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Image Matrix Tech on Sky News: Is Samsung’s S22 ULTRA phone of the year already?

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In Sunday’s segment on Sky News Australia (Weekend Edition with Tim Gilbert) we looked at Samsung’s S22 ULTRA. Is it the phone of the year already? The phone combines the best of the Note (S-Pen) and the best of the S-Series (Cameras).

Price: $1849 to $2449

We look at the productivity and image capturing capabilities of the ULTRA with plenty of test shots taken around Sydney Harbour at night. More testing is needed before we can say this will be phone of the year. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is holding its own at this point.

HAVE SMARTPHONES REACHED THEIR PEAK? 

A lot of people are asking, “where’s the innovation?” when it comes to new phones. We discuss how significant under-the-hood updates are being missed my consumers. The new Samsung phones, like the new Apple devices, appear to be similar to recent versions. But the ‘unseen’ changes deliver big benefits when it comes to battery life and camera performance.

CHECK YOUR FIND MY IPHONE SETTINGS NOW

Tim called during the week about his daughter’s missing iPhone. We discovered that Find My wasn’t active but fortunately they located the phone later in the day. iPhones and Android devices have built-in location tracking but you must turn it on as soon as you setup your mobile.

We take you through the basics so you can always find your phone because some of the settings have changed. Third party apps are not needed.

TECH GIFTS FOR YOUR VALENTINE

When hi-tech meets fashion – that’s a good place to start.

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Sonos Ace Headphones: First Impressions

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I’m currently testing a pair of Sonos Ace headphones and I’ll have an in-depth review video for you next week. In the meantime, I can tell you that my first impressions of the Sonos Ace were very positive.

As I explained to Tim Gilbert on Sky News Australia Weekend Edition in the above video, “they are incredibly comfortable” and “the most comfortable headphones, over the ear, I’ve ever used.” I don’t expect that to change when review embargoes lift next week.

I don’t claim this lightly as there are many headphones out there but Sonos has done a fantastic job in getting the look and feel right. Let’s face it, there’s not much point in having great sounding headphones if they don’t feel comfortable. This very aspect has been the deal breaker for many otherwise excellent headsets.

Sonos Ace uses lightweight materials for a ‘pillowy soft’ memory foam interior wrapped in vegan leather. A custom headband and ear cups hide the hinge without catching on hair. 

The Sonos Ace headphones are the most requested product in the company’s history. Now they are here. The over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones (not WI-FI) feature lossless and spatial audio, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Aware Mode.

All this for for A$699 from 5 June 2024.

SONOS ACE FEATURES

  • Custom 40 mm dynamic drivers produce each frequency with impeccable precision and accuracy.
  • Beamforming microphones enable noise cancellation and target your voice for crystal clear calls.
  • The ported acoustic architecture enhances the bass response of each driver for greater depth.
  • Lightweight memory-foam-lined headband features stainless steel arms that extend for a bespoke fit.
  • Concealed hinges inside the ear cups create the perfect acoustic seal without catching on hair.
  • Ear cushions are wrapped in a vegan leather that is designed for softness and durability.

But wait, there’s more. Sonos’ new TrueCinema technology allows you to take in a surround sound home theatre experience without household background noise interrupting. You can swap the TV audio from a compatible Sonos soundbar to Sonos Ace by tapping a button on the app. Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos and dynamic head tracking keeps you centred in the action. This experience will improve later this year when TrueCinema technology precisely maps your room then renders a complete surround sound output that will make you forget you’re wearing the Ace. This is pretty wild but at launch Sonos told me it will only work with one pair of Sonos Ace headphones. .

Sonos says you can listen or talk for up to 30 hours before needing a recharge. If you do need quick power hit, you’ll get 3 hours of battery life with from a 3 minute recharge using the included USB-C cable. 

So the first impressions are good, we’ll know more next week.

If you can’t wait, you can preorder from Sonos right now.

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The Last Beatles Song is thanks to Good AI

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Peter Jackson is a gift to humanity.

Not only did he direct the greatest trilogy of all time ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ Jackson masterfully documented WWI in ‘They Shall Not Grow Old ‘ and The Beatles docuseries ‘Get Back‘ he’s also done the impossible; a new, original, Beatles music video.

Watch the music video here

The John Lennon song “Now and Then” – released last week by The Beatles – was made possible thanks to AI. Or more accurately, Machine Learning, which comes under the banner of Artificial Intelligence.

DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON

Peter Jackson’s team had developed a system to untangle voice and instruments into separate tracks when working on ‘Get Back’.

They were able to apply this technology to Lennon’s 1970s home recording of ‘Now and Then’ which had piano and voice mixed together on tape. And that recording was rough. It not only had Lennon’s voice meshed in with his piano playing, it had a horrible hum.

And as I told Tim Gilbert on Sky News Weekend Edition, this is not an AI recreation of Lennon’s voice. It is a cleaning up of the track to isolate Lennon’s real voice. Effectively saving it.

“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” said Paul McCartney.

“It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023 to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.”

The Beatles actually tried this in 1995 but did not have the technology to make it work.

GEORGE HARRISON PLAYED GUITAR ON THE TRACK IN 1995

“Back in 1995, after several days in the studio working on the track, George (Harrison) felt the technical issues with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was not possible to finish the track to a high enough standard,” said Olivia Harrison, George Harrison’s wife.

“If he were here today, Dhani (their son) and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of ‘Now And Then.’”

Sadly, George Harrison died in 2001 but his guitar playing is on the track after laying it down in 1995.

“It was incredibly touching to hear them working together after all the years that Dad had been gone,” said Sean Ono Lennon, John Lennon’s son.

“It’s the last song my dad, Paul, George and Ringo got to make together. It’s like a time capsule and all feels very meant to be.”

JOHN LENNON WAS A FAN OF NEW TECHNOLOGY

It was Yoko Ono who passed John Lennon’s unfinished recordings onto The Beatles. It set in motion a decades-long journey to the final song from the Fab Four.

And that’s where Peter Jackson’s team came in.

“It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him (John Lennon) back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out,” said Ringo Starr.

PETER JACKSON DIRECTED THE MUSIC VIDEO ‘NOW AND THEN

In the end, the extraction of Lennon’s voice from the original recording was the straight forward part. The technology was in place since ‘Get Back’ so it was a similar execution of the process used in that series.

But there was plenty of work to do on the song itself. New lines were written and sung, instruments laid down, strings added, backing vocals too.

Watch the behind-the-scenes FILM here

As accomplished and admired as Peter Jackson is, the director was overwhelmed by the request to produce the music video of ‘Now and Then’.

“To be honest, just thinking about the responsibility of having to make a music video worthy of the last song The Beatles will ever release produced a collection of anxieties almost too overwhelming to deal with,” said Jackson.

“My lifelong love of The Beatles collided into a wall of sheer terror at the thought of letting everyone down. This created intense insecurity in me because I’d never made a music video before, and was not able to imagine how I could even begin to create one for a band that broke up over 50 years ago, had never actually performed the song, and had half of its members no longer with us.”

But Jackson stepped up and delivered. As he pretty much always does.

(READ MORE FROM PETER JACKSON HERE – THE BEATLES WEBSITE)

Crucially, all four Beatles are on the song. The final song. So thank you Peter Jackson and AI. You’ve made millions of Beatles fans very happy.

“Now And Then” Credits:

  • Produced by Paul McCartney, Giles Martin
    Additional Production: Jeff Lynne
    Vocals: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
    Backing Vocals: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
    Guitars: George Harrison
    Guitars, Bass, Piano, Electric Harpsichord, Shaker: Paul McCartney
    Drums, Tambourine, Shaker: Ringo Starr
  • Additional Credits:
    String Arrangement: Paul McCartney, Giles Martin, Ben Foster
    Mixed by Spike Stent
    Engineered by Geoff Emerick, Steve Orchard, Greg McAllister, Jon Jacobs, Steve Genewick, Bruce Sugar, Keith Smith
    Source Separation / MAL Courtesy of WingNut Films Productions Ltd.
    Head of Machine Learning: Emile de la Rey
    Project Management: Adam Sharp
  • Recorded at Hog Hill Studio, Capitol Studios and Roccabella West
    Mastered by Miles Showell
  • Project Producers: Jonathan Clyde and Guy Hayden
    Executive Producer: Jeff Jones

MUSIC VIDEO

  • Video Director: Peter Jackson
  • Video Producers: Peter Jackson, Clare Olssen, Jonathan Clyde
  • Audio Producers: Paul McCartney and Giles Martin
  • Production Company: WingNut Films Productions Ltd
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Technics SL-1200GR2 / SL-1210GR2 Direct Drive Turntable coming to Australia late October 2023

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The latest version of Technics’ wonderful GR Grand Class Turntables is on its way to Australian vinyl lovers at the end of next month (October 2023). The SL-1200GR2 / SL-1210GR2 Direct Drive Turntable is the fourth generation of the Technics Turntable lineup.

The system makes use of a low-noise, low-voltage variation power circuit through the combination of a switching power supply – developed from Technics Grand Class amps and players – and a proprietary noise cancelling circuit.

This is complemented by expanded cartridge compatibility and a robust and stable chassis. Personally, I think it looks fantastic. But as we all know .. it’s about the sound.

“This is the first offering in the fourth generation of the Technics turntable lineup,” said Aaron Waters, Product Marketing Manager, Technics.

“A key objective with this new model is to further enhance sound quality by eliminating micro vibrations from the motor, using the new Delta-Sigma-Drive system.

“Customers will also enjoy the classic Technics design in both silver and black versions, with a robust and stable chassis, the benefit of expanded cartridge compatibility, and EPS-free smart cardboard packaging.”

Technics SL-1200GR2 in silver

SL-1200GR2 / SL-1210GR2 KEY POINTS

  • The new Delta-Sigma-Drive combines the highly reliable Technics coreless direct-drive motor with a new motor drive system. It ensures high accuracy and stable rotation, improving electromagnetic conversion accuracy.
  • The system makes use of a low-noise, low-voltage variation power circuit through the combination of a switching power supply – using expertise developed from Technics Grand Class amps and players – and a proprietary noise cancelling circuit.
  • The turntable boasts design inspired by high-end models, and excellent usability with a traditional Technics layout.
  • 3mm die-cast aluminium cartridge spacers ensure an improved cartridge height compatibility of 14-23mm.
  • It incorporates a rock-solid 2-layered bottom chassis made of aluminium and BMC (Bulk Moulding Compound), the combination of which enables high resistance against vibrations; a 2-layered platter made of aluminium and dampened by heavy-weight rubber; a high-sensitivity S-shaped aluminium tonearm and extremely effective insulator feet.
  • To reduce its environmental impact, while ensuring that the turntable is fully protected, the new packaging for SL-1200GR2 / SL-1210GR2 is free of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). Instead, it is made of smart-shaped cardboard, also including a cardboard box for the accessories for ease of removal and storage. Technics is currently working to expand new packaging to other line-ups and to integrate more recyclable content in the future.
The Technics SL-1200GR2 features a revolutionary new drive control method and a new power supply for low-noise floor

Technical Background

The motor control signal for the new SL-1200GR2 / SL-1210GR2 is a huge leap in performance in comparison with earlier versions.

Technics looked at how signal precision has been improved in its digital audio components, especially at the Reference amplifier SU-R1000, which optimises vinyl analogue signals using complex digital technology.

Taking direct drive technology to the next level in terms of precision was achievable by reducing motor vibration, through optimising the driving sine waves via the PWM signal generation using Delta-Sigma (ΔΣ) Modulation, as employed in Technics full-digital amplifiers.

The new Grand Class turntable will be available in Australia from late October 2023 via selected audio specialist retailers.

In the new GR2, the motor control signal is generated by the usage of a PWM signal generated by Delta-Sigma (ΔΣ) Modulation. This method of high precision 1bit D/A conversion is part of the signal procession in Technics’ full-digital amplifiers that use our proprietary technology JENO Engine.  With this approach, (given the name Delta-Sigma (ΔΣ)-Drive) a perfect sine wave is generated, and motor vibrations are radically reduced.

This has a significant impact especially on the frequency range where the motor vibrations overlap with the natural resonance of the tonearm / pickup cartridge combination. Thus, the tracking precision is drastically improved. The result is stunning signal precision with an accurate sound stage, superb imaging, and a very low-noise floor.

In combination with the rotation feedback system based on speed detection by the usage of a frequency generator (FG) which works on magnetic power generation, the rotational speed precision of the new GR2 is exceptional.

Along with the motor control, the general power supply has also been the focus of engineering. The new Multi-stage Silent Power Supply of the SL-1200GR2 / SL-1210GR2 is a combination of a low-noise, high-speed power supply working at over 100kHz and a noise cancelling circuit inherited from the reference class turntable SL-1000R – cancelling remaining noise, enabling exceptional signal-to-noise ratio and improving the overall signal performance.

The new Grand Class turntable will be available in Australia from late October 2023 via selected audio specialist retailers.

Technics SL-1200GR2BS Grand Class Turntable (Silver) – $3,299 RRP

Technics SL-1210GR2BK Grand Class Turntable (Black) – $3,299 RRP

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