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Audio

Audiolab M-DAC Goes Mini

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The Audiolab M-DAC range gets a smaller option-- the M-DAC Mini is, as the name might suggest, the smallest high-resolution DAC/headphone amp from the company yet.

M-DAC MiniThe M-DAC Mini carries the same technology as its larger siblings, namely the ES9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC. It handles 32-bit/384kHz PCM audio, as well as DSD64-128 and -256, via USB, and includes optical and coax inputs and outputs, USB type-A and mini-B ports (both asynchronous with discrete master clocks), stereo RCA outputs and a 6.3mm headphone socket. Wireless is included via aptX Bluetooth.

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Control4 Intros Triad Garden Array

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Control4 announces the Triad Garden Array-- a family of all-weather landscape speakers, including a best-in-class satellite speaker (GA4 SAT) and subwoofer (GA10 SUB).

Triad Garden ArrayDesigned for placement around flower beds or around a yard, the Triad Garden Array promises an outdoor audio experience "as simple, seamless and rich as it is indoors." The speakers are designed for outdoor use, with a durable all-weather exterior and a sealed enclosure resistant to dust, bugs and critters.

The GA4 SAT resembles a landscape lighting, and blends into gardens and flower beds. It carries a 4.5-inch Ultra-Broad Dispersion (UBD) driver producing 150-degree field of coverage, minimising areas where music is either too soft or too loud as listeners move between speakers, and is compatible with 8oh, 70V or 100V systems.

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Rest in Peace, MP3

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MP3, the much loved audio compression algorithm, is dead-- or so its creator, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, insists as it terminates licencing for a number of related patents.

MP3 PlayerInstead, the institute suggests, customers should switch to Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), which it describes as a "de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones." AAC is definitely superior to MP3, since it allows for streaming TV and radio broadcasting with higher-quality audio at lower bitrates.

The story of the MP3 format started in the late 1980s, when Fraunhofer and the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg joined forces to work on a means to send audio over telephone lines. The eventual result was the MP3, a technology the Fraunhofer failed to capitalise on due to a combination of industrial sabotage, piracy and, at one unfortunate point, the German government refusing to give a patent for a music streaming service due to its being technologically absurd at the time.

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Como Audio Intros Amico, Musica Speakers

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Como Audio announces a pair of follow-ups to the 2016 Solo and Duetto speakers-- the portable Amico and the CD player-equipped Musica, both featuring touchscreen control and wireless connectivity.

Como AudioThe Amico is the smaller of the two, with an interesting upright design. It pairs with devices via NFC, supports Bluetooth and wifi connectivity, and can handle online radio, Spotify Connect and even FM radio.

Pushing the audio are a 4-layer voice coil woofer and a dome tweeter. A built-in battery powers up to 8 hours of use on a single charge, while a 2.8-inch TFT touchscren provides control together with EQ adjustment and 6 presets.

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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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