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GET YOUR GEEK ON: CES 2016

Couldn’t make it to Vegas for the annual gadget-palooza known as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)? Well, neither could we. But we did gather up some music-adjacent news.

Universal Music Group and iHeartMedia are partnering on virtual reality products to connect artists, music fans and brands and sponsors in a series of  entertainment experiences.  Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG, and Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia announced the partnership at CES in Las Vegas.

The companies will make immersive VR performances and experiences accessible to U.S. audiences for the first time at scale. The companies will invite brands to partner with them to develop, produce and distribute these one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences.

One VR experience by a UMG artist will be added to each marquee iHeartMedia event in 2016, beginning with  the iHeartRadio Music Awards on April 3. The companies will collaborate on full shows from four individual artists, shot and distributed in VR, at the iHeartRadio VR Concert Series held at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles.

VR experiences will also take place at  the iHeartRadio Country Festival, the iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party, the iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, the iHeartRadio Music Festival and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour.

“At UMG, we are focused on harnessing cutting-edge technology to pioneer new creative and commercial opportunities for artists, labels and fans,” Grainge said . “By combining iHeartMedia’s music events and hundreds of millions of listeners with the ability of our artists to forge powerfully emotional connections with their fans, we are ideally positioned to use VR technology to create authentic experiences that benefit our artists, consumers and marketing partners.”

Amid the unveiling of smart refrigerators, drones and fitness tech, Sony introduced home audio gear, including a new turntable headphones and speakers.

Sony Electronics' PS-HX500 is a reference-quality turntable that includes an Analog/Digital converter that supports hi-res digital transfers, allowing  users to digitally store  music from vinyl recordings and play back on  compatible Hi-Res Audio devices.The HX500 comes with a newly developed app with exclusive software that allows simple and intuitive editing on either PCs or Macs. It will be released in the spring.

Sony will also be  expanding its EXTRA BASS series to include wireless speakers, high powered audio systems and Bluetooth-compatible headphones , the MDR-XB650BT. The headphones are equipped with Touch Screen, NFCTM, Bluetooth connection and music playback to ease device pairing.

The SRS-XB3 and SRS-XB2 are compact wireless speakers that contain LDACTM audio coding technology developed by Sony, which allows transmission of up to around three times the data volume of existing technologies. Both models offer NFC and Bluetooth.

The GTK-XB7 is a new high-powered audio system, perfect for rooms and large party venues. Equipped with the EXTRA BASS technology,  its Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (‘DSEE’) reproduces the high acoustic range of compressed sound sources to more closely resemble the original sound.

 

Misfit, a leader in wearable tech,  is branching into headphones for the first time, releasing  Bluetooth earbuds called Specter. Misfit partnered with the Chinese company 1More to create the jewelry-like sound equipment. Buttons (forward, back, play/pause) sit  on a cord that hangs  from the user's ears. A puck houses a Bluetooth radio and a battery that can be connected to the user's shirt.

A sizzle reel of Baz Luhrmann and Shawn Ryan's '70s musical drama The Get Down was premiered as part of Netflix's announcement of its  international expansion. Luhrmann's film on the disco, punk and early hip-hop scenes of the late 1970s will air in 2016 though no specific date was given.

Finally, Intel brought in A.R. Rahman for some gesture-based music. See for yourself whether it is indeed rock ‘n’ roll’s “terrible opposite.”

 

 

 

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