Audio News for July 21, 2015

Sonos Streams Into the Future – About a decade ago, Sonos started up with a first-of-its-kind wireless multizone audio system. It reduced the cost of entry compared to installed system and was targeted both to those with substantial music collections on their computers and those who stream music over the Internet. They are now the biggest seller of such system in the U.S., though several major brands are now in the category. Their director thought the wireless multizone audio market would take off even faster than it has, but feels it is now becoming popular. He said people rediscover the joys of listening to music out loud in any room in the simplest way possible. In fact this area is the only growth category in home audio today – with a yearly growth rate of 88% in global unit sales. He said two things took them by surprise: the slower adoption of music streaming, and the smartphone – they had to allow control of Sonos from any smartphone or tablet. He said they support CD-quality lossless files for playback (not MP3s) and “Let’s first get people back to CD-quality before we start confusing the music lover with the subjective notion of the “superiority” of hi-res 24/192 files.”

Classical Music News –  The Artistic Director of the Cincinnati World Piano Competition, Awadagin Pratt, has been dismissed. Three board members, including the chairman, have also resigned in a major leadership shakeup. James Levine has pulled out of his apperance at the 2015 Verbier Festival, which was to have been his first European appearance in eight years. He said his doctors forbade him to fly due to an ear infection. Elina Garanca has withdrawn from her performances at the Salzburg Festival and elsewhere due to her mother suffering from terminal cancer. Rival bids to buy the remains of the defunct New York City Opera have been put on hold. Canadian-born tenor Jon Vickers died recently at age 88. He had performed some of opera’s most demanding roles and combined a distinctive voice with superior acting ability.

Denon Does Dolby Atmos & DTS:X – Denon will introduce two more AV receivers with DTS:X and Dolby Atmos next month to join four others at prices from $479 to $1499. A free DTS:X firmware upgrade for all six components will be available later this year. Auro-3D surround processing will also be available in the three top models via a paid upgrade. All also feature Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixer to create height information from stereo content lacking Atmos or DTS:X soundtracks.

New Hi-Res Smartphone from Marshall – Swedish firm Marshall Headphones has launched the music-oriented Android smartphone with hi-res 192/24 Wolfson DAC. It matches the cosmetics of Marshall guitar amps and comes with Marshall ear buds. It has a 4.7-inch 720p screen, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and 8- and 2-migapixel cameras. It will be available next month at about $579.

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