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hhgregg Shuts Down and Neil Young Returns

hhgregg to Liquidate Assets

[Never a big player in audio beyond the HTIB (home theater in a box) segment, Gregg is yet another once-sizable CE chain biting the dust. It is a sad fact of bankruptcy and shut-downs that before they bring closure, there is chaos; for the last year or so the chain has trotted out salvation plans and potential suitors—but as in the case of Radio Shack, it was all to no avail. Ultimately, there is confusion even regarding the number of stores closing: while the press-release mentions 220, the sales flyer mentions 132, and other materials cite 183. Sad to say, at this point, probably no one cares.—Ed.]

INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–hhgregg, Inc. (“hhgregg” or the “Company”) today announced that the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana approved the Company’s initiation of the process to liquidate the assets of the Company commencing on April 8, 2017. As previously announced, hhgregg executed a consulting agreement with a contractual joint venture comprised of Tiger Capital Group, LLC and Great American Group, LLC to conduct a sale of the merchandise and furniture, fixtures and equipment located at the Company’s retail stores and distribution centers.

“Since filing for financial protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy code on March 6, 2017, we have continued to fight for the future of our company. While we had discussions with more than 50 private equity firms, strategic buyers, and other investors, unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in our plan to secure a viable buyer of the business on a going-concern basis within the expedited timeline set by our creditors. We have, however, received and accepted a bid for liquidation of our assets. This process will begin Saturday, April 8, 2017,” said Bob Riesbeck, President and Chief Executive Officer for hhgregg.

The Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 6, 2017. The Company does not anticipate any value will remain from the bankruptcy estate for the holders of the Company’s common stock, although this will be determined in the continuing bankruptcy proceedings.

About hhgregg

hhgregg is an appliance, electronics and furniture retailer that is committed to providing customers with a truly differentiated purchase experience through superior customer service, knowledgeable sales associates and the highest quality product selections. Founded in 1955, hhgregg is a multi-regional retailer currently with 220 stores in 19 states that also offers market-leading global and local brands at value prices nationwide via hhgregg.com.

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Next-Generation Personal Music Server – BRIO by OraStream

[Ask almost any audio pro or audiophile about Neil Young’s Kickstarter campaign for Pono, and you’ll likely receive rolled eyes as a response. Given that, and Pono’s subsequent utter lack of market impact, the choice of Young as an endorser for the awkwardly-named OraStream is a little tough to understand. It’ll be interesting to follow this new player in the streaming world. —Ed.]

OraStream announces launch of BRIO – world’s first personal music streaming server for high-resolution audio

OraStream Private Limited has launched BRIO by OraStream (“BRIO”), a next-generation consumer music server. BRIO is a novel personal music server for consumers to stream music at native resolution. It lets users stream 16bit/44kHz up to 24bit/192kHz resolution audio, which delivers all the digital information to bring true musical reproduction.

Consumers can choose from three levels of service:

1. Standard plan is free of charge. It turns desktop PCs into home servers which allow consumers to access music stored in their PCs remotely at native resolution, using a web browser on another PC. It also gives consumers access to connected streaming services.

2. Mobile plan costs S$15 per year. It allows consumers to use an iOS and Android app to access the PC server and connected streaming services using Wi-Fi or 4G/LTE networks.

3. Cloud plan costs S$150 per year. It allows consumers to upload up to 1,000 GB of music files to cloud storage and stream the music from a  cloud-server (rather than relying on the PC server). It also includes all the Standard and Mobile Plan features.

BRIO streams the best possible music fidelity at any given time and place by means of OraStream’s patented quality-adaptive streaming technology. OraStream will also power Xstream, Neil Young’s streaming music service.

Celebrated singer-songwriter Neil Young, who has passionately pursued the goal of musical fidelity for many years, says, “OraStream’s technology delivers the best fidelity one would ever hear with digital music streaming today. As bandwidth increases, the music will increase in quality to the highest level possible, subject only to the quality of the original music source.”

OraStream CEO Frankie Tan says, “There are many solutions available to stream consumers’ music library in-home. What’s unique in BRIO is the ability to stream consumers’ music library remotely “on-the-go” or “in-car”. It offers the freedom to listen to one’s music library at native resolution anywhere with an internet connection.”

About OraStream Private Limited

The company’s mission is to reshape mobile cloud music.  Its adaptive streaming platform powers next-generation music streaming based on 16/24-bit resolution lossless audio. OraStream Connect is a digital supply chain to deliver music streaming at the best possible musical fidelity to consumers. BRIO by OraStream is a music library-player and streaming server to stream personal music and connected cloud-music services at native resolution.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Lawrence Schenbeck April 24, 2017 at 11:55 am #

    Hm. The late, lamented ClassicsOnline HD used OraStream as its delivery engine. My take on it was that the availability of 24-bit files really did improve the streaming experience, but there were bugs. If source material had been sloppily compiled or transferred, that was inevitably passed along to listeners. But bad sources could be fixed. A more intractable issue was bandwidth. Depending on your connection, 24/192 files (especially) suffered interruptions, stuttering, etc. etc. This was exacerbated by OraStream’s reliance on a buffering strategy that produced variable sound as a matter of course. OTOH I am not sure there’s another major player out there, hi-res-streaming-technology-wise. OraStream has actually been kicking around for a while — it existed before COL HD — but seems not to have caught on with any enterprise that could power a successful business model with it. Neil Young? Seriously?

  2. Bill Leebens April 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    Thanks, Larry.

    My initial reaction to Young’s presence was similar to yours—only far more rude. ;->

  3. kevingan April 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    Could someone explain to me why so much snark is directed at Neil Young? He thought that low-res MP3s were destroying an important part of our experience of music, and that is a) surely true, and b) a notion that most audiophiles would warmly endorse! More to the point, he put his money where his heart was, and set up an equipment and streaming ecosystem that did something about the problem. It clearly wasn’t for everyone, but I would think audiophiles would appreciate the attempt.

    Perhaps I missed some controversial aspects of the Pono attempt that turned people off–I didn’t follow it closely and I didn’t buy the player–but Neil Young is a great artist and a good man (his songs for social justice for more than 4 decades, from Kent State to Monsanto, as well as his work for the Bridge School attest to that), and I would think that he would get the benefit of the doubt from any music-loving community.

    If I’m missing something, please enlighten me! Kevin

  4. Bill Leebens April 24, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

    You make very fair points indeed, and I have perhaps doled out far more derision than Young deserves. Pardon me if I go into too much depth here, but I’d like to go into a bit of detail on the Pono disaster.

    I’ve worked on a number of crowdfunding campaigns that have been pretty successful. Say what you will about legal regulation of such things—it’s still pretty gray, a fact that has been taken advantage of by unscrupulous companies and individuals that have made millions and run off with the funds, leaving backers with nothing—but the two main venues for crowdfunding, Kickstarter and Indiegogo, have their own lengthy sets of rules by which crowdfunding campaigns must abide.

    I’ve done campaigns on Kickstarter, which is where Young’s campaign for Pono ran—and I’ve had to re-do and re-submit campaigns so that they abide by Kickstarter rules.

    Well, Young’s campaign came in and disregarded half of the rules that every other user was forced to abide by. I’m guessing that KS was star-struck to the point where they did whatever was needed to get the Pono campaign. That was highly irritating, but to be fair, was largely Kickstarter’s fault, not Young’s.

    The campaign itself was an annoying and condescending mix of old hippie change-the-world rhetoric and blatant hucksterism, offering multiple “limited edition” editions in a move straight out of HSN. I’m good with changing the world, I’m good with hucksterism: but don’t try mixing the two.

    Subsequently, Pono has been a complete bust, and hasn’t had downloads available for months.

    My snarkiness on the subject may well be (as my daughter would say) more of a ME issue than a Neil issue.

    Point taken, and I consider myself properly chastised.

    But wait until next issue. ;->

    • George Moneo April 24, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

      “The campaign itself was an annoying and condescending mix of old hippie change-the-world rhetoric and blatant hucksterism.”

      Had to chuckle out loud at that one…

    • Streets Still Works April 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

      Neil didn’t look at the business aspect, namely determining the price point at which the business model could sustain itself.

      From https://www.cnet.com/news/pono-is-probably-dead-long-live-xstream/

      “As you might imagine, I found it difficult to raise more money for this model: delivering quality music at a premium price to a limited audience that felt they were being taken advantage of with the high costs” he said.

      His biggest mistake was not realizing this before he launched the Pono store. I feel sorry for the equity crowdfunders that pumped an additional $6m into Pono after the Kickstarter campaign was over.

      • Bill Leebens April 26, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

        Streets, agreed. I’m not sure how much money Pono burned through, all told—I’d heard $15M, but I don’t know if that included the $12+M from Kickstarter and the equity crowdfunders. Anyway, it’s a fair amount!

  5. Rudy April 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm #

    Mr. Young’s involvement aside, my gut feeling is that BRIO won’t go very far. I don’t see that having my own music in the cloud is doing me any good. Not everyone has, or is going to have, an unlimited wireless data plan; can you imagine the amount of data a person would eat through, trying to remotely stream their 24/192 digital files? Likewise, someone with WiFi access (office, hotel, airport) is at the mercy of the network speeds available. I realize OraStream has technologies to adapt to the speed of the network between cloud and device, but this whole idea seems like a solution that is seeking a problem. Namely, how many audiophiles out there really want to stream their entire collection remotely? I can’t think of any, personally.

    If I want hi-res in the car, well…I have that already. It’s called an SD card, and it works everywhere I drive. (My head unit does play FLAC up to 24/192.) If I wanted portable music, I’d purchase a FiiO and load up my files there. I have tried other online libraries populated with my own music, and found them at best annoying to use. If I really wanted something, I’d just log in to my Tidal app and play it that way–they already have most popular titles I would play remotely. At home? It’s not even negotiable–my music is already ripped to the server, including SACDs.

    I wish them well, but I really don’t see a market for this.

    • colinbrophy April 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

      While the Pono player was dismissed by the mass media, there were a number of very respectable reviews from the audiophile community. I purchased a Pono and have used it at the gym every other day since they were first released, worn out three sets of IEM’s with it, and have dropped it a number of times. Plug it into the car system also . Still sounds great for the initial kickstarter price I paid. I agree, the Pono store and app were a failure, but the player works very well with JRiver.

  6. Bob56965 April 25, 2017 at 5:28 pm #

    I love my PonoPlayer. I use it a lot with balanced AKG 701s. I only downloaded one album from the website, so its closing did not bother me, but I am sorry to see them go.

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