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Audio News for September 26, 2014

Conductor Christopher Hogwood Dies – Conductor, harpsichordist, writer, musicologist and founder of the period-instrument orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music (over 300 recordings), died this week.  While they generally performed Baroque and Classical period music, they also played original versions of some Romantic period music as well as new compositions for Baroque orchestra. In recent years Andrew Manze and then Richard Egarr were music directors and Hogwood was the Emeritus Director. Hogwood had studied at Cambridge University, where the Academy is the official orchestra, and he had also taught music at Harvard and Cornell in the U.S. He was known as a great ambassador for historically-informed music.

Audio Podcasts May Be Next Big Content Marketing Trend – Back in 2006 only about one in 14 Net users ever listened to podcasts, and now it’s up to more than one in four. As podcasting takes its place among web sites, blogs, ebooks, infographics and videos, the number should continue to grow. They can provide something other than stale talk radio or similar music playlists will driving and walking around. The first podcast didn’t air until 2004. At that time Wired said podcasts combine “the hyperactive talkiness of blogs and the hipness of iPods into something utterly new.” The idea was to bring hitherto obscure or nonexistent broadcasters to the fore. It also avoids the FCC. The iTunes Store now has over a billion podcast subscriptions, and the topics have become broader over the years.

A New Standard for Multichannel Codecs – Ecma International is a non-profit industry association of technology developers, vendors and users. They have a new high efficiency audio coding system, the ECMA-407, which may be used to extend in a compatible way stereo audio systems to multichannel with little data overhead. [I wish the industry would standardize on logical terminology.  2D & 3D, which they use, refer to visual, not  to audio matters. It’s like the 4K/UHD error…Ed.] The data can handle complex multichannel audio signals, and may be carried inside the audio coder stream—such as AAC and HD-ACC—with very little overhead and the highest possible compression. AAC is currently found on over six billion devices. The French project manager said “A modern audio codec has to respect the loudness level of incoming sources whenever they are reproduced in various conditions such as on TV, smartphone, transportation, over speakers or headphones and so forth. It also has to embed thin synchronization words to face new broadcasting schemes, where streams cross different kind of networks to reach the listener.” All these features are part of the new standard. Whether it also handles Dolby Atmos is unknown at this time.

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