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Waves wants to bring 3D audio to any headphones using a new app & head tracker

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Waves is a heavyweight in the digital audio world with its audio plugins for recording, mixing and live sound being a staple among many pros. The company’s latest venture, however, is more of a consumer experience aimed at listening rather than creating music with a new desktop and mobile app that wants to bring 3D audio to any headphones using head tracking.



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Snapchat update adds new voice and video features, stickers, and more for messaging

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Snapchat is changing how you communicate with friends in a major way through what it’s calling Chat 2.0. The social network says it focused two years ago on making chatting more like face-to-face conversation with features like letting you know when your friends were present and “listening” to what you were typing, and the latest Snapchat update refocuses on the 1-to-1 chat aspect of the app with new features around voice and video calling plus stickers and more. How you watch Stories is also getting a change in the new update.



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Apple releases new ‘Music Memos’ iOS app for songwriters

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Apple today released a brand new app for iOS devices called Music Memos that allows songwriters to quickly and easily record audio and develop song ideas.

Apple’s press release for the new app notes that Music Memos was inspired by the fact that many musicians have long used the iOS Voice Memos app as a way of quickly capturing ideas in audio on their iPhones and iPads:

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Review: RHA T20 are some of the finest-made earphones around, but they’re not cheap

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For a while, Scotland-based audio company RHA was known primarily for delivering audiophile-grade sound in affordable earphones. With the T20, that’s not exactly how they played it. In fact, this set of headphones is not anywhere near cheap enough to be classed as an affordable pair, but I still feel that in terms of design, audio and versatility, they comfortably give you your money’s worth. That’s despite the fact they’d set you back $240/£180 if you decided to splurge on them…



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As Apple looks to ditch 3.5mm socket, patent hints at higher-quality speakers in future iPhones

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A new patent awarded to Apple today suggests that the company’s audio plans for future iPhones may go beyond reportedly ditching the 3.5mm headphone socket in favor of Lightning and Bluetooth. The patent is very densely-worded, but seemingly describes a method of getting higher-quality and higher-volume audio from speakers built into slimmer devices.

Apple’s statement of the problem is clear enough.

Given the area constraints imposed on many portable electronic devices, it is increasingly difficult to provide high-quality audio sound output and pickup without hindering the ability to make portable electronic devices smaller and thinner. Consequently, there is a need for improved approaches to provide high-quality audio sound output and/or pickup from portable electronic devices as they get smaller and thinner.

The language describing Apple’s proposed solution is less clear, but from a combination of this and the accompanying diagrams, I at least have a working theory of what is being suggested …



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VLC media app gains Split Screen + Touch ID features on iOS, much more

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[Update: VLC incorrectly included Apple TV support in today’s release notes. That release is coming “very soon” but not available today. The iOS/watchOS updates are out today.]

[Update 1/12/2016VLC for Apple TV is now available.]

The popular VLC app for playing a variety of media formats not supported by iTunes has now made its way to the new Apple TV. We heard in September that VLC for Apple TV was in the works, and last month the team started accepting beta testers. Today VLC for Mobile delivered a major update that includes the first Apple TV version as well as a handful of new features on iPhones and iPads.



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Google wants Apple Music to play on Chromecast Audio … but Apple is silent for now

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During the announcement of Google’s Chromecast Audio yesterday, the company made sure to mention that music subscription leader Spotify will soon be one of the many music streaming services supported by the platform. With many Apple Music subscriptions renewing (or not renewing) and Google unveiling a $35 dongle that retrofits our existing home speakers with Wi-Fi, some are rightfully wondering: What about Apple Music?

According to statements from one Googler (via TrustedReviews), Google has no bar on any platform joining in on supporting Chromecast, and the Mountain View company has already directly asked Apple to play along…

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Rdio adds support for more connected speaker systems & smart TVs

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Popular music streaming service Rdio is today announcing an expansion of its support for connected speaker systems and smart TVs, including Google’s new Google Cast for Audio platform introduced earlier this year. 

In addition to supporting speakers that integrate Google’s Cast for audio platform, the music service is now available on Harman/Kardon, Denon, and the DTS Play-Fi Whole-Home Wireless ecosystem featuring leading brands such as Definitive Technology, Phorus, Polk Audio and Wren. The company also noted that it’s now available on Samsung smart TVs and arriving soon on smart TVs from LG and Hisense.

Previously Rdio was only available on Sonos speakers and setup boxes like the Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

Rdio is available free with ads or as an ad-free service for $9.99/month unlimited or on certain devices for $3.99/month with a limited number of on demand songs per day.

Happy Hour Podcast 029 | Tim Cook saves the market, Apple Watch hits the classroom, and the mighty iPhone 6S

Another week in the world of Apple and it looks like Tim Cook may have violated some important SEC regulations. Along with that, there has been major demand for Apple Watch, but not where you’d expect it. Oh, and remember Bendgate? Looks like it won’t affect the iPhone 6S. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed.



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Opinion: With Apple Music launched, it’s time for Apple to show AirPlay some love

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I love AirPlay. It’s simple and elegant. It also means that my elderly but much-loved B&O Ouverture hifi system (with BeoLab 6000 speakers) – which is actually so old that it has a cassette deck – needed only a low-cost WiFi audio receiver to allow it to wirelessly stream music from my MacBook Pro. One $40 add-on and a 20-year-old hifi became bang up to date in its capabilities.

With my particular setup, AirPlay does exactly what we expect of Apple products: It Just Works. I open iTunes, select ‘B&O’ from the speaker output menu, and anything I play in iTunes – whether from my own music library or streamed from Apple Music – plays through the hifi, while system sounds continue to play through the Mac speakers. My partner can stream her own music from her iPad or iPhone just as readily.

I’d previously tried a Bluetooth audio receiver, and the difference between that and AirPlay is night and day. No pairing. No worries about distance. No interference when someone walks between the Mac and hifi. No system sounds emerging at deafening volumes though my hifi speakers.

But despite my own happy experience of it, AirPlay is not without its problems … 

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Yamaha announces MusicCast Wi-Fi multi-room audio system, supports Apple Lossless + FLAC formats

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If you want a Wi-Fi-based multi-room audio system, you so far haven’t had many alternatives to the market leader, Sonos. Other manufacturers offer their own solutions, but generally only in a handful of products. That looks set to change as Yamaha today announced that its MusicCast system will be supported by more than 20 products, with pricing starting from $250. That includes all but one of its 2015 receivers, reports CNET.

Unlike Sonos, MusicCast supports five different lossless audio formats, including Apple Lossless, FLAC and WAV. It’s controlled by an iOS app, which can stream both your own music library and services like Spotify, Pandora and Rhapsody. Support for Apple Music seems likely further down the road … 

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Review: Sennheiser’s ClipMic Digital is the perfect lavalier microphone for iPhone + Apple Watch (Video)

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Back at NAB 2015, I had a chance to meet with Sennheiser and take a look at their new ClipMic Digital. This is a professional grade lavalier microphone that connects to an iOS device via its Lightning port, not to mention the the first of its kind. I know most audio accessories for iOS claim to be “professional” quality, but this thing is no joke. It even compares to my $600 wireless lavalier kit from Sennheiser…



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Apple hires Dolby’s technology chief to bolster audio and display technologies

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Continuing its high-level executive hiring spree, Apple has recruited Dolby Executive Vice President Mike Rockwell to become an executive in its hardware division, 9to5Mac has learned. According to a source, Rockwell has likely been hired to bolster the audio and display performance of future Apple products, which could include anything from next-generation Apple monitors to professional audio/video editing tools to speakers. Rockwell’s LinkedIn profile confirms he joined Apple in February but does not specify his role.



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Happy Hour Podcast 004 | Predictions and expectations for Apple’s March 9th ‘Spring Forward’ event

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Episode 004 of Happy Hour is finally here and Apple’s March 9th “Spring Forward” event is right around the corner. It’s safe to say, we’re all pretty excited. What can you expect to be announced on stage at the event? Well, today we’re discussing the entire thing and getting into all of the details along with our expectations and predictions. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed…

Click here to subscribe on iTunes or listen to the episode embedded above.



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Happy Hour Podcast 003 | All things Apple Watch

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Welcome to episode 003 of the Happy Hour podcast! Today we’re discussing all things Apple Watch. Can Apple succeed in the smartwatch game? It’s clear Apple has been developing this product for a while and we’ll get into all of the need-to-know information surrounding it. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed…

Click here to subscribe on iTunes or listen to the episode embedded above.



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Neil Young’s “HD Audio” PonoPlayer put up against iPhone, results fall flat

‘HD audio’ has been a buzzword for the last few years, as Apple and several record labels have been working on higher-resolution audio formats to repackage and resell older music. But the format took a body blow this weekend when former NY Times columnist David Pogue put musician Neil Young’s new $400 HD Audio PonoPlayer up against a regular old iPhone using a ‘blind trial,’ in which the HD PonoPlayer appears to have lost…



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Hands-on with The House of Marley’s Legend ANC headphones and Chant Mini speaker (Video)

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Along our CES 2015 journey we stopped over at The House of Marley to take a look at some of the new gear they have launching this year. If you’re not familiar with the company, they create a wide range of audio accessories which are crafted from natural and recycled materials. In the video below, we took a closer look at the Legend ANC headphones and Chant Mini Bluetooth speaker…



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What iPod? Samsung conveniently leaves Apple out of the ‘evolution of portable audio devices’

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Samsung decided to publish an editorial on the history of portable audio devices today and it conveniently leaves out Apple and the iPod. It instead jumps straight from cassette players to the company’s first MP3 Player, the Samsung YEPP (You remember the Samsung YEPP, right?). Who needed to wait two more years for an iPod when you could hold a whole 10 4-minute songs on your 40MB YEPP?

Samsung then jumps to smartphones: “Starting in 2006, as smartphones became more prominent, and featured a music player function, MP3 players started to phase out.”  iPhone? What iPhone?

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Samsung points out support for 24 bit, 192kHz audio in the new Galaxy Note 4 music player, the one thing that Apple doesn’t yet support. It’s also the one thing that the majority of consumers, apart from audiophiles, simply don’t care about.