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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 24, 2015 26 comments
The Technics Tracks High-Res Download Store opens today for residents of the UK and Germany. Technics claims "tens of thousands" of 24-bit/192kHz tracks at launch, "hundreds of thousands" of 24-bit tracks, as well as an "extensive collection of 16-bit/44.1kHz CD quality tracks." The service was custom built by 7digital, a leading open digital music platform operator.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 23, 2015 42 comments
Attention audiophiles: duck and cover! Another questionable product aimed squarely at us so we're in for it now (again)! While Sony claims the SR-64HXA, a Class 10 64GB microSDXC card which will cost ¥18,500 (roughly $155), produces less electrical noise when reading data as compared to a standard microSD card, the mainstream press ain't buyin' it and they're throwing stones our way (again).
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 16, 2015 15 comments
With firmware update v1.0.5, the Pono Player now plays DSD64 and DSD128 files. I dragged and dropped a few DSD albums into my player and I'm listening to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan from Acoustic Sounds and it sounds just lovely. Like analog.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 10, 2015 24 comments
Audio manufacturer PS Audio and recording company Blue Coast Records, who specialize in DSD recordings, have each offered a high res challenge to the writers who could not hear the differences high res audio offers when reviewing Neil Young's Pono Player (you can read my review here. Spoiler Alert: I heard a difference).
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 09, 2015 2 comments
From the press release:
Lambertville, NJ—February 4, 2015—Channel D, developers of the innovative and award-winning Pure Vinyl™ and Pure Music® computer audio software for Apple Macintosh computers and the creator of the Seta® Ultra Wide Bandwidth Balanced Flat Phono Preamplifiers has released a significant update to its Pure Music® software.

Pure Music 2.0.3, available for download now from the Channel D website, brings enhancements to its Streamthrough streaming audio technology. Streamthrough permits conveniently playing and enhancing other computer audio sources through Pure Music, with full access to Pure Music's dithered volume control, 64 bit crossover, audio EQ plug-ins, NetSend streaming, metering, etc., all without needing to quit Pure Music.

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 02, 2015 70 comments
In addition to the NY Post and Gizmodo, Ars Technica has weighed in on Pono as has David Pogue of Yahoo. The verdict? People can't really tell the difference between high res files and lower resolutions, some people prefer the iPhone, and generally high res audio is a bunch of snake oil. Just ask Monty and buy yourself a better pair of headphones. You'll find these same sentiments expressed on forums, in the comments section of the aforementioned articles, and even within our own small world of hi-fi enthusiasts. People just can't seem to agree on Pono and high res audio which is odd since we all agree on everything else, especially when it comes to science. Just look at climate change for one easy example.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 30, 2015 7 comments
According to Endgaget, "'Project Panther,' a company indirectly owned by Jay Z's S. Carter Enterprises, has made a bid for Aspiro, a company that runs Tidal" for 464 million Swedish crowns ($56 million) in cash. From The Verge, "Norwegian media company Schibsted, which owns a majority share in Aspiro, accepted the bid this Friday while Aspiro's board has 'unanimously recommended' that the shareholders accept the offer."
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 28, 2015 5 comments
French download site and lossless streaming service Qobuz recently published "A letter from the Qobuz team to its subscribers and users". Fist off, I am very happy to see Qobuz working their way through some difficult financial times (see report) as I enjoy their site and services. While there is no mention of expanding their lossless streaming into other markets, they do talk about redesigning their website to focus more on streaming and less on downloads. A sign of the times?

Here's an interesting and oddly relevant quote from their letter which I didn't see until after I posted "Is High Resolution Audio Elitist?:

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 22, 2015 1 comments
From the Press Release:
Tokyo, Jan 22, 2015 - (JCN Newswire) - Internet Initiative Japan Inc. (IIJ), KORG Inc. (KORG), Saidera Paradiso Ltd. (Saidera Paradiso) and Sony Corporation (Sony) today announced that they will conduct open technological experiment of live-streaming using the high-resolution digital audio format "Direct Streaming Digital (DSDTM) 5.6MHz". The four companies have partnered with the "Spring Festival in Tokyo"-one of Japan's premier music festivals-and the Berliner Philharmoniker...
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 17, 2014 7 comments
In an interview with Billboard, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek talks about the possibility of adding a higher tiered lossless service to Spotify:
Just like we’ve had deluxe edition of albums, everyone is thinking about how does that look like in a future world? Lossless music -- is that a higher priced tier? Is that something that comes with deluxe editions? How should we package subscriptions to consumers? That’s a very big topic right now on the label side. The kind of debates that I’ve wanted to have for many, many years with the music industry, we’re finally seeing it happening. The industry is realizing, “Hey, we need to embrace streaming, and we need to do it fast.”
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 16, 2014 7 comments
As reported by re/code, during the company’s earnings call last week, Warner's CEO Stephen Cooper said:
As we have said before, streaming – and particularly the subscription model – more fully captures the true demand for music. In the streaming universe, consumption drives the economics — so the more that people listen to music, the better it is for our artists and our business.
Cooper continued with a nod to Taylor Swift:
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 11, 2014 30 comments
From the press release:
Developed by Meridian, MQA is a breakthrough technology to reverse the trend, in which sound quality has been continually sacrificed for convenience. Vital elements of our music have been thrown away to fit thousands of songs into a pocket or millions in a cloud. With MQA there is no sacrifice; it brings us right back to the enthralling sound of live music. MQA captures and preserves nuances and vital information that current music files obscure or discard, but in a file that is small and convenient to download or stream.
MQA stands for Master Quality Authenticated and is Meridian's answer to delivering high resolution quality in a lossless compressed proprietary format that squeezes down even 24/192 files to roughly the size of CD-quality files. But that's not all.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 02, 2014 9 comments
Spotify released its global 2013 consolidated financial results last week which showed revenues rising 73.6% to €746.9m ($931.7m), while its operating loss grew 16.4% to €93.1m ($116.1m). Spotify closed the year with 36m active users worldwide, with more than 8m paying subscribers. From Spotify's letter to its shareholders, "We believe that music has mass market appeal – and as such, we believe we are just at the beginning of a much larger market opportunity. We believe our model supports profitability at scale."
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 18, 2014 12 comments
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sony is re-thinking "its support for free, advertiser-supported online music after U.S. pop star Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify, the popular digital streaming service."

Here's Kevin Kelleher, chief financial officer of Sony Music, from a Sony briefing for analysts and investors on Tuesday:

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 18, 2014 18 comments
photo credit: Taylor Swift/Rolling Stone

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek came out last week claiming the Spotify service was on track to pay Swift $6M over the next 12 months in fees. In response, Swift's label boss, Scott Borchetta claimed that actual US sales figures were just under $500k. So whose numbers are right?

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