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Audio News for October 21, 2016

Musical America 2017 Awards – went to pianist Juja Wang for Artist of the Year, to Andrew Norman for Composer of the Year, to Finnish Susanna Mälkki for Conductor of the Year. to bass-baritone Eric Owns for Vocalist of the Year, and to Eighth Blackbird for Ensemble of the Year.

Noisy Audiences and Music – The Irish Times has a current article on Noisy Audiences and Classical Music. A couple in front of the reporter kept up an intermittent conversation thruout the entire concert. A few seats away a man was constantly swigging water from a large plastic bottle, while others here and there were busy texting away with their phones in silent mode.  Irritating clapping – applause for the sake of applause – broke out after each movement of a symphony only added to the overall atmosphere of casual inattention.  And the article didn’t even mention movies, where many of the audiences act just as they do at home watching TV, with everyone talking out loud. Ah, the advantages of listening to recorded music…

Bluetooth Audio Set for Big Improvements – The people behind Bluetooth will move all audio applications into a new low-energy radio, called BLE for Bluetooth Low Energy by the end of 2017. Bluetooth has hundreds of tech companies as members, such as Microsoft, Apple and Intel. The new system focuses on consuming less power than traditional Bluetooth. It will also now have a standard for streaming audio. The new system, Bluetooth 5.0, claims to quadruple the range and double the speed of low-energy connections to mostly benefit the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, with audio functionality added. Battery life for wireless headphones and speaker will benefit. It will also be more reliable. Smaller items such as wireless headphones can last for days instead of hours. And it will be much easier to create a multi-room audio system with the new Bluetooth. It will still sound worse than a Wi-Fi-based system but seemingly will allow it to be longer-lasting and more portable. (Again, convenience over good sound…)

Sony PS4 Gaming Console Gets Hi-Res Support – A recent update (v2.50) for the PS4 Sony Media Player brings hi-res FLAC support and the ability to upscale compressed audio files to “near hi-res” quality. The upscaling is handled by Sony’s DSEE HX processing, the same technology found in the NW-ZX2 digital Walkman and the MDR-1000X noise-cancelling headphones.

How “Apple Prime” Subscriptions Can Help Apple – Sales of the iPhone had been sinking, and a new idea could re-energize Apple – getting users to purchase a $50-a-month bundle including an iPhone, Apple TV, new hardware, access to the iTunes library of TV shows and movies, and Apple’s forthcoming original content and sports. It is modeled after Amazon’s Prime subscription.

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