“Stream the Studio” Campaign Announced by DEG Voice and Music Industry – The organizations will support the expansion of the current hi-res audio download market into studio quality hi-res streaming. Representatives from Rhapsody, Pandora and HD Tracks expressed their enthusiasm for this. They hinted at more advanced optional features in the future. The expansion of hi-res audio into the growing streaming market underscores the recent rise in subscription music services.
Sprint Acquires Tidal – Telecommunications company Sprint has bought 33% of Tidal music streaming service, thus making their entire catalog of music available to their 45,000,000 retail customers.
Alexa-supported Devices Big at CES – LG topped the list with many products with Alexa integration. It also debutd LG Hub Robot, a home assistant that can dance along with music and display facial expressions on command. Thanks to the power of Amazon’s cloud, the Lynx robot wll support commands like setting reminders, playing music and providing the daily weather report. Lenovo introduced the cylindrical Smart Assistant Speaker, a sort of beffed-up Alexa with eight far-field microphones, power treble speakers and subwoofers, and an audio profile optimzed by Harman Kardon engineers. Ford partnered with Amazon and AT&T for Alexa voice commands. The Linksys Velop, is one of the world’s fist routers to boast Alexa integration. It will let users turn guest access on and off, obtain a guest Wi-Fi name and password, and even get network credentials. DishNetwork will add Alexa to its hopper DVR.
New Version of HDMI, 2.1 – Developers of the next version of the HDMI digital connector are calling it the most aggressive and different of all the prior versions of the digital interface used for video and audio applications. It calls for more than tripling the bandwidth of the prior HDMI 1.0, to 48 GBps. The lane speed is raised from 6 GBps; the encoding changes from 10B to 16B/18B and brings about an 11% improvement in efficiency. It will also support DSC 1.2 compression for everything higher than 8K with 4:2:0 chroma sub sampling. This can triple the bandwidth or increase the cable length. In the 4K domain HDMI 2.1 will handle 4K/120fps, which will be useful to European broadcasters, who want to do high-refresh-rate broadcasts. Video can carry high dynamic range (HDR) with frame accurate HDR, so that, for example, when a scene is shot indoors thru a window to show a scene outdoors, the dynamic range can be different for the two. HDMI 2.1 will be ready for Dynamic HDR when it comes. Much more robust hi-res audio formats, including object-oriented audio, which can be sent over a new and improved Enhanced Audio Return Channel feature.