Audio News

Audio News for August 10, 2010

Not the Best Place to Buy Speakers; USB Mikes for Consumers Thriving; HDMI Audio Quality & Daisy-Chaining; Video Music Moving to Blu-ray

Published on August 10, 2010

Not the Best Place to Buy Speakers - A Kansas City newspaper ran a story headlined The Back of Some Guy’s Van Might Not be the Best Place to Buy Stereos. They’ve had a rash of transient companies in their metropolitan area selling stereo speakers from a van with various stories about why they are getting rid of them at such a low price. The outside of the speaker boxes frequently indicate a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,999 to $3,999 when their value and quality are a great deal less than so indicated – at least that’s the way the District Attorney’s Consumer Hotline put it.

USB Mikes for Consumers Thriving
– Although the recession has impinged on pro sound manufacturers in general, USB mikes for home use have been selling briskly for Blue Microphones. They are capitalizing on the new market the digital age has brought, with people recording music at home, creating audio podcasts and producing homemade online videos with narration. Their less expensive, easy-to-use mikes are designed for non-professionals, being USB models that plug directly into Macs or Windows computers and don’t require drivers or sound mixers to operate. Since recording has morphed into computerized recording, Blue Mikes have struggled to keep up with production. Their most popular model is the Yeti mike, which sits on a platform and looks like it belongs on a TV talk show. At $149, it is No. 1 on Amazon’s chart of best-selling mikes.

HDMI Audio Quality & Daisy-Chaining - A recent article in PC World continues the questionable claim that HDMI cable carries both the best possible image and sound. Don’t believe it – compare the sound portion you get with a six-channel analog cable from your SACD, Blu-ray or DVD player with the HDMI connection and decide for yourself.  Often you will find the analog cable sounds better. Soon HDMI will be replaced by HDBaseT anyway, (and as far as we’re concerned, good riddance!) One useful thing you can do, however, is to turn off your receiver or AV preamp when you are just watching talking heads on TV or programs where surround sound is unimportant, and use the speakers built into your TV, thus saving on energy use.  

Video Music Moving to Blu-ray
– Sales of music on DVD have slowed down recently, but it’s moving to the Blu-ray format, with greatly improved picture and the highest surround sound audio resolution yet. As of last month 182 Blu-ray music titles have been released – all with lossless surround audio and full 1080 picture. One authority opined that audiophiles had expected SACD to take off more than it did, so they could enjoy their favorite recordings in the highest audio resolution, but that didn’t happen. Blu-ray music titles fit the niche nicely. One dealer uses music Blu-rays instead of movies as demo discs for those who need convincing about Blu-ray.  Naxos’ president Klaus Heymann says “Blu-ray fills a niche for music,” and has begun to release some Blu-ray audio-only titles without the video portion. The president of Eagle Rock Entertainment, Mike Carden, said however that the drawback about music video Blu-rays (they have released 50 titles to date) is that retailers are convinced their customers want only new theatrical movies on hi-def, and treat the music category as inferior – not stocking them or lowering their prices so far that the producers fail to profit from them. (In spite of all this promotion of Blu-ray for music, more music came out on SACD releases the first six months of this year than on Blu-ray: 296 SACD titles! And so far audio-only (Pure-Audio) Blu-ray sales have been infinitesmal…Ed.)




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