By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Consumers who have made the transition from physical media to downloaded music are now able to enjoy select downloaded songs in multichannel surround.
Instant Live has begun offering WMA downloads of live concerts that it records and mixes in stereo-compatible SRS Circle Surround II, a 5.1-channel matrix technology that can be decoded by home and car stereo systems incorporating Circle Surround II matrix decoders or other-format matrix decoders, SRS said. The songs, available on www.instantlive.com, play in 5.1 when burned to a CD or streamed directly from an MP3 portable connected to a home or car stereo system.
Some of the songs became available on the Napster download site in late 2005, SRS Labs said.
Later this year, Music Giants plans to launch multichannel downloads to PCs and to HDD music servers sold through custom-A/V installers. Last year, Music Giants launched high-fidelity stereo downloads in the WMA lossless format, which uses a variable bit-rate encoder to compress music files by up to 50 percent and decompress the files with bit-for-bit accuracy.
Multiple digital audio and A/V portables that support Windows Media 9 are capable of playing back MusicGiants' stereo downloads. With a three-minute song requiring about 12MB of storage space, more than 1,600 songs could be stored on a 20GB portable.
Music Giants' planned surround downloads will be delivered in a Microsoft lossless-compression format, the company said. They'll be playable on HDD servers as well as PCs equipped with 5.1-capable sound card.
For consumers interested in hearing downloaded music in surround sound through MP3-type headphone stereos, SRS offers an option through a partner company. Any pair of headphone portables will deliver the multichannel effect when connected to an SRS TruSurround XT “virtual-surround” adapter from Imagine-It-Concepts of Huntington Beach, Calif.
The 1.2-inch by 2.2-inch by 0.75-inch adapter, the $99.95-suggested Wizor W-007 virtual surround sound processor, plugs into any audio device with a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Its internal rechargeable lithium ion battery provides up to 9 hours of use. SRS hopes to entice makers of headphone stereos to build in TruSurround XT.
Another Wizor, the W-007D, is due in March at an estimated suggested retail of $129.95, which includes a docking station that recharges Wizor while simultaneously allowing users to listen to their MP3 player through headphones. With the regular 007 model, users perform one function at a time because the same Wizor input port is used for either recharging or connecting to an MP3 player.
In vehicles, Circle Surround II decoders are available in OEM sound systems from Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Mazda, VW, Fujitsu-Ten, Kenwood, Delphi, Visteon, Panasonic, Pioneer and Clarion. After-market systems are available from Kenwood, Pioneer, Eclipse, JVC, Panasonic, Eclipse (Fujitsu-Ten) and Sanyo, SRS Labs said.
Instant Live, a division of Live Nation in Los Angeles, records concerts and sells recordings of the concert on site at the end of the performance. It also sells the CDs online and through artist sites.
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