Audio News for October 17, 2005

by | Oct 17, 2005 | Audio News | 0 comments

CEA Questions Need for Luxury D-to-A Converter – The
Consumer Electronics Association has filed comments in response to the
FCC’s Notice of Inquiry on the status of competition in the delivery of
video programming. The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) and
MSTV (Maximum Service TV) propose a luxury converter box for those who
need or want to retain their analog TVs when analog telecasts are cut
off in the switch to digital TV. Many additional features are
envisioned for the box, which most consumers do not need or want. The
CE recommends a simple and low-cost box to convert the DTV signals to
NTSC for legacy analog sets, since in many cases they will be kept
because owners cannot afford to purchase a new DTV set. The boxes will
make it possible for users to continue to receive over-the-air (OTA)
signals once analog broadcasts end. Congress’ ultimate goal is
affordability in an inexpensive converter box.  CEA research shows
that only about 11.5% of the 285 million TV sets currently in use in
the U.S. are still used primarily to view OTA programming, and by 2009
the figure is estimated to reach under 7%.

Texas Instruments To Offer New Video Chip – The third-largest
semiconductor company, which supplies 60% of the chips for cellphones,
has announced a new all-in-one video chip technology to make
manufacture of all video products easier and more compatible, with
lower production costs. The Da Vinci chip is a repackaging of existing
technology plus new components, and requires the cooperation of other
component makers. It will be used primarily in portable media players,
digital cameras and video phones. The chip follows on the recent Intel
announcement of its own new platform for digital home electronics
called Viiv, to be marketed the first half of 2006, making PCs
compatible with other electronics devices. Also the launch of the video
iPod. A three-part video world seems to be emerging: TV displays,
computer screens, and the tiny screens on cellphones and other handheld

XM Launches New Classical Artist Profile Series – XM Satellite
Radio premieres next month a new artist-driven series featuring live
performances and interviews with celebrated classical performers. 
The first two artists will be award-winning violinist Joshua Bell on
November 2 and opera star Cecilia Bartoli on December 7. The concerts
will take place at XM’s Washington D.C. Performance Theater and will be
hosted by Martin Goldsmith, original host of NPR’s “Performance Today.”
The series will be carried on three different XM channels with encore
broadcasts during the month. XM now has over five million subscribers
and offers more than 150 channels of programming.

Buying a Portable Digital Player?
– Digital players are the hottest
consumer electronics item today and even those of us who seem perfectly
happy with our CD or even cassette portables may soon find we can’t
live without an iPod or its equivalent. A first consideration would be
how you will use your player.  If it’s staying in your house,
small size won’t be required.  How about compatibility with your
other audio items? That could bring up problems if you ignore it. Keep
in mind that the smaller and more compact the player is, the less music
it’s going to hold, and perhaps you will need to use a really violent
level of data reduction in order to fit much music into it. If you want
to copy files at full 44.1K sampling without using any data reduction –
for best audiophile quality – you will need a very large hard drive in
your player. Battery life is another point to check; some players eat
batteries for breakfast.

Another thing to think about is the codec you will use if you do
data-reduce.  If you are purchasing music downloads online your
player must accept the same codec used by your music service. 
Apple iTunes, for example, uses AAC, which is somewhat better sounding
than standard MP3.  But most of the alternate MP3 players are not
compatible with it. And other online services may not offer AAC so you
cannot download their tunes. Some players allow for translations but
that can be messy. Lastly, you will find a daunting collection of
accessories for your player offering at every turn, with the iPod
commanding the largest assortment of the gadgets.  The most
important accessory soundwise would be better headphones than come with
any of the players, and a dedicated portable headphone amp can enhance
the sonics even further.

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