Mojo Chord – high resolution music via iTunes (avoiding the ‘red light’/44khz problem)

You’ve probably found this since for whatever reason you simultaneously 1) use iTunes to store your music 2) have become a fan of higher-resolution music files (HD or Studio Masters) and 3) you’ve decided that your music needs a further lift with the (rather amazing) Chord Mojo.

There’s no manual in the box with the Mojo (just lovely milled aluminium and glowing balls…. but I’m getting distracted). The promise is to plug into the Mac and there’s zero configuration.

Output stuck on ‘red’ 44khz

Upon playback of my high-res music it immediately sounded great, but the sample-rate indicator resolutely stuck on “Red”, no matter what music I threw at it. Rather concerning.

To explain: the on/off illuminated button-ball changes colour to indicate the sample rate of the music it’s playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red is the humble 44.1khz of a CD, ramping up to some immense DSD rates and 768Khz at 32bit.

Initially I thought I had a faulty unit (since my Meridian Explorer used to recognise higher sample-rates).

Audio Midi Setup? Nope.

Then I found a hint to go to Audio Midi Setup on the Mac, take the Mojo and saw that I could set the format. You’ll see here that I’m playing a 192k track, but it notes that the Mojo is capable of 768k. I set the highest and though I’d solved the problem. Nope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The midi setup simply pegs the light at the rate you set (in this case a nice cobalt blue) but there’s no change in the sound. Also, as soon as you change application or turn off the Mojo you lose the settings….

Solution – BitPerfect

After I while I realised that even though iTunes stores higher-res files, it ‘only’ plays at 44khz. In order to unlock the higher rate files’ capabilities you need an additional application like BitPerfect or Audirvana. I have BitPerfect and it’s fine for $10, but it’s a bit flakey. You have to quite iTunes and then use BitPerfect to command iTunes to reopen (so loading its interface?). Once you’ve done that BitPerfect sits out of the way in the menu bar and does nothing. It will tell you the rates and resolution it’s playing at, and – lo and behold – the Mojo echoes these settings with its glowing ball.

Also, speak it quietly, but you can also hear a difference – the reason we’re going through all of this 🙂

Here we have BitPerfect’s icon (a nice blue) showing that it’s output is 32 bit and 44.1Khz…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While here we’ve stepped up to 192Khz (and a less nice orange colour).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All very simple.

I mentioned that BitPerfect is a bit unstable and after a couple of days of being on, with things plugged and unplugged, it just stops working and needs to be closed, as does iTunes and everything restarted.

A small effort for $10 – especially since it’s so invisible when it’s working – but I’m going to give Audirvana a trial to see whether it’s more stable.

I hope that helps others who’re googling how to get beyond the red glow on the Mojo.

Next step – finding an invisible way to get high-res out of the iPhone without having to change from iTunes/Music. Any tips appreciated!

Closing keynote at aDigital’s #FashTech conference in Bilbao

At InternetRetailing we’ve know aDigital – the Spanish Association for the digital economy – for a number of years, so it was a great pleasure to be able to join them in Bilbao for their FashTech Conference on 29 November, 2016.

The event was very well-attended, with some 450 delegates at any one time in an impressive venue – the Azkuna Zentroa – a mixed-used community conference/cinema/expo/meeting venue… a bit like a mini Tate Modern just for meetings and events!

I took as my theme some of the learnings from the InternetRetailing IREU Top500 ranking and in particular the challenges of connecting with connected customers, at scale, repeatedly and at profit.

I had not visited Bilbao for about 25 years and so the renaissance in the city was remarkable. More pleasing that that, however, was the really local feel to the city. That evening, as I got lost on my wanders, I bumped into people who’d been at the Conference and came up to me, chatted (and pointed me in the right direction). I’ve never experienced that before.

You can see the video of my presentation here, along with some kind tweets.

 

 

InternetRetailing Conference 2016 – our 11th annual event

I was pleased to open both www.edeliveryconference.com and www.internetretailingconference.com and welcome the usual senior gathering of multichannel professionals to our intense multi-track conference and expo.

You can see the write-up of the event and also videos of proceedings on the conference site, but a particular thanks to Tony Rivenell of Halfords who was game enough to do a Q&A on the role of the Chief Digital Officer during our keynote sessions…

Opening presentation for the International Association of Department Stores (IADS.org)

I’ve long been a great fan of the IADS and have contributed in the past to their events. I was therefore particularly pleased to be invited to open their conference in London on Omnichannel/multichannel on 15 September, 2016.

Department stores have been at the forefront of multichannel development in the U.K. And Europe and so it was interesting to share with them the research from our IREU Top500 2016 report, which created a performance-based ranking of Europe’s multichannel and pure play retailers. With delegates from the EU, Asia and South America it was an international gathering.

While the presentation and discussions were confidential, the IREU report is available from InternetRetailing – www.internetretailing.net/ireu 

Chairing Millennial 2020’s inaugural conference in Singapore

After the successful launch event in London earlier this year the Millennial 2020 concept is taking shape globally. I was pleased to chair the first Asia event, held at the high-impact Art Science Museum in Singapore, and equally pleased to see London, New York and Singapore dates confirmed for 2017.

The event is a global gathering of brands, retailers, innovators, marketers and entrepreneurs who are focused on engaging with, understanding, selling to and anticipating the global millennial customer. Mind you, a number of the presentations are already focused on GenZ so even the millennial label will change along with consumer demographics, I’m sure.

I chaired the Travel and Hospitality stream and although all of the speakers were really interesting a couple gave me new perspectives.

The Luxe Nomad and What3Words were great, while Victor Cui of OneChampionship had an amazing cross-continental story to tell of martial arts, moving countries, seeing a gap and an enthusiasm to create a broadcast empire.

Shifting to the Future Trends stream the one and only Pep Torres gave one of the most memorable presentations I’ve seen in years. Interesting, inspiring and engaging – he had me mentally ripping up my presentations! I won’t spoil the fun – watch his presentation here.

On the second day the presentation from Ludwick Marishane on ‘a bath with no water’ was both eye-opening and inspiring. This presentation really showed the reach, ambition and global changes underway – a real tribute to the programming of the event.

Some photos below, while info on the next event in New York on 1 and 2 March, 2017 can be seen on the http://www.millennial20-20.com/newyork2017/website.

View of the Arts Science Museum from the Marina Sands Hotel.

Setup of the Economist stage

Great staging and AV

The CNBC studio operating throughout the event.

The Economist brought a taco van – with GM meat…

Pep Torres warming up.

 

 

Brittany coastal ride

Beyond Brexit: Building Retail in a new epoch

The ramifications of the British vote to leave the European Union are barely understood, but the radical implications cannot be underestimated. There are some challenging lessons, and more-challenging opportunities, to be seized as we move from bemoaning or celebrating to the realities of building a new future.

THAT THE world had qualitatively changed was clear as I addressed our inauguralEuropean Summit in Berlin the week following the Brexit vote. The overwhelming messages from the gathering of the IREU Top500 retailers was that the UK’s skills and expertise were valued, and that there is a bond between multichannel professionals that bridges national boundaries. This is clearly shown too in the first ranking of Europe’s Top500 multichannel retailers, the IREU Top500 2016, which we’re pleased to release this month. Europe and trade are certainly the issue of our time.

Epochal change

We are witnessing an epochal change – of radical disruption. While the digital revolution caused disruption, there are few events in our time that have recast social relationships, rewritten the rules of politics, recast national relations, rejected the underpinning legal settlement of nationhood, trade and personal freedoms, while resetting people’s expectations of the course of their families’ lives. Short of war, this is the most wholesale disruption we may see in our lives and from this we need to create and seize opportunity. The manner in which we act post-Brexit will test and set the character of the UK and Europe for the next generation.

Our industry could be characterised by a customer-focus, a bias for innovation and change, and a global perspective. All of these are fundamentally, radically challenged by the Brexit vote. The questions to consider are broader than retail alone, but as a major employer and generator of economic value we have to engage more broadly than solely our own bailiwicks. Areas of engagement include:

  • How better to connect with our customers, many of whom have expressed an anti-urban, anti-establishment, anti-globalisation sentiment? If our customers are never wrong then we need to find a better narrative of inclusion and relevance, even as they seek out global brands at discounted prices… We need to consider how we communicate and live our values, not just our pricing and promotion policies.
  • Our staff are simultaneously an asset to our business, our own customers, and the disaffected or disenfranchised voters. Skills development is needed both for our own performance and for our employees to have a stake in society and confidence about an improving future of employment, mobility and affluence. How can we connect with our staff to align our commercial progress with their lives and hopes?
  • What needs to be done to retain competitive, open market access? Both for sales of our own goods and the purchase of goods for resale, consumables and infrastructure?
  • As we have a chance to look afresh at our regulatory frameworks, what is necessary to ensure a level playing field? What regulation do we want to retain, remove, introduce?

Over the coming months we will be seeking, listening to and synthesising the voices in our industry as we look to create positive outcomes from this disruption. Our editorial approach at IR is to reflect the board-level, cross-disciplinary, commercial conversation and so we’ll look at all areas in which we can make an impact.

What questions do you think need to be addressed? Where should our focus lie? Please let me know your thoughts. Over the coming year we will hold informal discussions across the UK and in key European cities, under the Chatham House Rule. The aim is to have an agenda, an approach and consideration points in time for the next European Summit in Berlin in June 2017. We have invites to Liverpool, Edinburgh, Manchester, London, Paris and Amsterdam, but we’ll go where the conversation leads. If you have an office or venue that could host us, please do let me know. While the focus of the discussion will be amidst multichannel retailers, key suppliers to the sector have an important voice and we invite their contribution too.

Please drop me a note at ian@internetretailing.net if you’d like to contribute.

This article was first published in InternetRetailing Magazine in July 2016 and on Linkedin as a post.

Closing keynote at IBM’s European eCommerce conference

I was honoured to be invited to close IBM’s first get-together of its European eCommerce team, bringing together over 400 professionals from across Europe for a couple of days in Windsor to kick off their newly-structured team.

We’ve worked with IBM on a number of editorial projects and I was asked to bring to life some of the themes on the direction of retail and the pressures upon retailers to perform at the highest level.

I’d expected a tired group (I was closing the event on a Friday afternoon, post-lunch… ) but there was a great vibe and I was met with a very warm reception.

The keynote drew on some advance insights from the IREU Top500, InternetRetailing’s new research publication due out in June 2016 and culminated in recounting an approach of ‘TotalRetail’™.

Thanks again for the welcome!

Chairing at Millennial2020

Congratulations to @RupaGanatra, Viktoria de Chevron Villette and Simon Berger for an impressive debut conference in Millennial 2020.

The conference addressed the business challenge of how to approach the millennial customer, and key themes throughout were insight, authenticity and experimentation. This was brought to life on the conference stage with a real wealth of speakers – I was lucky to chair sessions ranging from the founders of Planet Organic and Ceviche to Pepsico and Fortnum & Mason (yes, I was chairing the food stream!).

Here’s a vid of the session on data…

The exhibition area was particularly fun and very hand-on (in true millennial style) with more of a ‘fun fair’ feel than an expo.

I learned a great deal and I’m pleased to see that the concept is already rolling out internationally with events planned in New York – February 2017, London (take 2) in April 2017 and Singapore in September 2017.

You can sign up for info at their website – http://www.millennial20-20.com/

 

 

Brief appearance on the BBC’s ‘Christmas at John Lewis’ documentary

Provided you didn’t blink in the wrong place you may have caught my contribution to a BBC documentary on how John Lewis prepares for Christmas. I had great fun contributing to a topic that we’ve covered ourselves – namely how the elite retailers prepare for peak. An interesting take within the programme was that #BlackFriday had changed the ‘traditional’ Christmas peak, and further looked at the role of eCommerce ‘pure play’ giant Amazon.co.uk in the competitive landscape for John Lewis.

The programme aired on 23 December, 2015, titled “Christmas Shopping Fever 2015: John Lewis and the Retail Race” and you can see it for a while on BBC iPlayer – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06t3kqt/christmas-shopping-fever-2015-john-lewis-and-the-retail-race

 

Ian Jindal discussing John Lewis with Cherry Healey for BBC 2's

 

I was really impressed with the research the team did beforehand. We had a number of phone discussions, follow-up questions and a good brief on the ‘arc’ of the show. I had a great time filming my snippets and even though it was a couple of hours the time passed really quickly. I’m sure that TV production crews forget how interesting we find the whole process! Most of the filming I do is around our events and these tend to be one-take-only commentaries. At first I thought that it was a luxury to have more time, but now I simply feel a combination of awe and sympathy at the skill and patience needed to turn hundreds of hours of footage into a coherent, brief broadcast!

My on-screen contribution comprised of a review of the customer expectations on delivery (c 0h24’) and upon the role of SEO in supporting visibility and sales at peak (c0h30’).

We’ve covered John Lewis extensively on InternetRetailing – they’re one of our “Elite” UK retailers in the InternetRetailing Top500. You can see John Lewis’ company listing as well as information on the Top500 on our site.

We also covered BlackFriday and CyberMonday with rolling, on-the-hour information on the performance of the Top23 retailers in the UK and John Lewis’ performance over peak fared well.

Ian Jindal on the BBC's documentary on John Lewis' Christmas, 2015