(CC-BY) Flavio Ensiki.

Stems for DJs and More: Here’s How A New Format Will Work

The most important thing to know about Stems, a new multitrack specification for audio, is that it’s simple by design. That simplicity means that it could really take off as a way of sharing music with multiple tracks, for DJing or live-remix applications. Stems won’t solve every problem of file exchange and sharing. It’s not a multichannel spatialization format. It’s not a sophisticated project format for storing metadata. I say that, because after we covered Stems at the beginning of this week, I found my inbox flooded with every use case for every file format imaginable, and complaints that Stems …

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I tried this test once, took a lunch break, came back and tried again. Totally different results. Mainly, it taught me that I mostly don't want to listen to this music, and The Killers are a victim of the Loudness Wars.

This is the Only Thing You Need to Know About “Hifi” Tidal Streaming

So, in case you haven’t heard yet, there’s a new “hifi” streaming service called Tidal. Don’t waste your time watching the weird press event with Madonna and Daft Punk, congratulating themselves like they’re at the Grammies. Don’t let yourself be mesmerized by the desaturated music video in which Jay Z’s friends all get together to drink champagne and talk about “making a stand.” Don’t worry about the European startup that made the tech, or sweat the pricing. Don’t even hand over your credit card in order to start a free trial. No, the only thing you need to do is …

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Video Explains Why Difference Between Analog, Digital Isn’t What Most People Think

“Analog versus digital” – the discussion, it seems, is everywhere. The problem is, many people simply don’t understand what these terms mean. In one 25-minute video – engaging and entertaining to watch straight to the end – the biggest myths all get busted. In short: 1. 16-bit, 44.1 kHz really is okay for many tasks. (You’re saving that data for the computer and processing rather than your own ears. Hope to talk about this question in more detail soon.) 2. Digital audio doesn’t involve stairstepping. 3. Digital signals can store and be used to reproduce sound that’s identical to what’s …

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Hap to Make VJs Happy: Codec Looks Better, Plays Faster on GPU, Free [Mac]

Hap as in happy sounds about right. Hap is a family of free and open source video codecs for Mac OS X. The notion is that the computer’s GPU – rather than CPU – does the heavy lifting of decoding frames. Because GPUs are optimized for lots of parallel operations in a way CPUs are not, that means the ability to use higher resolutions. And, best of all, you can get this for free. The code that makes Hap work is already up on GitHub, and you can begin using it right now if you’re in VDMX. I quickly polled …

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iphoneheadphones

Op Ed: What Do “Mastered for iTunes” and “Sound Check” Do To Music Listening?

One way or another, Apple is involved in a whole lot of the music to which people listen. Here, writer David Dodson considers what that means (and similar issues with other digital music listening beyond Apple, like Spotify. Photo CC-BY) Yutaka Tsutano. What does it mean to “master for iTunes?” Apple tripped that question with the launch of a suite of utilities and sound-processing algorithms intended to master music for their codecs and software, rather than more generically as would be done with the CD. More significantly, what does it mean that an increasing number of music listeners experience all …

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Compressor, Another Apple App Worth Buying at $50, Even Without Final Cut

Let’s be completely clear: pop over to the Mac App Store right now, and in addition to grabbing Final Cut Pro X for $300, you can pick up, a la carte, either Motion or Compressor. Whereas for a time Apple required the purchase of Final Cut Studio to get the companion apps, you can now buy Motion on its own or Compressor on its own without any copy of Final Cut whatsoever – let alone the new-fangled Final Cut Pro X. As I said, $50 for Motion makes it a no-brainer for anyone doing visual work on the Mac, even …

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Miro 4 Media Tool Promises the Quality of Closed, Only It's Open; Could Be HTML5 Dream Utility

Miro 4, an open source video player, has long been promising at least on paper as a means of sharing and watching open video. But the delivery in early versions was shaky, suffering from stability issues in some cases and simply failing to provide a compelling use case in others – particularly with browsers and other media players. Miro 4 is largely about music, but that in itself is relevant to video producers. If Miro can be a compelling iTunes alternative – particularly on the Mac, where such choices are few – it could be an intriguing distribution outlet for …

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Miro 4 Media Tool Promises the Quality of Closed, Only It’s Open; Could Be HTML5 Dream Utility

Miro 4, an open source video player, has long been promising at least on paper as a means of sharing and watching open video. But the delivery in early versions was shaky, suffering from stability issues in some cases and simply failing to provide a compelling use case in others – particularly with browsers and other media players. Miro 4 is largely about music, but that in itself is relevant to video producers. If Miro can be a compelling iTunes alternative – particularly on the Mac, where such choices are few – it could be an intriguing distribution outlet for …

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And Just Like That, WebM, Vorbis, and VP8 Became Real Open Video Standards

What happened to the Internet standards advocates who got everything they ever wanted? They lived happily ever afte— now, wait a minute. Microsoft, Apple – you guys better not play the Grinch on this one, ‘kay? Photo (CC-BY) loveā™”janine. Shifts in standards usually take place at a glacial pace. This one may have just happened overnight. Yesterday, the future of Web audiovisual content remained murky. You could choose H.264, a format that all but locked out open source software and threatened license fees down the road. Or you could opt for Ogg Theora, a format that was open but had …

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Your Hearing, According to MP3: Sounds for Humans, Played for 10^450 Years

The miracle of human hearing goes well beyond audiophile snobbery over “high fidelity,” or the machinations of sometimes-arbitrary, designed-by-committee industry specifications. But, in the context of my rant about perceived myths in audio, what can we hear, really? And how much perceptible sound can you squeeze into an MP3? For his master’s thesis at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Kyle McDonald investigated the deeper, existential issues behind common digital audio specifications. The question: what if you could play every single distinguishable sound that the MP3 specification can accommodate? (For the technically minded, that means …

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