Audio News for January 12, 2008

by | Jan 12, 2008 | Audio News | 0 comments

CES Over – The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is over and what trends were seen that we haven’t already mentioned?  One would have to be networked audio and video in the home.  More new home construction is including Cat 5 wiring in the walls, more existing homes are adding Ethernet – either via cabling or wirelessly – and more AV components are featuring Ethernet connectivity and/or Wi-Fi. The idea of a “celestial jukebox” in the home is becoming a reality. The initial source may be a computer, a networked hard drive, satellite or Internet radio, or an online service such as Rhapsody. Six speakers may be the route to the best surround sound, but many people don’t want to deal with that, even with so-called wireless speakers. Therefore the virtual surround market has grown with many different single-speaker surrounds, 2.1 home theater sound, and other alternatives which keep the speakers close to the video display. Speaking of displays, there’s Mitsubishi’s laser-powered DLP, several LCDs with LED backlights, Sony’s OLED, better energy savings – even with plasma screens, and a couple of possible technologies coming up for 3D TV.

Audiophile-Quality Digital Music Server – Audio purists who don’t want their music squished and squeezed by compression codecs when they store it on a hard-drive-based music server have been transferring it as WAV or AIFF files, with no compression. Even that hasn’t been good enough for some audio perfectionists, such as VRS Audio Systems of Las Vegas.  They have developed the VRS Revelation Digital Audio Workstation, which is a three-component solution to even better-sounding music reproduction. Of course uncompressed audio files take up more hard drive space, but hard drives are the biggest bargain in digital storage already, and even larger capacities at lower cost are on the way.

Sony Also Begins Selling DRM-free Music Downloads
– On January 15th Sony/BMG will start selling MP3 music downloads online without any copy protection, enabling them to be used on any MP3 or iPod-type digital player as well as on any computers. That makes them the last of the major music companies to give up on the DRM restrictions on at least some of their music. Last month Warner Music Group agreed to sell its music on the digital music store of Amazon.com, and both Universal Music Group and EMI Music Group agreed earlier to sell large portions of their catalogs online as non-DRM MP3 files. Sony’s new service is called Platinum MusicPass, and will offer only 37 titles at first. Users must first buy a card at one of 4500 retail outlets across the U.S.  The cards cost $12.99 and have an ID number on the back which enables the user to download the audio files from MusicPass online. Sony has had difficulty selling its own mobile digital players – even in Japan – due to the huge popularity of Apple’s iPod. Hopes are that this new step will have a positive effect on that problem.

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