Updates from the Inbox – New Speakers, MQA and More!

The first time I ran across the UK-based Snugs was at CES this year. Snugs fills in an interesting gap between universal fit IEMs and customs. While universal fit offers sharing capabilities, resell value and ease of purchase, they never quiet seem to match the fit and seal of a good pair of customs. Snugs is looking to change all that with their custom-fit buds that wrap around your favorite universal earphones. Its a bespoke job that allows for an easy connection to any pair of reasonably sized IEMs. At CES 2017 the company even utilized the same non-intrusive 3D scanning technology that Ultimate Ears introduced at NAMM the year previous. In the US they have partnered with Echobox, you can attach the custom tip to any of their Finder, Nomad or Traveller models for around $173 USD. Like other custom molds, they can be personalized with unique colors, designs or graphics upon request.

From the Snugs rep:

“Snugs is a custom-fit earphone brand from the UK. The 3D laser scanning technology you sampled at CES is currently only available in the UK, although we hope to roll this out in the USA very soon. For now, if US customers want to purchase Snugs for their Echobox earphones they can visit www.snugsearphones.co.uk/echobox  and follow the instructions there. However they will have to have traditional impressions made (rather than the laser scan you had at CES). Our team will help guide them through this process.”

Two updates from MQA came down the pipe late last week. First is that the high resolution folding technology is now formally integrated into one of our favorite playback software Audrivana Plus. In the latest revision (ver. 3), the software taps into several of the key transmission benefits inherit in the tech and also includes a MQA validation indicator viewable from within the software. For more of the fine details and excerpts directly from the software’s designer Damien Plisson, check out John Darko’s (of DAR fame) detailed take on it here.

The second announcement from MQA involves the Japanese record label Ottava. The label will be the first to issue a CD utilizing MQA starting with the album “A. Piazzolla
by Strings and Oboe” which is a recording of the UNAMAS Piazzolla Septet and mastered by engineer Mick Sawaguchi.

From the press release:

“MQA technology captures and reproduces the original sound quality using less data, and the MQA CD works in exactly the same way as the MQA digital file. With a conventional CD player connected to an MQA-enabled device – such as those from Meridian, Mytek, Brinkmann and Technics – the MQA CD will ‘unwrap’ to the original sample rate.”

Benchmark Audio brought this guy to our attention. Bound from the open source community Xiph.org, its a fairly in-depth scientific take on a few digital audio talking points the community has recently been undertaking regarding digital and analog sound processing. Its perhaps a little more to bite off than the average consumer will like to chew, but the show’s host Monty Montgomery has some performance power he wields on a level that still taunts us while wait for the next video to come out. Its like Mr. Wizard with a beard, only way more technical.

More videos: https://xiph.org/video/