Bluetooth 5 Is Now Available. Time to Download the Spec and Get to Work
A little earlier than expected, on December 7, 2016, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) officially adopted Bluetooth 5 as the latest version of the Bluetooth core specification. Key updates to Bluetooth 5 include longer range, faster speed, and larger broadcast message capacity, as well as improved interoperability and coexistence with other wireless technologies. This sets the stage for transformative wireless connectivity.   Read More

Leading Audio Development Company Archwave Is Now Hiring
Swiss audio technology company Archwave is one of the leading forces in cutting-edge standards-based technologies for audio development. With a remarkable history and key development platforms for digital audio interfaces, audio streaming, and networking adopted by an increasing number of manufacturers, Archwave's momentum couldn't be greater. The company is now recruiting to foster its next growth phase.   Read More

Dolby Atmos Now Installed in More Than 2,000 Screens and 500 Movie Titles Released
Dolby Laboratories, announced the company has exceeded major milestones, including the installation of 2,000 Dolby Atmos-enabled cinema screens and the release of 500 movie titles mixed in Dolby Atmos. Since debuting in 2012 with Disney Pixar's Brave, Dolby Atmos immersive experiences have paved a new course for creative storytelling, transforming the ways in which audiences worldwide experience soundRead More

Comply Foam Improves Hearable Experience with Truly Wireless Premium Foam Tips
Combining the freedom that wireless earbuds allow with the correct fit is a challenge that manufacturers recognize. To anticipate the expected demand, Hearing Components, the manufacturer of Comply products introduced its new Truly Wireless Premium Foam Tips, improving noise blocking, audio, and comfort, compatible with The Dash and The Headphone by Bragi, Samsung Gear IconX, Jabra Elite Sport, Motorola VerveOne, and other models.    Read More

Texas Instruments Introduces Industry's First 2.1-MHz Four-Channel Class-D Amplifier for Automotive Audio Design
Texas Instruments (TI) introduced the first 2.1-MHz Class-D four-channel audio amplifier specifically designed for automotive applications. Supporting high-resolution 96-kHz digital input, the compact TAS6424-Q1 enables high-fidelity audio with low distortion in automotive infotainment systems. This impressive small footprint device combines low voltage and low noise, while providing lots of software settings, offering manufacturers more freedom to tailor their designs.   Read More

Simple Live Sound Monitoring with Limit Light for NTi's XL2 Audio and Acoustic Analyzer
The XL2 Audio and Acoustic Analyzer in combination with the new Limit Light visual indicator, from NTi Audio, offer a practical turnkey solution for live sound monitoring. The sound level limits are set in the XL2 and the connected Limit Light provides a pre-warning orange light and uses a red light to indicate when measured levels have been exceeded. The dimmable color display provides a simple confirmation of the sound level monitored for the front-of-house engineer and noise control.  Read More

Amadeus Designs and Installs Innovative "Holophonic" 3-D Sound in Paris
French speaker manufacturer Amadeus installed a 3-D sound system within Paris' Chaillot National Theater, one of the most historical and prestigious performing arts venues in the French capital. Along with Solid State Logic (SSL), Lab.gruppen, and Sonic Emotion, the four companies joined forces to design a one-of-a-kind electro-acoustic sound reinforcement system for the theater, taking it beyond the limits of traditional technologies.   Read More

Tessera Completes Acquisition of DTS
Following the original announcement in September 2016, Tessera Holding Corp. announced it has completed the acquisition of DTS. Tessera Technologies and DTS are now combined under Tessera Holding Corp. and the shares of the combined company will continue to trade on the NASDAQ under Tessera's ticker symbol TSRA. The company plans to introduce a new corporate name, stock ticker, brand, and logo during the first quarter of 2017.  Read More

Jonny McClintock*

Guest Editorial

Bluetooth - Allowing Music Fans to Cut the Cord and Keep the Quality

A recent report showed that a large amount of people - 83% - think wirelessly streaming music to their headphones is the new normal. This figure wasn't surprising given day-to-day observations of commuters alone show just as many people using wireless headphones as traditional wired ones. What's encouraging this new technology adoption?
The move to the mainstream for wireless headphones has been driven by convenience - not only has wireless streaming via Bluetooth meant that music can be accessed anywhere, pairing is much simpler now than when the first devices came to market 10 years ago. This ease of use and accessibility fuels buying behaviors, and in turn encourages manufacturers to continue meeting consumer demands to go wireless.
Qualcomm recently published The State of Play 2016: Audio Consumer Insights , a survey of more than 3,600 consumers in five different countries, about the way people choose and use their audio technology.

As someone who has been in the wireless technology industry for more than 20 years, I'm no stranger to the fact that consumers haven't always been receptive to Bluetooth for music streaming. The technology suffered from a bad reputation, known for delivering a lower quality - and an often frustrating - music streaming experience. But over the past few years this perception has dramatically changed, and consumers seem to be just as comfortable wirelessly streaming music from their phones as they are making calls on them.  So why are they suddenly more willing to cut the cord?
In short - Bluetooth has dramatically evolved. The original limitations for music streaming were partly due to the implementation of the SBC codec. Manufacturers initially used its lower "Bit Pool" value which resulted in a sub-optimal audio performance on most devices. As a result Bluetooth simply could not be used for high-quality streaming, and music-loving consumers were unwilling to make the move to wireless. What the industry needed was an alternative technology that could deliver consistent CD-quality audio.
But new technologies such as Qualcomm aptX audio, combined with improved silicon platforms and updates to the A2DP profile, have narrowed the gap on cables to a point where no discernible difference can be heard between wired and wireless audio. This means Bluetooth is no longer the acoustic compromise it once was - when combined with the right technology, it can provide excellent performance, battery life, and ease of use. All big wins in consumers' eyes, as these capabilities are available in a wide variety of high-performance audio equipment like headphones, soundbars, speakers, and automotive and home entertainment systems.
Technologies like aptX - which started in the late 1980s and focused solely on bit rate reduction - have set the stage for the revolution in consumer audio we are now seeing, with more to come.

* Director of aptX Sales and Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.
Since 2014, music streaming has enjoyed a significant jump in popularity (up 21%). About 83% of listeners now consider streaming to be the normal way to listen to music, and 33% cite it as a preferred way to listen.


Editor's Desk

70 Years of JBL

This week I have to acknowledge an important anniversary: the 70th birthday of renowned audio brand, JBL. In my past professional life I worked with JBL for a few years, more than enough to feel a close connection with the brand, the products, the company's history, and more importantly, the people. I worked with JBL in a time when Sidney Harman was still around and buying other companies, but I always felt I was working for JBL - like I believe most of its employees. After all, JBL was first... then Harman.
JBL Professional's website is now observing those 70 years by reviewing key pivotal moments of the company's history, from the foundation by James B. Lansing, through the high-fidelity innovations of the 1950s, studio monitor designs, the EON portable speaker series in the 1990s, all the way to the Vertec line arrays systems and two remarkable recent products, the D2 Dual-Diaphragm Compression Driver and the M2 Studio Monitor. Since the 1940s, JBL has truly established a legacy of excellence, both in consumer and professional applications. It's no wonder that people feel a strong emotional connection with the brand.
Harman International currently holds other companies and strong brands, where JBL stands out as the most prestigious and notorious. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of that brand with the spectrum of an acquisition feels bittersweet. I couldn't help but wonder in the last few weeks since the acquisition announcement by Samsung, how much could a brand like JBL possibly be worth to another company - considering that Apple paid $3 billion for Beats...
Apart from the brand(s) value that could be quickly destroyed, one needs to wonder what else can Samsung do with what Harman has built for all those years, particularly in the professional segment. I recommend an article by Chris Mcintyre-Brown (Futuresource Consulting) titled, "Samsung and Harman Acquisition - Can It All Be About Automotive? What About Pro AV?" In his examination, the Futuresource analyst sees synergies in systems integration, with Samsung selling displays through Harman's channels, and probably more relevant, AMX - acquired by Harman in 2014 - expanding to become a leader in the pro AV signal distribution and networked systems space, benefiting from Samsung's video technologies... and Samsung probably ditching the AMX brand altogether (on my perspective).

Unfortunately, in my own technical-sales experience and many years of market reporting about systems integration and big projects, I never remember screens being a decisive factor in choosing a supplier, while I clearly remember specific occasions where - audio being a smaller fraction of a budget - a project was modified due to the client specifying a particular audio brand of equipment, sometimes even after a disputed tender process. It will always be easier for systems integrators to sell a strong brand such as JBL, but I don't see anyone specifying they want Samsung.

Kind of like buying a car. You don't choose a car because of the overpriced car radio - which you will probably be replacing anyway. Samsung buying Harman and keeping the automotive business that this Harman administration has been building all along... almost makes sense. But Samsung buying JBL, is like the Gangnam Style guy buying exclusive rights to Bob Dylan's work !

From the Vault
Comparing Speakers and Level Matched A/B Comparisons
By Howard Ferstler
"Just how tricky is it to level-match a pair of speakers for a decent A/B comparison?" asks Howard Ferstler, the author of books such as The Digital Audio Music List: A Critical Guide to Listening (1999) and The Home Theater Companion: Buying, Installing, and Using Today's Audio-Visual Equipment (1997), among others. Ferstler is also the author of more than 150 audio and recording reviews for different magazines. In this article for audioXpress, Ferstler explains some basic but crucial considerations for level-matching speakers during A/B comparisons. As he writes, "When I review speakers, I make a point of doing my continuous (20-second) averaging room/power curves (moving a microphone slowly over a 1' x 1' x 5' area at head level at the listening couch) with an AudioControl SA-3051 RTA. This gives me a good idea of just how effectively a speaker pair can deliver flat power to a typical listening area. It continues to amaze me that a simple measurement such as this can do such a good job of dissecting the spectral balance of a group of speakers in a good room. Invariably, speakers that do well with this measurement sound more realistic to me than those that do not. At least this is the case with really good recordings." This article was originally published in audioXpress, January 2010.   Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
Wavecor WF120BD04 Midbass 
By Vance Dickason
In this edition of Test Bench - originally published in Voice Coil's September 2010 issue- Vance Dickason characterizes the WF120BD04 midbass woofer from Wavecor, part of a complete range of 4¾" transducers, including the WF120BD03 (4 Ω version), which he found to be well-crafted drivers. Both were designed as high performance bass and midrange units for very compact monitors and high-end hi-fi speakers, the only difference with the remaining WF120BD07/08 models in the range being the shape of the mounting flange of the frames. These units are particularly interesting for their Balanced Drive motor proprietary structure for optimal drive force symmetry resulting in largely reduced even order harmonic distortion. These paper cone midbass woofers feature dual tapered outlets on the pole vent, used to decrease turbulence, resulting in a more symmetrical Bl curve. The woofers also feature a copper cap on center pole to reduce voice coil inductance and to minimize variations in voice coil inductance as a function of voice coil position and a large motor for better control and power handling. Driving the assembly is a 26mm (1") diameter voice coil using round copper wire wound on a black non-conducting fiberglass voice coil former that incorporates a series of eight 4 mm diameter former vents just below the neck joint. The motor itself uses a single 17 mm x 89 mm ferrite magnet sandwiched between a shaped T-yoke and 4 mm high front plate, both with a black emissive coating for enhanced cooling performance. The motor also incorporates an aluminum faraday shield/shorting ring as well as a copper cap on the top of the pole piece for distortion reduction. Voice coil tinsel lead wires are terminated to a set of gold-plated terminals.   Read the Full Article Online

AX December 2016: Digital Login
Audio Product Design | DIY Audio Projects | Audio Electronics | Audio Show Reports | Interviews | And More 

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VC December 2016: Digital Login
Industry News & Developments | Products & Services | Test Bench | Acoustic Patents | Industry Watch | And More