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Audiophiles, rejoice! Windows 10 Project Manager Gabriel Aul has announced via Twitter that Microsoft will offer native FLAC support in their latest operating system. FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a commonly used lossless audio format that provides a more accurate reproduction of recordings. In other words, it sounds better than other formats, such as MP3, which compress recordings down to a more manageable size but lose quality in the process.
FLAC audio files are very large, but the audio quality is superb. Windows has long forced users to turn to downloadable third-party audio codec packs to support FLAC, along with several other codecs. Microsoft has finally seen the light and is integrating FLAC directly into Windows Media Player 12 and the music app. Microsoft has also pleased the world at large by finally supporting MKV as well, so perhaps there will be less third-party codec downloads with insidious bloatware installers in our future.
"Snap" is a directional sound system, utilizing ultrasonic sound to carry waves in a straight path toward the listener meaning that any others not standing in the exact direction of this speaker will not be affected.
Regular speakers distribute sound in a cone shape and alongside bouncing off objects in a room, allowing multiple users to listen to the same sounds in unison - you know, like a party. What we've got here is a parametric speaker, which through the methods displayed above, allow just one user to easily listen to sounds without disturbing others.
Think about it this way. Forget your headphones on the bus, plane trip or library study visit? Not to worry, set up your parametric speaker (or laptop with them already installed) and blast your hardstlye or death-metal away without getting in trouble from those around you. Developers have claimed that Snap is not their first directional speaker, saying that other models have been developed coming in at around $275 US retail price. Also due to Snap coming as a bunch of accessories, the users must assemble their own device.
Logitech has announced its latest addition to the UE Boom lineup, with the company teaming up with six-time Grammy Award-winning electronic dance music producer Skrillex for the Skrillex Edition UE Boom.
Skrillex has provided a unique visual style to the Skrillex Edition UE Boom, with his own hand-drawn work splashed onto the already slick-looking mobile speaker. Skrillex said: "UE BOOM is awesome because it's small, portable and powerful. They get so loud! I listen to them all the time on tour - from the bus to backstage. They're the best little speakers you can get, which is why I'm pumped to have my own artwork covering a custom edition".
The Logitech UE Boom is a great speaker, with my very positive review on it right here, but this new Skrillex Edition UE Boom is definitely for fans of Skrillex. General Manager of Ultimate Ears, Rory Dooley, said: "Skrillex has been a disruptive force in the EDM evolution, changing people's expectations of and experiences with music. UE is thrilled to work with an artist as notable as Skrillex to bring people their music in an exciting - and expressive - package. Skrillex finds inspiration in the combination of music, people and technology, and this collaboration is a natural fit for our brand".
Amazon has just unveiled somewhat of a surprise to the world, in the form of an always-listening, waiting-for-your-command portable speaker: Echo. Amazon's Echo has a built-in virtual assistant, with Siri and Google Now-like abilities, which can help you out wherever your Echo is sitting.
Inside of the slick-looking black tube, we have a 360-degree-firing speaker, with a 2.5-inch subwoofer and 2-inch tweeter, capable of playing your music from a smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth. Echo is also able to play music online through your Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio.
Echo has seven microphones that feature far-field technology, so it can hear you from virtually anywhere in your room. It can use voice commands to do a variety of tasks, such as playing your music (the most obvious one), get the news for you, answer your questions, create to-do lists, set timers and alarms, tell jokes and much more. You can access Echo from anywhere, thanks to its companion app, too. In order to wake it up, you just use a "wake word" that you've set it up with: for example, "OK, Jarvis" would work nicely.
Southwest Airlines will introduce Apple's Beats Music for free on all aircraft that have Internet connectivity, in an effort to give travelers something to do while traveling. Using the free in-flight Wi-Fi network, travelers can listen to the Beats Music catalog using their smartphones, tablets, or laptops - with a Beats Music button displayed after passengers connect to the Wi-Fi network.
"Southwest connects our customers to what is important in their lives, and in this case, it's music," said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer, in a press release. "We continue to enhance our onboard offerings to remain current as our customers' needs evolve, and with the addition of Beats Music on our entertainment portal, we're doing just that."
This is a unique marketing ploy by both companies, especially from Apple, which hopes passengers will turn into future subscribers.
Taylor Swift has decided to pull her music catalog from popular online music service Spotify, and never allowed her latest album, 1989, to be available online. Spotify has created a new playlist dubbed "What to Play While Taylor's Away," featuring music from Katy Perry, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, and Leagues.
More than 16 million Spotify listeners have played Swift's tracks in the past month, with Swift appearing in more than 19 million playlists. Here is what Spotify said in a blog post: "We hope she'll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone."
Earlier in the year, Swift said "music should not be free," while also stating "piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically," in an op-ed published on the Wall Street Journal.
Gaming peripheral maker Razer has just announced its first surround sound bar, the Leviathan. Razer's Leviathan is a virtual 5.1 surround sound gaming and music bar, that streams your audio through Bluetooth 4.0 aptX, with a price tag of $199.99. Here's what we can expect inside of the Leviathan:
- Powered by four expertly tuned drivers plus subwoofer
- 5.1 virtual surround sound powered by Dolby Virtual Speakers, Dolby Digital and
- Dolby Pro Logic II
- Direct audio streaming from any mobile device via Bluetooth v 4.0 aptX
- Dedicated subwoofer for impressive bass reproduction
- Space-saving design for versatility
- Multiple connection methods via analogue, optical or Bluetooth v 4.0 aptX
- Adjustable tilt angles (00, 150, 180) for optimal sound
- 3 preset equaliser modes tuned for gaming, music and movies
Razer's co-founder and CEO, Min-Liang Tan said: "The opportunity to produce a precision-engineered surround sound solution for high-performance gaming, movie watching and music listening, and make it versatile to use in any setting, was a very exciting proposition for us. The Razer Leviathan delivers what music aficionados, movie buffs and gamers alike are looking for to improve their entertainment setup".
Apple has decided to pull Bose headphones and audio products from its online store, with the QuietComfort headphones series and SoundLink Mini and SoundLink III speakers being removed. It seems likely Apple will begin pulling Bose from retail stores - if they haven't quietly disappeared from shelves already - after the Beats headphones acquisition.
The decision was first rumored earlier this month, so it's not a surprise to see Apple reportedly following through with the decision.
Despite the snub from Apple, Bose still has a large marketing and sales presence anyway, including professional sports partnerships. However, the Beats brand still has gained some free publicity along the way, especially with NFL players wearing Beats headphones even though it is against NFL policy.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had to pay a $10,000 fine for wearing his Beats headphones, but found a way to avoid another fine: just put tape over the Beats logo. Bose is the official audio partner of the NFL, and athletes are not allowed to wear non-Bose audio products during broadcasts - and that makes Beats founder Jimmy Iovine feel "lucky."
"We didn't do anything, and now the players are going out and putting black tape on our logo," Iovine recently said. "It's like, I can't believe I am this lucky. I feel like sending them the tape."
Iovine also added: "What happened there, you have a tech company that's culturally inept. There's no one at the company that said, 'If you ban these guys, you're going to look bad to the young people, and they're going to look like superheroes even though they're just pure capitalists - well they're not pure capitalists, but they're real capitalists and [they] sold that company to Apple - but you're going to make them look like the underdog."
When Apple coughed up $3 billion to acquire Beats Electronics, I'm sure the executives over at Bose were wondering what would happen to their products once the acquisition was all said and done. Now that Apple has launched two new iPhones, and is preparing to launch a new iPad, iMac, and much more, the latest rumors are pegging the Cupertino iGiant to remove all of Bose's audio products from its retail stores.
A "reliable source" talked with MacRumors, who said that the removal of Bose products is most likely due to the recent Beats acquisition. Then we have the fact that Bose's new sponsorship deal with the National Football League, which has seen the league prohibiting players from wearing Beats headphones while anywhere near a TV camera, be it practice or on game days.
It was only a week ago that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick defied the ban, wearing his bright pink Beats for all to see, having him slapped with a $10,000 fine. Bose and Beats are also in a patent dispute, which has seen Bose filing suits against Beats, claiming the infringement of five patents related to noise cancellation technology.