Blue reveals Hummingbird microphone at NAMM
Blue unveiled its Hummingbird Class A small-diaphragm microphone at NAMM. Based on the Blue B1's cardioid capsule, the Hummingbird has a head that rotates 180 degrees, measures just 70mm (6.7 inches) tall, and offers a signal-to-noise ratio of 85.5dB-A and a maximum sound pressure level of 130dB. Shipping later this spring, the Hummingbird will cost $300.
Gateway OS X and Windows product expandable with in-app purchases
Avid today unveiled Pro Tools First, a free version of the company's Pro Tools software suite that offers many of the same music creation capabilities used by top artists and recording studios worldwide. Built upon the Avid MediaCentral Platform, Pro Tools First is is intended as a gateway to the full package, and usable by beginners and experienced music producers alike.
Good entry-level app that makes the basics easy and fast
It's harder to make podcasts than you might imagine. No, strike that: it's easy to make bad podcasts, to make the kind of audio that makes grown NPR and BBC radio producers sob and listeners disappear. What's harder is to make anything worth listening to, and that's chiefly a mix of your talent and your technology. The new Opinion Podcast Recorder & Editor app won't make a scrap of difference to your talent -- except that it will let you concentrate on getting better, because it sets out to make the technical side of podcasts simple. It aims to be the one place you record your podcast, edit it, and then distribute it.
DJ tool adds Spotify, better MIDI support
Thanks to numerous technological advances over the past 40 years, the tools -- and skills -- needed to cut and mix music together in a live environment has been drastically reduced. What used to require multiple record decks, crossfaders, and not to mention a large library of vinyl records, has been reduced down to a single piece of software that can run on a laptop. Algoriddim, a company that has become well known for its iOS DJ apps, recently released a new Pro version of its desktop app Djay. Built specifically for OS X, Djay Pro takes full advantage of 64-bit processing, multi-core track analysis, and Retina displays, but does it do so in a way that is accessible to anyone? We have spent the last few weeks digging around the app to find out.
New mic comes with connectors for nearly every digital application
Music hardware and software developer IK Multimedia today announced the iRig Mic Studio, its ultra-portable large-diaphragm digital condenser microphone for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC and Android. The iRig Mic Studio packs a one-inch diameter condenser capsule into an ultra-compact enclosure that can be used to make professional recordings anywhere.
Cross-platform mixer brings 24 channels ADAT, 64 channels MADI to one unit
Today, MOTU debuted the 112D, a Thunderbolt-equipped digital audio interface, router, format converter and mixer. The seventh in a series of new, high-end audio interfaces from MOTU, the 112D serves as the flagship digital interface of the new line, offering 24 channels of AES/EBU, 24 channels of ADAT optical and 64 channels of MADI (AES10) for a total of 112 simultaneous digital I/O channels, all in a single rack space.
Major update for already-superb audio recording app
When Audio Hijack 3 was announced, one of us actually squealed in delight. It wouldn't be right of us to mock him, but you can. In fairness, many people who had heard of the software -- and certainly every one who had used it -- was pleased too. For this is one of those applications that isn't just a regular part of your toolbox, it's one that reminds you every time why it is just so much handier working on a Mac than a PC.
Mail Drop, Air Drop supported in latest update; many features improved
On Wednesday, Apple released a major update to its flagship digital audio workstation program, Logic Pro X. Not unlike the fictional band Spinal Tap, the main focus in the new version 10.1 is a significant change in Drummers, bringing 10 new options covering more styles, particularly for dance and electronic music. In addition to the extra styles, the sound quality has been upgraded, controls have been re-worked, and the Drum Machine Designer plug-in has been revamped.
Cloud storage firm ends support for 10.5, earlier on May 18
Users who are still using OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard) are probably used to it by now, but yet another company has announced it is dropping support for the 10- and seven-year-old (respectively) operating systems. Dropbox, the well-known cloud storage firm that offers browser-based and native-app cloud storage for a wide variety of platforms, is informing users who access the service on the obsolete OS versions that support for them will end on May 18.
MacNN and Electronista Deals for January 16, 2015
[Updated with more great deals!] The second full week of 2015 is almost over, and so it's time for the Friday Deals post, where we find great offers on hardware, gadgets, and software for you, the ever-discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. As usual, the prices are correct at the time of writing, but the offer may change at a later time, so check before purchasing. Also, remember to come back over the weekend, as we will be adding more deals for you to enjoy.
Library of over 500 tracks available to Twitch game streamers
Twitch is providing music to users of its game-focused video-streaming service, in order to allow its broadcasters to avoid potential copyright problems. The extra help to game streamers comes as the Amazon-owned service attempts to diversify into different areas, by launching an experimental "Music" category for musicians to stream them playing or creating music.
Portable MIDI keyboard with a twist
Thanks to software like GarageBand, creating personalized music has never been easier. The included bank of loops provides a great starting ground for putting together ideas -- however, this can only take a budding musician so far. In order to get the full potential out of any software with a large library of sound samples, some form of external input device is necessary. While options in this field vary greatly, the best place to start is usually with a basic MIDI keyboard. Keith McMillen Instruments' latest product, the K-Board, is a budget-friendly option that looks to introduce a number of features not generally found on keyboards. Is the device simple enough for anyone to use? We have spent the last couple of weeks banging away on the supposedly "unbreakable" keyboard to find out.
Over 60M active users of Spotify, most connect accounts to Facebook
Spotify is continuing to enjoy rising user numbers, with the popular music streaming service announcing it has reached a total of 15 million subscribers. At the same time, reports claim that the majority of Spotify streams stem from mobile listeners, with 52 percent of listening taking place on smartphones and tablets rather than desktops.
Support for competing Google audio streaming system unlikely, Spotify advises
Spotify will not include support for Google Cast any time in the near future, the company has revealed. Rather than allow for its apps to connect to the audio streaming technology Google Cast, Spotify will instead reportedly continue to work on its own competing Spotify Connect audio system, one which allows users to stream music to a number of networked speakers and audio equipment.
It's big, beautiful, big-ticket and predicts users' music tastes
Bang & Olufsen is known for its expensive yet beautiful industrial design-like audio gear, and the latest piece is no different. Basically a really expensive home network and Internet radio streamer, the BeoSound Moment will set wealthy buyers back a not-insignificant $2,800. While at CES, Electronista got a chance to check it out.
Discover new music with surprisingly intuitive app
Finding new music is a difficult task, especially when the radio has become a collective pool of the same 15 songs over and over, almost regardless of station. Streaming service Pandora is a safe bet for many Americans, though that often requires sitting through hours of familiar or similar music in hopes of finding a few undiscovered gems. What are you supposed to do if you're short on time, but equally short on tunes? You try something new, like Discovr, by Filter Squad , which aims to help you find new music you'll love by just knowing your current favorites.
Sound profiles are automatically adjusted for each ear
AKG is attempting to revolutionize headphone technology with its new N90Q. The company has developed an active signal-processing system, known as TruNote, that automatically calibrates the frequency response to suit the listener's own ears. Electronista listened to the new headphones at CES to see if the technology is a gimmick, or the next big thing.
Tech requires no built-in batteries
Philips has announced a new set of Lightning headphones, the Fidelio NC1Ls. As with the company's previous Lightning hardware, the NC1Ls include their own 24-bit digital-to-analog converter. New to the product, though, is active noise cancellation -- based on inverting the input from four integrated microphones. Unlike most noise-cancelling headphones, the NC1Ls run on the power of the device they're connected to, eliminating the need for built-in or replaceable batteries (but also introducing additional battery drain on mobile devices).
Retro cans add modern refinements
Sennheiser has upgraded its Momentum family of over- and on-ear headphones, adding modern features to the retro-style cans. Electronista had a chance to listen to both new wireless models at CES, putting their new noise-canceling capabilities to the test. We were generally impressed by the second-generation Momentum headphones, which are expected to command a slight premium over their wired counterparts, but read on for our specific thoughts on the latest changes.
Phiaton announces two new additions to its lines of wireless headphones, earphones
Phiaton has introduced new noise-cancelling headphones and wireless earphones this week at CES. The BT 330 NC is a compact, on-ear headphone that is aimed at travellers who seek a lightweight and compact device. Its noise-cancellation technology cancels low frequency noise (under 1kHz) by up to 95 percent. Its "Everplay-X" feature allows users to continue listening even if the battery charge runs out, and 40mm drivers offer emphasis on a wide frequency range.
Original manufacturing, design partner claims Beats mislead on contract severance
Electronics company Monster, known for its high-priced HDMI cables and car audio gear, has filed suit against now-Apple-owned Beats and its founders, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, as well as former Beats partner HTC, claiming that Beats and HTC misled the company when it bought back enough shares of itself through the HTC investment to sever its contract for headphone partnership with Monster. The lawsuit does not directly involve Apple, but does revolve around the possibility that Beats knew when it left Monster that it was going to be acquired.
Sony targets audiophiles with four-figure price tag
Sony has introduced a new flagship Walkman, the NW-ZX2, that serves as the successor to the ZX1 model that was introduced less than six months ago. The revised edition marks Sony's latest attempt to engage the audiophile market, with its core feature being capable of playing Hi-Res Audio formats, traditional lower-bitrate audio files, streaming content and other media. Electronista stopped by Sony's CES booth to try out the new gadget, and ponder its four-figure price tag.
Totally wireless Xbox One headset caps high-end of offerings from company
Console and PC headset purveyor Turtle Beach today announced new gaming products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The company has rolled out new gaming headsets -- including the Elite 800X, XO Seven Pro, and XO Four Stealth. Also, an entirely new line of PC gaming accessories has been shown, including gaming keyboards, mice, and mousepads.
Altec Lansing introduces new speakers for all-weather conditions, 360 degree sound
Two new speakers have been announced today at CES by Altec Lansing, both featuring Bluetooth connectivity. The all-weather Boomjacket offers twice the battery life of Lifejacket, its predecessor, and is capable of playing audio for up to 40 hours on a single charge. Offering durability to resist the effects of rain, dirt, and shock, its dual two-inch neodymium drivers, passive radiator design and aptX wireless audio aim to produce a powerful sound in a range of settings. Priced at $200, the Boomjacket will be accompanied by a carrying pouch, USB charging, a 3.5mm aux-in jack and power supply cables.
High-resolution audio playback touted in updated Walkman music player
The Walkman brand is alive and well, with Sony revealing the latest iteration in the product line at CES. The Walkman NW-ZX2 is a high-resolution portable music player that is an upgrade to last years' ZX1, capable of playing 24-bit 192KHz FLAC, Linear PCM, AIFF, Apple Lossless, and WAV files, as well as more standard MP3 and WMA content.
Audio-enabled, insulated storage container launches Monday at CES
Portable audio system and food storage container Kube launched Monday at CES in Las Vegas. Designed for outdoor and indoor usage, the Kube offers a Bluetooth range of 50 feet for pairing with a Bluetooth-enabled device, and can deliver sound for up to 20 hours. Its exterior is comprised of aluminum and coated polymer, with five back-lit tactile buttons for controlling audio. Kube additionally includes the ability for charging USB devices with an available port, and its interior insulated food storage compartment features LED lights that automatically engage when the container is opened.
New edition compatible with iOS and Android with simultaneous analog connection
Unlike its predecessor -- which only recently added support for Android devices (and then just the Galaxy Note 4) -- the iRig 2 guitar-to-phone interface, announced today, will support both iOS and Android right out of the gate, developer IK Multimedia says. Outputs on the device have been improved and added -- not only provide studio-quality sound from a smartphone, but to allow musicians to additionally plug into a traditional amplifier without an adapter.
Panasonic offers four new models, one with Bluetooth and NFC
Four new models of headphones from Panasonic made their debut today at CES. The offerings included a foldable on-ear model, Bluetooth headphones with near-field communication (NFC), and two premium in-ear models. The Panasonic Foldz are designed to allow the ear cups to swivel around into a compact formation for storage and portability. The RP-BTD5 Bluetooth headphones include NFC connectivity that allows the user to connect them to a device by simply touching it to one of the ear cups.
Shaq, Nick Cannon help get word out about Monster's latest gear
At its pre-CES conference on Monday morning, AV accessory manufacturer Monster revealed a number of new products and collaborations. The focus was on diversity, as presentations from representatives at partners Adidas and Qualcomm were made, along with a few celebrity appearances in the form of Nick Cannon and Shaquille O'Neal. New offerings included iSport and Adidas Performance headphones, a Bluetooth speaker, and new cables for AV enthusiasts.
Company shows new 4k televisions, sound base, display
Display manufacturer Sceptre will be celebrating its 30th anniversary at the Bellagio in Las Vegas this week, during CES. New and highlighted this year are an 84-inch 4K UHD television, a 49-inch 4K UHD touchscreen computer monitor, and a wireless soundbase for use to bolster sound from the flat panel televisions.
LG, Sony, Denon among early supporting hardware brands
Google has announced that its Cast technology will soon be able to send audio-only feeds to devices such as speakers and AV receivers. Users will be able to cast from Android and iOS apps, as well the web, presumably via Chrome for Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS. Some compatible services will include Deezer, Google Play Music, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, and TuneIn.
Operates up to 100 feet away
Logitech-owned Ultimate Ears has announced a new Bluetooth speaker, the UE Megaboom. The design is based on the original Boom -- which likewise aims sound in a 360-degree arc -- but is substantially larger. It should last up to 20 hours on a single charge, and UE is promising a 100-foot range, well beyond most Bluetooth devices, which are typically limited to about 30 feet. By comparison, the original Boom has a 15-hour battery, and a 50-foot range.
Tablet could upgrade to stereo
Leaked schematics suggest that Apple's rumored "iPad Pro" will have a more powerful set of speakers than the iPad Air or iPad mini. A captured 3D rendering, said to come from a Foxconn factory worker, depicts the Pro as having a speaker grille next to its power button. If authentic, the image (below) indicates either that Apple is relocating the speaker, or that the Pro will have both top- and bottom-facing units -- making it the first iPad with true stereo sound. The iPad Air 2 has twin grilles, but these are both on the bottom, and connected to the same speaker.
Parrot's latest has CarPlay integration, OBDII, more
France-based Parrot's latest unveiling at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was the RNB6 double-DIN automotive head unit. The new RNB6 supports both Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto. The seven-inch capacitive touchscreen unit also offers many other features to prospective buyers, such as an included dashcam, navigation, and Bluetooth 4.0.
Griffin adds Bluetooth connectivity to Twenty digital audio amplifier
Griffin is using CES to launch a large number of accessories for mobile devices, as well as something for audiophiles. The collection includes four items in its charging-related accessory range and two iTrip devices, along with an upgraded version of its Twenty digital audio amplifier, adding Bluetooth connectivity and a refined physical design.
New speakers waterproof, ruggedized, louder, and boasts longer battery life
Fugoo, makers of the Go Anywhere speaker line, today announced their newest product line at Las Vegas' Consumer Electronics Show. The new Fugoo XL series is larger and louder, ruggedized, and 100 percent waterproof, according to the company. Featuring Bluetooth connectivity, the new speaker has quadruple the wattage, and two new jacket styles that float.
'Adventure models' will debut at Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show next week
Last year, speaker maker Nyne unveiled its "Aqua" at CES 2014 -- a Bluetooth speaker with an IPX7 rating, which means it's considered "waterproof" (immersion for up to 30 minutes at 3.3 feet (1m) of water). This year, three new "adventure models," the Edge, the Verge, and the Rock will be available to demo at Nyne's CES booth. While these new models don't have ratings high enough to designate them as waterproof, they are still water-resistant.
Industry trends hurting Apple
Tracking data from Nielsen SoundScan indicates that on-demand streaming of music content (including audio and video) rose 54 percent in 2014, from 106 billion song streams to 164 billion. At the same time, sales of digital albums fell nine percent, to 117.6 million; sales of individual songs dropped even further, down 12 percent to 1.26 billion. Combined physical and digital album sales slipped 11 percent, to 257 million.
IK Multimedia's new portable groove controller
When it comes to mobile music products, IK Multimedia has positioned itself as one of the top suppliers. Right from the early days of iOS, the company has remained at the forefront of the iOS music creation market with products like the original iRig and iRig Mic. As iOS has developed and become more powerful, so has the line-up of iRig products -- its latest introduction, iRig Pads, brings musicians a full-featured 16-pad MIDI groove controller. Is the iRig Pads worthy of the space in your bag for creating a mobile loop workstation? We put the hardware through its paces in our full review.
Make OS X's phone call feature the must-have it should be
A stand-out, landmark, must-have feature of OS X Yosemite is how you can now make phone calls from your Mac. We knew it wouldn't be quite as easy as it sounds and we were fine with having to set it up, we were fine with having to have an iPhone for it to work. We've been less fine since, because it's proved too fiddly. DockPhone, an app that promises to simply the process somewhat, is not perfect either -- but it's so very good that it caused us to start using the feature more than we have since it launched.
Futuristic-looking 'Ring Radiator' audio devices to debut at CES
Samsung has announced some details about the audio products it will be showing at CES later this week. An expanded line of their curved soundbars is included, as well as their brand new WAM7500/6500 360-degree speakers. Samsung introduced their curved soundbars earlier this year, and are looking to expand the line to four devices. The new "ring" speaker, by contrast, offers a slick, futuristic design.
US-born singer with success in Korea's 'Pay Day' used in the film
Besides Sony Pictures' feature The Interview attracting the ire of both the North Korean government and hacker group "Guardians of Peace," it is also irritating a South Korean musician. Sony has used singer Natasha Shanta Reid's (also known as Yoon Mi Rae) "Pay Day" song in the movie without negotiating rights, or paying the artist in any way for its use. A lawsuit is pending.
US customers get holiday channels on iTunes Radio instead
As was the case last year, Canadians are once again getting a sale on selected albums in iTunes as part of a "Boxing Day" event, part of a traditional observance throughout Canada and a number of other Commonwealth countries. The UK iTunes Store is also having a sale on hit albums, but doesn't label the event as a "Boxing Day" sale. US users don't get a sale, but are instead enjoying special holiday channels on iTunes Radio, which remains unavailable in the UK and Canada.
Apps, e-cards and other instant-delivery options for the procrastinators
We're some 40 years overdue for flying cars, teleportation and printers that can output copies of our dreams, but there are a few methods by which the chronic procrastinators of this world can still swoop in with a last-minute gift for someone at Christmas they'll actually like. While Amazon has closed the doors to physical delivery of any products at this point -- even for Prime members - by the 25th, you still have perhaps a few hours left to send a Boxing Day present, or get in now to ensure a timely New Year's gift. Or you can read on for more suggestions.
Send audio messages straight to anyone on your local network - with a catch
We've all had days in the office when there is great pressure and you can't afford time to leave your desk. Some of us have also had the rather less-satisfying situation where bosses frowned on you stopping to chat, and while those do tend to be the same sorts of bosses who won't let you install non-corporate-approved apps, if you can get it by them, Echoes (for Macs and iOS devices) is a way to bring a little humanity into your day. Possibly also a lot of irritation, as well -- but that'll depend on your colleagues, not on Echoes.
Cash and gift cards still top want; Beats, iPhone, iPad, MacBooks top their categories
A new survey of college students contains lots of good news for Apple, with the company clearly the most-desired brand for holiday gifts in all the categories Apple competes in. Cash and gift cards are still king, followed by clothing, but electronics was the third most-popular category of gift, reaching second most-popular among males. The overall second-place finish of clothing was due to a strong preference compared to electronics by women rather than men. Apple and its new Beats brand, however, did well with everyone.
Portable speaker, two soundbars, Blu-ray player incoming from LG
LG has revealed more details for new speakers joining its Music Flow networked speaker collection, competing against similar systems from Samsung and Sonos. Set to be shown off at CES, the new items consist of a portable speaker, two sound bars, and a streaming 3D Blu-ray player, all of which will be compatible with Android and iOS devices.
'Let peace begin with me' offered as a resonant theme to current turmoil
A new post from Apple Retail Senior Vice President (SVP) Dame Angela Ahrendts on her LinkedIn blog offers a simple holiday message and song with a theme of peace, saying her message for the season was simply "let peace begin with me." Ahrendts said she was inspired by a recent re-hearing of a song she used to play on piano, a rendition of "Let There Be Peace on Earth" by B.J. Thomas. The song, originally written by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller in 1955, offers an inspirational message of unity.
Can run up to 24 threads on Mac Pro
Algoriddim has launched djay Pro, a new Mac edition of its typically iOS-based DJ software. In its new incarnation, the app supports up to four simultaneous decks, rather than two, and can draw music not just from a local iTunes library but also from Spotify -- thanks to a partnership with the streaming music service. It also exploits Retina displays and multi-core 64-bit processors; on a 12-core Mac Pro, the app can handle up to 24 processing threads at once for track analysis.
Flat sound, minimum clarity holds Dell's speaker back from being a good buy
For all of the high-priced, over-engineered Bluetooth speakers in the electronics market, there is still room for mass-market solutions. While consumers often compromise in battery life, design or sound, the sub-$100 market offers a wide array of choices. Computer builder Dell entered into the Bluetooth speaker market with a value model, looking to entice consumers with a long battery life and compact, minimal design. But is the Dell AD211 a good buy for consumers looking to get the most out of their money, or does it fail to meet modest expectations? Find out in our review.