French Music Provider Offers Hi-Res for Both Downloads and Streaming – There’s beginning to be a buzz about Qobuz.com, a music service based in Paris (their site is in French), the first one to provide its extensive catalog (including EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.) in lossless formats for either downloading or streaming. Users can choose among lossy 320 kbps MP3s, standard CD 44.1/16 quality, or StudioMasters—which are lossless 24-bit up to 192K (downloads only). They have a complete app ecosystem providing access to their catalog anywhere, and are currently available only in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg, but plans are to extend to other European countries and overseas. They also have a daily magazine and musical information feed.
Digitize Your LPs the Right Way – The most comprehensive and straight-forward article we’ve seen on converting some of your vinyl to hi-res digital files is “Breathe New Life Into Dusty Vinyl…” by Ian White at Digital Trends. He is honest in referring to the time it takes to do the work, and that if you have a sizable vinyl library you won’t want to convert the whole thing by any means. The only thing we would disagree with is to forget about MP3 conversion and the cheapo USB turntables. It looks like the best deal for Mac users is a quality turntable system, a USB phono preamp, and the Pure Vinyl software.
Sony Press Event Proves It’s Serious About Sound – At a recent LA event, Sony Electronics launched its newest line of AV receivers and speakers on a mission to conquer the audio category, which after all is where the Sony brand was born. They showed something for everyone, from an impressive little HTiB for $700 to a 330-watt soundbar, a 1300-watt super-boom-box and high-performance speakers and AV receivers. They also had some of their artists in attendance to promote their own label and production studios. Sony is building a reputation in speciality AV with its high-performance Elevated Series (ES) of STR-DA receivers, with Control4 home automation. (The DN1040 ES model is the only AVR with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and AirPlay built in.) They are the first AVRs with built-in home automation, and are also Crestron-certified. They use what is called “Easy Automation,” and a new GUI allowing consumers to add device control thru a simple wizard. The AVRs have four onboard 3.5mm plus for standard emitters. Consumers can program up to four macros for automation: Movie, Music, Party & Night. There is also ZigBee RF home automation technology.
DTS-HD Audio on Streaming HD Movies – DTS has made an agreement with Samsung and CinemaNow to deliver their DTS-HD audio with streaming HD movies, and will have 4000 titles encoded with the new standard right away, with more to come. The HD video quality is unaffected by the DTS-Express audio soundtracks and at least for now consumers will not have to pay extra for the beefed-up audio stream. Samsung’s smart TVs will be the first to come with DTS-Express decoding, and new Blu-ray players will have the feature later this year. DTS Express works on a lower bitrate, so it can be streamed seamlessly over the Internet as a multichannel audio codec. It has been traditionally used as the secondary audio channel on Blu-rays. There’s nothing yet on doing something similar with their best lossless codec: DTS-HD Master Audio.