Audio

Damson Intros Smallest S-Bar Soundbar

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Damson Intros Smallest S-Bar Soundbar

UK-based audio company Damson Audio announces what it claims is the smallest multiroom and soundbar system-- the S-Series, comprised of the S-Bar soundbar, the S-Woofer wireless subwoofer and the S-Cube Bluetooth speaker.

The S-Bar and S-Woofer come together in what Damson says makes an ideal starter multiroom audio package. The S-Bar is a soundbar just 25cm long featuring 6 drivers for total output rated at 58W. It wirelessly connects to up to 8 speakers via Bluetooth, and also includes Aux and Coax wired connections together with USB-C for power.

The S-Woofer is fairly self-explanatory, being a wireless compact subwoofer. On other hand the S-Cube is a Bluetooth speaker with an integrated subwoofer and 5 drivers able to push up to 18W output. Connectivity comes through Bluetooth or NFC. A built-in lithium-ion battery promises up to 8 hours of use on a single charge, and it connects with up to 8 speakers wirelessly.

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Vizio's SmartCast Crave Takes on Wireless Audio

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Vizio's SmartCast Crave Takes on Wireless Audio

Vizio is the next company to present a wireless multi-room audio solution-- the SmartCast Crave, a line of standalone speakers featuring Google Cast integration over either wifi or ethernet.

Essentially, the speakers allow any audio app with Google Cast support to stream directly to the speaker, with the speakers taking care of connectivity to the streaming service in question (while the smartphone acts as controller). Bluetooth connectivity is also included.

SmartCast Crave speakers currently come in two flavours-- 360 and Pro. The 360 is a portable cylindrical number featuring 360-degree omnidirectional 2.1 audio, "custom-crafted drivers" able to output up to 95dB of sound and a battery promising up to 8 hours of use on a single charge. Construction is in stainless steel, and a leather strap allows one to easily carry it around.

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Sonos Gets Spotify, Amazon Echo Integration

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Sonos Gets Spotify, Amazon Echo Integration

Sonos announces a pair of upcoming updates for its wireless speaker system-- the platform will be integrated with Spotify Connect, before it gets voice control via Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.

Spotify integration comes through the music streaming service's mobile app, and allows direct control of a Sonos system through the Spotify app. Control includes playback and volume as well as track selections, and comes through both home and mobile networks. In addition, the Sonso app can recognise songs being played through Spotify, so if a friend is playing a song a user does not have they can easily add it to their library.

Such integration is a logical step forward for Sonos, since it already signed similar deals with the likes of Apple Music, Tidal and Google Play. It should be available in an October 2016 software update.

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Beats Intros Wired EP Headphones

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Beats Intros Wired EP Headphones

Apple might be all about pushing wireless headphones, but Beats will continue providing audio gear featuring the trusty 3.5mm jack-- such as the EP on-hear headphones promising "premium" sound from a "tough" frame.

The headphones require no batteries, and as such provide unlimited playback through the traditional cable. Adjustable vertical sliders allow users to adjust the fit around their head, while RemoteTalk control provides call and music control on iDevices. Colour come in blue, red, white and black.

As for customers wanting wireless headphones, Beats has them covered with the Solo3, Powerbeats3 and BeatsX-- 3 headsets featuring the W1 chip for easy connectivity with Apple devices, be it iPhone, Watch or Mac. The Solo3 and Powerbeats3 are updates to two signature Beats lines, while the BeatsX are a new series aimed for everyday mobile device use.

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Bragi Presents Wireless Headphone Earbuds

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Bragi Presents Wireless Headphone Earbuds

Bragi announces the Headphone-- a set of wireless earbuds based on the company's previous Dash earbuds, if featuring simpler functionality and a lower price point.

The Headphone earbuds are similar to the Dash, with a similar size, overall design and basic function. However they lack the fitness tracking, built-in storage features and touch-sensitive control features. The result? Lower cost wireless earbuds promising 6 hours of battery life for audio playback (double that of the Dash) and 250 hours of standby time.

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B&O Presents BeoSound Wireless Speakers at IFA

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B&O Presents BeoSound Wireless Speakers at IFA

Bang & Olufsen claims the BeoSound 1 and 2 speakers combine the wireless convenience of Bluetooth with audiophile-grade 360-degree audio, all from a form factor reminiscent of Doctor Who's most memorable foes, the Daleks.

Revealed at IFA 2016, the speakers are built in aluminium, a material the company says reduces dissonance and distortion. Meanwhile the retro-futuristic  conical shape enables the aforementioned 360-degree sound through a unique sound dispersion method where top-mounted tweeter plays audio downwards into a disperser, before the audio spreads outwards through the open top.

Wireless connectivity comes through AirPlay, Google Cast, Bluetooth and DLNA.

The speakers come in two sizes-- the BeoSound 1 is 33cm tall and weighs 3.5kg, while the BeoSound 2 stands 43cm tall and weighs 4.1kg. The BeoSound 1 is portable, with a built-in battery powering up to 16 hours of playback on a single charge. On the other hand the BeoSound 2 requires a permanent power connection.

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JVC Gumy Headphones Get Bluetooth

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JVC Gumy Headphones Get Bluetooth

JVC announces a Bluetooth-enabled version of the Gumy headphone line-- the HA-F250BT, featuring Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity with 10m range together with a built-in microphone and remote.

The remote is inside one headphone housing and allows wearers to accept calls, control audio volume, pause playback and skip forwards and backwards through tracks. In addition the headphones have "nozzle-fit" earpieces for a secure and comfortable fit, as well as a choice of both small and medium earpieces.

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Intel Pushes USB-C as 3.5mm Jack Replacement

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Intel Pushes USB-C as 3.5mm Jack Replacement

The Intel Developer Forum (IDF) confirms Chipzilla plans for the death of the humble 3.5mm headphone jack-- a talk dubbed "Enabling and Extending the USB Connector of the Future" describes an audio standard for USB-C.

According to company architects Rahman Ismail and Brad Saunders, the specification will "really make the USB Type-C the right connector for audio." Set for a Q3 2016 launch, it includes means to "granular" power management to lessen battery drain from USB headphones, button function definitions (such as pausing music and volume control) and device authentication.

The architects also say USB-C allows the addition of sound processing features, including audio effects or noise cancellation, without need for expensive technology from the likes of Dolby or Bose, since such functionality can be all built into the standard. Another potentially interesting feature is an incorporated video standard.

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Digitise Vinyl With the Pioneer PLX-500

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Digitise Vinyl With the Pioneer PLX-500

Customers wanting to combine the retro appeal of vinyl with the convenience of digital audio might be interested in the Pioneer PLX-500, a turntable able to both play LPs and convert them into digital files.

While technically aimed at DJs, the PLX-500 has a competitive enough price tag and features appealing to regular consumers. A line output allows for immediate use with powered speakers (no external amplifier required) while a high-torque deck includes all the accessories DJs require, such as cartridge, stylus and slipmat.

Digital recording comes through USB output and included Rekordbox PC software. The software is able to recognise the silence between songs to create separate files, and all recordings are saved in WAV format.

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Roland Buys V-Moda

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Roland Buys V-Moda

Audio gear maker Roland buys a 70% stake in headphone manufacturer V-Moda, a move described by the two companies as "a brand new partnership" with plans to "develop the next breakthrough music products."

Post-acquisition V-Moda founder Val Kolton will retain the rest of the company and his post as CEO. He will also act as a product design consultant for the Roland dance, DJ and electronic music division. V-Moda will also continue running as an independent company, if one leveraging on its new owner for further expansion and engineering resources.

Kolton is actually no stranger to Roland, having collaborated with the company on an AIRA-branded version of the V-Moda M-100 headphones.

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Forbes: Apple Working on Low-Power Wireless Earbuds

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Forbes: Apple Working on Low-Power Wireless Earbuds

Forbes corroborates on rumours stating Apple plans to replace the 3.5mm headphone jack with a wireless alternative, as it report the company is working on wireless earbuds equipped with a custom Bluetooth radio chip.

Such a chip, Forbes claims, will fix the main problem affecting Bluetooth headphones-- limited battery life.

Apparently the low-power Bluetooth chip comes through Passif Semiconductor, a startup Apple acquired back in 2013. The unnamed Forbes source says the wireless earbuds were originally set for a 2015 release, but "performance snags" delayed the release, since “the way it works at Apple is if it doesn’t work 100%, it gets cut.”

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