Audio News for December 9, 2011

by | Dec 9, 2011 | Audio News

Audiophile Concerns Over Lossless Audio Codecs Sounding Worse Than Uncompressed – There is a hot new controversy in the high-end computer audio world over whether or not the extra processing required by lossless compressed file formats such as FLAC, ALAC etc. causes them to sound inferior to uncompressed audio formats such as WAV or AIFF.  There are arguments from both sides; those who feel this is just audiophile OCD say all the formats are bit perfect and therefore totally alike. Others, such as Cookie Marenco at Blue Coast Records and Todd Garfinkle at M•A Recordings, say they tested both and found that there is a difference and WAV files consistently sounded better. What seems to be clear is that the difference is extremely subtle: one tester had to listen to the same track copied in different formats over and over all day to discern an difference.  Some say don’t worry about it, because digital storage is so inexpensive now that the best file format for all your audio files on hard drive is uncompressed WAV for PC users and AIFF for Mac users. However, that has changed a bit, with the cost of hard drives having gone up, making it more expensive to store large stereo music libraries. Some are proponents of the highest-end computers or music servers for best quality, while others feel an inexpensive Mac mini together with a quality DAC should sound the same. (Eventually one’s whole library will be stored on the iCloud and hard drives won’t matter; are we ready for that?)
Melba Recordings Joins Labels Offering Hi-Res Audio Downloads – The Australian label Melba has established itself as one of the world’s leading classical music labels, with the highest quality releases in two forms: Hybrid SACD and standard CD. Now Melba has made available for stereo download all of its 43 titles thus far at a variety of sampling rates: 96K/24bit studio master quality, 44K/24bit enhancement over standard CD, standard 44.1K/16bit CD quality, or 320Kbps MP3 files—the highest quality available for that data-reduced format. There is also a choice of three formats for downloading the audio files: FLAC for audiophiles, WMA for most desktop applications, and ALE format for hi-end iPod users. Downloading prices for a typical disc range from $10 for MP3 to $23 for the 96K/24bit files. Standard physical SACDs are still available at $25 each. Complete notes and album artwork are also downloadable.  Melba believes there are enough consumers who want to purchase the “hard” format to give discs perhaps another decade of useful life. The label hopes eventually to offer hi-res downloads from other sources, as well as to offer surround sound downloads similar to multichannel SACDs. A user’s guide and instructions are available at www.melbarecordings.com.au
Dongle Transforms iDevices Into Universal Remote – Zero1.tv has introduced the VooMote Zapper, along with a free app available from iTunes. It is an all-in-one solution the size of paperclip which fits into the dock connector on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad and with the free app allows tailor-made universal remote control functionality of all your electronics that use IR remote control. It is available in a variety of colors and with or without a matching iPhone or iPad case. The dongle alone is about $70.
World’s Loudest iPhone/iPod Dock at January CES – Professional audio equipment maker Behringer will launch 50 new consumer audio products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and to celebrate the launch will demo their iNuke Boom—the world’s loudest iPad, iPod and iPhone dock ever built. It is eight feet by 4 feet, weighs over 700 pounds and pumps out over 10,000 watts of power. It also retails for $30,000.

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