By Wares December 20, 2016 Home entertainment

A round-up of some of the latest local and international home entertainment category news.

What's afoot in music streaming?

In terms of market share, with the market clearly growing, Spotify is still top dog by far.

What's interesting is that the growth being bandied around isn't just thanks to the same base of music downloaders switching to streaming.

For example Apple said in September that Apple Music subscribers now totalled 20 million, more than half of whom are new or hadn't bought anything through iTunes in the last year.

Around the same time, Spotify however announced it had 40 million users, a quarter of whom were premium subscribers and had signed up in the last six months.

Also in the streaming space, we can now see Pandora's revised offering, Pandora Premum, which is being touted as a true Spotify competitor with its on-demand access to a big catalogue of content, both streamable and downloadable to play back offline.

There's much more of course to this heavily revised package - why not take a look for yourself?

And then there's Pono.

Along with other media outlets, The Verge reports that Neil Young's Pono high-resolution music project (currently offline by the way) is turning away from downloads and dedicated Pono players towards streaming.

Will it fly? Much work will need to be done before Apple mobile devices for example will be able to make the most of higher quality streamed content.

Plus, the pundits are already saying that, as with Tidal's premium loss-less streaming tier, Pono may well develop into what could be perhaps best described as a "niche" offering - or simply fade away.

New brands for AV Supply

AV Supply has been appointed exclusive distributors for Nureva, Aurora Multimedia and Thor Technologies products.

Nureva (www.nureva.com) is a Canadian company that offers business communication, and collaborative systems including its HDL300 Audio Conferencing system and the Span visual collaboration system (photo above) that “transforms a wall into an expansive, digital workspace”.

US company Aurora Multimedia (www.auroramultimedia.com) offers a range of audio and video technology solutions and products including its recent VLX range of transceivers for 4K AV distribution over IP that offer 4K visually lossless over a 1Gbps network.

From Australia, Thor Technologies (www.thortechnologies.com.au) provides power filter products to “protect, improve performance and increase the life of all sensitive electrical equipment”.



Convoy makes bold play for specialist audio dealers

Sydney-based Audio distributor Convoy has released a major marketing initiative in Australia to help specialist dealers of top end hi-fi take on the mass consumer retail channel. Instead of the retailer discounting products, Convoy aims to help them add value with added purchases.

So for example Convoy is offering $200 off its Bluesound High Res soundbar if consumers add the Bluesound Pulse Flex speaker to add extra Zones. They can also get a $300 discount off a NAD amplifier when they buy the high-resolution sound upgrade kit. Purchasers of any Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi products will also get a free gift.


Arcam rHead Audiophile Headphone Amplifier

Now at AV world is the Arcam rHead audiophile Class A headphone amplifier, a small, solid and beautifully built unit designed to complement the audio system of any headphone lover. The rHead’s linear Class A design gives no crossover distortion for the purest sound. Extensive care has been taken to optimise the layout and areas like multiple ultra-low noise power supplies and a fully direct coupled signal path make a big difference. Also, the volume control is an ultra-linear analogue resistive ladder device, to eliminate tracking errors. Comprehensive protection systems prevent damage to the rHead and it is more than capable of driving the most demanding of headphones. Both RCA and XLR inputs (switchable) are available, as well as both 3.5 and 6.35 mm sockets. 


KEF LS50 Wireless Loudspeakers

Audiophiles will be pleased that heritage British audio brand Kef has added to its legendary LS50 passive speaker with a wireless version. LS50 Wireless adds audiophile-grade amplification and sound processing, as well as extensive connectivity at the same time as keeping all the award-winning LS50 speaker’s acoustic features. These include the FEA-designed cabinet, Uni-Q driver, constrained layer damping bracing, precision-engineered curved baffle and elliptical flexible sound port. The Kef LS50 has a max output of 106 dB and connects via 2.4 GHz/5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi network, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX codec or USB Type B.


 3SIXT Studio Earbud Wireless Headphones

3SIXT’s new Bluetooth buds feature the latest Bluetooth 4.1, CVC6.0 noise cancellation technology and fast pairing with Bluetooth enabled smartphones, tablets and mobile devices, at the same time as pumping out impressive deep bass and treble. Built with wireless productivity and entertainment in mind, 3SIXT Bluetooth Studio Earbuds allow intelligent operation between music and phone calls with the built-in microphone and full-function single button control.


Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones

The latest Beats wireless headphones are here with a much awaited update that offers up to 40 hours of battery life thanks to an Apple W1 chip and the Fast Fuel feature which gives 3 hours’ playback on just a 5-minute charge. They also offer the same great sound that has made Beats such a huge name in this category. Connecting is easy with one touch to a smart phone establishing a Class 1 Bluetooth connection. You can also take calls, control your music and activate Siri with the multifunction on-ear controls. They are comfy too.


Phillips Wireless Headphones

Pudney & Lee continues to expand its range of Philips wireless headphones to suit a variety of purposes. A good stocking stuffer are the SHB5250 Blue tooth earbuds (photo), lightweight comfortable models with 4.5 hours playtime ideal for running or the gym. Serious commuters can ramp things up with the SHB5500 with soft cushioned ear shells, fold flat design for easy transportation and 9 hours’ play time.

Next up the ladder is the SHB7250 with 40mm neodymium drivers for deep bass and clear sound, one touch NFC connectivity and 11 hour play time and 200 hour standby time and noise/echo reduction.

SHB8850NC is the premium on ear wireless noise cancelling model with ActiveShield noise cancelling technology (reduces noise by up to 97%), in a high quality package that offers the best in sound, comfort, look and feel. Has on ear button for Siri or Google voice activation, NFC,
16 hours playtime and a frequency range
of 10-22,000Hz.


Astro Ergonomic Headphones

New from Computer Dynamics is the Astro Ergonomic Over-Ear Stereo Wireless Headset. These stylish and comfortable models feature passive noise cancellation, built-in music and call touch controls, long battery life of 6 hours in a lightweight and easy to use design. Available in black or green.


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