INDUSTRY & PRODUCT NEWS

CanJam NYC 2017 Headphone Audio Expo Report
CanJam NYC 2017 took place February 4-5, 2017, in the fabulous Broadway Ballroom at the New York Marriott Marquis, right in the heart of Times Square. More than 2,000 earphone and headphone fanatics swarmed over the 55 table-top booths (showing about 100 brands). In this brief report, we have chosen to highlight some of the products, companies, and technologies that caught our attention, noticing that USB-C products are still absent from these shows, which is strange.  Read More


Dirac Promises Major Product Introductions at Mobile World Congress 2017
Delivering on its promise to bring premium audio experiences to owners of every type of headphone and mobile device, sound optimization technology experts Dirac Research announced the introduction of two new audio solutions that help transform nearly any mobile device and headphone into an on-the-go home theatre. The two solutions - the brand-new Dirac VR and a second-generation Dirac Panorama Sound - will be formally unveiled and demonstrated at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017.   Read More

STMicroelectronics  to Manufacture USound's Patented Thin-Film Piezo-Electric MEMS Microspeaker Technology
STMicroelectronics and Austrian company USound GmbH announced their collaboration on the industrialization and production of the world's first miniature piezoelectric Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) actuators for smart audio systems in portable devices. The patented microspeaker technology from USound aims to replace commonly used balanced-armature and electrodynamic receivers for handsets with a small piezo-MEMS actuator.   Read More


Audio Hardware Sales Up 28%, Futuresource Quarterly Tracker Reveals
Audio hardware continues to outpace the wider Consumer Electronics sector, with global fourth quarter sales growing 28% year-on-year to $10.2 billion, according to new data from Futuresource Consulting's quarterly audio tracking service, which includes a review of the key trends in the audio market. The popularity of music streaming services continues to drive market growth, as well as interest in Voice Personal Assistant (VPA) speakers, and growing adoption of wireless headphones.    Read More
 
Audio Precision Introduces Calibrated Measurement Microphones
Audio Precision introduced a series of calibrated measurement microphones to its portfolio, creating a robust solution for end-to-end testing of electro-acoustic components, products, and systems. This expansion of Audio Precision's electro-acoustic test offering includes free-field, pre-polarized microphones, combining mic capsules with low-noise preamplifiers - an ideal complement to the APx line of audio analyzers, software and accessories.   Read More


Relaunch of Legendary Dynaco ST-70 Series 3 Tube Amplifier Scheduled for Spring 2017
Following a preview at the 2016 High End show, in Munich, the relaunch of the Dynaco ST-70 Series 3 tube amplifier is now confirmed for Spring 2017, with the official launch already scheduled for High End 2017. Since acquiring the legendary brands Hafler and Dynaco in early 2014, Radial Engineering has been carefully working on the project, considering all the options to create a truly worthy successor of one of the most successful tube amplifiers of all times.  Read More


HEAD acoustics Presents Improved Speech and Audio Analysis Systems at MWC 2017
Speech and audio quality specialists, HEAD acoustics GmbH from Herzogenrath, Germany, will be presenting its range of solutions at the Mobile World Congress (February 27 to March 2, 2017). Like many key development technology companies, HEAD acoustics will use the Barcelona show to demonstrate a new evaluation software of Voice Control Analysis System (VoCAS), as well as an update of its communication analysis software ACQUA 3.5.100.   Read More


NEXO Unveils New High-Power Compact Line Array System for Theatre, Conference, and Live Music Applications
Proving that the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2017 show in Amsterdam is anticipating pro audio launches usually reserved for Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt, French sound reinforcement specialists NEXO (part of Yamaha Professional Audio) unveiled its new GEO M10 line array, a high-output sound reinforcement system for long-throw theater and live music applications. The contemporary design uses a single 10" driver to deliver an unprecedented ratio of low-frequency response to cabinet size for this class of mid-size line array.  Read More





João
Martins
Editor-in-Chief




Editor's Desk


MQA Makes Music Sound Better

Music technology company MQA (www.mqa.co.uk) and music-entertainment giant Universal Music Group (UMG) have agreed to encode UMG's extensive catalog of master recordings using Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) technology. MQA streaming recently debuted on TIDAL. In its HiFi Master streaming music service, TIDAL is already offering hundreds of MQA albums, mostly from Warner Music Group's music catalog, the first major record company to license MQA.
For those not familiar with MQA, just click on the picture.

The agreement with Universal Music should allow an impressive array of MQA releases, and make some of the world's most celebrated recordings available for the first time in High-Resolution Audio (HRA), considering the company holds catalogs from famous labels such as Capitol, Def Jam, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Interscope, Geffen, AM Records, Island, Polydor, Abbey Road Studios, Verve, Motown, Blue Note, and even Virgin and EMI. This is a truly historical development for all music enthusiasts.
 
This shows remarkable work by Bob Stuart and the MQA team, now spearheaded by a strong group of former industry-executives lead by CEO, Mike Jbara. MQA already hinted that more music catalogs, streaming services, and audio manufacturers are coming this year. Sony Music, the other of the big three music holding companies, has been heavily involved in all initiatives promoting high-resolution audio. Joining Warner and Universal on the support to MQA should now be a natural logical step.
 
The UMG announcement comes shortly after the launch of the cross-industry marketing campaign "Stream the Studio" (www.streamthestudio.news), by the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), to raise awareness about the advantages of High-Resolution Audio (HRA) streaming. Multiple organizations are now throwing strong support to promote the advantages of MQA, both as an authenticated source of high-resolution audio masters and the introduction of a higher quality experience on the now mainstream music streaming services.
 
Still, as with any success story, detractors are starting to throw all sorts of arguments on why "MQA is a bad thing." Those jealous of Bob Stuart's success mostly use the argument that MQA is a "proprietary" and "closed" technology and that the music industry should only adopt "open" technologies and standards. We've heard this before. Unless you have that technology and are willing to make it available for the benefit of all humanity - as an open and free solution - don't start throwing stones.
 
Audirvana Plus 3 will be the first software player to integrate the MQA Core Decoder, enabling MQA-capable audio devices to benefit from the complete MQA audio quality, from a local library or a streaming service such as TIDAL master.
Other detractors argue that MQA "serves to restrict access to music," helping music companies to uphold "a monopoly." Hard to see the logic. First, because other file formats that are currently available will continue to be available, compressed and uncompressed. But most important because anyone will be able to play MQA files with the same audio systems people already have now, totally ignoring MQA decoding if they want - and they will still sound better than the compressed music people listen to currently. The MQA stream is PCM, so it can also be put in a file or on an optical disc (CD or Blu-ray) or any transport stream and will still be compatible with everything that exists today. As the TIDAL HiFi Master service shows, 24 bits/96 kHz masters previously streamed as 16/44.1 CD-quality on the HiFi premium service are now available as MQA and play at least as 24 bits /48 kHz on non MQA-enabled systems. Very soon, the ability to support MQA file-decoding will also be available in software players (as Audirvana already confirmed) and many consumers will be happy with that, I believe.

I have no problem with successful businesses. Standards are good, but I strongly believe that when a good technology reaches consumers and becomes a "de facto" standard, licensed or otherwise (nothing is free), we should not attack it just because. MQA has multiple benefits regarding music listening and enjoyment. We live with similar technologies from the likes of Dolby. And, I would welcome any similar technology that enables something similar to what MQA does. Still, so far there's nothing like it.
 
All we had before was illegal peer-to-peer sharing of files of dubious quality, and worse, people downloading music from suspicious websites and enrichening the likes of Kim Dotcom. With streaming music services, file sharing has dramatically dropped and there's no longer a business incentive for criminals to create illegal download websites.
 
Of course, for those of us who have started downloading HRA files some time ago and have heavily invested in systems that are truly able to play those files, MQA is not so important. But for the remaining 99% of consumers currently listening to highly compressed media, MQA really makes a difference. Whatever the original music source. And people will be listening to streaming services now.
 
Soon after TIDAL announced it would start streaming MQA, predominantly material from Warner Music, Universal is also on board.
That's also why the argument "they are forcing us to buy our music all over again" doesn't make any sense. Some download websites focused precisely on that approach, based on the argument of high resolution audio (whose source no one can really attest). I guess a few will continue selling DSD and uncompressed PCM HRA files for quite some time. But even with 5G networks, streaming those gigantic files will never be financially viable for a streaming operator, especially now that they have MQA. Also, because there's simply too much good music available on TIDAL, Apple Music, and Spotify and the temptation for consumers to discover new things at any moment and on-demand is just too convenient. Streaming is already the most common way people enjoy music and it's easy to understand why.

Now, we only need to understand how MQA works effectively in the studio and mastering and we need access to the corresponding professional tools. So far, we've heard the best things in the world from some of the most respected producers and audio engineers who had access to the technology and are already working on MQA. We already know that MQA makes files smaller without compromising quality and makes HRA streaming possible - that is enough, I think. But there are other aspects with the MQA that start in the studio and the creation of the files. MQA - and in particular Bob Stuart - made a remarkable effort to explain all the "de-blurring" on individual tracks. Now, we need to have the tools available to the professional community so that we can understand how it really works with existing master recordings, how to make new recordings available in the best way possible, what the implications are for distribution, for instance in terms of loudness levels, dynamics, etc. There's a lot to understand and to explore. After all, MQA says it makes music sound better. There's no reason to keep it a mystery.

You Can DIY!
A Solid-State Single-Ended Power Amp
By Ed Simon
 
In this simple amplifier project, Ed Simon describes a Class-A amplifier design that mainly intends to reproduce music with reinforced emotional expression. That's what you normally get with a quality design, but to achieve it, the author shares the complete concept, power requirements, circuit topology, construction, and testing of this single-ended amp... in a solid-state design. As Ed Simon explains, "If you were expecting a vacuum tube, there are lots of those designs out there." This "basic" amplifier uses a fixed current source with a solid-state current regulator, and a differential input stage with matched MOSFETs, with a bipolar transistor to drive the output stage. Not without its challenges, but that's precisely why this project becomes interesting and detailed. This article was originally published in audioXpress, April 2006.   Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
Eminence N314T-8 with H14EA Horn and N320T-8 with H2EA Horn 
By Vance Dickason
 
In this Test Bench, Voice Coil characterizes two high-end compression drivers and horns from Eminence, the N314T-8 with the H14EA horn, and the N320T-8 with the H2EA horn. Both these neodymium motor compression drivers from Eminence share pretty much the same feature set. The main difference is the N314T-8 is configured for a 1.4" throat, and the N320T-8 is configured for a 2" diameter throat. Both are powered by an 11 oz. neodymium ring magnet motor coupled to a titanium diaphragm driven by a 76 mm (3") diameter voice coil wound on a polyimide former. The compression drivers are rated at 100 W (AES), and have a recommended minimum crossover frequency of 800 Hz at 12 dB/octave. Other features include an injection-molded aluminum black heatsink, and color-coded chrome push terminals. The horn supplied with the N314T-8 is Eminence's new cast-aluminum H14EA exponential profile horn with a 1.4" throat, a 60" × 40" coverage, and 0.6 kHz cutoff frequency. The horn supplied with the N320T-8 is the cast-aluminum H2EA exponential profile horn with a 2" throat, a 60" × 40" coverage, and 0.7 kHz cutoff frequency. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, March 2016.   Read the Full Article Online

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