video. Jump Assembler is a “stitch software” created by Google to “sew” together 16 simultaneously-recorded videos. Google’s Tilt Brush is a 3D painting application for the HTC Vive virtual reality headset which appears to give users control over a luminous and abstract digital medium. You download it from Stream – the Google gaming and entertainment platform. Expeditions is Google’s virtual reality education platform where students use Google Cardboard to access immersive VR experiences of places they could never go on an ordinary field trip. Next comes Project Daydream – a hardware design for a viewer, with a new version of Google’s popular Android operating system. It will probably be an inexpensive headset and microcontroller released this fall.

MQA Boasts New Wins for Hi-Res – The MQA audio format continues to gain momentum as more hardware suppliers and music-download sites embrace the new technology and Warner Music becomes the first major music label to support it. High Res Audio offers 30 MQA-encoded albums and plans more. It joins 7digital’s web store, onkyomusic.com and 2L’s own web store, both of which began offering MQA downloads earlier this year. Technics Tracks also has MQA files but not for U.S. consumers. Two more companies – Brinkman and Bluesound – have plans for MQA products. MQA is an end-to-end technology promoted as delivering master-quality audio performance in files that are smaller than today’s high-resolution music files.

Another Reason to Backup Frequently – A viral blog recently was launched by a frustrated Apple Music user named James Pinkstone, who reported that his huge collection of music files had been deleted from his hard drive when Apple’s streaming service went rogue on him. Further, songs he had encoded as hi-res WAV audio files had been replaced with low-res MP3 audio files. Fortunately he backs up frequently, uses Time Machine, and even keeps another hard drive with him. Spotify users have reported similar problems. So now there is another reason to frequently back up all your files, especially if you have spent money on the music files in the first place.

Growth of Multiroom Audio Systems – According to Twice magazine, this submarket of connected music systems will experience significant growth due the several factors: Cost reductions due to eliminating “bridge” devices by having connectivity directly to speakers, improved mobile apps enabling room-by-room customization and access to streaming services, more open in-home streaming technologies supporting CD-quality or better wireless streaming, upgrades of home routers delivering higher and more reliable download speeds which eliminate buffering and interruptions caused by Bluetooth-delivered audio, and the entry of lower-priced product offerings.

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