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ZuneFinally, Microsoft has given up some details on the Zune, the most significant detail being the confirmation that it exists. In an article in Billboard Magazine, the company reveals that Zune is much more than just a digital media player, but rather a family of hardware and software products which integrate various forms of digital entertainment services. The first implementation of this will be the portable music player and digital music service, which is essentially Microsoft’s first real attempt at going head to head with the Apple’s iTunes and iPod one-two punch combo. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can put a dent in Apple’s 70% market share in digital music downloads, and 75% of the entire digital music player scene. If anyone has the pockets to do it, it’s them. Before counting them out, remember that the Xbox was nothing more than a joke when we first heard about it in 1999, and today it’s at the forefront of the game industry.

EDIT: A couple of official Zune related sites: Zune Insider, Coming Zune, and Madison and Pine

Read More | Billboard (Account Required)


GraceNotes, which maintains the CDDB database containing music CD information on more than 55 million tracks and 4 million CDs, yesterday said they’d obtained the rights to publish song lyrics of more than 1 million songs, according to Reuters. They are now chatting with their online music partners, including Yahoo and Apple, about “plans to launch a service to offer legal and accurate lyrics for all digital media”. This service would be the first industry-sanctioned want to provide lyrics legally.

Read More | Reuters: Gracenote, music publishers in lyrics deal via iLounge

So we finally got our hands on iRiver’s drool-worthy portable media device, the clix. This 2GB beauty has a great screen, and was built from the ground-up for use with MTV URGE and Windows Media Player 11. We will be bringing you a full review of the device here on Gear Live, as well as in video form on The Bleeding Edge, but for now, join us in the gallery as we unbox the iRiver clix.

Read More | iRiver clix Unboxing Gallery

It takes a unique combination of character traits to get in front of a few people and belt out “It’s Not Unusual” in your best Tom Jones like a moron. It’s even worse when there’s a camera in the room. But hey, why don’t we just publish it on the interwebs and let the whole world see what our shower walls cry about? Singstar, with Jesse Ferguson in black and the wonderfully untalented Chris Cardinal (that is, me) in green, is a fun party game I fear too many people will lack the moxie to throw down with a microphone for. That’s where booze typically comes in, but suffice to say, both Jesse and I were ridiculously sober when we recorded this.

The game monitors your pitch and intonations, and the length of your notes, and did a very good job at filtering out any sort of background noise. More songs will be available for (purchase and) download at a later date, though it will ship with a collection of around 100. It should also be noted that I edged out Jesse, most likely pulling ahead at the end with my creative take on the w-hoo-hoo part of the song.

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Line 6 Variax

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry is lucky.  If he’s working on a track at his home studio and he needs a particular sound, he can just go grab another guitar, plug in, and another classic track is born.  Those of us for whom money is still an issue have it a little tougher.  Sure, we know that “Sweet Child O’ Mine” should only be played on a Les Paul (or a copy, like Slash used), but there’s only room for a couple of guitars in the back of the Civic, and if the song has to be played on a Strat, then so be it.

No more excuses!  For the cost of a decent Stratocaster or half of a Les Paul, guitar players can have access to classic sounds from both of these instruments, as well as from banjos, sitars, resonators, and several acoustic guitars.  The Variax carefully models the waveforms of classic instruments to product their sounds faithfully, and all of the sounds are just a knob twist away.  Finally, guitarists can leave their vintage instruments at home and still be prepared for any musical need that may arise.

Read More | Line 6

Audiovox Home Decor Speakers

Over the years, the trend for home audio speakers has been one of downsizing.  Many a home theater enthusiast has foregone the lure of huge speakers that rattle their neighbor’s windows (three blocks away) to focus more on the SAF.  The SAF (Spousal Approval Factor) is a major force when it comes time for speaker acquisitions, and typically the smaller, the better.  Acoustic Research, an Audiovox company, has taken a slightly different approach than the norm to making speakers blend in with their surroundings.  While their HD510 speaker system isn’t tremendously tiny (e.g., Bose Acoustimass), they’re still quite small, but that’s not their only claim to SAF fame.  Acoustic Research has taken to hiding the speakers inside some fairly common looking objects to help disguise their presence.

Suddenly, subwoofers become steamer trunks, and satellite speakers become books, vases, and even wall sconces.  With more than 20 different covers that are each sold separately, the options available are quite abundant.  One thing though that should concern anyone interested in quality speakers, is the effect the covers have on the clarity and aspect of the sound.  Unfortunately, besides mentioning that the covers allow “consumers to really express themselves without compromising speaker performance”, there are no hard numbers for a “before and after” scenario in regards to sound quality.

HD510 Features:
Satellites & Center Channel Speaker
  Woofer : 3 1/2” Midrange (Magnetically Shielded)
  Tweeter : 1” Teteron Tweeter
  Freq. Resp. : 120Hz-25kHz +/- 3dB
  Rec. Power : 25-150 Watts
  Finish : Extruded Aluminum
  Dims 6.15”(H) x 3.8”(W) x 4.0”(D)
  Impedance : 8 ohms

  10” Poly-Coated Woofer
  Freq. Resp. : 25Hz - 150Hz (variable)
  175 Watt Class D Digital Amplifier
  Finish : Pewter Lacquer
  Dims : 13.5”(H) x 23.9”(W) x 12.5”(D)

The speaker system and covers will be available this summer for an undisclosed amount.

Read More | Audiovox via Gizmodo

Gibson Digital Guitar

The Gibson Digital Guitar, demonstrated last month at Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle, is the first electric guitar to feature an Ethernet port on-board.  Using onboard electronics, the Gibson Digital allows players to send output from different strings to different amps or effect loops, as well as opening up the guitar’s traditionally analog signal to digital applications, like Internet streaming and single-string-per-track recording.

The real innovation here is in the media delivery system Gibson has designed to carry this information.  MaGIC, which stands for Media-accelerated Global Information Carrier, is a protocol that carries media information bi-directionally on a standard Ethernet cable.  Gibson’s goal for MaGIC technology is to replace all the cabling on musical instrument rigs as well as consumer electronics,  allowing users to daisy-chain devices and greatly simplifying audio system component hookup.  The MaGIC protocol carries 32 channels of digital audio over the single Ethernet cable.

Gibson has not yet released the digital guitar for sale, but has partnered with chipmaker Cirrus Logic to deliver a suite of digital audio and video products utilizing gigabit Ethernet connectivity in 2006.

Read More | Gibson Digital

Philips Streamium WAK3300

With a sleek, sophisticated looking exterior the new Philips Streamium WAK3300 is an alarm clock with 802.11g wireless networking built in.  The wireless networking provides the connection to Philips’ Wireless Music System, which includes their WACS700 Media Center that was announced during CES 2005.  Using the WACS700 as a source, the WAK3300 can stream music for your listening pleasure, or merely provide variety for your morning wake-up call.  Unfortunately, it seems that this also precludes the use of any other media server as a source for the Streamium WAK3300.

Additional details are a bit scare and no pricing or availability is known at this time.

Read More | Philips via Pocket-lint


We’ve talked about the virtues of Pandora many times in the past so I won’t rehash old news, but wouldn’t it be great if you could record your Pandora streams and save them for later?  A utility called Pyrrha lets you do just that.  Yes, there are other utilities out there that let you “hijack” audio streams and record them for later use, but Pyrrha works a bit differently. 

There’s no need to go to Pandora’s website to login as Pyrrha handles all of that for you.  Enter your username and password, choose your radio station and recording duration, click the “generate” button, and away it goes, quietly recording your chosen station as a 128kbps MP3 complete with playlist.

With a Java version for non-Windows users available, it’s hard to fault an application that does so little, yet does it so well.  However, I like to nitpick so I’d like more control over the duration of the recordings, and a feature to remember my username and password.

Read More | Pyrrha via eirikso

Clearaudio Statement

Audiophiles are a strange lot.  Where else can you find a group of reasonably intelligent people who will believe almost any preposterous concept, provided it relates to improving their perception of high-end audio?  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of audiophiles who are quite rational when it comes to audio equipment, but there are many others who take a flying leap from the cliff of intelligence when presented with an extravagent piece of audio gear.  The latest word in excess comes from the German company Clearaudio who have crafted a turntable they call the Statement. 

The aptly named Statement is a $125,000 conglomeration of wood, aluminum, and other sundry bits that aims to do only one thing - play records, and play them exceptionally well.  Weighing in at a massive 770-pounds, the Statement derives its rotational motivation from the same type of electric motor used to propel the Mars Rover.  So what we end up with is a turntable that is built to enormous excess, is supremely precise and stable, and plays vinyl so well that the average listener probably couldn’t distinguish it from a good quality CD player.  Then again, the average listener isn’t the intended recipient of this German engineered tribute to overkill.  No, that privileged spot would be reserved for . . . you guessed it, the audiophile.

Read More | Clearaudio (de) via Engadget