New Audio Restoration Software Ends Wow and Flutter – For over a century, music has been recorded on mechanical storage mediums subject to the artifacts of speed variations – wow and flutter. Off-center discs could be corrected somewhat by moving the center spindle, but there were many other inconsistencies on discs, cylinders, and tape. There are recordings of famous orchestras, big bands, and rock groups which are unusable due to this problem. Now a professional application called Capstan is removing the slightest speed variations from any recordings of music. It detects the wow and flutter thru analyzation of the musical material itself, so the medium has no relevance. It works even if the recording has already been copied many times or digitized in low resolution. Capstan is based on the patented DNA Direct Note Access technology in the Melodyne program – used by all major studios for the editing of pitch and timing. During the test phase of the software, the first musical treasure unearthed was a Furtwangler recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony from 1954, which suffered from chronic wow and flutter and even a momentary tape freeze. Capstan runs cross-platform as a stand-alone application and handles all one or two-track formats.
Walmart Adds Roku and Sci-Fi Thriller Via Vudu – Walmart now carries the $78 Roku XD Player which offers 250 entertainment channels so far, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, Rdio and many others. They also own the streaming-cideo service Vudu, and have announced they are selling a digital movie card enabling access to the recent sci-fi thriller Battle: Los Angeles for $15. It was recently on DirecTV’s VOD service at $30. There are now over 300 different Vudu-enabled CE devices, including HDTVs, Blu-ray players and the PlayStation3.
Harman Kardon Upgrades New AVR Line – Networking and connectivity are being highlighted in the new line of AV receivers from Harmon Kardon, similar to other manufacturers. Four new AVRs, ranging from $479 to $1099, have HDMI 1.4a connections, including an increased number of inputs on all models. All but the entry-level model connect to HK’s iPod/iPhone docking Bridge IIIP, enabling streaming of audio and video from a docked iPod or iPhone and upscaling the video to 1080p resolution. The two lower models are 5.1 channels and the two top ones are 7.1, and the top two also boast DLNA-compatible audio streaming from a computer or network-attached storage drive. They also can stream the thousands of Internet radio stations. The top receiver can also stream audio from a USB-connected iPod. All but the entry-level AVR have Dolby Pro Logic IIz, with power provided for the pair of front-height channels of a surround system. Harman’s proprietary headphone surround and analog-to-HDMI video transcoding are in all four models, and the top three offer compressed music enhancing technology and an input for the Sirius satellite radio tuner.
Soundcast Upgrades Its Wireless Audio System – Soundcast Systems’ new wireless speaker system has improved sound quality, connectivity to more sources and offers more audio zones. The OutCast 3.4 is an upright cylinder with 360-degree dispersion of stereo channels, with a choice of two wireless transmitters using 2.4 GHz frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology with a 300-foot range. It transmits more than 68,000 possible channels to avoid interference with other apartments’ speakers. The speaker is weather-resistant and features an 8-inch downward-firing woofer, four 3-inch drivers and 100 watts of amplification. It operates for up to 20 hours on a built-in rechargeable battery pack which can be recharged while the speaker plays. Portable devices can be directly connected, and Apple’s free remote app can be used to control the selection of PC-stored music from an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.