PonoPlayer to be available for pre-order via Kickstarter campaign beginning next week
Musician Neil Young has founded a high-fidelity digital music service, and with it an accompanying playback device soon to be available for pre-order. Entitled PonoMusic, the company encompasses both an online music store and a playback device (PonoPlayer), which is set to be available for pre-ordering through Kickstarter starting next week. The PonoPlayer offers the ability to play high-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels, curated and archived for purchasing on PonoMusic.com. The aim is to deliver audio quality that is far superior to other audio file formats, such as the standard MP3.
Milk Music offers 200 genre stations, personalization options, 13M songs
Samsung is offering owners of its Galaxy mobile devices in the United States a free streaming music service. Milk Music will let users listen to more than 200 genre-based and ad-free music stations, using a catalog of more than 13 million tracks to generate playlists, with the additional option of generating personal stations based on favorite songs and albums.
Graphics, audio requested as areas of focus in new build
Slightly less than two weeks after the public release of OS X 10.9.2, which brought FaceTime audio calling, Mail improvements and an important security fix to Mavericks, Apple is seeding the first beta of OS X 10.9.3, build 13D12, to developers. The brief release notes mention that developers are requested to focus on audio and graphic drivers in their testing. The previous update was released after approximately 14 weeks of testing across seven betas.
Music curation API used by other music services will remain open despite purchase
Spotify is looking to bolster the music curation and discovery functions of its service, by acquiring music intelligence company The Echo Nest, the streaming music service has revealed. The purchase will provide Spotify with deeper access to The Echo Nest's knowledge base and music curation tools, currently used by competitors such as Nokia MixRadio and Rdio for their own music discovery offerings.
Compatible with Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation, 2.5K other devices
Accessories maker Logitech has extended its line of Harmony remote controls to include a new "Harmony Smart Keyboard" that the company is aiming for the growing number of non-computer "smart devices" around the home -- particularly "living room" devices like Apple TVs, video game consoles, audio systems and digital video recorders, among others. Logitech says the keyboard is compatible with 225,000 home-entertainment devices covering 5,000 brands.
App gains 64-bit code, better accuracy, transcriptions from recordings
Nuance has launched Dragon Dictate 4, a new edition of its dictation and transcription software for the Mac. The app has switched to a fully 64-bit codebase, allowing it to better exploit modern processors and RAM. Nuance says it has also improved the accuracy of voice recognition, optimizing it for newer technology.
Intel's new SSD 730 Series available for pre-order
Intel has made its new Solid-State Drive 730 Series available for pre-order. A powerful hard drive intended for gaming and heavy work use, the SSD 730 Series offers low latency and a high throughput, allowing for quick response times. Able to complete up to 70GB of writes per day as opposed to the industry typical 20GB, the drive is capable of delivering consistent performance across data types. Interested buyers can now pre-order the SSD 730, with its official release being March 18.
Claimed discussions with labels stalled over music licensing discount request
Amazon Prime subscribers may receive another benefit in the future, if a rumor is found to be true. It is claimed that the online retailer is looking to expand the Prime bonuses from the current Kindle Lending Library and Prime Instant Video offerings to include music streaming, with Amazon said to be in negotiations with the larger music labels to make the service a reality.
Seven-time Grammy nominee latest to join Coldplay, Soundgarden, more
Just a day after announcing the addition of Soundgarden to the SXSW expansion of the iTunes Festival, Apple has added west coast rapper Kendrick Lamar to the five-day event as well, with the promise of more acts coming. Lamar first came to mainstream attention with his 2012 major-label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.The SXSW shows are the first-ever iTunes Festival concerts outside London, and will begin on March 11 in Austin, Texas.
Clear for iOS enacts first free download period as part of consolidation
As per Realmac's announcement last week, the company's productivity app Clear is available for free until tomorrow morning. Confusion arose when Realmac upgraded Clear for iOS to now require payment, as well as created separate versions for iPhone-only and "universal" (iPad and iPhone) at different price points. Due to Apple not offering a way to migrate users between copies of an app, the company decided to make Clear free for a 24 hour window (as of 9AM EST), with a second 24-hour free period upcoming so that previous users (along with new users) could get the version they wanted without penalty. Those interested in being notified of the next free download period can be notified by email.
90s grunge act Soundgarden to perform 'Superunknown' in full at concert
On the heels of the announcement that the iTunes Festival, a live music event held annually in London, will be extended to a week of shows in the US for the first time at this year's SXSW music festival, Apple has now announced that 90s rock act Soundgarden will join the lineup. The band, featuring its full original lineup, will perform its best-known album "Superunknown" in full during the concert, celebrating its 20th anniversary.
BlackBerry QNX may be faster, more accessible than aging Windows software
According to sources familiar with the matter, the Ford Motor Company will migrate its next-generation in-car Sync away from Microsoft's Windows. In its place will be beleagured BlackBerry's QNX at the core of the car's in-dash system. QNX will be less expensive than Windows, and will reportedly boost the speed of the next iteration of Sync.
Companion app adjusts settings to different locations
GN ReSound has officially launched the LiNX, its promised MFI-certified hearing aid. The unit connects wirelessly to an iPhone (or other iOS device), which with a companion iOS app can serve as a remote controlling volume and EQ settings, including presets. A unique feature is geofencing, which can automatically switch presets based on location, such as home or work. A Find My Hearing Aid option can help retrieve a lost LiNX.
Aria headphones feature 50mm full-range neodymium magnet drivers, wooden acoustic chamber
Luxury gaming instruments company Feenix has announced the upcoming availability of its headset, Aria. Intended for gamers who desire a high level of sound quality, Aria focuses on reproducing sounds as well as a studio monitor. The headphones possess 50mm full-range neodymium magnet drivers, and an acoustic chamber composed of Japanese pine wood. Its independent cardioid clip microphone allows for unidirectional voice recording, with its recording capability making Aria suitable for an every day headphone as well as a gaming headset. Aria's ear cushions are made of memory foam and protein leather for comfortable wearing. Currently available for pre-order online, the Aria headset is priced at $350.
BlackBerry updates BBM app to work with Android 2.3
BlackBerry has opened up BBM for Android to users of older devices. BlackBerry Messenger can now be downloaded and used on smartphones and tablets running Android 2.3 or later, though the older version of the mobile operating system will not have access to new additions to the app, such as BBM Voice, BBM Channels, and Glympse real-time location sharing.
New device gives immediate access to 50,000 music streams
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and networked audio solution provider Grace Digital has introduced the Encore (GDI-IRC7500) Stereo Wi-Fi Music System on Amazon. Boasting a powerful tweeter and woofer arrangement, the Encore promises what the company calls "clearer vocals and deeper bass compared to the industry standard."
Tech could even theoretically monitor mental states
Apple has won rights to a US patent on a biometric headphone system. The technology would track factors like temperature, heart rate, and/or perspiration, using embedded sensors. The sensors could be embedded into the rim of a speaker, or broken out into other components, such as ear clips or inline remotes. Apple also suggests integrating one or more accelerometers for tracking movement, in the latter case recording multiple axes.
Software that saves iTunes audio streams now available for Mac
DoubleTwist has announced the release of its AirPlay Recorder for Mac. Able to capture iTunes Radio streams for offline play, DoubleTwist offers a download for OS X users, as it has for capturing Google Music and other streaming services on Android devices. By selecting the app as an AirPlay device, the software starts recording when a song or station is played. The application download is free, but only records ten songs --the full version of AirPlay Recorder is $10.
Line focuses on bringing older analog sounds to the digital age
Roland has brought back a key piece of music history with their line of AIRA products. With four new products specifically pointed towards the evolving world of electronic music, the company brings back some classic analog sounds to the digital world and resurrects the TR-808 drum machine in the process.
Dash Bluetooth earbuds offer water-resistance, fitness tracking
Bragi's wireless "smart" headphone set, The Dash, has wildly surpassed its Kickstarter goal of $250,000, with 43 days still remaining in its fundraising campaign. The Dash wireless smart headphones are in-ear, and offer audio playback with the ability to store up to 1,000 songs in its embedded 4GB song player.
'Classic' hip-hop band De La Soul offering free albums for 25 hours
Nineties hip-hop group De La Soul, mired in copyright issues preventing iTunes digital distribution of previously-released albums, has temporarily released their back catalog to the public for free. Available for download (in exchange for an email address at the De La Soul website) are the albums 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate, Stakes Is High, both offerings in the Art Official Intelligence series, and a compilation of "remixes, instrumentals, and rarities." The offer is valid through noon eastern standard time on February 15.
Angry Birds' new release focuses on female characters
Rovio has announced its upcoming new game Angry Birds Stella, offering a female lead character. Rovio CEO Mikael Hed says Stella will feature "passionate characters who really stand for something, while adding plenty of action and and reality into the mix." As with previous Angry Birds games, Stella will likely have books, toys, and other merchandise associated with the title. It is anticipated to be released this fall.
Earphones can sense pulse of wearer, pass data to smartphone app
Earbuds capable of sensing the wearer's heart rate from LG have passed through the FCC, ahead of a possible release in the United States later this year. The Heart Rate Earphones, audio devices that appeared at CES in January alongside the Lifeband Touch, are able to monitor the wearer's pulse and feed the data back to the wearer through an accompanying app.
Wireless speaker uses induction rather than pairing
FAVI Entertainment has released a new speaker for smart phones and tablets that allows wireless connection to a device without the hassle of pairing. The Audio+ Set to Connect speaker merely requires the device to be placed on the docking space in order to connect to the speaker via induction. No fiddling with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is required.
Aereo reopens new registrations in New York City after extending capacity
Aereo has re-opened itself to new subscribers in New York, after rectifying its temporary capacity issues in the region. The cloud-based DVR service will not be allowing for new registrations, reports CNet, with a company spokesperson advising those who pre-registered will get priority for joining the service, with others expected once the wait list queue is shortened. Aereo's other service areas remain unaffected.
Video-oriented sound bar includes Bluetooth streaming receiver
Pioneer has been heavily invested in home audio for decades. Couple that expertise with the predilection for flat screen televisions to have equally flat-sounding speakers, and the fit seems obvious. Couple a television-oriented sound bar with wireless audio streaming from a smart device, and the value equation just gets better, assuming the product is of sufficient quality. Recently, Electronista has been given the chance to try out the Pioneer SP-SB23W sound bar, with Bluetooth audio streaming capability. Check out our review to see what we thought of the system.
NudeAudio announces Studio 5, its first home speaker
NudeAudio announced today its asymmetrical home speaker, the Studio 5. Featuring Bluetooth and Apple Lightning connectivity, the Studio 5 is compatible with all smartphones and tablets. Its 2.1 audio system offers high-fidelity sound, and is housed in metal and fabric material combination. The Studio 5's play-control buttons are hidden in its circular dock-plate, and its iPad support is composed of transparent polycarbonate.
17-inch Alienware for $1,399 and more
Currently at Dell, buyers can get a 17-inch Alienware gaming laptop computer for $1,499. Use coupon code '2M66J?BPVPP$F3' to drop the price down to $1,399. That's about $70 less than the lowest price offered anywhere else. This model features a 2.4GHz Intel i7 (Haswell) processor, 8GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive, with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit pre-installed. A one-year warranty on parts and labor is included.
Rap Genius releases iPhone app, featuring song identification
Lyrical interpretation database site, Rap Genius, released its new app for iOS this week, Genius. Providing access to annotated lyrics for over one million songs, Genius features explanations to unclear lines, defines uncommon terms, and provides context for how songs fit into the broader scope of an artist's work. Users can find out the lyrics for a song that is playing in the vicinity, similar to the capabilities found in music recognition apps such as Shazam. Genius provides lyrics for all the songs in one's iTunes library, presented in the app's My Music section.
Apple UI-inspired tool enables system-wide audio recording
In the beginning, there was no way to get audio into a Mac, other than a costly serial bus peripheral. Not long after that, the Cupertino engineers struck, and added a conventional 1/8-inch jack for a microphone to Apple's line of computers. With the iPod came a new invention -- the podcast. Apple's built-in recording software is functional, but leaves a bit to be desired especially when capturing audio from applications like Skype or iTunes. In September of 2002, the developers that would become Rogue Amoeba released Audio Hijack Pro -- possibly the first entry-level capture tool for OS X able to do what the burgeoning podcast market and streaming radio or music fans demanded: simple, multi-application recording.
Job notices, new technologies may hint at rethinking rather than retirement
As an Apple product, the iPod -- the company's music player line that continues to be a mainstay with fitness buffs and consumers who want "an iPhone without the phone" -- has been in decline for some time. Even so, analysts were startled when CEO Tim Cook mentioned during the recent earnings discussion conference call that shipments of the iconic device line had fallen a full 50 percent from the same quarter last year. Those predicting the iPod's imminent death, however, may be premature.
Microsoft offers $100 store credit towards an Xbox One for those who trade-in their PS3
Augmenting the launching of its Xbox One late last year, Microsoft is now promoting an offer of a $100 credit towards an Xbox One purchase upon trading in of a Sony Playstation 3. The promotion bring the Xbox One pricing down to $400, which is the same as newly-released Playstation 4. The trade-in offer is available through Microsoft's retail stores in the US, and applies to Playstation 3, as well as Xbox 360 S or Xbox 360 E.
Divoom Voombox Outdoor Bluetooth speaker offers portability, water resistance
Divoom will be releasing its portable outdoor Bluetooth speaker tomorrow, the Voombox Outdoor. Offering 12 hours of play and talk time on 15 watts of power, the Voombox can withstand splashed water and dust. Users can wirelessly stream audio from tablets, smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, and make or receive calls wirelessly.
Also adds playlist export types, better search
Developer Coppertino has released VOX 2.0, an update to its free audio player for OS X. The main change is a redesigned interface, designed to highlight album art while hiding most controls until they're needed. The app has also been given gapless playback, cutting out unwanted silence when switching tracks.
Chrome apps offers early developer preview of Apache Cordova-based toolchain
Rdio adds social sharing bar to web, desktop apps
Rdio has updated its web and desktop apps to make it easier for users to share tracks with social networks. The official blog reveals users can click on a song, album, or playlist and then drag it to a new sharing pop-up on the right-hand side of the screen. Users can then select whether they wish to share the tracks over Facebook, Twitter, or to other Rdio users, or alternatively, add it to a playlist in a fourth option on the same panel.
Prototype of Moog's space-controlled synthesizer unveiled at NAMM 2014, shipping to be determined
Electronic instrument maker Moog unveiled a prototype of its latest space-controlled synthesizer at this weekend's NAMM 2014 show, the Theremini. Theremins use two field-generating metal rods to control pitch vertically and volume horizontally, based on the proximity of the user's hands to each end. Combining the experience of performing with an instrument one does not physically touch with Moog's Animoog synthesizer, the Theremini offers assertive pitch control for all skill levels of players. Its pitch control feature allows the user to dial scale correction up or down, eliminating 'wrong notes' when turned up to its maximum.
Cook makes 'exception' to company's forward-looking policy
Following a blitz of interviews given by the executive team and a special mini-site dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh, Apple has rounded off its celebrations by hosting a "beer bash" for employees that featured executives and engineers mingling outside the company's main headquarters, and a live concert by the band One Republic. The well-attended event (captured in a photo by Apple CEO Tim Cook, below) also featured brief remarks by Cook.
Lightning-connected audio recording accessory for iPhone, iPad as well as iPod touch
Audio accessory maker Zoom has launched its iQ5 microphone for iOS devices this week, offering the ability to capture high-quality audio in 90- or 120-degree fields, adjustable by a switch on the device. Including two microphone elements in a mid-size configuration,the iQ5 records 16-bit/44.1kHz audio with an analog-type mic gain wheel. Fitted with a Lightning connector, the microphone has three auto-gain levels, built-in timing, automatic recording, and a dedicated headphone jack to avoid any latency in monitoring.
828x audio interface with Thunderbolt technology provides comprehensive I/O
MOTU has released its newest audio interface of the 828 series, the 828x with Thunderbolt connectivity. Though still possessing USB 2.0 connections, the 828x provides low-latency performance thanks to Thunderbolt, due to the latter's ability to maintain speed in high-bandwidth applications.
Spotify competitor offers curated playlists, Sentence-based music discovery
The Dr Dre-owned Spotify competitor Beats Music has gone live in the United States, with the app appearing in the App Store. The long-awaited streaming music offering launch also signals the future closure of the MOG service, shuttering on April 15th, though it appears that MOG subscribers will not get directly migrated over to Beats Music.
Merchandise marketing through Spotify could help appease royalty critics
Spotify is allowing artists to promote and sell their merchandise through the streaming service for the first time. Band t-shirts, posters, and other merchandise will be offered to Spotify users through the artist's page in the software itself, in what could be considered an olive branch from Spotify to Artists over reportedly-low royalty payments to music makers.
Music discovery service decides not to shut down
Music discovery service Exfm had planned to shut down this week, as was announced late last year, but it has decided to remain operational. Exfm originally launched as a browser extension for finding MP3 files, and has since expanded with mobile apps, a blog widget and an API. Planning to explore partnerships with other companies, Exfm has yet to announce its future direction.
Mixvibes' new flagship Mac/PC software offers video features, frequency colored waveforms
DJ software producer Mixvibes has released its new flagship Mac and PC video mixing software, Cross 3. Used for video clip playback, or for more experimental productions, DJs can choose their level of complexity, take control of the video mixing or let the software follows the music automatically. Featuring two audio and video players, a large video output bar, 35 video transitions and 18 video effects, users can create synced visuals with a music playlist, with the flexibility of live selection.
Akasha game launches on Google Play, with later release on App Store
Games publisher and developer GameEvil has announced its release of Akasha, its latest action MORPG. Featuring three retro classes -- Fighter, Archer and Mage -- players are able to experience dynamic action gameplay while enjoying the classic aesthetic of an MORPG. Its specialized dungeon play and skill upgrading system is customizable. Gamers who play prior to January 26, will receive a Beginner Support Pac and two limited-edition in-game crystals, offering passive stats and bonuses.
New Mac Pro with 64GB of RAM for $4,461
Expercom is currently offering a great deal on the new Mac Pro. This configuration is normally priced on the site at $4,597, but has been reduced to $4,461 with about $17 for shipping, making it about $738 less than the price Apple charges for this same configuration. That makes this the lowest price with these specs that we have seen anywhere. It features a 3.5GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 64GB of RAM and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage with dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards. A one-year warranty on parts and labor is included from Apple.
Commission cites foreign-ownership rules
The Federal Communications Commission has reportedly sided with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), stalling Pandora's application to acquire a terrestrial radio station based in Rapid City, South Dakota. The commission is said to have notified the streaming music company of the decision, which cites foreign-ownership rules as a remaining hurdle, according to a Billboard report.
Button on Jawbone Era triggers Google Now, Siri
Jawbone has launched a revised item in its range of Bluetooth headsets, with more of a focus on voice recognition, as it attempts to fight back against wearable technology such as Google Glass. The Jawbone Era introduces a button on the back of the earpiece that, when pressed and held, will activate Google Now or Siri on a connected mobile device without requiring any button presses on the host smartphone or tablet.
Pandora adds station recommendations to iOS, Android app
Pandora has updated its iOS and Android apps to offer its users recommendations for new stations based on artists the user listens to. The Personalized Station Recommendations will show up to six suggestions based on current listening preferences and previous likes and dislikes, claims the Pandora blog, with future station suggestions to be further improved the more music the user listens to. Users can find the recommendations when they create a new station, or if they scroll to the bottom of their station list.
Clamcase for latest iPad minis turns tablet into faux-ultrabook
Accessory maker Clamcase has produced a new model in its lineup especially designed for the latest iPad mini. The lightweight aluminum case includes a custom QWERTY Bluetooth keyboard that automatically goes to sleep when put in "tablet mode" and wakes up when in "laptop mode." The hinge is offers 360 degree freedom, allowing the keyboard part of the case to act as a stand when not required. The combination of case and iPad mini offers much of the same core functionality as an ultrabook like the MacBook Air, but weighs more than a pound less than one. The case fully protects the iPad mini, and its rechargeable battery lasts for months. The case retails for $129 and is available now.