Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – Sound and vision from Apple, Sonos & Samsung

This week, The Wrap returns, and with a bunch of news. From new music services on Apple, new sound gear from Sonos, plus TV news from Samsung and Sony, there’s a lot to get through in five minutes. Tune in.

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For the week ending March 10 and 11, you’re listening to The Wrap, and we’re back. Kind of. This is us trying to hit the restart button after being away for a bit because life has been a touch busy, as I’m sure it has for you, too.

We won’t try to wrap up everything that’s happened in the past few months quickly, because that would still take too long, but rather let’s focus on the now. As in the right now, because right now and right this week there has been a rather lot to talk about.

And we’re not talking just a yellow iPhone, though halfway into the release of the iPhone 14, there is now one of those. But there’s more, as we dive into sound and vision, which is where the bulk of the week has been.

Starting off in sound and staying with Apple, which a couple years after acquiring the Primephonic classical music service, is finally ready to show what it has been doing with it.

Specifically it’ll be launching a separate app later this month as Apple Music Classical, which is an iOS-only thing at the moment, but will be free to all current subscribers of Apple Music, Android and iOS. A little confusing that, though an Android app will come later.

Apple Music Classical will offer over five million tracks, up to 192/24 high-res lossless classical, plus support for spatial, so if you have fancy headphones or speakers, you’ll get a more dimensional experience out of the app.

Apple has said you’ll need an internet connection to listen, and no downloads will be possible from the app, strangely. You’ll need to use Apple Music for that, it seems, but whether it will sync with existing Apple Music subscriptions remains to be seen.

The biggest sound news this week has to do with those fancy spatial audio tracks, though, because Sonos has two new speakers, and one of them is really interesting.

This week, Sonos announced the Era 100 and the Era 300, and while the former is an improved Sonos One, the latter is unlike anything Sonos has offered.

Shaped a little like a chunky hourglass, the Era 300 is Sonos’ first foray into spatial audio that isn’t a soundbar. You can already get a virtual spatial experience in the Beam Gen 2, and a proper upfiring spatial experience in the Sonos Arc, but the Era 300 will bring that to a single speaker, allowing you to stream spatial music directly to a small speaker, or with two fire more spatial sound and work with an Arc or Beam.

In a home theatre environment, that could give you a four channel 3D sound experience, and with Dolby Atmos movie soundtracks, could make the living room that much more immersive in sound, which is very, very cool.

It won’t come cheap, costing $749 each before the cost of the soundbar, and if you add it all up — Sonos Arc, two Era 300s, and maybe a Sub — you’re looking at about four grand’s worth of sound.

We can’t wait to test it, though, and even find out whether Apple Music Classical will stream to it, too. Apple Music will, but Classical is just announced, so we’re checking with Sonos now.

There’s also news on the horizon from Nothing, which will have a new pair of earphones in the coming weeks, and just before we jump into visual news of TVs, the James Dyson Awards have opened up for the year, so if you have an idea that might save the world, you might want to enter it there.

Now for the visual, with a lot of TV news on the way.

Yes, it’s that time of the year for a TV refresh because news is certainly afoot. If you’ve been waiting to buy a new TV, or you’ve been waiting for the new models so you can buy an old one, that’s happening now, so you might find good deals on slightly older stock, or new stock all the same.

Sony and LG have both talked up what’s coming, and their gear won’t likely be here until April or May, with OLED and Quantum Dot OLED part of the releases, not to mention some LED backlit if you don’t want to spend as much. We’ll have more on that when it’s announced.

Meanwhile, Samsung is getting in first, with releases, well, now.

The main focus is on its Neo QLED range, which is a bunch of jargon to say they’ll be LED-backlit TVs with small clusters on Mini-LEDs controlling things, and quantum dots enhancing the colour.

Just like that, Jargon-be-gone!

Samsung’s range will initially cover three styles of 4K TV in the 2023 Neo QLED range, including the high-end QN90C starting from $3489 for a 55 inch model, while an 8K variant will arrive in the QN900C with more resolution, more pixels, better sound, and a higher price, starting from $7549.

There will likely be more on the way, because Samsung tends to have TVs for budgets that aren’t QLED, and it also has OLED offerings, as well.

And there are, of course, other TV brands yet to talk about what’s coming to Australia this year and when, such as Hisense, TCL, and so on and so on.

If you are thinking of grabbing one of these, though, we’d consider going in store and auditioning it with your eyes. We could read spec sheets until we’re blue in the face, but you’ll never get a feeling of what a TV looks like until you see it for yourself.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, the return of The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. Wherever you are, have a great week and weekend, and we’ll see you next time.

Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.

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