Beats Flex: $50 Bluetooth earphones with Apple’s W1 chip and USB-C

It’s not just Apple that is announcing new products on Tuesday: the company’s Beats subsidiary has unveiled its latest set of wireless headphones, the Beats Flex, as well. The new model is up for preorder today for $50 on and will begin shipping on October 21.

The Beats Flex are the successor to the BeatsX, which the manufacturer released in 2017. Like that pair, the Flex are neckband-style wireless earphones. That means they connect over Bluetooth but aren’t totally devoid of wires a la Apple’s AirPods or Beats’ own Powerbeats Pro. Instead, the Flex’s earpieces are attached via a cable that extends behind your neck and has built-in modules for its microphone and call/music controls.

Beats is promising improved sound quality compared to the BeatsX with the help of a redesigned driver, along with greater clarity during phone calls and a design that’s 8 percent lighter. (For reference, the BeatsX only weighed 0.05 lbs.) The earpieces can still connect magnetically when not in use, and Beats says the whole thing now supports auto-play/pause, so they’ll automatically stop or resume your audio whenever they’re removed or put back on.

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#apple, #audio, #beats, #beats-flex, #tech, #wireless-headphones


Google unveils the $99 Nest Audio smart speaker

Four years after the introduction of the Google Home smart speaker, Google showcased its successor to the company’s mid-range smart speaker. In keeping with the broader rebranding of the company’s smart home products, the device is now called Nest Audio. The smart speaker will retail for $99 and come in a variety of colors including sage, sand, sky, chalk and charcoal.

The device is available starting October 5th and will go on sale in 21 countries.

The company says it prioritized more bass, added volume and clearer sound when designing the product which replaces the aged Google Home smart speaker. Indeed, Google says Nest Audio has 50% “more bass” and can get 75% louder than Google Home could. It all comes in a much larger package. It sports a 19mm tweeter to hit high frequencies while a 75mm midwoofer pushes things out on the lower-end. We’ll have to take them at their word until we can get a hand on the device ourselves.

Image Credits: Google

Nest Audio’s design ditches the candle-like form factor of the previous generation, instead embracing the fabric blob design that the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max have long sported.

The smart speaker market is in a bit of an odd place, the devices have gone through several iterations but the ecosystems for the devices have, if anything, contracted as third-party integrations with smart assistants largely failed to pan out aside from basic tasks like listening to music. For Google, the market opportunity now looks more like creating a low-cost alternative to Sonos, a company which is suing Google for IP theft by the way. Multi-room audio has gotten more and more accessible over the years and smart speaker manufacturers have largely been responsible for that.

#audio, #google, #google-hardware-event-2020, #tc


#Brandneu – 6 neue Startups, die ihr euch anschauen solltet

Jeden Tag entstehen überall in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz neue Startups. präsentiert an dieser Stelle wieder einmal einige ganz junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Tagen, Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind sowie einige junge Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind und erstmals für Schlagzeilen gesorgt haben.

Bei Flexcavo aus Rosenheim, das von Picus Capital angeschoben wurde, dreht sich alles um das MIeten von Baumaschinen. “Wir kombinieren unsere Mietflotte mit innovativer Technologie, um gemeinsam mit Ihnen den Einsatz von Baumaschinen zu optimieren”, teilen die Jungunternehmer mit.

Hashtags: #eCommerce #B2B
Ort: Rosenheim
Gründer: Leonhard Fricke, Benedict Aicher
Die Kölner Jungfirma positioniert sich als “praxisnahe Online-Plattform, um Architekten, Handwerkern und Bauherren lästige Verwaltungsarbeit abzunehmen”. Dafür bildet das Unternehmen, das von Daniel Grube geführt wird, die Bauprozesse digital ab.

Hashtags: #PropTech #ConTech
Ort: #Köln
Gründer: Daniel Grube

Bei Foodiary dreht sich alles um gesunde Ernährung. “Mit dem Ernährungsplan von Foodiary erhältst du einen auf dich persönlich abgestimmten Ernährungsplan mit Rezepten, der dich unterstützt, dein Ziel zu erreichen”, heißt es auf der Website. Die kostet dabei ab 4,99 Euro pro Monat.

Hashtags: #Food #Wellness
Ort: Waiblingen
Gründer: Felix Mergenthaler

Mit flair drängt eine “HR-Lösung für Salesforce” auf den Markt. Das System des Münchner Startup ist nach eigenen Angaben in der Lage “ jeden Prozess der HR-Abteilung von der Lohnabrechnung über Recruiting bis zum Spesenmanagement und DocuSign zu automatisieren”

Hashtags: #HR #Software
Ort: München
Gründer: Evgenii Pavlov, Thiago Rodrigues de Paula

Das Startup Audiopedia positioniert sich als “offenes, kollaboratives Projekt, um hörbares Wissen zur Verfügung zu stellen”. Zielgruppe sind Menschen, die nicht lesen können und keinen Zugang zu vielen Informationen haben. Das Projekt wird bereits vom Wikimedia Accelerator gefördert.

Hashtags: #Audio
Ort: Gräfenhausen
Gründer: Felicitas Heyne, Marcel Heyne

Das junge Münchner Startup jesango versucht sich als “Fairfashion Shopping Community” zu etablieren. Die Bajuwaren wollen dabei vor allem “coole, stylische und aufstrebende Brands” in ihrem Shop versammlen. Auch eine “Fair Fashion Shopping App” ist bereits geplant.

Hashtags: #eCommerce #Nachhaltigkeit
Ort: München
Gründer: Catja Günther, Sophia Wittrock und Larissa Schmid

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über junge, frische und brandneue Startups, die noch nicht jeder kennt. Alle diese Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der bundesweiten Startup-Szene und im besten Fall auf die Agenda von Investoren, Unternehmen und potenziellen Kooperationspartnern. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #audiopedia, #brandneu, #flair, #flexcavo, #foodiary, #jesango, #startup-radar, #wirbauen-digital


Krisp snags $5M A round as demand grows for its voice-isolating algorithm

Krisp’s smart noise suppression tech, which silences ambient sounds and isolates your voice for calls, arrived just in time. The company got out in front of the global shift to virtual presence, turning early niche traction has into real customers and attracting a shiny new $5 million series A funding round to expand and diversify its timely offering.

We first met Krisp back in 2018 when it emerged from UC Berkeley’s Skydeck accelerator. The company was an early one in the big surge of AI startups, but with a straightforward use case and obviously effective tech it was hard to be skeptical about.

Krisp applies a machine learning system to audio in real time that has been trained on what is and isn’t the human voice. What isn’t a voice gets carefully removed even during speech, and what remains sounds clearer. That’s pretty much it! There’s very little latency (15 milliseconds is the claim) and a modest computational overhead, meaning it can work on practically any device, especially ones with AI acceleration units like most modern smartphones.

The company began by offering its standalone software for free, with paid tier that removed time limits. It also shipped integrated into popular social chat app Discord. But the real business is, unsurprisingly, in enterprise.

“Early on our revenue was all pro, but in December we started onboarding enterprises. COVID has really accelerated that plan,” explained Davit Baghdasaryan, co-founder and CEO of Krisp. “In March, our biggest customer was a large tech company with 2,000 employees — and they bought 2,000 licenses, because everyone is remote. Gradually enterprise is taking over, because we’re signing up banks, call centers and so on. But we think Krisp will still be consumer-first, because everyone needs that, right?”

Now even more large companies have signed on, including one call center with some 40,000 employees. Baghdasaryan says the company went from 0 to 600 paying enterprises, and $0 to $4M annual recurring revenue in a single year, which probably makes the investment — by Storm Ventures, Sierra Ventures, TechNexus and Hive Ventures — look like a pretty safe one.

It’s a big win for the Krisp team, which is split between the U.S. and Armenia, where the company was founded, and a validation of a global approach to staffing — world-class talent isn’t just to be found in California, New York, Berlin and other tech centers, but in smaller countries that don’t have the benefit of local hype and investment infrastructure.

Funding is another story, of course, but having raised money the company is now working to expand its products and team. Krisp’s next move is essentially to monitor and present the metadata of conversation.

“The next iteration will tell you not just about noise, but give you real time feedback on how you are performing as a speaker,” Baghdasaryan explained. Not in the toastmasters sense, exactly, but haven’t you ever wondered about how much you actually spoke during some call, or whether you interrupted or were interrupted by others, and so on?

“Speaking is a skill that people can improve. Think for voice and video,” Baghdasaryan ventured. “It’s going to be subtle about how it gives that feedback to you. When someone is speaking they may not necessarily want to see that. But over time we’ll analyze what you say, give you hints about vocabulary, how to improve your speaking abilities.”

Since architecturally Krisp is privy to all audio going in and out, it can fairly easily collect this data. But don’t worry — like the company’s other products, this will be entirely private and on-device. No cloud required.

“We’re very opinionated here: Ours is a company that never sends data to its servers,” said Baghdasaryan. “We’re never exposed to it. We take extra steps to create and optimize our tech so the audio never leaves the device.”

That should be reassuring for privacy wonks who are suspicious of sending all their conversations through a third party to  be analyzed. But after all, the type of advice Krisp is considering can be done without really “understanding” what is said, which also limits its scope. It won’t be coaching you into a modern Cicero, but it might help you speak more consistently or let you know when you’re taking up too much time.

For the immediate future, though, Krisp is still focused on improving its noise-suppression software, which you can download for free here.

#artificial-intelligence, #audio, #funding, #fundings-exits, #krisp, #machine-learning, #noise-canceling, #noise-cancellation, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc


Apple battles Ableton Live with new Logic Pro X 10.5 features

Today, Apple announced Logic Pro X 10.5, a major update to its popular digital audio workstation (DAW) for macOS. Key new features include a pro version of Live Loops, a new drum-machine like tool (Step Sequencer) for making drum beats and other sounds, and some significant updates to the Sampler tool.

Taking a page right out of competing DAW Ableton Live’s book, Live Loops offers a grid-based approach to plotting out loops and samples. Apple also introduced a new feature called Remix FX that allows application of filters in a way that works for live performance. Live performance is something most music producers feel competing DAW Ableton Live excels at, compared to Logic, so this reads as an effort to close that gap.

The Sampler tool has been updated with a new interface and some small new features. The company also offers Quick Sampler here, a tool that lets you pull audio samples from places like the Voice Memos app (and elsewhere) and turn them into playable instruments within Logic.

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#ableton-live, #apple, #audio, #daw, #gaming-culture, #logic, #logic-pro-x, #music, #music-production, #tech


The Web-based version of Apple Music has officially launched

The multi-platform, Web-based interface for the Apple Music streaming service exited beta and officially launched today. It lives at and is accessible through any modern Web browser.

In many respects, the design and layout of the site closely resembles that of the native Mac app. The layout of store pages is similar, and the visual language is the same. It has the same player controls at the top, and it also has the left-aligned navigation bar with “For You,” “Browse,” and “Radio.”

It’s interesting, though, that the website prominently features “open in Music” (in Safari on Apple devices) or “open in iTunes,” depending on the platform. This suggests that Apple still sees the website as a supplement to the native app experience, not a full replacement for it. Also, the Apple Music Web app lacks some of the personal library features that were grandfathered into Music from iTunes on Macs.

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#apple, #apple-music, #audio, #music, #streaming, #tech, #web


Media software maker Plex launches new subscriber-only apps for music and server management

Media software maker Plex has released two new projects today from its internal R&D group, Plex Labs. One is an updated take on the classic Winamp player it calls Plexamp, and another is a dedicated app for Plex server administration. The projects are meant to appeal largely to Plex power users who take full advantage of Plex’s software suite, which has grown over time from being only a home media solution to a one-stop shop for everything from live TV to streaming audio.

The first of the new apps, Plexamp, is actually a revamp of the first Plex Labs project released. In December 2017, Plex introduced its own music player, whose name Plexamp was a nod to the Winamp player it aimed to replace. The project, like others from Plex Labs, was built by Plex employees in their spare time.

The goal with the original Plexamp was to offer a small desktop player that could handle any music format. The app let you use media keys for playing, pausing and skipping tracks and it worked offline when the Plex server ran on your laptop. It also offered visualizations to accompany your music that pulled from the album art.

While the original app ran on Mac or Windows, the new release works across five platforms, now including iOS, Android and Linux.

The app itself has been completely redone, as well — rewritten from scratch, in fact. And it’s tied to Plex’s subscription service, Plex Pass — meaning you’ll need to be a paying customer to use it.

The company explains the original version of Plexamp had issues around portability and licensing; it didn’t have an easy way to add functionality; and it was built with React, which tied it to the web.

To create the new Plexamp (version 3.0), Plex built an audio player library called TREBLE on top of a low-level commercial audio engine. TREBLE has been shipping in Plex’s commercial applications, but this release brings it to Plexamp. The addition helped make the app portable across almost all desktop and mobile platforms, as was it being rewritten in React Native.

The new app provides features Plex Pass music listeners want, like gapless playback, high-quality resampling, Sweet Fades (Plex’s “smart” alternative to crossfades) soft transitions and pre-caching. Plex also added a few more effects, including one for voice boosting spoken word audio and another for silence compression.

But the app really sells itself to longtime Plex users, as Plexamp lets you go back to see your own “top personal charts” for what you’ve listened to the most in years past. (Sort of like a Plex version of Apple Music’s Replay playlists).

Plexamp 3.0 also introduces a feature that lets you build your own mixes by picking a set of artists. Plus it offers a more expansive list of stations, supports offline listening and improves its search functionality.

The new Recent Searches area, for example, will save your search results from across servers, as well as TIDAL and podcasts. And a new Recent Plays feature shows you the music you consciously chose to play, again including across all servers and TIDAL.

There are some little touches, too, that show the personal care that went into the app’s design — like the way Plexamp uses album art and a process called “UltraBlur” to give each artist and alum page its own look. Or how there are options for light and dark — and lighter and darker — themes.

The other big new release from Plex Labs is the new Plex Dash app.

This mobile and tablet app lets you keep a close eye on your personal media server, including a way to see all playbacks even across multiple servers, plus other administrative features.

With Plex Dash, you can edit your artwork, scan for new media, fix incorrect matches, check on server resource usage, tweak library settings and view server logs live.

Plex suggests you it run on the iPad you have mounted in the wall — like in your fancy media room, I guess — but for us poorer folks, it runs on your smartphone, too.

It’s a power user tool, but one that will be welcomed for those fully immersed in a Plex-run home media setup. (And also a good way to respond to criticism that Plex is too focused today on its streaming and TV options, and not its core home media software customer base.)

Like Plexamp, the new Plex Dash requires a Plex Pass subscription and runs on iOS and Android.

The apps launched today are notable as they’re the first to arrive from Plex Labs since the original release of Plexamp in 2017 and because they require a subscription in order to work.

Plex at the end of 2019 said it had 15 million registered households using its service. Though the service is profitable, only a small percentage are paid subscribers. New apps with extra features, then, could convince more Plex users to upgrade.

#apps, #audio, #media, #mobile, #plex, #software, #streaming


#StartupTicker – Mit audiocado macht aus Sound stylische Videos

+++ Eines der vielen Kölner Startups, das mehr Aufmerksamkeit verdient hat, ist audiocado. Das junge Unternehmen ist noch ganz ganz frisch am Start und befindet sich derzeit in der Early-Betaphase. Mit audiocado lassen sich in wenigen Sekunden, im schlimmsten Fall in ein paar Minuten, recht stylische Videos zur Promotion von Audioinhalten generieren. Zielgruppe des tollen Tools sind unter anderem Podcast-Macher, die ihre neue Ausgabe via Twitter und Co. bewerben wollen, oder Künstler, die ihre Songs via Social Media verbreiten möchten.

+++ “Audiocado is made for Musicians. Easily upload your album artwork and turn songs into animated videos with waveform animations”, heißt es dazu auf der Website des jungen Unternehmens. In Sachen Podcast-Macher heißt es: “Turn audio clips from your podcast into shareable video highlights for social media and encourage new listeners to download your show”. Spannend dabei: Mit audiocado lassen sich auch Untertitel generieren.

+++ Hinter Audiocado stecken die Kölner Storrito-Macher. 2016 machten sich Nils Pospischil und Maximilian Weber auf, um den boomenden Virtual Reality-Markt mit einer Advertisement-Lösung zu bereichern. Das Konzept ging nicht auf. “Die Nutzerzahlen im VR-Markt sind weit hinter den Prognosen von 2016 zurückgeblieben, daher haben wir den Pivot gewagt und Storrito entwickelt”, sagt Weber. Hinter Storrito verbirgt sich ein SaaS-Tool zum Erstellen von Stories für Instagram und Co.

Durchstarten in Köln – #Koelnbusiness

In unserem Themenschwerpunkt Köln berichten wir gezielt über die Digitalaktivitäten in der Rheinmetropole. Mit circa 400 Startups, über 60 Coworking Spaces, Acceleratoren und Inkubatoren sowie attraktiven Investoren, zahlreichen Veranstaltungen und Netzwerken bieten Köln und das Umland ein spannendes Ökosystem für Gründerinnen und Gründer. Diese Rubrik wird unterstützt von der KölnBusiness Wirtschaftsförderungs-GmbH#Koelnbusiness auf LinkedInFacebook und Instagram.


Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #audio, #audiocado, #koln, #startupticker, #storrito