Category Archives: Music

Heed Audio Introduces the Elixir



heed-audio-elixirHeed Audio has a motto: “Forget hi-fi – remember music!” The company designs and manufactures its lines of CD transports, DACs, speakers, and amplification components in Budapest, with parts from around the world. Heed has introduced the Elixir Integrated Amplifier.

The Elixer has a neat place amongst Heed Audio’s Transcap technology amplifiers. It is the purest music performer of all, without any technical compromise and presents the music effortlessly. Besides the power amplifier, the headphone stage also benefits from the basic idea of the Transcap technology. Class-A darlington-driven capacitor-coupled outputs feed your headphones like nothing else.

The MN phono stage is based on the Questar’s circuit. As the standalone amp, this integrated incarnation is thick and warm and provides a great overall amplification for nearly all kinds of MM cartridges. It’s a very easy way to find your way back into the analogue domain and vinyl records.

Features:

  • 4 analogue and 1 MM phono inputs
  • Class-A headphone amplifier
  • Transcap – output capacitor technology
  • Discrete bipolar transistor architecture

Pandora Updated its Look



pandora-new-logoPandora recently launched Pandora Plus and their new features for their ad-supported listeners. Now, Pandora is unveiling a new brand to enhance your Pandora experience and to help bring music into your life.

Pandora has updated its logo and overall look. They are calling this change a rebrand.  Their announcement includes the following:

Music is a personal experience for everyone, from the artists creating it all the way to the fans listening to it. And as Pandora continues to evolve the most personal music experience, our new look embraces the dynamic range of sound and color, visualizing the energy and emotion that artists pour into the creation of music, and that we feel as listeners. Our dynamic brand is composed of form, color, and pattern, which we implemented in the new P icon and serves as your portal into the unique diverse range of music you love.

In other words, Pandora has a new logo that is composed of a blue capital letter P. They are rolling out their new app icon on mobile devices, whether you listen to ad-supported Pandora or Pandora Plus. Their fresh new look will be coming to the web and other devices over the year.


Noted Adds Support For SongSync, Spotify, Apple Music



Noted SongSyncNoted, the music-centric social sharing service that lets users receive a “news feed” style stream of songs selected by friends, has added support for SongSync, Spotify, and Apple Music. From a recent Noted e-mail announcement:

 

SongSync lets you integrate with your Spotify/Apple Music account to share songs and build playlists across services.

Here’s an example: Now friends can share a music video from YouTube and you’ll be able to add it to your Spotify playlists through Noted.

In order to use SongSync with Noted, users should follow these steps:

  1. If using Noted on a mobile device, update to the latest version.
  2. Sync with your favorite library (if you aren’t a paid subscriber, choose YouTube for full tracks).
  3. Noted automatically converts every available post to your synced services and your posts to your friends’ services.

Once the process is completed, Noted users will have automatically synced playlists on connected services based on their own Noted activity, as well as the activity of friends. This is a pretty handy feature, as it can be difficult to follow everything happening on Noted, especially if a user has a lot of friends.

Noted has stated that this is only the beginning of its SongSync integration and that it will be sending more information and tips about how to best utilize the service.


Become an Instant Guitar Hero with Airiax



Airier glovesYeah, it’s an April Fools’ joke in a sea of April Fools’ jokes. It’s April 1st. We get it. But I thought this one was particularly amusing.

Musical instrument and equipment manufacturer Line 6 is currently touting its new Airiax gloves on the company’s homepage. Airiax is a nice takeoff on the company’s line of electric guitars called Variax. These guitars are unique because they contain special electronics that “model” the tones of other guitars. The Variax is loved by some guitar players (like me) who appreciate its versatility, and it’s hated by others who believe it’s inauthentic and lacks the soul of the instruments its replicating.

Line 6’s Airiax gag does a nice job of parodying this dichotomy. Airiax carries the tagline “Air guitar never felt this real.” Yes, that’s right. Airiax gloves make you a great air guitarist. Just plug the Airiax’s wireless connector into any guitar amp and you can shred with the best of them:

Ever since the birth of rock guitar heroes, the general population has envied the class, style, attitude, energy and mating potential of those revered guitar players. Emulation of the player’s sounds, poses and facial expressions has led to the birth of air guitar as a favorite hobby, bar activity and competitive sporting event. Historically, air guitarists were never able to coax convincing tones out of their ethereal instrument, which severely limited true creative freedom and hindered prospects for attracting a complimentary member of the species. After several years of exhaustive research and a few broken fingers, we are proud to present a revolutionary solution to the air guitarist’s biggest problem.

When used in tandem, Airiax gloves faithfully translate finger and hand movements into highly convincing guitar licks and tones, allowing anyone with guts and a few choice moves to churn out the best licks in any style – be it swinging jazz, twangy country, classic rock, or searing metal. Pack them conveniently in any carry-on bag so that you don’t miss those impromptu international jams that only require the slip of a glove. You can even play bass with the ever-convenient finger style bass setting.

This really made me laugh! Click the link above for the Airiax page and watch the embedded video. Nice job with this April Fools’ bit, Line 6!


Nervana is Changing the Way You Feel Music



Nervana playerMusic fans have explored many options over the years to heighten their experience while listening to their favorite jams; Hi-Fi stereo sets, finely tuned components and speakers, and mind/mood-altering chemical substances to name just a few. But what if you could truly enhance your music experience using only a handheld media player and a set of earbuds? That’s exactly what Nervana is hoping to do.

Nervana is self-described as, “The World’s First Consumer Product to Stimulate the Body’s Pleasure Center in Synchronicity to Music.” The prototype Nervana player resembles a classic iPod. It uses special internal technology along with a unique set of earbuds to stimulate the user’s Vagus nerve:

NERVANA is a wearable device that sends a gentle electrical wave through the left ear canal to stimulate the body’s Vagus nerve, while syncing with music. This elicits a calm, relaxed feeling for most users in a natural way, which stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, known to release neurotransmitters (the body’s feel-good messengers).

In more technical terms….A central signal-processing circuit receives both music and stimulation signals and routes those signals appropriately to the two ear buds. The right ear bud receives only the right channel of the music signal, which is output to a hand-picked, high-fidelity speaker in the right ear bud. The proprietary left ear bud, in comparison, not only receives the left channel of the music signal at its speaker, it also receives the stimulation signal within the ear bud material itself, to deliver electrical stimulation to the inside surface of the ear canal and, thereby, the Vagus nerve.

Nervana is currently running a fundraising campaign thru Indiegogo. The campaign has been incredibly successful, having raised 445% of its $75,000 goal with a month left to go. A contribution of $279 will guarantee you a complete Nervana player/earbud system which is a slight discount from the device’s anticipated retail price of $299.


Music Sharing App Nuziki becomes Noted



Noted homepageLast Fall, I wrote about a new social music sharing app called Nuziki. Since then, the folks at Nuziki have been busy updating and improving the service. This month, Nuziki announced it would be changing its name to Noted:

You spoke and we listened. We’re making some major changes based on the feedback you’ve given us. The biggest news of all is, we’ll be doing it under a new name… Noted.

Your username / password will be the same and all of your history will transfer. If you have ANY problems, let us know immediately and we will correct it.

Update the app to get Noted and don’t be scared when nusiki.com redirects you to noted.fm.

Noted exists to solve the problems that you’re having… so please continue to tell us what you want and we’ll continue to build it.

Until then, enjoy the new noted.fm and we look forward to what the future holds!

Indeed, my old Nuziki bookmark takes me straight to the new Noted website and my old account carried over without any problems. I have been using Noted a lot lately. I’m finding it to be a good place to go when I’d like to be exposed to new music. Noted creates a “news feed” style playlist of songs that have been posted to the site by other users I’ve followed. I’ll admit, I haven’t been very picky about who I’ve followed on Noted. I’ve pretty much followed every account I’ve come across. But for a service like this, that’s kinda the point. I’m there to experience things that I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. And since most of my connections on Noted are strangers, it offers some great opportunities for real music discovery.

Noted is free and is available on most major platforms. Feel free to look me up if you decide to check it out.


Jamstik Uses BLE MIDI



Jamstik LogoThere are many people who dream about learning how to play the guitar. Jamstik can help you make that dream a reality. It is a portable mini controller that was designed around the idea of making music more accessible to everyone.

Nick spoke with Senior Producer Matt Cannon from Jamstik. It is a mini controller that has a sensor that knows where your fingers are at. It shows you on screen in real time either on your iPad, iPhone or Mac. (Android compatibility is coming). First timers can use the Jam Tutor app to go from knowing nothing at all about playing guitar to being able to pluck strings, fret their first chords, and more.

What makes Jamstik unique is that it is one of the first devices to connect through Bluetooth and use BLE MIDI. It is lightning fast and has no latency. Another unique feature of Jamstik is that it feels natural and has real strings and frets.

Musicians who travel, and cannot take their guitar with them, can bring Jamstik along instead. It comes with a travel case and fits in carry on. The ideas they get while traveling can be played and recorded in Jamstik.

Jamstik is available via the Jamstik website, at Amazon, and at Apple stores. It is priced at $299.

Nick DiMeo is an audio engineer and show host at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Gibson Guitars and G Force Self Tuner at CES



Gibson LogoGibson produced their first electric guitar back in 1936 and since then, the name has been synonymous with the instrument. This doesn’t mean that Gibson trades on its history alone and the company remains at the forefront of instrument innovation. The latest “High Performance” series is the most innovative guitar they’ve ever made. Daniele Mendez gets a demo of the latest axe from Christopher Oliphant of Gibson.

These new SG-standard guitars have a range of new features, from physical changes to the contour of the neck heel through to auto-tuning. The new G Force tuning system self-tunes to both standard and alternate tunings, and the new version is faster and more accurate than before. Extremely easy to use, all the guitarist needs to do is press a button and strum the strings. The guitar will take care of the rest, tuning only one string or all strings. It’s not just for electric guitars either as the G-Force system is now fitted to high-end acoustic guitars too. Amazing to watch in action!

All the guitars are available now with prices from US$1,099 for the “High Performance” models.

Daniele Mendez is a video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Jamstik Brings MIDI to the Guitar at CES



Jamstik LogoKeyboard players have had a wide range of options for creating all kinds of sounds for years, thanks to MIDI (musical digital instrument interface). MIDI takes input information from a control device, such as the keys of a keyboard, and translates it into audible sound, usually by triggering sounds in a sample bank. If you’ve ever played an electronic keyboard or synthesizer, then you’ve experienced MIDI in action. And while using a keyboard to play MIDI notes makes sense, it’s always been a challenge to transfer MIDI control to other instruments, such as guitar. Jamstik is working to change that.

Chris Helle, Senior Music Product Specialist at Jamstik, stopped by the TPN booth to meet with Jamie and Nick. Chris showed off the latest version of Jamstik and demonstrated how it uses Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to an iPad. Jamstik can be used to control apps on iOS, Mac OS, and soon Android wirelessly. Jamstik uses infrared light to track a player’s movements on the fretboard, sending the data in near real time to the host device. This allows for fast responses, perfect for all kinds of musical performances. Jamstik is currently on the market for $299.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly which can be found at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic, and health journalist.

Nick DiMeo is an audio engineer and show host at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Been wanting to try Spotify Premium? You can get a free Chromecast if you do it now



Spotify logoMusic streaming services are becoming ever more prevalent in the market these days. One made news this week by getting an exclusive deal, but those types of deals also have become common. Perhaps the most popular these days is Spotify, which can be used for free, though a premium subscription brings more functionality.

Now Spotify is trying to pull in more customers with a special deal. The streaming service is offering a free Chromecast to anyone who purchases three months of its Premium service.

To sell this deal, the company points out “With Chromecast, listening at home is easy. Simply plug Chromecast into your TV, connect it to WiFi and cast music directly from your phone or tablet. It works with Android, iOS and laptops, too. Play, skip, browse and search using the Spotify app. Oh, and feel free to make calls, watch a video or play games – the music will keep playing”.

There’s only a brief window of time to take advantage of this deal. You’ll need to act quickly because it’s only running through February 28th. You can grab the offer by visiting here. It will set you back $29.97.