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Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 13, 2014
From the press release:
Arlington, VA – 06/12/2014 – DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, in cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® and The Recording Academy®, announced today the results of their efforts to create a formal definition for High Resolution Audio, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.

The definition is accompanied by a series of descriptors for the Master Quality Recordings that are used to produce the hi-res files available to digital music retailers. These can be used on a voluntary basis to provide the latest and most accurate information to consumers.

 |  Jun 12, 2014
Today, Amazon launched its Prime Music lossy streaming service. All Amazon Prime members (requires $99 annual subscription fee) now have free access to "over 1 million songs" through the Prime Music web-based app or the Prime Music iOS/Android app. We are Amazon Prime members so I took PM for a quick spin by loading an album into "my library". Once I did this, my library was automatically populated with all of the music I've purchased from Amazon that is part of their AutoRip service. In our case, that meant I had about 200 songs in my library from the get go without having to actually do anything. Nice.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 12, 2014
NAD's new Masters M12 Direct Digital Preamplifier DAC

Lenbrook International, parent company to NAD, PSB, and Bluesound, provided a closer look at and listen to their new Master Series products at a press event yesterday in NYC. On hand for the introductions were John Banks from Bluesound (see our Q&A) and Greg Stidson of NAD. Of particular interest to AudioStream readers is the new Masters M12 Direct Digital Preamplifier DAC ($3499) which boasts a modular design, fittingly dubbed MDC (Modular Design Construction), which can accommodate up to 6 MDC boards offering present and future proof features.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 09, 2014
The website is gaining momentum. Now with seven labels represented and over 200 DSD downloads available, fans of DSD should be pleased. The latest news is their new "JustListen" label offering "special 'session tapes' and unedited performances that, up till now, are only heard by the production teams and those close to the industry." These "unedited ultra high resolution session recordings" are offered in stereo and multi-channel 64x DSD, 128x DSD, some in 256x DSD, and DXD. Did I mention they're free?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 06, 2014
Press Release:
Lambertville, NJ, June 6, 2014. Channel D, developers of the innovative and award-winning Pure VinylTM and Pure Music® computer audio software for Apple Macintosh computers, and the creator of the Seta® Ultra Wide Bandwidth Balanced Flat Phono Preamplifiers recently was granted US Patent #8,738,16 B2 for "PROXY FILE POINTER METHOD FOR REDIRECTING ACCESS FOR INCOMPATIBLE FILE FORMATS" - in other words, Channel D's novel invention permitting FLAC and DSD files to appear in Apple's iTunes.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 05, 2014
The Mac rumor mill is abuzz again. This time, a report originating on 9to5Mac (see report) suggests that Apple's Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) program will be adding the specifications to allow OEMs to make headphones that connect to iOS devices using a Lightning connector. The report also suggests that this will allow for 24/48kHz playback from iOS devices with a simple software update for iOS 7.1. Perhaps of even greater appeal is the ability to deliver iOS-based DSP solutions as well as app control of headphone features.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 02, 2014
Are you going to watch? I am! Will they talk 24-bit? Maybe surprise us with CD-quality streaming? For some reason I have my doubts at this late date. We shall see.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 28, 2014
It's official. Apple is buying Beats for $3 billion. From an article in the NY Times, "The Beats brand will remain separate from Apple’s, and Apple will offer both Beats’s streaming music service and premium headphones." Initial reports (see ours) had Beats priced at 3.2 billion so someone took a haircut but at these prices how painful could that really be. We'll also be keeping an eye on the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 2 for the announcement of Apple's rumored move to 24-bit downloads. We shall see (soon!).
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 20, 2014
With more than 50 new features and a new stripped down look (which I like), Pure Music 2 is available now (here). Current users who purchased Pure Music after January 2013 get PM 2 for free. If you purchased your copy before that, you can upgrade to PM 2 for $44.95 until May 28, 2014 after which the upgrade price goes to $74.95.

New features include:

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 20, 2014
Mytek has announced their new flagship DAC, the Manhattan:
"The Manhattan DAC Headphone Preamplifier represents Mytek's finest achievement. We Listen first and foremost, from the quality of our designs to our customers voices. In this vein, we created a device who's look and feel is only surpassed by its sound."
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 13, 2014
Thanks to reader CG for pointing us to this article on MacRumors (see article) which claims Apple will introduce 24-bit capability with the launch of their updated mobile app iOS 8 coming June 2 at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). At present, iOS 7's music app is limited to 24/48, which in and of itself ain't bad, and while you can have your iOS device play back greater resolutions using Onkyo's HF Player (see article) and an external DAC, internal playback is currently limited to 16-bit.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 09, 2014
The Financial Times has reported that Apple is in talks to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion as early as next week (see report). As the article points out:
One motivation for the Beats deal may lie in shifts in music consumption. Subscription services are the biggest growth area for the music industry, with revenues increasing 50 per cent to $1.1bn in 2013, according to a recent report by the IFPI, the global music industry association.

But downloads fell 2 per cent to $3.93bn – the first annual decline since Apple launched its iTunes store in 2003. iTunes is still the world’s largest music download service.

How big is this potential deal? Let's look at some numbers.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 06, 2014

Thanks to reader Nick I. for the heads up on this. Very apropos. Sprint's new htc one (M8) Harman/Kardon Edition ($679) smartphone coming on May 9 includes a 24/192 DAC, $150 earbuds, 160GB SD storage, and a special promo deal for 6 months free of Spotify Premium.

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 05, 2014
HDtracks has just launched a new website/blog that will cover music and hi-fi albeit not in your typical fashion. Or so they say:
You can read our “Ask The Audio Guru” column and get tips and advice from our in house expert Michael Trei, read our “Listening to Music” column from Dr. Jules Coleman or “Casual Reactions” by Herb Reichert. What you are not going to read is the same old product reviews and album reviews.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Apr 30, 2014
Head on over to the BBC's website to watch and listen to an interesting interview with Blue Coast Records owner and DSD pioneer Cookie Marenco. "Cookie Marenco: Pioneer of high quality digital music recording" is part of the BBC's Women in Tech, "a series of stories profiling the most innovative, pioneering and successful women and how they are changing an industry traditionally dominated by men."