Audio News for July 12, 2013

by | Jul 14, 2013 | Audio News

New Townshend Audio Seismic Isolation Devices –  Townshend Audio in London has introduced a line of new high end devices to combat vibration in audio components. They point out that vibrations raise the noise floor and add distortion to the signal in turntables, that optical disc players have vibrations in the laser mechanism which introduces sound-degrading jitter, that vibrations in tube amps rattle the microphonic electrodes and degrade the delicate audio signal, and all solid state components have microphonic portions which can more relative to one another, compromising performance. They claim that rigidly mounted speakers, with spikes or cones, transmit energy into the floor causing vibration with spreads in the room and degrades performance. Their key component is the Seismic Load Cell, which is an alloy steel compression spring covered by a flexible synthetic rubber jacket with two end plates. Height adjustments and attachment points are provided. A movement-sensitive, air-resistance damper rapidly dissipates any low frequency oscillation caused by handling suspended equipment. They provide special speaker platforms, seismic isolation pods or platforms, seismic isolation equipment stands, and isolation corners to improve existing hi-fi furniture.

Hints on 4K/UltraHD – David J. Weinberg  offers some hints on HDTV and 4K in the latest issue of the Boston Audio Society’s Speaker.  He claims the excitement over 3D is fading, and manufacturers have been pushing mostly prototype (and expensive) UHD displays with four times the pixel count of HD displays: 3840×2160 pixels. This differs from the 4K projection being used in most commercial movie theaters, which is 4096×2160 pixels. Thus all the pixels in today’s 4K movies will have to be scaled down to fit UHD displays (and there are almost no actual 4K feature films available yet, meaning for some time the content being viewed on UHD displays will be upscaled SD and HD, so the quality of upscaling will be critical). He says 4K is the term more accurately associated with professional digital cinema, and to keep that separate from the lower-quality consumer technology, the term UHD has been ascribed to what the AV press is also calling 4K.

Most people sit too far from their HDTVs, and for UHD the proper distance is considered to be about half that for HDTV. Plus you need really large display to see much improvement—at least 70-inches. Weinberg says you might find some visual benefit if you have the money and space for a very large UHD display, and the money and connections to acquire program content worth watching, but he warns of the risks: The quality of panels and projectors differ wildly—the major difference is in the digital video processing, early adopters will likely encounter incompatibility and rapid obsolescence of their bleeding-edge purchases, there are not yet generally-accepted standards for cabling and connectors to handle the huge bitrates needed to transfer UHD data, and color space differs hugely between HD and UHD—which is often not taken to account in sets when switching. On the other hand, some experts are saying UHD will come into its own on the tiny mobile screens, where the higher resolution will be noted and appreciated when spreading your fingers to zero in on small text and details.

Pandora and Musicians Locked in Battle Over Royalties – Music streaming giant Pandora, whose stock in currently surging, says about half of its revenue goes to pay royalties and is trying to get Congress to lower their web royalty payments. A number of musical artists have begun pushing back, with Pink Floyd saying that would give musicians a steep pay cut.

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