In the PC world audio components are often overlooked. There are only so many items that your average consumer can keep track of. They know CPU, GPU Motherboard. Some will know about the power supply but really not much else. After all, Intel and others have been fighting to say the build in Audio CODEC on your average motherboard is as good as a discrete audio card so why should consumers think different? Well, if you think about it logically this does not make sense. After all, can you name one IGP (integrated graphics processor) that is as good as even a simple mid-range discrete GPU? I would not even say that the IGP on the i7 2600K is as good. So why would anyone think that an on-board audio CODEC would be better or even “just as good”? It is all marketing. We have tested multiple boards and also multiple add-in audio cards and can attest to this. Now I think I have found “the one”. The one audio card that finally brings the audiophile level expectation to the PC world. This is the Xonar Xense. It is Asus’ flagship audio card and one that has them partnered up with Sennheiser. The Xonar Xense comes complete with a pair of Sennheiser PC 350 Xense Edition headphones, a tuned audio card (complete with custom gain levels), and a head phone amplifier this is one serious piece of audio gear for your gaming or multi-media audio pleasure. So let’s put the PC 350 Xense headphones on, sit back and see what we can hear.
Asus is a common name in computer components. We have taken a look at more than our share of their products from the mundane to the extreme. One area that Asus has been taking more of an interest is the higher-end side of the HTPC market. Here is where things get interesting. Unlike gamers, or overclockers a person that wants to build a high-end HTPC is looking for the best combination of performance, cooling and power draw. If you can build it fast, cool and power efficient then they will want that. But building an HTPC is not only about what you drop inside the system. You also need some good hardware on the final end of the output side. Not to worry, Asus has you covered there too. They have their own line of HD capable monitors and even speaker sets to keep you happy. We are taking a look at t new one to hit the market. It is a speaker bar that is capable of providing 5.1 surround sound to your viewing area. Called the Cine5, this small and stylish speaker system runs for about $130 on the internet. We are going to take a look and see if it is worth it.
Sony will soon completely abandon the MiniDisc market, once a very popular solution for music on the move. The company's MiniDisc (MD) format was brought to market in 1992 as an alternative to the Walkman and Discman as the music was stored on magnetic-optical MD discs.
It seems piracy may not be the bane of the music industry after all. A study called the Copy Culture Survey was recently completed by the American Assembly, in affiliation with Columbia University. Consisting of thousands of telephone interviews in the U.S. and Germany, the study revealed an interesting trend.
Samsung has quietly started shutting down its Music Hub service for streaming and purchase of music from Samsung which is intended to compete with popular services such as iTunes and Spotify. However, they did not manage to compete with them so they decided the time has come to say goodbye.
According to the Financial Times, Google is reportedly negotiating with major music publishing companies regarding their services for streaming music. These services would supposedly be available at a subscription model or as a free service that would be financed through advertisements, similar to models from competing services such as Spotify and Deezer.
After they brought free music streaming to users on mobile devices in mid-December, Spotify has announced that in the first week after the introduction of these features they marked quadrupled numbers of their users.
The American branch of Sony decided to sell the Gracenote service, which stores metadata about music, to media conglomerate Tribune for $170 million. Gracenote's vast database of music is used by many services for streaming content, mobile applications and multimedia systems in cars. The most famous among them are Spotify and Apple's services.
Shazam announced that they globally have over 300 million users of their services. This application for detecting the performer of songs is available on smartphones and tablets. Andrew Fisher, Shazam CEO said “The number of Shazam users and their level of engagement continue to grow rapidly. We now have over 300 million Shazamers globally with an increasing proportion of whom use our app on their iPad or Android tablet devices to interact with television. This new version of Shazam optimizes discovery, engagement, transactions and exploration in a tablet environment“
Streaming music service Spotify since its beginnings in 2008 strongly relied on P2P (Peer-to-Peer) network, but times are changing. Music reproduction on Spotify desktop client was so far carried out in three ways: through the files stored in the cache of computers, via Spotify servers or through another user via P2P networks.