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Digital music

Spotify, one of the more popular ways to consume music, is undergoing a huge update that adds plenty of new features and functionality. Existing parts of the service like the start page are getting an overhaul, and new features are being added including video, original shows, and news and clips from popular networks like BBC, ESPN, and more.

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Many of us enjoy listening to a good tune or two when out and about, and a goodly proportion of that mobile music will likely be sourced from a smartphone or tablet. For those who prefer high quality sounds though, dedicated players like Neil Young's Pono and those from iRiver's Astell&Kern are probably going to be on the menu. The latter has announced a new flagship portable audio player aimed squarely at audiophiles and sound professionals, which is capable of 32-bit/384 kHz bit-to-bit decoding without the need for conversion but comes at a rather high cost.

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Music lovers can waste many hours and huge sums of money searching for a pair of headphones to match a certain style or preferred sonic signature, only to have to put them to one side and start again just to join the groovy wireless in-crowd. If those premium cans are the kind where the audio cable can be unplugged, however, then the Spiro X1 will allow them to be transformed into Bluetooth ear candy.

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British headphone maker RHA impressed us last month when its T10 heavyweights landed on the review bench. Now the company has announced the T20 in-ear headphones featuring a brand new dynamic driver technology named DualCoil. As well as promising true-to-life audio reproduction, the new earphones conform to the Hi-Res Audio standard as defined by the Japan Audio Society.

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Wren Sound Systems has added a new model to its V5 wireless speaker range. Where the other three units are geared toward either Bluetooth, AirPlay or Play-Fi, the V5US supports all three wireless technologies for "near-universal device compatibility" and lossless audio streaming. Read More

No need for a second take, the company is indeed called Schiit Audio and it's pronounced just as you'd expect. Though rather suggestive of audio products best avoided at all costs, the company actually has excellent pedigree in the shape of Mike Moffat. The firm's co-founder is the inventor of the DS Pre, the first DSP-based outboard digital to analog converter on the market. Moffat and company have spent the last five years researching digital filter algorithms, a quest that has ended with Yggdrasil, a flagship multi-bit DAC with a true closed form filter. Read More
When a high-end audio maker announces a new product, a high price tag is almost guaranteed to accompany its release. Indeed, NuPrime Audio's amps, preamps, DACs and heaphone amps are usually found in the four figure range, but not its new uDSD. The high resolution digital-to-analog converter and headphone amp will retail for under two hundred bucks. Read More
The Jambé takes bits of electronic drums, hand bangers and finger tappers and mashes them all up into one traditional-looking percussive instrument. Its makers say that a special combination of materials and sensors allow it to read every playing nuance, transforming the mighty wallop of a drum stick into thunderous sounds or a gentle tinkle from light finger taps with the help of an iPad or iPhone processing brain. Read More
The (relatively) brave new world of digital music consumption can arguably more than satisfy the aural needs of most music lovers, but vinyl and CD collectors also enjoy a visual feast in the shape of album art. Sure, you might get some small pixel pleasure with your MP3, and if you're lucky perhaps even a PDF booklet, but you're unlikely to get anywhere near the satisfaction you'd get from some concept art and band info on a 12 inch square of cardboard or a glossy paper flip-book in a jewel case. The high fashion house of Astrella has linked the digital and the physical with a line of t-shirts where streamed music is part of the package. Next month, shoppers at two Bloomingdale's stores will be able to get access to music and more with the help of their smartphones. Read More
There are many iOS apps that offer onscreen versions of musical instruments and, though a convenient way to practice chord positions or to quickly jot down a song idea, they can be a pretty poor substitute for the real thing. In 2013, Zivix launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to bring a backpack-friendly MIDI guitar designed for the mobile musician called the JamStik to production. Now the company is back with an improved mini guitar that boasts better picking detection and processing speed, and uses Bluetooth LE instead of Wi-Fi to keep surfing channels open while playing. Read More
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