August 2018
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Harman Kardon’s new Citation 500 Google Assistant speaker is sleek, smart and punchy

By | August 16th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

Harman Kardon has introduced its latest smart home speaker, the Harman Kardon Citation 500.

The brand has teamed up with design textile manufacturer Kvadrat to produce an elegant and minimalistic speaker which aims to fit in with the decor of your home as well as providing a dynamic listening experience. And, as with all smart speakers, it’s got voice control (courtesy of the Google Assistant) built in too.

What does it look like?

The Citation 500 is an oblong cylinder that’s small enough to place on a side-table, with a gray or black wool fabric exterior and plastic top panel – Harman Kardon calls it a ‘Nordic’ design – and a touch-sensitive color menu screen.… Read the full article

Samsung’s premium HW-950 7.1.4 soundbar has room-filling Dolby Atmos

By | August 15th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

Having bought Harman Kardon back in 2017, Samsung's use of the audio brand's expertise has been so far limited to AKG headphones bundled with its mobile phones, and some sonic tuning for its tablets. The partnership goes into full swing today however with the release of a new premium soundbar line.

The HW-950 and HW-N850 are both Dolby Atmos speakers and DTS:X enabled home cinema kits – the first first to feature co-branding between Harman Kardon and Samsung.

Both feature wireless subwoofers and wireless rear channels, with the HW-950 being the more feature-rich of the line-up. 

Adding height

The HW-950 is a 7.1.4 channel affair (five front firing speakers in the soundbar, a front firing speaker in each of the rear channels, plus two height channels in the soundbar and one each in the rears, as well as a wireless subwoofer), giving the full Dolby Atmos experience.… Read the full article

Pandora Premium arrives on Google Home

By | August 14th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

Pandora Premium subscribers can now use their voice to control their music on any device with Google Assistant built in – including Google Home, Mini and Max, plus third-party smart speakers like Polk.

Set Pandora Premium as your default music streaming service, then simply say "Hey Google, play" followed by the name of a song, artist, playlist or station. If you want to play a song but can't remember the title, just say part of the lyrics and Pandora will find it for you. 

You can rate tracks hands-free, giving them a thumbs up or down using only your voice.… Read the full article

Spotify is testing unlimited ad skipping for Australian users on the free tier

By | August 11th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

One of the restrictions you have to put up with if you don't give Spotify a monthly subscription fee is having to sit through a certain number of ads while your music plays. Now the music streaming service is toying with the idea of letting users on the free tier skip these ads if they want.

The idea, Spotify tells Adage, is that users only hear the advertising they're actually interested in and advertisers get an audience that's more engaged with what they're trying to sell (and wouldn't pay for skipped ads).… Read the full article

Samsung Galaxy Home: first look

By | August 9th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

Samsung just announced its first smart speaker with Bixby and it has called it, drum roll, the Samsung Galaxy Home.

It's been built to compete against the likes of the Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and Google Home.

The company announced the Samsung Galaxy Home at its Unpacked event in New York, alongside the Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Note 9 devices.

The Samsung Galaxy Home speaker doesn’t have a release date and price, but we did to see, touch, and hold the new Bixby-powered smart speaker.… Read the full article

Sonos smart speakers gain one more awesome Alexa skill

By | August 9th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

Sonos Beam and Sonos One achieved what few other smart speakers even dared of by supporting multiple voice assistants simultaneously. 

This started when AirPlay 2 came to Sonos’ smart speakers last month, joining Amazon’s Alexa that came pre-installed on every speaker, and will continue when Google Assistant arrives sometime down the road.

The only problem with so many smart assistants – and with being a third-party smart speaker in the first place – is that some features from first-party speakers never make it to your hardware. 

But Amazon and Sonos are working diligently to close that gap. 

To that end, Sonos and Amazon announced today that the Amazon Announcements feature will now be supported on both the Sonos One and Sonos Beam in the US, Canada and the UK. 

The Sonos One and Sonos Beam both support the Amazon Announcements feature.

Read the full article

New Apple patent suggests future iMacs could have built-in subwoofers

By | August 8th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

Few people would choose to listen to music through their computer’s inbuilt speakers, but the faff of plugging in external speakers could be a thing of the past if Apple’s latest patent is anything to go by.

The recently filed patent outlines plans to incorporate subwoofers into Apple displays, most likely the iMac, which has suffered in terms of audio quality in Apple’s pursuit of thinness. 

Playing it cool

Not only could the patented speakers improve sound quality, Apple has also described how they could be used to help keep the computer cool. 

Apple has outlined how the airflow generated by the subwoofers could act as a secondary cooling system, with signals sent from the control circuitry to the speakers in response to temperature measurements and the speakers increasing or decreasing their airflow accordingly. 

Furthermore, Apple noted that as the speakers move, airflow could be directed at specific parts of the computer that need to be cooled the most, and by directing warm air out of openings in the monitor. 

One of many patents

On the list of US companies that submit the most patents, Apple comes in at 11th, meaning that many of its inventions are never actually utilized in its products.… Read the full article

Tim Cook harks back to ‘human curation’ in music streaming

By | August 8th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

Tim Cook has called for more "human curation" in music streaming services, laying out a vision for Apple Music at odds with the growth of data-driven curation amongst competitors.

In a conversation with Fast Company, the Apple CEO stressed his credentials as a lover of music, calling it “better than any medicine” – but hit out at the rise of algorithmic playlists amongst music streaming services.

“We worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft.”

Cook is a longstanding critic of the data-centered playlists curated by its major rival, the popular music streaming app Spotify, which was valued at $26bn on floating on the Stock Exchange and has been steadily growing in value ever since.… Read the full article

Yamaha’s latest soundbar offers DTS:X, AirPlay and Hi-Res Audio at a bargain

By | August 7th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

While laptops and smartphones have the luxury of an annual release cycle thanks to steadily improved chipsets, audio products aren’t so lucky – to make something new-and-improved year-over-year at a price lower is difficult at best, and near impossible unless you have something new to bring to the table. 

That said, Yamaha looks to have done it with the new MusicCast BAR 400, a $499 soundbar with Hi-Res Audio support up to 192kHz with 24-bit resolution, virtual DTS:X support and MusicCast multi-room audio functionality. 

The soundbar will be available starting in September in this year and will look to compete with the similarly priced Samsung HW-N650 and LG SK8Y.… Read the full article

Sony’s UBP-X500 offers 4K and Blu-ray on a budget

By | August 7th, 2018|Categories: TechRadar|

Sony’s hi-fi division is about to release a budget 4K UHD Blu-ray media player, capable of high-resolution audio and video output for only £200/€240.

The UBP-X500 joins an illustrious family of Sony’s other 4K Blu-ray players. While Sony was somewhat late to the game for UHD-capable hi-fi, it’s certainly now found its place in the market. 

The latest model can play Blu-ray discs, DVD, and CDs, and is compatible with a range of audio and video formats – though notably not Dolby’s HDR picture format, Dolby Vision.… Read the full article