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Music

Did the iPod kill the boom box?

Starting in the 1970s boom boxes provided the soundtrack of urban life -- on the street, buses, subways, parks, and beaches -- boom boxes were everywhere. Now they're almost defunct, music has moved inside, between our ears. We plugged-in and tuned-out from the world around us. The transition from external to internal was slow at first, before the iPod there were other MP3 players, and before that there were portable CD and cassette players. But big and brash boom boxes survived and prospered when those headphone-oriented devices appeared and then disappeared from the scene. If iPods and phones didn'… Read more

Dolby to put Atmos surround sound on tablets, smartphones

SAN FRANCISCO -- Anyone who has seen the movie "Gravity" in a Dolby Atmos theater can understand what it's like to truly experience surround-sound.

The viewer becomes completely immersed in booms, echoes, smashes, and whispers -- space debris zooms overhead, loudly crashes into the International Space Station, and then there's total silence with just the faint murmur of Sandra Bullock's panicked breathing.

There's a reason why two of the movie's seven Academy awards were for sound.

Now Dolby is bringing this same experience to mobile. That's right, it's like a movie … Read more

Billy Joel, Jimmy Fallon sing with an iPad app (No, it's really good)

Billy Joel didn't seem too sure at first.

One imagines he's a man of the old school: the dusty piano stool, the fool sitting in the corner talking into his beer.

He may be slightly less of a man for gizmos and apps.

Somehow, Jimmy Fallon, ever the boyish enthusiast, talked him into singing along with an iPad app called Loopy. This allows you to layer one track over another, so that you, too, can make like "Bohemian Rhapsody" (say).

Instead of "Bohemian Rhapsody," Fallon chose the "Boeem-a-weh" song. Yes, "The … Read more

Beats Music turns 7 out of 10 free-trial users to paying ones?

Streaming-music service Beats Music signed up 1,000 people a day as paying subscribers before any free trials, and is keeping more than 70 percent of AT&T free-trial users as paying customers once those introductory terms end, according to a Bloomberg report.

The report cited unnamed people familiar with the matter, reporting figures that were provided to investors in February. Beats Music launched publicly on January 21 with AT&T offering "Family" customers a 90-day free trial and individual AT&T wireless customers a 30-day free trial. Before January, Beats Music was in a … Read more

Instrument reads tattoos as sheet music

Musical instruments, by design, usually require a human agent to work (player pianos and robotic bands notwithstanding). Usually, though, this involves some kind of active intervention, such as pressing keys, plucking strings, or blowing.

"Reading my body" by Moscow-based artist, musician, and engineer Dmitry Morozov is a little different: The human becomes partially passive, the instrument active, in a strange personal symbiosis. The instrument can only play when it reads and plays a tattoo on Morozov's arm, much as a human would read and play a score. … Read more

Imogen Heap's magical music gloves make for handmade beats

Grammy-winning British artist Imogen Heap says she's always been a bit frustrated by not being able to navigate computers and mixing boards with the same fluidity other musicians can play more traditional instruments. To solve this, she's "joined forces with the nerd underworld, creating musical gloves using new sensor technology allowing me to compose and perform music with computers in an intuitive way."

We first reported on the gloves back in 2011 when Heap debuted them at a TED conference. Now, the artist and her team of engineers and scientists are seeking funding for their "Mi.Mu gloves" through a Kickstarter campaign seeking to raise £200,000 (about $330,000 USD) to bring the technology to the masses. … Read more

Do you ever get to really hear stereo sound?

Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of wireless speakers, single-speaker sound is making something of a comeback. Sure, Bluetooth speakers can play the left and right channels of a recording, but since they're just a few inches apart, stereo is a non-event.

Ideally, for desktop stereo the left and right speakers should be at least 24 inches apart when you're sitting a few feet away. With room hi-fi systems, the speakers should be at least five to six feet apart. With desktop and hi-fi systems, the listener must be equidistant from the left and right speakers to hear accurate … Read more

Pandora One hikes subscription price, nixes annual option

Pandora is making a few changes to its premium streaming music service -- most notably a fee hike for new monthly subscribers.

The company announced Tuesday that because of rising royalty rates it pays to musicians, it's having to up its monthly fee for the first time since Pandora One debuted in 2009. Starting in May, new members will have to pay $4.99 per month rather than the current rate of $3.99 per month.

"The costs of delivering this service have grown considerably," Pandora wrote in a blog post. "For example, the royalty rates … Read more

Cadenza: You play, and a full orchestra plays with you

You're at home playing your violin and imagining the day when you'll grace the stage of the world's greatest orchestras. Wouldn't it be nice to have symphonic accompaniment as you nurture those Itzhak Perlman dreams? A number of apps provide musical backup, but Cadenza out of Harvard goes a step further, automatically synching a recording of a full live orchestra to your style and tempo in real time.

"As you begin playing your instrument, the app listens to each note you play and the rhythm and speed in which you play them, calculating and recalibrating a prediction model for when you will play the next note," the Cadenza site explains. "These meticulous adjustments happen every millisecond." … Read more

Courtney Love: I may have found missing Malaysian plane

Rarely have so much knowledge and so much ignorance melded to produce so much speculation.

Malaysian Airlines flight 370 might be somewhere or nowhere. It might have crashed or been hijacked. Extraterrestrial explanations seem not too far-fetched.

In confusion such as this, what you need is an enterprising attitude and a level head. Unsurprisingly, Courtney Love has stepped in to offer her services.

In a post to her Facebook page, Love says she has participated in the Tomnod challenge to see whether she can scour the seas to find evidence of the plane.

Lo, she believes she might have beheld … Read more