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System Integration for the Connected Home

Audio

Harman Kardon Details Cortana-Powered Invoke

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Microsoft reveals more details of its collaboration with Harman Kardon-- the Invoke, a cylindrical speaker promising "rich, captivating sound" as well as the capabilities of the Cortana digital assistant.

Microsoft InvokeFirst announced back in December 2016, the Invoke is much like the Amazon Echo. Its cylindrical chassis carries three woofers, three woofers and two passive radiators for "premium" 360-degree sound, while Cortana allows users to control the music, manage calendars, set reminders, check the traffic and ask for the latest news through their voice alone.

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McIntosh Claims Audiophile Audio from MXA80

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American hifi maker McIntosh debuts the MXA80-- a compact integrated audio system promising the audiophile-grade performance of a full-size system.

MXA80A successor to the company's MXA70, the MXA80 features DSD and DXD high-res digital audio support via the addition of a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). It carries a 50W stereo amplifier, and the package includes a pair of specially designed desktop speakers able to produce "remarkably rich and full bodied" performance.

It includes 6 inputs-- 4 digital, 2 analog-- with a USB port handling PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz with DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 support together with DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. An exclusive MCT input offers secure DSD connection for HD audio on SACDs when paired with the MCT450 SACD/CD transport.

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Bose Wireless Headphones Spy on Customers?

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A lawsuit filed by Kyle Zak in Chicago federal court claims Bose spies on wireless headphone customers via app tracking the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, before violating their privacy rights by selling the data without permission.

Bose appReuters reports the complaint aims to stop the "wholesale disregard" for customer privacy shown by Bose through the free Bose Connect iOS/Android app. According to Zak, Bose sends "all available media information" from the smartphone to 3rd parties such as Segment.io, a customer tracking platform able to collect data and "send it anywhere."

"People should be uncomfortable with it," Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, says, "People put headphones on their head because they think it's private, but they can be giving out information they don't want to share."

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CasaTunes Brings DIY Multiroom Audio With musicBox 6

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Customers wanting a fully customisable do-it-yourself (DIY) multiroom audio solution might be interested in the CasaTunes musicBox 6 and companion Configurator Tool.

musicBox 6The cloud-based Configurator Tool allows one to create, save and view projects at any time, while providing a full documentation set for simplified installation, maintenance and troubleshooting. The company says creating a project takes "less than 5 minutes," with the tool automatically displaying appropriate musicBox 6 servers alongside components as the user adds the rooms where music will play.

Once the musicBox 6 system arrives, customers can follow the step-by-step instructions generated by the Configurator Tool for wiring. Then one powers up the equipment and presses the "Configure my musicBox" button to upload the project configuration to the musicBox 6. Once setup is complete, the final step is to download the CasaTunes mobile device app for control.

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Master & Dynamic Builds MA770 From Concrete!

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Premium audio brand Master & Dynamic takes on wireless likes of Sonos and Naim with the MA770-- 100W all-home sound system with a casing built out of proprietary concrete composite. Yes, you read that right!

MA770 According to the company, concrete is actually a great material for audio systems, since it has "a rich, sculptural quality, with a robust, tactile heft that is delicately balanced with gentle, sculptural curves." It also offers "added durability" since, at the end of the day, it remains concrete, while dampening properties are superior to those of wood and plastic.

Inside the striking Sir David Adjaye-designed casing are a 100W Class-D amplifier powering dual 4-inch woven kevlar long-throw woofers and a 1.5-inch titanium tweeter. Connectivity comes through built-in Chromecast and Bluetooth as well as wired 3.5mm jack and auxiliary input. Two speakers can be paired for a stereo image via the Chromecast, a first according to the company.

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StormAudio Processors Get Dirac Live

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High-end audio maker StormAudio announces a partnership with Dirac Research-- and adds Dirac Live room calibration and sound optimising technology to its StormOptimiser room calibration software.

Storm Audio DiracDirac Live will become a standard feature in newly purchased StormAudio processors, and is available as a free DSP runtime firmware update for already installed products.

“At StormAudio, it’s our mission to provide our integrators and end-users with exceptional sound and service, and our agreement with Dirac enables us to achieve both,” the company says. “Dirac Live has been well recognised as the best room correction solution on the market. Advanced yet simple to use, Dirac Live will be a powerful tool for our integrators-- they will deliver a premium listening experience to their customers while spending less time on site.”

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Acoustic Energy Returns to UK Ownership

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Acoustic Energy celebrates its 30th anniversary with a return to UK ownership, following a successful bid from the management to to buy the company from Malaysian owner Formosa Prosonic Group.

Acoustic Energy The company will continue operations and manufacturing from its Cotswolds HQ, with a dedicated manufacturing partners overseas producing its loudspeaker range. It also has a "large" portfolio of new products planned for 2017 rollout, while senior management, internal contacts, sales teams and all existing international distribution agreements remain in place.

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