Publicity on Hi-Res Downloads – HDtracks and David Chesky are all over the Internet in international publications with articles about “Pumping up the Digital Audio Quality.” It is also about the growing segment of hi-res downloading, now that broadband speeds in most parts of the world are much faster, and also hard drives are much less expensive—because hi-res files take a hugely increased amount of storage. The push away from compressed MP3 audio files and cheap playback devices is beginning to involve music labels, manufacturers, musicians and others. This year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, which just closed in Las Vegas, for the first time had a special space devoted to hi-res music, and Sony Electronics has joined the effort both as a music publisher, making its recordings available in hi-res, and as an electronics manufacturer with a whole new series of hi-res music players, amplifiers, speakers and headphones. They have a new iPod-style hi-res player: the Walkman ZX1—so far only available in Japan, and Astell-Kern has two models of super-high-end hi-res portable players. [See our review of one of them here.]
Jared Sacks, of the Channel Classics SACD label in Amsterdam, will soon launch a download site called nativedsd.com, specializing in DSD and double-DSD format downloads—the highest resolution digital formats to date, surpassing both the popular 96K/24-bit and 192K/24-bit PCM formats (but taking even more storage space; a 192K file requires 24 times the space of an MP3). And some are expectant for Neil Young’s Pono hi-res player, now promised for next year, which will mostly feature 192K reissues of old recordings. Even a couple of the smartphones will now play 192K/24-bit audio files: LG’s G2 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3. Hi-Res downloads are generally more expensive than the 99-cent-per-track Apple AAC music downloads: roughly $20 to $30 for an entire album and individual tracks from $1.25 to close to $3.00. There is also a contingent of nay-sayers, who claim that though some can tell the difference, people will still love great music even if it’s not hi-res, and if it’s bad music it doesn’t matter. To see an article on why you might be just a bit skeptical of Hi-Res Audio, go here. Just ignore that it’s one of those claiming that SACD “didn’t work out.”
CNET Editors’ Picks for Holiday – Roku 3 streaming-video box, Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, Bose SoundLink Mini, MacBook 13-inch Air, Asus RT-AC68U Router.
RadioShack Receives New Financing – RadioShack has received $835 million in new financing from GE Capital, Salus Cappital Partners and other backers. Their CEO described five pillars of their turnaround plan: reposition the brand, revamp the product assortment, reinvigorate the store experience, operational efficiency and financial flexibility. It now has $625 million dollars of debt.
Two More Hollywood Studios for Dolby’s Digital Plus – The latest studios to adopt Dolby Digital Plus as their surround-sound format for programs encoded in the UltraViolet Common File Format are 20th Century Fox and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Sony, Universal and Warner announced their adoption of DD Plus in January, and services such as CinemaNow, VUDU and Target Ticket will deliver UltraViolet CFF-encoded TV shows and movies in Dolby Digital Plus.