Audio News for July 8, 2016

Six of the Most Inspired Single Notes in Classical Music 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Notebook to Have Iris Scanner – Samsung’s new Note 7 (due for release August 2) will have both a fingerprint reader and an amazing new security feature – an iris scanner. All you have to do is look at the smartphone, no button-punching is required to lock or unlock your phone. It will have 64GB of internal storage and should deliver over 20 hours of video on one battery charge.

Amazon Beats Wal-Mart in Consumer Electronics – Best Buy May Be Next – Despite its already gargantuan size and the market share it has gained over the past few years last year it was able to accelerate that growth to the point where it now commands a 17% share. It’s clear that Amazon will become No. 1 sooner instead of later. Only a bit more than a third of the top 25 CE retailers saw higher sales last year. Everyone else suffered falling sales. It is hoped that use of Best Buy’s Geek Squad service and repair division might somehow offset Amazon’s low pricing, but services only represent 4% of the total revenue of Best Buy. Apple was able to retain its hold of the fourth place spot with a 4.3% increase in sales to $13 billion, but that left its market share static at around 10%.

Classical Music for the Masses – The unusual-looking Harpa concert hall and conference center in Rykjavik, Iceland offers daily concerts for the influx of tourists during the summer months. The artistic director says that the genre often connotes pomposity and images of cravats, however these affiliations are slowly changing. She says “…I felt programs has to be innovative…Nothing too complicated, it’s just beautiful music, that’s my criteria.” Concertgoers won’t find any dress-code stipulations or musical-theory prerequisites. The incredible acoustics of the hall may appeal to those who have forgotten what non-ampified music sounds like. “…Today I don’t think we hear much music that is acoustic because everything is amplified, and it’s important to exercise your listening capabilities.” Traditional chamber music isn’t regularly played, since the director feels that are other concert series doing justice to that and she feels it’s important “to take care of our traditional things that are tried and tested. So we have the masterworks, and they’re always valid.”

Blu-ray.com Loves the New Beethoven Nine Symphonies on Blu-ray – Their reviewer speaks of the outstanding clarity of the symphonies, and some of the solos sound impeccably nuanced and colorful. There is a very slight compressed sound to some of the orchestra tutti passages, probably attributable to the original analog recordings of 1963 and the higher resolution of this new 2.0 DTS-HD version. One of the side effects of the standard Blu-ray format is that audiophiles get to have all nine symphonies on a single disc. If you’re old enough to remember the huge LP sets of yore (or even older the gigantic 78 rpm sets) this is “a wonderful example of the marvels of modern technology.”

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