“Bill Macomber can’t remember the last time he bought a CD, much less listened to one. In fact, he no longer owns a CD player, other than the one built in to his laptop computer. The 32-year-old Los Angeles video editor listens to his music almost exclusively on one of the two iPods he owns, amplified by a $150 device called an iPal: a single, compact speaker, powered by a rechargeable battery,” Ethan Smith writes for The Wall Street Journal. “Mr. Macomber is the kind of consumer that Apple Computer Inc. is targeting with its new iPod Hi-Fi, a portable speaker system that Apple claims will reintroduce digital music aficionados to high-quality audio. Mr. Macomber used to be a minor-league gearhead, subscribing to what he calls ‘fancy audiophile magazines.’ In the digital age, he’s become less of a stickler, trading quality for convenience. Even though digital music is typically stored in compressed formats that sound demonstrably worse than CDs, he says: ‘It’s good enough.'”
“When it comes to music, consumers are increasingly trading quality for quantity. Many would rather have the ability to store thousands of songs on portable devices — and have a constant soundtrack to their lives — than own stacks of CDs and listen to high-quality sound tethered to an expensive living-room system. The shift is causing big reverberations in the audio industry. Sony Corp., has already pulled the plug on an expensive high-end audio line. And electronics makers including Sony are adding features designed to allow for easier integration between their midline stereo systems and portable players like iPods,” Smith writes. “To try to recapture some of the iPod crowd, electronics manufacturers are adding features to their home audio systems designed to make them easier to use with portable digital players. Samsung Electronics Co., for example, will include USB ports on the front of two sound systems hitting stores this month, to allow users to play music directly from MP3 players. Two other models from the company will include an adapter to let users attach a portable XM Satellite Radio receiver the company also makes. Neither model will work with Apple’s market-dominating iPod, though. Sony is set to roll out similar features on eight to 10 audio systems, with a simpler, headphone jack-like interface that is to work with any music player, including the iPod.
“Sony hopes to lure customers by promising better sound quality in digital devices. The company is touting a sound-processing technology called “digital audio enhancement” designed to restore some of the sound quality lost in creating the compressed digital files stored on portable devices,” Smith writes.
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: If you think Sony is going to “restore lost sound quality” from compressed digital music files, you probably also think that their digital music players (do they still make those?) hold umpteen zillion songs per GB* with batteries that last for 1,000 hours per charge**. Anyway, it is very interesting how much impact iPod is having on “Hi-Fi” home stereo habits, so much so that even Sony feels compelled to include iPod connectivity. That’s a much better decision than the usual Sony move of trying to block it with some convoluted proprietary Sony-Only connection scheme.
* 15-second song average at 0.02 kbps
** Estimated. Based on 6 hours actual use per 1,000 hour period.
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