Audio News for March 20, 2009

by | Mar 20, 2009 | Audio News | 0 comments

Panasonic Adds DivX and Web-Enabled Technology to Plasma Displays – The new Viera line of plasma HDTVs from Panasonic have the ability to decode the DivX codec and to stream video content directly from the Internet. You can feed it DivX media via an SD/SDHC memory card slot which is in the TV. It’s a new idea in HT to use the display as a source. But for multichannel audio you’ll still have to pipe it back to your receiver. Some of the Panasonic series includes a NeoPDP technology to improve picture quality while enhancing energy efficiency in a slimmer and trimmer package. The DivX-enabled plasmas will be released in Europe first.

Digitize Those Old Cassettes – With the proliferation of cheap USB turntables lately (most of which sound very bad), it stands to reason that a similar gadget would appear for transferring audiocassettes to CDs or digital files.  If you have a bunch of both home-recorded and commercial cassettes (I have thousands) you might want to preserve the more valuable ones digitally before the tapes stretch, break down mechanically, or the felt head pad falls out.  There were some very high quality audiophile cassettes produced (I used to write a column specifically on them) – with sonics (on a good deck) definitely superior to data-reduced MP3s of today.  Alesis has introduced their TapeLink at an SRP of $299. It’s a dual cassette deck with USB output plus SoundSoap SE software that cleans up hiss and noise, and it is cross-platform.

Portable DTVs – With this year’s switchover to all-digital TV transmission, a new category of home electronics has recently appeared: portable digital TVs.  These are not just novelty items in some areas where users want to keep abreast of storm warnings or other emergency information.  Of course the small screens aren’t going to display much HDTV resolution, but the TVs have ATSC tuners built in and can receive local digital stations over the air with indoor antennas.  Screen sizes are about seven or eight inches, most come with cables to use them in the car, and battery packs that last as long as 12 hours.

Accessories for Audiophiles With iPods – Although when first introduced the iPod had no cachet whatever with audiophiles, today many hi-end manufacturers have introduced various iPod accessories – even some such as Wadia, far removed from compromised fidelity of data-reduced digital files.  Cnet has listed several accessories for iPod audiophiles.  They include the hi-end earphones from Sure and Etymotic, portable headphone amps such as Headroom’s BitHead, dock connectors such as SendStation’s Line Out, quality over-ear headphones such as Grado, Sennheiser and Ultrasone, and tube amps for the iPod such as the Fatman iTube 452.  iPod docks with speakers were unmentioned, but the B&W Zeppelin ($600) is getting much attention.

How to Create a High-Def Speaker for Under a Buck – Perhaps we should have saved these for April Fools:  Video No. 1;  Video No. 2

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