Audio News for July 7, 2006

by | Jul 7, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

Cassettes Anyone? – Audiocassettes may be obsolescent but they’re still around and some of us still find them a great format. Both the media and players are much cheaper than MP3 format and with care their fidelity can be much better than the usual data-reduced MP3 files. Dolby S encoding plays back as well as CDs on decks with that codec, but without any decoder Dolby S cassettes sound great on portable players and in car units. Would you believe Marantz is introducing a new dual transport cassette deck in Japan selling for about $320?  It features variable pitch and the recording side has auto-reverse. (Why not both sides?)

Polderbits, a software company in Holland, offers Cassette-to-CD software for PCs for about $36. It allows transferring any of your cassette recordings – before the oxide falls off or the felt pads fall out – to either standard CD-Rs or MP3 CD-Rs. At the same time it lets you reduce hiss on the tapes, EQ the recordings, and add fade-ins and outs.

Chip to Improve Car and Home Audio
– Texas Instruments has announced the 8-channel TAS3108 audio digital signal processor (DSP), which brings up to 7.1 channel high quality processing to digital TVs, home-theater-in-a-box systems, and car audio. It is the latest in the company’s broad offering of digital and analog products for audio applications. The chip operates at 135MHz and provides 675 MIPS. The TAS3108 offers an unparalleled amount of processing at its price point with 135 million multiple accumulates per second. Such processing power allows full control of audio processing, including matrix decoding and different surround sound schemes. It supports sample rates from 32 kHz to 192 kHz across 15 data formats. Developers can easily add custom algorithms, equalization, and dynamic range compression. So what is this audio chip’s price point? $4.36 each in quantity for the home model and $4.91 each for the car-optimized version.

Home Automation Taps the Home Entertainment Market
– A new study from ABI Research has told home automation companies that of all things in the home which could benefit from automation and control, home entertainment offers the most lucrative path. Two forms of home automation have been around for at least 30 years. An inexpensive power line-based technology has been used by hobbyists but is too limited for mass adoption. Then there are the sophisticated, expensive commercial systems from companies such as AMX and Crestron, which offer control of lighting, climate, appliances, security and more. New interoperable technologies have made it possible for companies such as Monster Cable, Intermatic and Universal to enter the market and target mainstream households in between these two forms. Many middle-class homes are getting home theater systems, and consumers want to integrate their multimedia equipment into their home life. In addition to controlling heating, cooling, lighting, safety, security, pools & spas, appliances and irrigation, automation systems which support home entertainment will get the earliest acceptance in the market. ABI Research believes that operating models in the larger retail stores will be the best way to inform customers about deploying automation systems in their homes.

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