Home Entertainment Spending Up 5% – The Digital Entertainment Group has compiled their First Quarter 2013 report, which shows a 5.08% increase in overall consumer spending compared to the same period last year. Blu-ray disc sell-thru is up nearly 30% and electronic sell-thru rose more than 51%, due to broader availability of titles and increased access to digital content. 3.2 million Blu-ray players were sold in the first quarter, and close to 60 million U.S. homes now have Blu-ray. During Q1 9.4 million HDTVs were sold to U.S. consumers, bringing their penetration now to more than 112.6 million households.
Cellist Janos Starker Dies at 88 – One of the most renowned cellists in the world, who was known for his teaching as well as recordings and performances, as well as the importance of Scotch and cigarettes in his offstage life, died in Bloomington, Indiana. He had been a child prodigy in his birthplace, Hungary, and spent time in a Nazis prison camp during WWII. Along with Piatigorsky and Rostropovich he was considered among the top cellists of his day. He made over 150 recordings, and his Mercury recording of the six Bach Suites for Solo Cello won a Grammy. It is available on one of the Mercury three-channel reissues on SACD. He eschewed Romantic mannerisms in performance and his vibrato was lean and minute. He was also known for his many strong opinions about other musicians. He called conductors “the most overrated people in music.”
Denon 2013 In-Command AVRs – Denon has expanded its line of In-Command networked AV receivers with new features in five models, ranging from $649 to $2,499. All feature built-in AirPlay, DLNA networking and Internet radio, but no built-in Wi-Fi. The models starting at $999 include DTS Neo:X post-processing, allowing users to add two front-height channels or a pair of front-wide channels to a typical 5.1 setup. In the $1299 model, a stereo amp may be connected to drive 9.2 channels with DTS Neo:X. Also, beginning with that model, the AVRs include Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 and subwoofer EQ calibration. XT32 is a more sophisticated version of the Audyssey technology in the lower-priced AVRs to compensate for room acoustics. Chassis depth has also been reduced for easier placement in tight places. The new models feature vTuner Internet stations, Pandora, Spotify and Sirius XM, and are Windows 8/RT compatible. Flickr can be accessed to stream photos from the web, a Denon app allows remote control from smartphones, and they allow iPod/iPhone/iPad USB use. The $999 and $1299 models add multiple HDMI outputs with discrete matrix switching, and support for HDMI audio-input analog conversion for playback in multiple zones. The $1299 model also has HD Radio built-in. 4K HDMI passthru is in all AVRs starting with the $699 models.
NAD Wants to Connect With Younger Music Lovers – New products from NAD are directed at younger music enthusiasts who shun full-size audio components but connect to PCs, smartphones and tablets to play music. NAD already offers some USB DACs, and a wireless DAC to connect PCs to component systems. They are adding three new components, starting with a DAC that has no analog inputs, but four digital inputs, LED display, 192K/24-bit technology, stereo Bluetooth with AptX, and a built-in headphone amp. A network receiver adds embedded Wi-Fi, DLNA, AirPlay and an Ethernet port, and has a 50-watt stereo amp and remote. NAD will soon also offer its first headphones since the 1980s.