mp3

New Android Hifi Music Player

The Hiditz AP200 is an Android powered high fidelity music player that is available through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

This Bluetooth and wi-fi compatible device plays most Hi-res lossless formats (32 bit/384 kHz), can play for over ten hours and is cheaper than most hi-fi devices that are currently on the market.

The 32 GB version comes in an aluminum body with three color options (Black, Blue, and Silver) and 64 GB version comes in stainless steel body with three options for the back panel (Rosewood, Pure Glass, and Carbon Fiber Glass).

Click here for additional details on this device.

Walt Disney Collectibles and Gifts, Disney Figurin

The Big Question

So, have you ever pondered the meaning of life ? Have you wondered what it all means, why we are here and what happens after people die ?

I have as well, amassing several theories on the subject matter. But this is a blog on music so I won’t be discussing it here. 🙂

The big question I am obviously referring to in the subject line of this blog entry is related to music ; Specifically what format I believe is the best from the many choices we’ve had over the years.

This is of course a contentious issue with audiophiles on the internet but I think most formats have their advantages and disadvantages.

Having been born in 1970 I was exposed to multiple formats through my childhood and teens, from vinyl and 8-tracks in the 70’s to cassette tapes and compact discs in the 80’s.

My parents had a small collection of opera, classical, jazz and contemporary trumpet long play records, along with a few contemporary albums from ABBA, Simon & Garfunkel and The Carpenters. And they also had a copy of some of these recordings on 8-Track tape, which we played at home and in the van. But when I started collecting music on my own I opted for cassette tapes, for portability and durability.

I loved the depth of vinyl and purchased 45’s. But I also loved listening to music on my JVC portable cassette players. And over time I had acquired a collection of cassettes, courtesy of Columbia House.

Audio cassettes had a great bass sound, like that of vinyl. But dust and scratches weren’t an issue in you cleaned your cassette deck regularly. And although some cassettes were eventually damaged or were loosing some of their integrity by the mid 90’s, I had already started to replace my favourites on compact disc, again courtesy of the CD Clubs (Columbia House Canada, BMG and CDHQ).

To prevent fingerprints, dust and scratches on these compact discs I invested in Pioneer, Technics and Sony compact disc changers, in which I stored my most favourite CDs. I also eventually started compiling my favourite music on CD-R and CD-RW to save space in those devices but basically waited for the mp3 players to get a significant amount of storage capacity before buying one.

By 2008 I had stored most of my favourite music on my hard drive in WMA and MP3, most at 320 kbps, and had begun to purchase the odd single or track on the legal music download services by 2010. But I still preferred to purchase compact discs, SACD and DVD-audio discs that featured more than four or five songs that I liked. And prior to the legal music download services I had purchased compact discs used if they had fewer than three good songs.

Since 2010 I have been buying significantly less music because i’ve pretty much upgraded all of my collection to compact disc.

I do buy the occasional music video compilation or live performance on DVD or blu-ray. But I only find myself dabbling in music downloads and streaming, finding the odd track here and there. And one has to wonder if compact discs or any high resolution formats are actually required for today’s pop music.

Let’s face it, we aren’t talking about multi-track productions with intricate arrangements here. There are little to no subtle nuances in most of today’s rather shallow pop music. It’s a consumer product with a short shelf life that’s mass produced and shipped out quickly to take advantage of a trend.

Streaming is of course adequate and ideal for this situation. Kids and teens don’t want to waste their time deleting the less trendy, older recordings on their devices to make room for the music their peers listen to. And a high bit rate isn’t required because of the aforementioned lack of production.

I had hoped that blu-ray audio would have swam against that tide but it appears to be faltering since it’s introduction in 2013 by Universal Music, who had released 36 titles that year.

Unfortunately we’ve all seen SACD and DVD-audio fail to gain traction but I think the industry simply failed to understand what the market wanted.

I believe when people go shopping and see DVD audio and Blu-Ray Audio discs they expect more than just superior audio. These discs are compatible with most video players so why wouldn’t they include music videos, live performances, “making of” footage, etc ?

Warner Music did manage to release Seal’s “Best 1991-2004” on DVD audio, which not only contains 14 of his hits but 10 acoustic versions and 10 of his music videos, all in 5.1 surround sound.

Yes, there may be issues related to rights when it comes to some visual material and some music video compilations have already had their audio remastered for their DVD release. But a significant amount of content can be released on one blu-ray disc.

Unfortunately, when I looked at the current blu-ray audio releases available from Universal Music and Warner Music, many were just audio, with no bonus tracks or material. But these are of course initial releases and perhaps Sony Music’s high fidelity blu-ray audio releases will contain this bonus material.

Sony are planning on releasing 20 titles by this summer, including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual”, Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten”. And I guess I may consider buying a few select releases but I suspect that only the top best selling albums will be released on this new format, starting with those that were certified diamond in the states.

Basically i’m going to be dabbling in both vinyl and blu-ray audio over the next few years, buying my very favourite albums on either format as they are re-released. And hopefully I will get a chance to bump them here as well.

Campaign Ends Soon

The Geek Wave crowd funding campaign will end in 15 days.

You have until July 12th, 2014 to take advantage of the US$167 (+US$40 s&h) offer for the Geek Wave 32.

Click here for details.

Goodbye Winamp

Winamp will be no more as of December 20th, 2013.

The once popular, 15 year old mp3 software had been purchased from Nullsoft by AOL in 1999 for $80 million. But the company will discontinue the software next month and is allegedly hoping to sell it to Microsoft, along with the Shoutcast music streaming service.

Although I haven’t used Winamp for over five years, I’m a bit sad to see it go.

Winamp was my favourite mp3 software for years, until iTunes came along for Canada. And I had used it to rip the vast majority of my CD collection even after windows media player offered that ability.

I loved compiling my favourite music to CDs for my multi-disc carousels and I am still listening to music I had ripped a decade back using this software.

Hopefully it’ll find a new home at Microsoft. But I’m guessing it’ll probably be rebranded for the X-Box.

PONO No Go?

In September 2012 Neil Young had introduced a prototype of his new PONO audio player during an interview on Late Night With David Letterman. And as an audiophile I have been awaiting updates on this new technology since.

This higher resolution audio technology promises to bring 24 bit or 32 bit recordings to consumers when most have only been exposed to the 16 bit recordings of CD or lower when it comes to mp3s. But some question whether it will sell because of the lack of sales in SACD and DVD Audio titles.

Personally I would love to have the depth of vinyl on a digital format. But even I would probably buy only a select amount of albums in this new format so I don’t know if it would get beyond niche market status. And though the PONO is portable I would probably only use it at home with higher end, noise cancelling headphones because I can’t stand headphones than sound like tin cans and strip the bass out of music or ear buds that don’t stay in and allow so much noise in that you need to raise the volume.

An interesting article on the possible pros and cons of this technology can be found at Evolver.Fm. But the article also concedes that little is known about the specific selling points of PONO other than it promises to bring high resolution recordings to consumers. The technology is still being worked on according to mypono.com and though most of the major labels have shown interest in PONO nobody knows if it will rely on a cloud service or not.

If this technology is deemed viable it will probably take some time to get it up and working so all we can do is speculate.

10 Years !

iTunes is ten years old today !

It went online on April 28th, 2003, offering Apple users 200,000 recordings, and sold over ten million mp3s by the time Windows compatible software was released for the service, on October 15th, 2003.