High-End Audio, High Fidelity Audiophile Industry News
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03 / 31 / 14
Music subscription revenues help drive growth in most major markets according to the IFPI's newly released digital music report. The IFPI represents the worldwide recording industry and the interests of 1300 record companies from across the globe. Their report says, "Music fans' growing appetite for subscription and streaming services helped drive trade revenue growth in most major music markets in 2013, with overall digital revenues growing 4.3% and Europe's music market expanding for the first time in more than a decade. The United States recorded music market continues to stabilize, growing by 0.8% in trade revenue terms with strong demand for streaming services. Europe has returned to growth after 12 years, with all top five markets -- France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the UK -- seeing an increase in revenues. Latin America saw a 1.4% growth, with strong digital revenues helping offset declining physical sales." Europe's marketplace for online music streaming has grown for the first time in 12 years. Revenues have stabilized in the United States and are increasing in Latin America. There has been a sharp drop in Japan. You can read the complete report in PDF format at this link.
03 / 28 / 14
V-MODA announced the latest addition to their award-wining M-Class Series - the XS ($212 in Matte Black Metal and White Silver including customization or $200 in standard form). Designed for comfort and ergonomic fit, the XS combines professional-grade quality and a personalized style. The angles and headband design of the XS 'mind the gap' by minimizing the space between the headband and your head. The result is a snug fit, added comfort, and ensures top quality sound. V-MODA spent over five years of R&D that contours evenly to the shape of most people's heads, with angles that frame facial features. This way you look attractive while wearing them and not some freakish alien clown from outer space. "For nearly 10 years I have studied global fashion trends and paid close attention to individuals who wear and don't wear headphones including the different shapes and sizes," says Val Kolton, CEO of V-MODA. "While on- and over-ear headphones have gained popularity due to substantial mainstream marketing, I found that many consumers are conscious of their silhouette and don't like wearing bulky headphones. For instance, in quadrilatero della moda (quadrilateral of fashion) in Milano where V-MODA's design studio is located, it is a rarity to see anyone wearing headphones. Until now, there have been no viable headphone options for the fashion-conscious music lover." V-MODA's XS features 40mm dual-diaphragm drivers, a CliqFold folding hinge, dual inputs and SharePlay with V-CORK seals, an exoskeleton case and Kevlar-reinforced universal SpeakEasy microphone cable for Apple iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows devices. Frequency response is from 5 Hz to 30 kHz, sensitivity is 105dB and impedance is 28.5 Ohms. The combination of steel and metal materials stands up to military-level standards of the MIL-STD-810G testing guidelines as they can survives up to 60 drops on concrete.
03 / 27 / 14
Music lovers on a budget seeking more data storage space and the security of data protection in case a hard drive fails may want to get the latest four-bay Drobo NAS ($349 without hard drives). This third generation Drobo is more affordable, three times faster than the previous release and includes new features such as USB 3.0, significantly faster rebuild times and enhanced support for Apple's Time Machine. Four times faster rebuild times maximize data availability in the event of a disk drive failure. If a drive fails, Drobo automatically protects data without user intervention. In addition, you can purchase the capacity you need now and increase space by adding additional disk drives, or by just swapping smaller disks with larger ones later. Drobo even protects against one or two simultaneous drive failures with just one click. A special customer loyalty program for first and second generation Drobo customers means you can get a $50 discount when purchasing a new Drobo through their store and select channel partners through June 9th, 2014.
If you are seeking to hear ultra-rare modern recordings, then look no further than the just released Wu-Tang Clan's double-album The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. With only a single copy of the album made, plans are to exhibit it at museums and other art exhibits. Recorded in secret and mixed by multi-Grammy winner Ken Lewis during the past few years, The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin is a special double Wu-Tang album filled with 31 new tracks and includes guest appearances by Bonnie Jo Mason, Redman, FC Barcelona soccer players and many others. Instead of a standard box, the album is presented in a hand carved nickel-silver box designed by world-renown British Moroccan artist Yahya. So why only a single album being produced? According to their promotional website, "History demonstrates that great musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach are held in the same high esteem as figures like Picasso, Michelangelo and Van Gogh. However, the creative output of today's artists such as The RZA, Kanye West or Dr. Dre, is not valued equally to that of artists like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst or Jean-Michel Basquiat." The album will eventually be for sale to one owner, who can choose to do with it as they feel is best. The press release continues, "While we fully embrace the advancements in music technology, we feel it has contributed to the devaluation of music as an art form. By taking this step, we hope to re-enforce the weight that music once carried alongside a painting or a sculpture. The album will be put on listening display in renowned galleries, museums, venues and exhibition spaces around the world for only the most dedicated to experience before it disappears into the private collection of a buyer. The public will know that what they will hear will be a once in a life time experience."
03 / 26 / 14
It is well known that editor of Enjoy the Music.com Steven R. Rochlin was good friends with editor of Vacuum Tube Valley Charlie Kittleson were good friends over the years. Vacuum Tube Valley (VTV) was a magazine produced by Charlie 'C.K.' Kittleson for the DIY and tube enthusiast. The publication spanned many years; producing 20 issues in total packed full of excellent information about audio vacuum tubes, vacuum tube equipment and a variety of DIY projects. Sadly, Charlie Kittleson passed away on February 10, 2009. Upon inquiring to the family concerning Enjoy the Music.com publishing various articles of Vacuum Tube Valley per Charlie's wishes, as he asked Enjoy the Music.com to republish his writing before he passed away, the family signaled us to delay our effort and we followed their wishes. Now that some years have passed, the entire collection of VTV is now available online for all to enjoy! You can download all 20 issues of Vacuum Tube Valley at this link.
Come celebrate Dynamic Range Day 2014 on March 28th where we ask musicians, engineers, record labels, etc to cease highly compressing the dynamic range of the music they produce. The 'Loudness War' has been going on for decades as music labels want their music to somehow 'stand out' over others. Many people feel that much of the music produced today and sold to consumers -- and heard on the radio -- could sound better subjectively if there were some semblance of more natural dynamics. To quote the DDR site, "The Loudness War is a sonic 'arms race' where every artist and label feel they need to crush their music onto CD at the highest possible level, for fear of not being 'competitive' -- and in the process removing all the contrast, all the light, shade and depth – ruining the sound. In order to achieve these super-high levels, the music has to be squashed up against the digital maximum level 'ceiling' -- reducing the difference between the peak and average levels in the music. In the process, the contrast between loud and soft moments (often referred to as the dynamic range) is dramatically reduced." The sites says that research shows there is no connection between loudness and sales. In addition, dynamic music sounds better on the radio too. You can follow @DynamicRangeDay on Twitter and use the #DRD14 hashtag.
03 / 25 / 14
Vacuum tube amplification comes to K'starter with Jim Hagerman's Cornet3 DIY MM phono and Piccolo2 step-up for MC cartridges (from $200 for Piccolo2 in DIY form up to $650 for both fully assembled). So how can Jim offer the Cornet3 for only $200? To quote their K'Starter campaign, "By thinking outside the box, I was able to eliminate the two most expensive components in a tube preamp - the power transformer and metal chassis. The critical high voltage supply is now created using a boost converter running at 44kHz. And this is not a cut-rate design where tubes are starved by running them at low voltage. No, the Cornet3 B+ supply feeds the tubes properly with a +200V rail, the way they are meant to be operated. The result is a robust, powerful, wide-band, low distortion sound with superb bass. The other benefit of such a compact design is that it could fit into a small plastic enclosure. Basically, these two tricks cut the cost in half without any loss of sonic performance." Features of each unit include:
03 / 24 / 14
Enjoy the Music.TV's interview with David W. Robinson of Positive Feedback magazine and singer/musician/songwriter David Elias.is now available online! Hosted by Steven R. Rochlin, we discuss creating and recording music, early Internet mp3.com and other services plus the places to buy modern DSD files today. As always, in the end what really matters is that you.... enjoy the music!
Music Industry News 10 Years Ago
03 / 21 / 14
Waves Audio, a leading developer of audio DSP technologies and a recipient of a Technical Grammy Award, continues its expansion into the international mobile device market. This time they are integrating their MaxxAudio Mobile technologies in the latest smartphone from Oppo Electronics. By using MaxxAudio, the new Oppo Find 7 devices offer professional-quality sound and performance for audio and communications applications ranging from streaming audio to gaming content and online video clips. Developed to fully utilize the latest in bandwidth data and communications technologies, MaxxAudio on the Find 7 enables Oppo's vision for customized, high quality sound experiences on mobile devices. "Oppo are always after the most innovative technologies and exceptional sound quality. We have found the best of both in Waves," stated Tony Chen, CEO Oppo Electronics. "Using MaxxAudio, which is powered by the same professional technologies used by the world's leading studios and artists, we can now provide high-quality natural sound performance and extended user controls for a premium mobile audio experience on Find 7."
WyWires has announced their Red Series premium headphone cables ($299) that are designed to "liberate audio signals from the adverse characteristics of stock conduit. This all-new series provides an instant upgrade to reference headphones" says the company. The Red Series extends WyWires design principles into the high-performance headphone market as the company focuses on maximum conductivity and low dielectric constant to yield improvements in transient-rise time while reducing the frequency loss occurred with traditional cable windings. The Red Series' physical design was engineered with regard to optimum weight, flex and texture for unobtrusive use. These cables have upwards of 4x the conductivity of stock cables, reduces capacitance that causes time-delay smearing and transient masking plus reduces signal cross-talk. The cables are available in common source connectors including 1/8", 1/4", 3-pin XLR, and balanced 4-pin XLR. Standard 5 foot cable length, with additional lengths and extensions available at additional costs. The WyWires Red Series is available with connections for Sennheiser HD580, HD600, HD650, HD700, HD800; Audeze LCD-2, LCD-3, LCD-X, LCD-XC; HiFiMAN HE-4, HE-6, HE-300, HE-400, HE-500 and JPS Labs Abyss. All WyWires solutions are custom-built by hand.
Music Industry News 10 Years Ago
03 / 20 / 14
Enjoy the Music.com has just posted Hi-Fi World's May 2014 edition including the complete editorial and table of contents. This issue includes reviews of the VPI Traveler turntable, Usher N-6311 speakers, Hi-FiMan HM-901 portable digital media player, Sugden LA-4/fPA-4 Pre/Power, Advanced Acoustics X-I60 integrated, Pro-Ject Stream Box DSA... and the prestigious Hi-Fi World 2013 Award Winners! The editorial by Noel Keywood says, "The only innovation in amplifiers has been the rise of Class D. It's cheap and it can be made to work well, as NuForce and Hypex show. One of the problems facing Class D is old-fashioned Class A. Spend time with a good Class A and you'll realise that all others are losing something. And that's what we found yet again with Sugden's quietly impressive FPA-4 Class A amplifier, reviewed by Jon Myles (see p10) this month. Like earlier Sugdens, notably the A21SE we used as a reference until it was sold from under us (!), the FPA-4 needs a little understanding." See the complete March table of contents and editorial of Hi-Fi World by clicking here.
03 / 19 / 14
Backert Labs new Rhythm 1.1 vacuum tube stereo linestage ($7500) preamplifier features a 'revolutionary' new power supply using V-Cap capacitors and innovative developed self-biasing circuit. Designed and hand-made in the United States of America by veteran amplifier designer and CEO Bob Backert with the aid of his son, Chief Operations Officer Gary Backert, the Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1 preamplifier is point-to-point wired. For system integration, the unit has five stereo inputs, two stereo outputs, and a stereo record-out. The front panel has input control, volume adjustment, mute, mono switches and balance control. Remote volume control is also provided for. The innovative power supply is claimed to bring high quality rhythm and dynamics not achievable with normal supplies. Patented by Mr. Backert, 'GreenForce' is claimed by the company to be the first completely new kind of power supply since switched-mode power supplies were conceived in the 1950s. It can use the fine and high quality V-Cap brand capacitors. "The way this power supply works is equally important," said Mr. Backert. "It's very different, because it pushes power into the amplifying circuit, proactively, instead of passively bleeding out power when the circuit demands it. That 'push' gives GreenForce its accuracy, which leads to better rhythm and dynamics." Innovations in the tube circuit include active self-bias so that each brand of tube used will sound its very best. A pair of 12AU7 tubes are utilized and are easily accessible by a convenient one-touch door in the top panel. The Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1 vacuum tube stereo preamplifier is available in silver or black.
Audience's introduction of their Au24 SE MP (medium power), Au24 SE LP (low power) and Au24 SE c7 powerChord AC line cords further extends the company's reach into high quality cabling. The Au24 SE MP, Au24 SE LP and Au24 SE c7 are designed to best suit the demands of components like preamplifiers, CD players and D/A converters that require lesser amounts of AC power than their larger amplifier counterparts. The Au24 SE MP powerChord features 14 AWG wiring and is recommended for use with components that require up to 150 watts of AC power. The Au24 SE LP employs 16 AWG wiring and should be used with components that require up to 50 watts. The Au24 SE c7 is also 16 AWG and fits into the c7 AC connector used on some audio/video components. The MP, LP and c7 models all provide the same level of performance according to the Audience. All Au24 SE powerChords are designed to thwart traditional weak points of conventional power cords. Au24 SE powerChords are constructed using the highest quality materials including OHNO high-purity monocrystal copper wiring, rhodium-plated copper plugs and IEC connectors and are available in both United States of America and European (Schuko) styles. Audience Au24 SE MP, Au24 SE LP and Au24 SE C7 powerChords are available now with suggested retail pricing as follows: Au24 SE MP, $1,250 @ 6 ft, +/- $75 per foot; Au24 SE LP, $1,080 @ 6 ft, +/- $50 per foot, Au24 SE c7, $799 @ 6 ft, +/- $35 per foot.
03 / 18 / 14
Italy-based Norma Audio just released their new HS 'Half-Series' components HS-DA-1 DAC and HS-DA-1 Pre ($3500 and $5800 respectively). The Norma Audio HS-DA-1 is a 24-bit/192kHz DAC, which offers an optional Pre (preamplification) version with two additional inputs and two Class-A headphone outputs. The DAC uses dual-mono Burr-Brown multi-bit PCM chips, 2MHz analog circuitry and five digital inputs including USB, optical TosLink, AES/EBU and S/PDIF. There is a user selectable filter roll-off (Sharp & Slow) to adjust the sound to the user's preference. A digital filter provides x8 or x4 oversampling. The analog amplification stage is fully discrete. To keep noise to a minimum and the signal clean, there are separate power supplies for the digital and analogue output stage with total of 15 power supply regulators. The Norma Audio HS-DA-1 Pre adds a pair of additional inputs, two Class A headphone outputs and the ability to connect directly to an amplifier. Dimensions are 126 x 215 x 350 mm (HxWxD) and the unit weights 11 lbs.
Ikeda Sound Labs, as distributed by Beauty Of Sound in the USA, is now offering the Ikeda 9TS moving coil (MC) phono cartridge and Ikeda SAI moving coil phono cartridge ($2800 and $7500 respectively). The Ikeda 9TS MC phono cartridge is said by the company to be "Tonally, this cartridge has the same exceptional musicality as every other MC cartridge in the '9' family, but at a more attractive price-point. The 9TS has a 0.35mV output, which is almost twice the output voltage of the 9TT. This will allow the end user to experiment with a variety of phono stages." Output voltage is 0.35 mVrms with a coil impedance of 6 Ohms. Te appropriate stylus force should be between around 2 grams, the cartridge has a frequency response from 10 Hz to 45 kHz and channel separation is over 27dB. The stylus uses an oval-shaped solid diamond with a cantilever made with double layered duralumin pipe. Ikeda Sound Labs' SAI moving coil (MC) phono cartridge is the company's uncompromising advancement of the 9MUSAM, yet with a completely new pickup system. Engineers from IKEDA succeeded in maintaining the tonal qualities of the 9MUSAM, but in a more user-friendly design according to the company. Through enhanced developments in the area of the coil drive, the output voltage has been increased to 0.3mV, and the addition of a cantilever makes set-up much easier. The cantilever consists of Boron and the diamond stylus profile is Micro-Ridge. Output voltage is 0.3 mVrms with a coil impedance of 2.5 Ohms. Suggested stylus force is 2 grams and overall frequency response is from 10 Hz to 45 kHz. Channel separation is rated at over 30dB and it maintains a channel balance within 0.5dB.
The United States Postal Service brings legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist Jimi Hendrix to a new 'forever' stamp! Widely recognized as one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 20th century, Hendrix displayed an innovative style that embraced the influences of rock, R&B, modern jazz and the blues, inspiring musical artists of his era and beyond. The Jimi Hendrix Forever Stamp is now on sale at Post Offices nationwide and online. The new limited-edition Jimi Hendrix stamp, designed by artist Rudy Gutierrez, features a vibrant, colorful design fashioned to evoke the movement and rhythm of the late singer and pay homage to the psychedelic rock era of the 1960s. "Combining influences from rock, modern jazz, soul and the blues with his own innovations, Jimi Hendrix helped found three new genres of music — heavy metal, jazz fusion and funk — and in doing so, left behind an indelible mark on pop music and popular culture generally," said Joseph Corbett, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of the United States Postal Service. "I'm especially pleased that we continue celebrating our Music Icons stamp series with the issuance of the Jimi Hendrix Forever Stamp." The Jimi Hendrix Forever Stamp kicks off the 2014 Music Icons series, which will include Janis Joplin later this year. The 2013 Music Icons series honored Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Lydia Mendoza.
03 / 17 / 14
Enjoy the Music.com can save you 15% off AXPONA tickets! Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) 2014 is an audiophile show that will be held from April 25th through 27th and is open to the public. Taking place at the Westin O'Hare in Chicago, the AXPONA show is now in their sixth year and offers demonstrations of home audio playback equipment and software replicating live music as accurately as possible. AXPONA 2014 is Chicago's high-end audio show featuring hundreds of listening rooms, informative daily seminars, live music, Ear Gear Expo (EGX) for portable music enthusiasts, and much more. Music lovers and audiophiles from across the country should attend AXPONA for demonstrations and access to the latest high-end audio equipment and accessories that the high fidelity audio industry has to offer! Come to AXPONA this Spring and experience your music as it was meant to be heard! Click this link and use code AXP52D to save 15% off AXPONA tickets.
Salon Son & Image 2014 is to be held at the Montreal Hilton Bonaventure in the heart of downtown Montreal, Canada, from March 28th through the 30th. Exhibitors include manufacturers, distributors, retailers and craftsmen from the consumer electronics industry. There will be a wide selection of audio and video entertainment for sale from vinyl LPs to CD and Blu-ray discs. Attendees have access to a wide range of high-end products plus expert information directly from designers and equipment engineers. During the three days of the Salon Son & Image 2014 Montreal event there will be a variety of seminars and discussions too.
Showing that high resolution audio has now reached mainstream consumers are the new Onkyo TX-NR535 and TX-NR636 ($499 and $699 respectively) that can handle lossless FLAC, DSD and 4K high resolution video. With two 32-bit DSP engines, these network aware receivers handle top quality audio plus HDMI 4K/60 Hz video and 21:9 widescreen video format too. They are also compatible with HDCP 2.2 DRM copy-protection standard and of course universal wireless audio streaming with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Onkyo's receivers handle 5.2-channel audio within the TX-NR535 and 7.2-channel in the new TX-NR636. Onkyo's free app for iOS and Android devices easily locates and streams network-attached hi-resolution tracks via DLNA. Both receivers feature gapless playback of almost any high-resolution file format including 5.6 MHz DSD, Dolby TrueHD, 192kHz/24-bit FLAC and WAV plus ALAC to 96kHz/24-bit. Music stored on smartphone and tablet devices can be streamed via remote app and Wi-Fi, while users can browse and stream millions of available tracks on Spotify, Deezer, AUPEO!, and TuneIn from within the app. Onboard Bluetooth is also included for convenient wireless listening, with Onkyo's Advanced Music Optimizer DSP helping to improve the quality of compressed audio files. The TX-NR636 has two 32-bit DSP engines decoding of high-resolution formats such as Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and 5.6 MHz DSD. Both the TX-NR535 and TX-NR636 are based on custom high-current architecture. A massive customized transformer, extra-large capacitors, and discrete low-distortion amplifiers are used, while the TX-NR636 adds Onkyo's three-stage inverted Darlington circuitry on the front and center channels. Both models include Onkyo's proprietary AccuEQ calibration system to optimize the surround sound to suit individual room acoustics and speaker setups. On-screen menus are overlaid via HDMI and adjustments can be made without interruption to the program. All major control functions are also available via the remote streaming app, including cold power-up from Hybrid Standby. The TX-NR636 boasts six rear HDMI inputs, one front HDMI input supporting MHL, and two HDMI outputs. It has an MM phonostage for turntable connection, and dedicated Powered Zone 2 terminals for multi-room audio. Users can also assign the surround back channels to bi-amp their front speakers. The receiver includes Dolby Pro Logic IIz 7.1-channel upmixing, and converts low-resolution video (from legacy consoles or DVDs, for example) to 1080p/4K using Qdeo upscaling technology.
03 / 15 / 14
Paul McGowan of PS Audio & Ted Smith of DirectStream
Michael Mercer of Enjoy the Music.com & Audio360.org
03 / 14 / 14
Pono, PonoPlayer And PonoMusic
is releasing their first three albums, which have been newly remastered by Jimmy Page on
both digital and vinyl formats! Each album has previously unreleased companion audio too. These limited edition box sets will be available starting June 3 on Amazon. As one of the most successful rock groups in history, selling more than 300 million albums worldwide, Led Zeppelin's songs are some of the most celebrated in rock fans. With the June 3rd release of deluxe editions of
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, and Led Zeppelin III, the band will launch an extensive reissue program of all nine of its studio albums in chronological order. Each remastered by guitarist and producer Jimmy Page, together there will be dozens of unheard studio and live recordings on a second disc. "The material on the companion discs presents a portal to the time of the recording of Led Zeppelin," says Jimmy Page. "It is a selection of work in progress with rough mixes, backing tracks, alternate versions, and new material recorded at the
time." All three albums will be available June 3 from Atlantic/Swan Song in the following formats:
Companion Audio Disc – Live At The Olympia – Paris, France –
October 10, 1969
Led Zeppelin II
Companion Audio Disc
Led Zeppelin III
Companion Audio Disc
03 / 13 / 14
Grimm Audio has announced they have upgraded their LS1 speaker to LS1i status ($21,995), which adds a digital interface that includes playback functionality for DSD and DXD. By integrating digital signal processing to their loudspeaker, they can control the crossover and other bits to optimize sound from this small 14 liters sealed box enclosure design. The LS1 design places the digital converter and amplifier in one of the speakers' legs. Housed in one of the two legs are a 48/76-bit DSP, digital I/O, AD/DA, the same clock circuit as their CC1 master clock and the drive electronics. Inside the legs is also two 180 Watt Class D power amplifiers of the Hypex NCore type. Driver compliment is an 8" magnesium woofer and 1" dome tweeter. Use of DSP linearizes the frequency response and allows for a controlled bass response down to 45 Hz. All LS1i speakers have a USB interface that can play DSD 64fs, DSD 128fs and DXD plus standard 16 to 24 bit / 32 to 192 kHz digital music files. There is an analog input and filtered analog subwoofer output too. For existing LS1 installations, Grimm Audio are providing a simple software upgrade routine that can easily be done by the customer within their home. Overall frequency response is from 45 Hz to 40 kHz (-3dB).
As announced in July of last year here within Enjoy the Music.com's Industry News page, yet finally starting to se the light of day, is Sony and Panasonic with their 300 GB and 1TB optical discs, with the objective of expanding their archive business for long-term digital data storage. Both companies aim to improve their development efficiency based on the technologies held by each respective company, and will target the development of an optical disc with recording capacity of at least 300 GB by the end of 2015. Going forward, Sony and Panasonic will continue to hold discussions regarding the specifications and other items relating to the development of this new standard. Both companies have previously developed products based on the Blu-ray format, leveraging the strengths of optical discs. However, both Sony and Panasonic recognized that optical discs will need to accommodate much larger volumes of storage in years to come given the expected future growth in the archive market, and responded by formulating this agreement.
03 / 12 / 14
Within less than 24 hours of launching their Kickstarter campaign, promoter Neil Young's PonoPlayer has pre-sold over $1,000,000 worth of units! The company will soon be launching their sister site PonoMusic that sells FLAC files in resolutions from 44.1 to 192 kHz at 16 to 24 bit depth. We here at Enjoy the Music.com welcome this new initiative to use popular musicians and trend setters to bring awareness to the availability of music at far higher sound quality than lossy mp3. While we hope the company profits from the sales of their hardware, the key benefit long-term is a continual revenue stream by selling music files to the public. Looking over the company's key team members, designers, and engineers, this could be the industry's best effort to date at promoting high resolution tracks so consumers can enjoy music as the artists intended in the recording studio. Hopefully we will also be seeing TV commercials and other promotions to make the public aware that for a little bit more money, with albums priced from $14.99 to $24.99, they can experience their favorite music in far higher sound quality than mp3. To learn more about the PonoPlayer and PonoMusic, scroll down to our updated industry news from two days ago. An interview with Neil Young will be on CNBC today at 4pm NY time (GMT+5) and another one from SXSW from 8pm to 9pm NY time at this link.
03 / 11 / 14
Eryk S Concept's new Superior stereo integrated tube amplifier ($3000) produces 6 Watts per channel and includes both wired input and Bluetooth connection. Using an interesting array of tubes, the Superior employs one each of the 6p14p and 6n6p per channel plus a 6n1p. The company feels this design "surpasses great majority of other SE, Class A designs in terms of power punch and beam-focused sound". All five tubes operate in pure Class A mode and are of specially selected military grade type with on average 5000 hours of durability. On the rear panel are one pair of RCA analog inputs and an optional extra input. When using wireless Bluetooth mode on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop for example, users simply activate Bluetooth module and search for BT device called "sure hi fi". Then simply choose CONNECT WITH option and wireless music transfer will be established between the Eryk S Concept Superior amplifier and your device. Frequency response is from 20 Hz to 28 kHz (-3dB), dimensions are 11.5 x 28 x 30cm (WxHxD) and the unit weighs 15.5 lbs.
Music Industry News 10 Years Ago
03 / 10 / 14
Enjoy the Music.com just posted the March/April issue of Australian Hi-Fi magazine with many informative equipment and music reviews plus think pieces. This issue's equipment reviews include Krix Harmonix Mk2 loudspeakers, Micromega MyZic headphone amplifier, Arcam FMJ A19 integrated amplifier, Avid Ingenium turntable, DEQX PreMate digital processor & preamplifier, Richter Sorcerer valve amplifier and more! In the editorial by Greg Borrowman it says, "I am completely baffled by the trend for headphone manufacturers to have celebrities endorse their products. First, I am baffled by some of the so-called 'celebrities' chosen. For example, while Tim Lincecum may be a household name in the United States, I am not sure that anyone in Australia has any idea who he is. But even if I did know who he was, why would I think that a baseball pitcher has any idea of what headphones should sound like?" You can see this issue of Australian Hi-Fi by clicking here.
UPDATED! Neil Young will be (finally) officially unveiling the long-awaited the high resolution audio 192kHz/24-bit PonoPlayer portable media player and the accompanying service PonoMusic. The press release says that PonoMusic "is a revolutionary movement conceived and founded by Neil Young with a mission to restore the soul of music -- bringing the highest-quality digital music to discerning, passionate consumers, who hunger to hear music the way its creators intended, with the emotion, detail, and power intact." Neil Young, the longstanding promoter of Pono, said "It's about the music, real music. We want to move digital music into the 21st century and PonoMusic does that. We couldn't be more excited -- not for ourselves, but for those that are moved by what music means in their lives." PonoMusic's is the device's online music store and will offer high quality, high resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels. The Pono desktop media management application allows customers to download, manage and sync their music to their PonoPlayer and other high-resolution digital music devices. PonoMusic and high-end audio hardware designer Ayre Acoustics have collaborated to complete the device. "We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of this project. We will always be grateful to Neil Young for changing the landscape of recorded music," said Charlie Hansen, CEO of Ayre Acoustics. Ayre is ensuring high quality sound from the new Pono unit as it features many high-quality design choices including zero-feedback circuitry, a digital filter that stops "unnatural pre-ringing", and uses the new ESS ES9018 DAC chip. PonoMusic Store sells FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) audio format as its standard, for compatibility, although the PonoPlayer can play most popular high-resolution music formats from other sources. PonoMusic albums are expected to cost between $14.99 to $24.99, though there may be exceptions. PonoPlayer has two output jacks; one for normal stereo component output and the other for headphones or earbuds. The PonoPlayer has 128GB of internal memory and memory cards can be used to increase storage memory. The PonoPlayer will be sold at PonoMusic for $399 and will be available for pre-order at a discount on Kickstarter.
• The digital filter used in the PonoPlayer has minimal phase and no
03 / 07 / 14
Spotify has acquired the industry's leading music intelligence company The Echo Nest. The acquisition supports Spotify's strategy "to grow global music consumption and overall revenue back to the music industry by building the best user experience and music discovery engine for millions of global fans". Keep in mind that The Echo Nest, now owned by Spotify, also handles web traffic for most Internet radio services including their competition too! So who uses The Echo Nest you ask? Leading music and service companies including Clear Channel's iHeartradio, MOG, Rdio, SiriusXM, BBC.com, Foursquare, MTV, Twitter, VEVO, Yahoo!, doubleTwist, Coca Cola, Intel, Microsoft, and Reebok. Many of them use The Echo Nest's platform and solutions to build smarter music experiences that "help fans to better discover, share and interact with the music they love". They currently reach over 100 million music fans every month through 432 apps and sites powered by The Echo Nest. This deal will allow Spotify to "leverage The Echo Nest's in depth musical understanding and tools for curation to drive music discovery for millions of users around the globe. The addition of The Echo Nest to Spotify will also strengthen Spotify's ability to help brands and partners build amazing music experiences for their audiences" says the press release. "We've been fans of The Echo Nest for a really long time and honored to have their talented team join Spotify," said Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify. "At Spotify, we want to get people to listen to more music. We are hyper focused on creating the best user experience and it starts with building the best music intelligence platform on the planet. With The Echo Nest joining Spotify, we will make a big leap forward in our quest to play you the best music possible." The Echo Nest will continue to operate out their present headquarters in Somerville, MA and continue to operate in San Francisco.
03 / 06 / 14
Enjoy the Music.com just posted Hi-Fi+'s March edition filled with many great equipment and music reviews plus think pieces. This issue includes equipment reviews of the Alpha Design Labs X-1 portable headphone amplifier/DAC, Magnum Dynalab MD807T Internet media tuner, Lumin A-1 network audio streamer/DAC, Timestep T-01MC MC phonostage, Cavalli Audio Liquid Gold headphone amplifier, Cambridge Audio Minx XI network audio system, Charisma Audio MC-1 MC cartridge and more! In his editorial, Alan Sircom says "What doesn't change is the need for good loudspeakers; even despite a strong trend for headphone replay, loudspeakers in the home remain a vital interest for music lovers of all ages. And in this issue, not only do we have one of the most important high-end loudspeakers ever as our lead feature, but we also are offering one lucky winner the chance to own a unique pair of Wilson Benesch Square Series 2 Square One loudspeakers, custom finished in white with the Hi-Fi+ logo discretely placed on the speaker cabinet." See the March issue of Hi-Fi+ by clicking here.
GIK Acoustics, a leading manufacturer and seller of sound absorption and diffusion products, new FreeStand Acoustic Panel is a movable, lightweight and portable absorption device. The FreeStand Acoustic Panel is a lightweight and easily movable acoustic device and is ideal for any room where wall mounted panels cannot be used. It is also good for rooms with multiple purposes where installation flexibility is key. For listening rooms, control rooms and home theaters, the FreeStand is a solution for use in front of doors and windows. For recording studios, the FreeStand can be used around drums or amps too. GIC Acoustics' FreeStand covers five feet of vertical wall space making it an ideal solution for early reflection points or helping to control overall ambiance in a room. When placed against the wall, the supports leave a 4" gap between the FreeStand and the wall which increases low end absorption. "We developed the FreeStand as an option for customers who need flexibility in the acoustic solutions for their space" said Owner and President Glenn Kuras. "We've always offered a variety of stands as accessories, but with the introduction of the FreeStand Acoustic Panel, customers get the added benefit of an affordable acoustic treatment plus a built-in support. It is a great product for treating rooms that serve other functions – such as living rooms as theater rooms or bedrooms as mixing studios. It is also adept for professional studios where treatments need to be placed in various areas during recording. The FreeStand is lightweight, versatile and totally movable making it ideal for all sorts of uses. They really are a great addition to our product line because they're ready to use out of the box - just wham, bam, put it where you need it. Move it around, use it anywhere. And if your roommate or your wife doesn't like it in the room, just store it away out of sight."
03 / 05 / 14
Liztic has entered into a partnership with HDtracks to bring the experience of high resolution music to every music lover by using Liztic's cross-platform music technology. Liztic is a cross-platform music player and manager, available for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac. Liztic manages and synchronizes music libraries seamlessly across devices and operating systems. Aside from playing MP3 and CD quality audio, the Liztic app enables users to play uncompressed and high-resolution music files up to 192kHz/24-bit (FLAC/AIFF/WAV) through an external DAC. Liztic is also a personal streaming music player via Google Drive, Dropbox and within local networks. Alas, it seems their software does not handle the popular high resolution DSD format. The Basic version of Liztic is free for the basic version and there are three upgrade options: Pro, Premium and Studio ($3, $10 and $25 respectively). Each uprated version offers increased song synchronization capacity for more devices.
Crestron's new HD-XSPA ($5500) 7.1-channel surround sound processor features multi-channel amplification and DigitalMedia room box in one unit. The HD-XSPA connects directly to a DM switch, eliminating the need for a separate DigitalMedia receiver in the room. A full range of built-in control ports, including RS-232, IR, Ethernet, and relay, allows for programmable control of local devices. CEC pass-through allows control of many devices via HDMI. Crestron's HD-XSPA fully supports 4K Ultra HD sources and displays through four HDMI inputs, the DigitalMedia input, and the HDMI output. S/PDIF inputs include one TosLink optical and two RCA coaxial. Audio signals can also be received from a Sonnex Multiroom Audio System via an AUD-EXT Audio Extender. Audio output options include stereo or mono downmix of the surround sound signal to feed a second listening zone or headphone amplifier. It can also be used to provide an audio return channel to a Sonnex Multiroom Audio System, allowing the local audio to be distributed to multiple stereo zones throughout the house. There is a built-in noise generator for audio setup and DSP with 9-band graphic or parametric EQ, delay, crossover, and compression. The Crestron HD-XSPA decodes all the latest digital formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Featuring a high-power, 8-channel amplifier, the HD-XSPA delivers 140 Watts per channel @ 8 Ohms (240 Watts @ 4 Ohms). It includes a powered subwoofer channel too. Compact in design at just 2U, the HD-XSPA saves space in the equipment rack and integrates easily with other Crestron systems and AV equipment.
03 / 04 / 14
Apple just announced their working with leading auto manufacturers to have the company's new CarPlay in-car operating system. CarPlay gives iPhone users an intuitive way to make calls, use Apple Maps, listen to music and access messages with just a word or a touch. Users can control CarPlay from the car's native interface or just push-and-hold the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri without distraction. Vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will premiere CarPlay this week, while additional auto manufacturers bringing CarPlay to their drivers in the future include BMW Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor Company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota Motor Corp. "CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing. "iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva." CarPlay provides drivers access to their music, podcasts, audiobooks and iTunes Radio via physical controls or by asking Siri to pull up what you'd like to hear. Apple's CarPlay system requires the main cable to be connected, thus does not reply on limited bandwidth Bluetooth technology. There is no word about the audio capabilities, thus it is anyone's guess if it will play high resolution music files.
Boombox enthusiasts may want to check out Ion Audio's new Road Warrior 200-Watt wireless stereo speaker system ($399). The Road Warrior brings 200 Watts to your party, which is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery that may be charged via 12 volt or wall outlet. Two 10" woofers produce ample bass and midrange; with the upper frequencies being produced by two 1" dome tweeters. An AM/FM radio is built in as is Bluetooth and a 1/8" Aux analog input. Ion Audio's Road Warrior's cabinet is made with MDF that is then covered in soft durable cloth. Cabinet versatility in design shows well here as the Ion Audio Road Warrior can either sit in angled or in upright position. There are multiple recessed handles for easy carrying.
Music Industry News 10 Years Ago
03 / 03 / 14
High fidelity audio is making its way to the lifestyle event market as the upcoming RAND Luxury show in NYC will be held at the Metropolitan Pavilion tomorrow from 3pm to 5pm. The Luxury Technology Show brings together 50 brands from around the world. Attendees will have two hours to se such notable brands as Creston Electronics, Sony, Velodyne, SIM2 Multimedia, Krell Industries, Westone Music, Audeze, Wren Sound Systems, Astell & Kern, audio DOCTOR, Waterfall Audio Sound Designers and more. RAND Luxury is an International event-production company that caters to fine luxury brands. According to the show promoter, "The primary focus and purpose for these events are to provide 3-4 months of public relations and brand exposure for all of its exhibitors & sponsors." Based in Manhattan, the RAND team says they are best known for their "Evening of Luxury" events where a variety of manufacturers showcase their newest and hottest products. The Rand concept has been featured on television on such stations/broadcasts as CNBC High Net Worth, CNNfn, Fox, ABC & CBS.
03 / 01 / 14
Enjoy the Music.com's March Review Magazine is filed with four World Premiere equipment reviews, a link to Alan Sircom's Bristol Sound & Vision 2014 show report plus some exciting lifestyle and design products including one for your Apple iPhone!
See the March Review Magazine by clicking here.
The Wonderful DIY Experience
Freq iPhone 'Amplifier'
Lotus Motorcycle C-01
Swatch SISTEM51 Automatic Wind Mechanical Timepiece
Duelund Cast Pio (Paper In Oil) Copper Capacitor
Great Prokofiev and disappointing Rachmaninoff concerto's from two young superstars.
From Reference Recordings, fine performances of Strauss blockbusters in wonderful recorded sound.
See the March Review Magazine by clicking here.
For previous high-end audio industry news click here.