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Tag Archives: MP3s

Is There Room In The Market For A Standalone High-Fidelity Music Player?


Neil Young hates MP3s. He’s right to do so, to be honest. MP3s made sense in 2001 when broadband adoption was nowhere near what it is today, and where hard drives were a lot more expensive. But in 2014, there’s no real reason to degrade music to the point that the MP3 algorithm does. So that’s where Neil Young’s PonoPlayer comes in. Aside from handling traditional 256kbps iTunes store style files, the player chews up the following:

    CD lossless quality recordings: 1411 kbps (44.1 kHz/16 bit) FLAC files
    High-resolution recordings: 2304 kbps (48 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
    Higher-resolution recordings: 4608 kbps (96 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
    Ultra-high resolution recordings: 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files

You’ll also have access to the PonoMusic store, where you can actually find (and buy) these high quality files. To put things in perspective, the “CD Lossless” quality file still contains about 30 times more data than a typical MP3. If you’re going to pay for music (and really, you probably should), you may as well pay for all the music the artist intended.

It’s $300 for the player, and an extra $100 will give you a version autographed by artists like “Patti Smith, Tom Petty, Beck, Arcade Fire, Dave Matthews Band, The Foo Fighters and others.” Granted it’s a lot of money for functionality that your iPhone technically already possesses. But if you really see it this way, then this product definitely isn’t for you.

[ Project Page ] VIA [ WalYou ]

Turn Your MP3 Files Into A Low-Fi Vinyl

Now that we live in a digital age, there’s been a concerted effort to back up old analog media in a, well, digital format. You’ve no doubt seen machines whose job it is to turn tapes and even vinyls into MP3’s or even higher quality lossless formats. But now that 3D printing is coming of age, a project by Amanda Ghassaei seeks to turn those MP3s right back into the vinyls they might have once come from. As you can imagine, the result is very low quality. Not only is the MP3 format lossy, meaning it removes some detail from the music in order to compress it into a small size, but the resolution limits on modern 3D printing techniques further adds a layer of noise to the original sound. But still, you’re left with a record that can be played in a standard turntable, and which was produced with a 3D printer.

I’ve created a technique for converting digital audio files into 3D-printable, 33rpm records and printed a few prototypes that play on ordinary turntables. Though the audio quality is low -the records have a sampling rate of 11kHz (a quarter of typical mp3 audio) and 5-6 bit resolution (less than one thousandth of typical 16 bit resolution)- the audio output is still easily recognizable. These records were printed on an Objet Connex500 resin printer to a precision of 600dpi with 16 micron z axis resolution. The 3D modeling in this project was far too complex for traditional drafting-style CAD techniques, so I wrote an program to do this conversion automatically.

Check out Amanda’s site for a bunch more details on what she did, after the jump. Also, a few renderings of the grooves that are produced, as well as a video with a sample of the sound produced.

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Denon DP-200USB Turntable Rips Vinyl To MP3

Denon DP-200USB (Image courtesy Denon)
By Andrew Liszewski

While many people will tell you that vinyl produces a better sound than a digital audio file, there’s no denying that an MP3 player takes the cake when it comes to portability. So the DP-200USB turntable from Denon allows you to easily convert your old records to MP3 files, before your kids go all DJ Qbert on them. (Though the belt drive motor could hinder their DJ aspirations.)

Recording an album is as easy as inserting a USB flash drive into the front of the player and hitting the start and record buttons. From what I can tell, the DP-200USB creates a large single MP3 file of the entire record, but it comes with Trans Music Manager software which will automatically split the file into individual tracks by detecting the gaps between songs. The Denon DP-200USB is available now for around $300, and comes in your choice of silver or black.

[ Denon DP-200USB Turntable ] VIA [ Pocket-lint ]

Ovation iDea – An Electric/Acoustic Guitar With A Built-In MP3 Recorder

Ovation iDea Guitar (Image courtesy Ovation and WorkshopLive)
By Andrew Liszewski

Inspiration can literally strike anywhere, but what if you’re a musician who’s just come up with the next Grammy winning song and don’t have any way to document it? Well that wouldn’t be a problem with the iDea guitar from Ovation. It features a built-in MP3 player, and while the technical specs are a bit vague, I have to assume it’s got a few gigs of flash storage onboard allowing you to capture an impromptu performance at a moment’s notice.

On the side of the guitar you’ll find a control panel with an LCD display, mic input and USB connection, as well as a 4-way controller for navigating the menus and a set of basic EQ sliders covering the bass, mid and treb. You’re able to record just the guitar, the mic or whatever’s connected to an additional aux in jack, or you can mix them together for a more elaborate performance. Other features include a pitch-stable variable speed playback option, so you can slow things down while practicing a recorded song, and of course the ability to easily sync your recordings to a PC via the USB port.

The Ovation iDea Acoustic/Electric guitar is available now, and you can find it online for around $600.

[ Ovation iDea ] VIA [ Chip Chick ]

Clari-Fi Headphone Adapter ‘Cleans’ Your MP3s

Clari-Fi (Image courtesy Intunition)By Andrew Liszewski

The Clari-Fi is a small adapter designed to sit between your MP3 player and your headphones that will supposedly clean out any digital artifacts from your compressed sound files. Their website claims that by removing these artifacts you’re left with clearer, more natural sound, that is also less likely to damage your hearing.

The device actually uses a small bit of circuitry which draws power from the headphone jack, so it’s not just a case of it being some high-end, super-expensive cable. And while I admit I haven’t actually tried the Clari-Fi for myself, the words snake & oil do come to mind. Maybe some PR-talk about the technology behind the device will convince me of its usefulness.

At the heart of the clari-fi is a proprietary semiconductor technology developed over the past three years in San Jose, CA using custom Silicon. This technology allows for real-time compression of digital audio, removing harmful digital artifacts and ‘spikey-ness,’ while retaining the music’s original acoustic tonal quality, and improving its clarity and richness.

Nope, still not convinced. But if you’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, the company actually sells two versions specifically tweaked for listening to music or podcasts. The Clari-Fi Music sells for $59.95, while the Clari-Fi Podcast sells for $49.95.

[ Clari-Fi ] VIA [ Wired Gadget Lab ]