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  • XBMC audio engine gets big rewrite, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio hit your media hub

    XBMC Eden 11

    Fans of XBMC who’ve wanted their HTPCs to replace the higher-end components of a home theater setup, like Blu-ray players and higher-end receivers, are having their wishes fulfilled through a completely reworked sound system. AudioEngine, as it’s called, can processevery stage of audio encoding and decoding, even with 7.1-channel formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. As the code uses more precise floating point math, the improvements can bolster heavily compressed audio and allow for upmixing from stereo to a native surround format. Sound should sync more closely to video and avoid any jarring interruptions from system sounds, too. The AudioEngine update is still limited to experimental nightly builds of XBMC, so don’t be surprised if something goes awry, but it’s slated as part of the main development track and should be a boon for just about any XBMC media junkie before long.

    XBMC audio engine gets big rewrite, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio hit your media hub originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 31 May 2012 17:21:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol F1 review

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    What is a DJ? Everyone who considers him or herself one can probably give you a unique answer. Is everyone with a music collection and a sense for good timing a DJ, or does their music collection have to exceed a certain number of gigabytes or slabs of vinyl to be in the club (no pun intended)? Audio playback devices are certainly getting more plentiful and powerful on a large scale; anyone who’s played with an iOS DJ app can tell you that. In the deeper end of the DJ pool, things aren’t expanding at such a frantic pace. But every once in a while a new toy crops up that adds depth and breadth to the way music nerds play back music. Native Instruments‘ just-released Traktor Kontrol F1 is a blinking slab of rainbow-tinged hardware with an intense devotion to manipulating samples. While boxes from Roland and Akai have been defining genres for decades, this 16-pad add-on takes the sampling game to a new arena. Will DJ’s want it? We feel it’s safe to say they will. At $279, should they buy it? That question’s a little more complicated.

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    Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol F1 review originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 31 May 2012 17:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • SparkFun launches ProtoSnap MiniBot for the budding roboticist

    SparkFun launches ProtoSnap MiniBot for the budding roboticist

    SparkFun struck a chord with many when it released the ProtoSnap series last year. The perforated perfboard housed not only a tiny Arduino compatible chip, but a small host of sensors and components that made assembling simple projects a snap (pun not only intended, but relished). Tomorrow, the company will begin selling the next member of its ProtSnap family — the MiniBot. Just like its predecessors, the ProtoSnap MiniBot is based around an Arduino compatible microcontroller (specifically ATmega328) and features a number of components that can easily be detached when you’re ready to move from prototype to a more permanent arrangement. The onboard selection components is fairly limited. The base is a relatively bare perfboard with a 9v battery holder on one side and two wheels connected to a motor on the other. Up front is two IR sensors that can be used for basic controls.

    Of course, it’s simple enough to expand on the basic platform with any host of sensors and components, like servos or RF receivers. Ultimately it’s up to your imagination and skill level, which is why SparkFun is primarily targeting the kits at the educational market. The company’s new educational outreach program is making a big push to put the ProtoSnap MiniBot in classrooms across the country, starting with high schools and trade schools, as a bridge from more simplistic robotics kits to the more advanced projects tackled at the university level. The completely open source robotics platform will be available tomorrow for $74.95. As soon as we can get our mitts on one our own we’ll return with a thorough hands on… one that reveals just how much smarter the average high school kid is than us.

    SparkFun launches ProtoSnap MiniBot for the budding roboticist originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 31 May 2012 16:46:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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