Dr. AIX's POSTS NEWS β€” 10 September 2014

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I admit to being a fan of Apple. I can’t say that I’d be willing to sleep out in the street to be the first to get my hands on the new products announced on Tuesday, but I’m pretty sure that I will upgrade to the iPhone 6 Plus and adorn my left wrist with a new Apple Watch soon. Why? Because I believe that they’re a step ahead of anything that I’ve seen from Samsung, Sony, HTC or other players in the very competitive Smartphone space in terms technology, design, software, and cool factor.

My Sprint HTC Harman Kardon M8 phone is gorgeous and sounds amazing…I’ve gone on record as saying that it’s the best sounding portable phone I’ve ever heard. I know I haven’t heard them all but I have listened to the Astell & Kern (very, very good sound) and a Samsung Galaxy 4. But there are some things about the HTC that require improvement. On my phone the power connector falls out too easily. It just doesn’t “latch” or “click” into place like the connection to my iPhone 5. And it’s a hit or miss affair whether the syncing software will find the phone when it’s connected to my Mac laptop. These complaints are only mild irritations, but I’m confident that I won’t have those issues with a new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. That’s just the Apple way.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014, Apple rolled out their usual very slick presentation at the Flint Auditorium at De Anza College and closed the rumor mill on the current round of new products. I watched the entire presentation and I recommended it to all of my digital media arts students today. From the opening, very elegant “analog” video (produced without heavy special computer effects) to the “and one more thing” prelude to the unveiling of the Apple Watch, the guys at Apple know how to do “cool” and keep people engaged. I was good with Steve Jobs and the causal turtleneck and jeans but am not convinced that everyone on stage yesterday needs to maintain the same wardrobe restrictions.

But the message was right on target. The new iPhones are masterpieces of design, engineering, technology, and product placement. Do they surpass those offered by other vendors? In my opinion, they do. Did they meet my expectations for great sounding audio output? No. Will they…undoubtedly yes within a few months.

I mean the new A8 processor is impressive enough. Does anyone else remember when there were only 68,000 transistors inside of the CPU chip of the original Mac? And now there are 2 billion of those components inside the new phones? The HD Retina display with over 400 dots per inch spans full HD-Video at 1920 x 1080. Maybe I’m easily impressed by specifications and technology…but it’s only because I’ve lived long enough to remember soldering individual transistors on a circuit board on my Dad’s workbench. I was very proud of my first transistor radio, which contained 3 transistors.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plusn in combination with the new iOS 8n will find its way into the hands of millions of existing Apple customers. But I’m pretty sure it’s going to be sufficiently attractive to drive new customers to Apple…the Apple Pay innovation will be the driving force behind this migration. Speaking as someone that still uses a hand swiped credit card machine and paper tickets, I’m way overdue for an upgrade to my eCommerce methods at tradeshows.

So thanks to Tim Cook and Apple for an entertaining, informative, and exciting product announcement event. There’s a reason why Apple is the largest corporation in the world. They just keep doing so many things right.

Come on. Make real high-resolution audio next!

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About Author

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

(13) Readers Comments

  1. Interesting Mark that you say Apple will …” meet my expectations for great sounding audio output? No. Will they…undoubtedly yes within a few months”. Did I miss something in the Apple show yesterday? I couldn’t find anything to suggest that the new iphone6 will play high res audio. What will be happening in a few months to change this?

    • The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be able to send the high-resolution audio via the digital connector or WiFi to the new Beats headphones that will have quality HD Dacs built in.

      • I would be happy if Apple let me use the built in Music app for HD music instead of having to use a third party app. Right now I use nPlayer, and output via USB to my receiver. However, nPlayer doesn’t organize the songs by album (just by name), so it’s not great for music. I already had the app for videos, so I figured I would try it for music. Some people have mentioned Onkyo HF Player or Golden Ear, but they don’t look that great. I also use iTunes Match, so it may actually be impossible for me to drag music into the Music app even if Apple allows HD music.

        • It’s going to happen soon.

  2. Dear Mark,

    Well, I have not been being an Apple fun any more, but I wish you to be right. I am crossing my fingers at least…
    Apple used to be innovator and customer/value focused company – but not for a while. They are rather follower than innovator, and the only value they are taking care is the Apple share value. I do not blame them for it, but they already forgot to create value or at least to ask the customer.
    As a music lover I really do hope that this time Apple do not make a mistake and they really do grab the occasion to really get ahead the competitors. As I see, competitors do not exploit this opportunity either (Sony brings out rather a separated music player device than integrate it to the phone).
    All the success will depend on how Apple can agree with the content owners, and how they implement the player solution within their existing ecosystem. Recently the content owners have been doing big efforts to try to keep distance from Apple, and Apple have been making series of mistake with their softwares (professional and home as well) and hardware also.
    So let’s cross our fingers and hope that Apple really does something new and innovative here, not only a marketing hype (as Pono).

    best regards
    Andras

    • We’ll wait and see. I really liked what I saw on Tuesday.

  3. Not wishing to come across as a fanboy, but Apple are no longer either leading or innovative in the smartphone market, they’re following. All current gen android phones are capable of outputting high res audio – the Note 3 can output up to 192 kHz at 24 bits through asynchronous usb (I know, I use it all the time). Large screen, slim ‘phones are now commonplace, and Samsung are leading the pack with oled (amoled) screens with resolutions up to 4k – Apple are late to the table with their offering (bearing a strong resemblance to the Note series of ‘phones..). I belive the latest Iphone iteration still uses the now dated IPS LCD at 1080p. Apple were the first to use 64 bit processors in their phone last year, but the current generation of software doesn’t exploit this (so they’re playing a numbers game).

  4. 1. Below the radar was the discontinuance (is that a word?) of the iPod Classic, perhaps signaling coming changes in the resolution of music files (or not). No discussion of other iPods, to my knowledge.

    2. U have read a few times that the Apple ecosystem converts everything to a 48kHz sample rate for streaming, with less tan great results.Hopefully whatever only uses the iPhone and headphones will do a better job.

  5. As far as a smart phone goes, the 6 and 6+ are not state-of-the-art. Samsung (and others) have higher resolution screens (>500ppi), better video, higher resolution cameras (16MP vs 8MP), expandable memory, replaceable batteries, etc. The iPhones are more rugged and maybe the ergonomics are better. Apple shines with their own operating system with tight integration to OS X. A true ecosystem. In my mind, the choice is between better spec’d phone vs. better integration. I am a Mac owner, but I am leaning toward the better spec’d phone. I think that Apple may have been a little lazy this time out!

  6. There are some problems with the Apple Watch. It is not waterproof and the battery lasts only a day. The lack of waterproofing was the main reason I have abandoned the Fitbit Force sports watch a few days ago. Regarding the lack of HRA on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus it demonstrates that Apple is certain that its smart phones do not match the HRA specification since is very difficult if not impossible to attain 120/130dB of dynamic audio range in a so small equipment intended to be used by general public.

    • I was also curious about the water resistance factor of the Apple Watch. Being a runner, I’ve had my Garmin fog up during a long wet race. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will Wifi HD-Audio to an external HD device..you just wait.

  7. Hi Mark,

    Saw some other interesting news the other day on Apple and the U2 partnership. Wanted to share with the community here. Will be interesting to see what happens over the coming months…

    In the wake of all the noise from the recent U2 Songs of Innocence iTunes release, there are several articles stating that the band and Apple have another project in works. Apparently something in the works that is supposed to “change the way we all listen to music and view it”. I’m definitely intrigued by the possibilities.

    From a recent article in Time Magazine:

    Bono tells TIME he hopes that a new digital music format in the works will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music — whole albums as well as individual tracks. The point isn’t just to help U2 but less well known artists and others in the industry who can’t make money, as U2 does, from live performance

    From a recent Billboard article:

    “We’re working on other things as well with Apple that have to do with how music is heard and innovation, with [iTunes VP of content] Robert Kondrk leading that charge. There’s a lot of things still to come that are really interesting. The band really wants people to engage with albums, they want them to support the art form of artwork and lyrics and video content and just get into their music in a much different way than an MP3 file. This is a long relationship.”

    I know there were several comments last week about “no hi-rez announcement” from Apple during the iPhone 6 launch. I too, like many, were hoping for something positive on the fidelity front.

    Crossing my fingers that whatever the boys in U2 and Apple are up to…they consider the fidelity of the music alongside artwork, lyrics and video content. If we truly want folks to reconnect…we have to address the decline of audio quality in the mainstream music business.

    We’ll see πŸ™‚

    Take care all,
    Clay

    • I’ll have to look more closely at these articles. I’m not aware of anything else in the works at Apple. They’ll move in the “enhanced CD” direction complete with video and lots of social network hooks. And with the flip of a switch the world of “HD” will happen…maybe with iOS 8.1. We’ll see.

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