SMART AU­DIO

Identity - - DESIGN FORMULA -

Cin­ema and me­dia rooms were once the pre­serve of the su­per-rich, but re­cently more af­ford­able ‘plug and play’ op­tions have be­come avail­able, bring­ing the con­nected home within the means of the mass mar­ket.

Mu­sic stream­ing and multi-room speaker de­vices are gath­er­ing mo­men­tum, as shown by in­no­va­tive prod­ucts such as Google’s Chrome­cast Au­dio, a small and af­ford­able de­vice that plugs into your de­vice and streams mu­sic straight to your speaker.

Like­wise, multi-room speaker sys­tems from Sonos con­tinue to en­joy mass ap­peal, as do prod­ucts by Bose, which has re­cently launched its SoundTouch 10 wire­less mu­sic sys­tem. This can stream mil­lions of songs from mu­sic ser­vices, in­ter­net ra­dio sta­tions and your stored mu­sic li­brary into your home.

Another fa­mil­iar brand en­ter­ing the multi-room speaker space is Roberts Ra­dio, which has launched its Stream 65i wire­less multi-room sound sys­tem. This is a first for the Bri­tish brand as its pri­mary use isn’t ra­dio. In ad­di­tion to FM, DAB and DAB+ tuners, it fea­tures wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity, ac­cess to mil­lions of songs via Spo­tify Con­nect and a choice of over 20,000 in­ter­net ra­dio sta­tions and pod­casts. You can also lis­ten to your per­sonal mu­sic col­lec­tion by stream­ing di­rectly from your PC or Mac.

Of course, stream­ing isn’t just about con­ve­nience, it’s also about the qual­ity of the sound. One tech­nol­ogy that’s ex­pected to take off in this area is MQA, an in­no­va­tive sound for­mat de­vel­oped by Bob Stu­art at Merid­ian.

MQA cap­tures ev­ery de­tail and nu­ance from orig­i­nal mas­ter record­ings. Un­like many au­dio-cod­ing meth­ods, no mu­sic is thrown away: all that’s re­moved is any blur­ring caused dur­ing erod­ing or dig­i­tal en­cod­ing. The timeac­cu­rate mu­si­cal de­tail cap­tured by the MQA process is then ‘ folded’ into a for­mat that looks like a reg­u­lar CD-qual­ity file. This can then be streamed or down­loaded to por­ta­ble de­vices.

It’s an ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ment. Nearly ev­ery­one hears mu­sic now via MP3 or ceil­ing speak­ers, so that they don’t hear the high-qual­ity sounds that artists and pro­duc­ers have in­vested so much in per­fect­ing. MQA is a chance to hear the most ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion yet of what was recorded.

While stream­ing may be lead­ing the way, it looks as though its fu­ture will be shared with vinyl, as this old for­mat finds a new lease of life. VNYL, the vinyl record sub­scrip­tion ser­vice, has launched TRNTBL, the first in­ter­net of things record player that also streams mu­sic wire­lessly from your mo­bile de­vice.

TRNTBL comes in­te­grated with Sonos and Spo­tify, and it can au­to­mat­i­cally iden­tify the mu­sic spin­ning on your vinyl, so you can share it quickly to so­cial me­dia.

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