Dr. Amar Bose Dies at Age 83 – Opinions vary greatly on the various consumer audio products from Bose, but Dr. Bose did contribute in many ways to the audio industry. He was the company’s founder, chairman and technical director, and was known for his litigation prowess. He had taught electric engineering at MIT from 1956 to 2001, and just two years ago donated a majority of his company’s stock shares to MIT. The company he founded in 1964 became well-known for their compact high-priced audio systems and noise-canceling headphones.
Converting AV Files for Free – Don’t be taken in by the many paid utilities you can find online for converting media files. Most of them are marketed by spammers and if you’re using Macs you have the conversion ability built right into the Mt. Lion OS, and with a bit more work, into Snow Leopard too. There’s a very comprehensive series of articles on this and other free options at the MacWorld site. Keep in mind that if you can avoid conversion at all you’ll have the best possible sonic quality because any conversion can slightly compromise audio quality. That’s why it’s nice that the Oppo players as well as a few others will play FLAC files directly, without conversion. It’s also felt that keeping SACD audio files in the DSD form ensures the utmost fidelity, so it’s encouraging that more components are allowing for that. But if you must convert SACD stereo music tracks to PCM stereo, recent research has found that such conversion should be limited to 88.2K or 96K—converting to 176.4K or 192K can actually result in worse sonics instead of better.
Launch of Pure Audio Blu-ray Releases – The recent announcement that Universal was issuing a series of audio-only Blu-rays (Audio News June 28), has been expanded somewhat by online reports. The High Fidelity Pure Audio Industry Group, at their launch event at Dolby Laboratories’ London headquarters, presented a bunch of top name artists on Blu-ray, including The Rolling Stones, the London Symphony Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel, Stevie Wonder, Von Karajan and Diana Krall. What wasn’t mentioned was the major labels’ concern (there are now only three of them: Universal, Sony and Warner—until 1998 there were six!) that all the new lossless digital audio formats being made available have a high potential for being pirated and then illegally distributed and sold, so it doesn’t seem very likely that they will be releasing their content in hi-res widely via the Internet. The group said that all the physical releases will be made from studio masters which were recorded at a minimum of 96K/24-bit digital hi-res, and all their Pure Audio Blu-rays will offer three lossless formats: Uncompressed PCM, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. Most Blu-rays will also come with an option to download the same content in at least stereo via either FLAC lossless or MP3 formats, giving the consumer the greatest flexibility.
Music for iOS Devices Updated – You might like to know about the free German Audials AG streaming service, which has updated their iPad version (which will have competition from Apple’s iTunes Radio this fall). After their small app is downloaded and launched, you can access 50,000 radio stations—most of them commercial-free. You can listen by genre or country and as well as other ways. The “Local” option brings up FM stations in your area.