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Audio News for November 15, 2016

Battle Between Amazon Echo and Google Home Device – The artificial intelligence home platform is the place where the two gadgets are duking it out. The Echo ($179) is larger but the two sound similar, but both are only mono unless you plug them into a stereo system. The Google Home is $129 and looks like a solid deodorizer. Both have female voices to speak to. They can give you news, check your daily schedule, play games, tell corny jokes, play music, answer questions and control certain home devices. The Google device works best with Android smart phones, and you have to have a home Wi-Fi system. The Echo can only play millions of ad-free tunes if you belong to the $99-a-year Amazon Prime. If you have two Google Homes, you can sync the music so it plays thruout your home.

HTC Bolt Multimedia Smartphone Introduced – It uses the Sprint LTE network and can reach up to 450 Mbps download speed. It has capabilities for hi-res audio (with a 24-bit DAC) and UHD video, a 5.5-inch Gorilla Glass 5 display and comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It is also water resistant and allows for a Quick Charge. It has an aluminum chassis and a fingerprint sensor for launching Google Now. a USB-C port replaces the standard audio jack. It comes with Android 7.0 Nougat and integrates with all OS features such as split-screen. Most users report a more powerful and clearer sound output on headphones, even with the somewhat better earbuds furnished with it. The front camera is a 16 megapixel one with an f 2.0 aperture. The processor is a Snapdragon 810. ($600 retail.)

Scent of Memory: Smell and Classical Music – The Australian Art Quartet knows the power of smell. In Scent of Memory in Sydney, the waft of handpicked perfumes mix with the sounds of Tchaikovsky, Gudjieff and Mountfort. Before each piece of music begins, Mexican-born, Paris-educated, New York City performer Carlos Huber describes how his smells were conceived and constructed, each one designed to evoke a particular historical moment or mood. (Behind the stage, a home decor store sells Huber’s expensive perfumes.) Scents can bypass rational thought – becoming pure emotion. They can trigger long-lost memories and locked parts of our mind. Incorporating smell into performance is challenging, but last year had a revival of Smell-O-Vision and we are closer to having scented messages on smart phones than ever before. Scent and music together are an intoxicating combination – potent and overpowering.

Sony PS4 Pro PlayStation Now Out – It plays Blu-rays and has USB 3.1 with an additional layer for more ports, so you can even connect a PS VR experience. The Pro version has 30% more CPU and 100% more GPU than the PS4 Slim, plus an improved UHD experience.

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