Polk Audio is staging a contest that will put F/X Wireless Surround speakers into the hands of happy surround buffs. You can enter every day between now and March 31, 2011. No purchase is required.
The F/X Wireless Surround looks more like a squat subwoofer than a surround speaker. This unorthodox product is designed to be placed behind the main seating area, providing surround effects without intruding into the room.
We've got some good news and some hmmm news. The good news is that Windows 7, the not-as-lame-as-Vista operating system now slithering out of Microsoft, will be compatible with Dolby Digital Plus, the newest and hippest of Dolby's lossy audio codecs. The hmmm news is that Windows 7 does not support lossless Dolby TrueHD. At least yet. We say yet not because Dolby said anything about it but because we are incurable optimists who believe in the perfectibility of humanity. Hey Steve Ballmer, when you're done changing your shirt to get rid of those obvious sweat stains, how about supporting lossless surround in your next OS?
Windows Vista launches November 30 to corporate customers and January 30 to consumers. Will the next version of Windows become the next big thing in high-end audio circles? There certainly are some interesting features listed in this tutorial from the Windows Vista Team Blog. For instance, bass management applies in both forward (LFE sent from main to sub channels) and reverse ("mapped back into the main channels"). There's "loudness equalization" to maintain even volume levels among different sources. "Speaker fill" seems to be the Microsofting of Dolby Pro Logic II though whether it will work equally as well remains to be seen (in my experience, nothing works as well as DPLII). Perhaps most ambitious, Vista will have its own "room correction" circuit, using microphone input to tweak delay, frequency response, and gain. "This technology works differently than similar features in high-end receivers since it better accounts for the way the human ear processes sound," says product manager Nick White. We'll see about that! While we're puckering up for Microsoft, check out Gizmodo's Happy Birthday, Windows XP. Five years old and still faithfully serving 400 million users.
Are 3D and wireless home video distribution both equally important to you? Then you'll be glad to hear that the Wireless Home Digital Interface will support all the 3D formats included in the HDMI 1.4a specifications. The updated spec will be released in the fourth quarter of this year.
Would you like to fling HDTV around your living room without wires? Seven major names in consumer electronics have banded together to do just that with the forthcoming WirelessHD standard, according to TWICE. They want to transmit high-def signals up to 32 feet using the 60GHz frequency band, also used by the military, universities, and offices. Up to 7GHz of that band would support simultaneous streaming of three 1080p signals. There would be no compression—at least, none in addition to the usual MPEG-2 and other HD codecs—so there would be no compromise in picture quality, in contrast to current low-bandwidth wireless video schemes. Look for WirelessHD in HDTVs, of course, but also in DVD players and adapters for set-top boxes. The WirelessHD Consortium includes LG, Matsushita, NEC, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba plus newcomer SiBEAM, the startup providing the underlying technology. The spec will be finalized in 2007 with products to follow in 2008. For updates, hit the official site.
You don't need a fancy docking station to link your iPod to a big system. A patch cable will do, the kind that has a stereo mini-plug at one and two RCA connectors at the other. But many of the cables sold for this purpose are of unreliable quality. Wireworld promises better performance with the iWorld, pictured. Also pictured is a green teabag because it's good for you.
The Insight Series is the latest in flat speakers from Wisdom Audio, a company that specializes in them. These hybrid planar speakers use flat diaphragms through most of the frequency spectrum but switch to cones for bass reproduction. They're available as in-walls or on-walls. For surround channels, Wisdom suggests the smaller Sage Series.