Audio News for March 4, 2006

by | Mar 4, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

Apple Targets Home Audio – Apple is stepping out of the home office and into the nation’s living rooms. Building on the huge success of the firm’s iPod, Apple has reintroduced their inexpensive Mac Mini computer as a TV-connected AV player, and at the same time launched the iPod Hi-Fi – a somewhat-portable speaker system and iPod dock that competes with similar popular units from Bose, Klipsch and others. It doesn’t quite reach audiophile specs, but Apple CEO Steve Jobs claims it sounds so good that he doesn’t listen to his main stereo system anymore. (Oh, yeah…)  Early evaluations tend more toward giving the iPod Hi-Fi the status of “best digital boom-box ever.” This all appears to be the start of Apple’s onslaught into the home entertainment center – a market where Microsoft and others have trying to take control.  If Apple can offer the right combination of convenience, simplicity, great design and reliability, they might take over this area.  Consumers are already attracted to listen to music quickly and easily without stacks of CDs (even if it means a loss of fidelity), and the idea of viewing their photos without albums and prints, and watching movies without DVDs and tapes, and without a coffee table full of remotes, is tremendously appealing.

Sony Introduces Digital Walkman – Sony has introduced a new digital MP3-playing Walkman 26 years after their original cassette player started the mobile music market. There are two models, with 6GB and 20GB capacity – the larger version selling for £200 in the UK. The Walkman has only been made available in Europe so far. It has a variety of ways to search music, including a random shuffle of the 100 most-listened-to tunes. Advance reports however show serious software problems with the units.

In other Sony news, decreased demand has caused a cancellation of its super-high-end Qualia line of flat-screen displays and video projectors, as well as its $12,000 SACD player.  At the same time Sony has developed a new sound-processing technology they call “digital audio enhancement.” It is designed to restore some of the fidelity lost by creating the data-reduced digital audio files for storage on devices such as MP3 players and iPods.  A similar software process has also been developed by Mark Levinson’s Red Rose Music. (How about just using only lossless codecs to begin with, or at least 320kbps for top quality?)

Set-Top-Box Credit Considered by Congress
– Now that a definite cutoff date for analog TV has been set, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is pushing Congress to amend their offer to partially cover some of the cost of an inexpensive set-top converter to extend the life of existing analog TV sets.  The CEA suggests instead it would be a much better idea to give consumers credit or cash towards the purchase of a new digital TV rather than compromising HDTV image quality to be viewed on obsolete sets.

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