Though interfaces like the excellent iRig Pro Duo are great for bridging the divide between music creation apps running on an iPhone or iPad and an electric guitar, changing tones on the fly does involve taking playing hands away from the guitar to make a touchscreen selection. China's Tone Shifter has developed a box that places such control, and much more, at a player's foot-stomping disposal.
Guitar players who want to tap into the legendary tones of Marshall amplifiers no longer have to fill their homes with numerous heads and speaker cabinets. Thanks to a collaboration with Swedish audio software developers Softube, a number of Marshall's classic preamps, amps and cabinets have been digitally captured and made available in each member of the Code family.
Though lossy digital music formats like MP3 offer today's music lover many advantages, including the chance to carry whole collections around on one portable device, the listening experience can be less than satisfying. Not surprising then that modern audioholics are fueling an upsurge in analog formats like vinyl, with media analyst Nielsen recording a rise of 30 percent in US sales last year. Singapore-based Akai Professional is looking to tap into this growing market with a stylish new turntable named the BT-500 that's said to offer "no-compromise audiophile performance," together with analog-to-digital conversion and wireless streaming capabilities.
Zoom has revealed a futuristic electronic tambourine at this year's Winter NAMM that leaves some drum pads, MIDI controllers and other digital music makers looking a little flat. The ARQ Aero RhythmTrak is described as a drum machine, sequencer, synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller, and features a Bluetooth-enabled ring with a built-in accelerometer for music creation and playback control from movement.
The humble audio jack has served music lovers well over the years, but listening to tunes on mobile devices can be something of a disappointment for budding audiophiles. Manufacturers naturally concentrate on upping processor performance, squeezing more pixels per inch into the display and extending battery life, while audio components often appear something of an afterthought. Folks who like to groove on the move to high quality playback can opt for a portable DAC like the DacMagic XS, but the P5 Digital Headphones and Z1 Digital Earphones have their own hi-res DACs and are compatible with both USB and Lightning connections.
Last year, British high-end audio house Naim launched the gorgeous Mu-so wireless music system. Now the same engineers responsible for its design have developed the Mu-so Qb, an equally good-looking compact wireless system. Despite its bookshelf speaker proportions, the Qb is reported capable of throwing out 300 W from its five speaker drivers.
In what's reported to be a first for Digital Audio Players (DAP), Onkyo's new DP-X1 features two digital-to-analog converters (DAC) and two amps with balanced headphone output for greater power and control. The device supports hi-res digital music playback in WAV and FLAC formats, has native DSD, too, and is one of the first to support the MQA standard. It runs an Android-based OS and features two micro-SD slots that take its storage potential right up to 432 GB.
Denmark's Bang & Olufsen has been showing off a rather lengthy all-in-one music system in Las Vegas this week. Crafted in aluminum and sporting soundbar-like styling, the pentagonal BeoSound 35 is a meter long and comes with the promise of premium sound, with a price tag to match. In fact, you won't get much change from US$3,000.
After looking like they were going the way of the audio cassette tape, vinyl records are on a bounce back. Just this week, Nielsen reported that sales of 12-inch discs in the US rose for the tenth consecutive year, accounting for 9 percent of total physical album sales. Though there are portable turntables like those from Pyle Audio and Crossleys, enjoying vinyl on the move isn't exactly pocket-friendly. But converting records to run on an MP3 player means an inevitable loss of precious fidelity. Fortunately, Sony's new HX500 turntable boasts a built-in 24-bit analog-to-digital converter that allows audiophiles to transfer their beloved vinyl collections to high quality digital formats.