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More Home Servers To Download MusicGiants WMA-Lossless Songs

Incline Village, Nev. — MusicGiants, which offers “high-definition” music downloads in Windows Media Audio (WMA) Lossless format, announced agreements with U.K.’s Imerge, Niveus Media, and Crestron to include MusicGiants’ MediaStore in their home media servers.

The companies will demonstrate the servers at the CEDIA Expo in Denver beginning Sept. 14, when Music Giants expects at least five other server companies to demonstrate the capability. One of them, Audio Design Associates, already offers the service through its server.

Also at the show, MusicGiants hopes to announce licensing deals with two video content partners for downloads of movies, TV shows and other video in 720p and 1080i HD formats to home audio/video servers.

The latest music agreements will enable Imerge and Crestron’s Adagio music servers and Niveus A/V servers to directly access the MusicGiant’s site and download music without using a PC. The agreement also enables licensees of Imerge’s XiVA platform to incorporated the MusicGiants store.

Companies offering XiVA-based servers include Crestron, ELAN, Speakercraft, Niles, Revox, Xantech and Marantz. “The brand names listed are existing XiVA licensee’s. The licensees that employ Imerge’s new XiVA hardware/software architecture will be able to take advantage of this feature if they choose to do so,” Imerge said at press time.

With MusicGiants-enabled servers, “users will be able to browse our entire library and purchase music from the comfort of their couch via a remote control,” said MusicGiants CEO Scott Bahneman. All told, more than 500,000 music files will be available on the site by the end of the year at $1.29 per song or $15.29 per album on the MusicGiants site, which can also be accessed by PCs.

The company also plans multichannel music downloads and is wrapping up licensing agreements with music companies to offer more than 200 multichannel titles at launch. A launch date hasn’t been announced.

Last year, MusicGiants also offered its own site-accessing server, but the device was discontinued because installers preferred to work with their existing server suppliers, whose products were already configured to integrate with multiroom audio systems, said Bahneman.

For MusicGiants, music is just the start. At CEDIA Expo, the company hopes to announce licensing agreements for HD video downloads and demonstrate the service on an A/V server. The company hopes to launch with a mix of old and new movies as well as other content, including music videos and TV shows.

Akimbo already offers an Internet-connected video-download service, but it stores standard-definition video focused mainly on niche content from cable networks but also movies. Akimbo focuses more on niche content, offering more than 11,000 videos and movies from content providers such as the Discovery Channel and Major League Baseball.

In five to seven years, Bahneman predicts, “it will just be assumed by consumers that [Internet downloading] is a way to get music and video to the home.”

MusicGiants is targeting the same demographic as custom installers. The customers are expected generally to be more than 30 years old and relatively affluent. They’re also music enthusiasts who are concerned with audio-playback quality, the company said.

Because of target customer’s concern for music quality, the company is using WMA Lossless for its download service and supporting music-file bitrates of up to 1.1Mbps compared to other download services’ 128-256kbps. Multiple MP3 portables also support WMA Lossless. With a three-minute song requiring about 12MB of storage space, more than 1,600 songs could be stored on a 20GB portable.