SoundChip Introduces Waypoints - a Platform for Scaling the Delivery of Class-Leading Noise Cancelling Into Smart Headsets
SoundChip SA, a Swiss-based global leader in hearable sound technology, announced the introduction of its Waypoints platform, which combines proven methods, tools and expertise to help manufacturers scale the delivery of effective noise cancelling into more products within their headset portfolio than ever before. The new platform supports third-party NC chips in addition to SoundChip's own HD-PA devices.   Read More

NXP Expands Media Capabilities Available on a Single Chip with i.MX 8M Application Processors
During CES 2018, NXP Semiconductors had the most impressive presence among semiconductor manufacturers. To address the convergence of immersive sensory experiences fueled by voice, video and audio demands, NXP has launched the i.MX 8M family of applications processors, combining robust media capabilities on one single chip. Arkamys and MSC Technologies, already announced support for the new 64-bit processor family.   Read More

JBL Introduces Updated JBL100 Classic Loudspeaker at CES 2018
The signs were there. In 2016, JBL announced the release of the 4312SE 70th Anniversary Studio Monitor model. Now, Harman International announced the introduction of the JBL L100 Classic, a modern take on the all-time best-selling JBL L100 loudspeaker. As with the legendary L100 3-way bookshelf loudspeaker released in 1970, the new L100 Classic is in itself a consumer version of the popular JBL 4310 Pro Studio Monitor with updated drivers and crossovers, and a slightly different driver alignment.    Read More

Mytek Digital Now Shipping Clef Portable Hi-Fi System for Smartphones
At CES 2018, Mytek confirmed the shipping date for its new Clef portable DAC, which was unveiled precisely a year ago at the Las Vegas industry event. Now available for pre-order, the new Mytek Clef is an ergonomic hi-res audio headphone amplifier and DAC, offering up to 32bit/384kHz PCM, DSD 128, and 120dB of dynamic range, with driverless USB Class 2, MQA unfolding capability, plus aptX Bluetooth and AAC for improved Bluetooth audio streaming.   Read More

USB-IF Introduces Fast Charging to Expand its Certified USB Charger Initiative 
During CES 2018, USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the support organization for the advancement and adoption of USB technology, announced that it will expand its Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program to include Certified USB Fast Chargers. Certified USB Fast Chargers support the Programmable Power Supply (PPS) feature of the USB Power Delivery 3.0 specification.   Read More

HEAD acoustics Launches Modular Multi-Channel Test and Measurement Front End labCORE
A powerful and versatile all-in-one solution for a wide variety of applications, the new modular multi-channel front end labCORE from HEAD acoustics, introduces a powerful and versatile measurement instrument that expands the German company's application scope. Due to its modularity, its wide selection of digital and analog inputs and outputs as well as its programmable interfaces, labCORE is an all-in-one solution for voice and audio quality measurements.   Read More

Qualcomm Introduces New Low Power Bluetooth Audio SoC Series for Wireless Earbuds and Hearables
At CES 2018, Qualcomm introduced the new Qualcomm Low Power Bluetooth SoC QCC5100 series that is designed to help manufacturers develop a new generation of compact, feature-rich, wireless earbuds, hearables and headsets. The new low power, feature-rich Bluetooth solution includes support for voice assistant services, Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo, Qualcomm aptX HD audio and integrated hybrid ANC.   Read More

STMicroelectronics and USound Confirm First Piezo-Actuated MEMS Microspeakers Are Now Ready for Production
STMicroelectronics and USound, an innovative and fast-growing audio company from Austria, have delivered the first silicon micro-speakers resulting from their technology collaboration announced last year. The two companies confirmed that they are ready to enter volume production, and engineering samples are now available.   Read More


Editor's Desk

Where is the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing & Acoustics International Boldly Going?

We will reserve a future edition of The Audio Voice to a more complete report about ALMA's International Symposium & Expo (AISE) 2018, but I feel the need to briefly address some of its highlights. First of all, AISE 2018 moved to a new venue, the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. A great place, and the facilities where superb. It was indeed bigger and better. There was only a small problem. It felt "emptier." Maybe it was the distance from the strip, the traditional storms in the East Coast affecting the unfortunate travelers, or this year's flu epidemic, attendance for AISE 2018 was not according to expectations. Without having official figures, my estimate is at par with 2017, which saw a significant increase in attendance compared to previous years. But given the expanded scope of the presentations, and the quality of exhibitors, there should be more. Much more. And that's been the problem with ALMA's Symposium & Expo - it truly deserves an expanded reach.

And probably that's why ALMA decided to act, and announced radical changes for 2019. After so many years, faithfully preceding CES, without any involvement from or with the Consumer Technology Association, AISE is now on the move - boldly going... elsewhere.
As addressed at the ALMA Banquet on Saturday, there are several significant new initiatives. First, ALMA announced the intention to promote an European edition of AISE, in 2019, at the successful Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) show in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Secondly, apart from the new "Euro AISE," the US-based AISE 2019 will not take place before CES any longer, but instead it will move to be co-located with the annual InfoComm show.
AISE 2019 will take place just before InfoComm 2019, at the Double Tree Universal Orlando, Florida, moving with the show to Las Vegas in 2020. This reflects a decision from the ALMA's Executive Committee and Board of Directors, to cooperate directly with InfoComm International, the trade association representing the $178 billion commercial audiovisual industry worldwide, which recently changed its name to the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). AVIXA and the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA), also jointly promote Integrated Systems Europe in Europe every year - so the connection is there.
I have no doubt that this decision will enable the wider stage that ALMA International deserves and, if well executed, will propel the association's activities to finally gain a much-needed attendance and global scope. For the InfoComm and ISE shows, this approach will also be highly beneficial, since it will provide the loudspeaker industry and related audio technology providers with a much stronger motivation to attend those shows, while ALMA's presentations will be certainly appreciated in those forums.
Those were the main headlines. Of course, we need to mention the annual Beryllium Awards, which ALMA decided to expand this year to honor three significant careers and contributions to the loudspeaker industry. One of the highlights of any AISE is always the Annual Banquet, Award ceremony, and keynote speech, and this year's event was a remarkable moment that united all its members in three important tributes.
This year, ALMA International decided to present Mike Klasco, the president of Menlo Scientific (and a notable long term audioXpress and Voice Coil contributor), with the Gold Driver Award for continued service to the association. Mike Klasco has been providing consulting services to the audio industry for 35 years, and has been an outspoken advocate to the industry for ALMA, encouraging manufacturers and professionals to engage with the association.
ALMA's Gold Driver Award was presented to Mike Klasco for his contribution to the industry and the association.

A Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement was awarded by ALMA International to Chris Strahm (1956 - 2016). The award recognizes the important contributions of Chris Strahm, founder and President of LinearX, who passed away on November 2016. Vance Dickason presented the award to Chris' wife Susie, after remembering Chris' career and significant contributions to the audio industry, including the several companies he founded and worked with, and his crucial work in the development of many audio measurement tools, including those from LinearX, the company he founded in 1991.
Vance Dickason presented the Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement to Chris Strahm's wife Susie.

Finally, the Annual Banquet at AISE 2018, honored the memory of Michael Oslac (1944 - 2017), also awarded with a Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement. Mike Oslac, which passed away at age 73, on August 2017, was not only a remarkable entrepreneur in the loudspeaker industry, but it was also one of the vital contributors to the creation and expansion of the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing & Acoustics (ALMA) International. As Dan Digre, President at MISCO Speakers, Oaktron Aerospace, and Warkwyn Labs, remembered, Mike Oslac purchased Oxford Speaker (Oxford) in 1976, building it into a successful OEM speaker manufacturing company that accomplished many firsts in the US Loudspeaker Industry. Michael founded Oxford International, to bring US loudspeaker manufacturing to the OEM global community, which Harman International Industries (Harman) purchased in 1997 leading Michael to move from Chicago to California to serve as Vice President of Strategic Operations for Harman from 1997 to 2001. Later, he served as Chief Operating Officer and President of Tymphany Corporation until May, 2007. As Dan Digre remembered, Michael Oslac, "was not just a company builder, Michael was a person builder. By empowering others, by helping them believe in themselves, to become leaders in their own right."
Dan Digre honored the memory of Michael Oslac and awarded the Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement to his wife Melissa, and daughters Jordanna, and Maren Oslac, who attended the ceremony.
What Happened at CES 2018?
A lot, quite a lot. More than you think!
With 170,000 or 270,000 visitors (depends how you count), CES must be one of the very few shows where the promoters actually try to play down the numbers regarding visitors, also because in practice, no one really knows. There are so many suites and hotels extending the activities of CES throughout the week, that it becomes hard to understand where it starts and where it ends.
In fact, there are people registered at the show, wearing those gigantic napkin-like badges with photos in it throughout town, that in fact never actually visit one of the show locations where they are required! Like at the Sands Convention Center or the LVCC. There is hardly a single hotel ballroom or meeting space in town not being used for demonstration rooms or an hospitality suite. And it is possible to do a CES show and actually just walk from suite to suite, hotel to hotel, on "private demos," and exclusive invitation-only events, and never actually "see the show."

CES 2018 officially hosted more than 3,900 exhibitors that spanned more than 2.75 million net square feet of exhibit space across Las Vegas - the largest show floor in CES' 51-year history.

CES has long become an annual business gathering far more complex than any other show we attend, including the overwhelming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which in turn is pretty straightforward in terms of business model and market impact. CES, on the other hand, reflects multiple industries and market segments all at once, creating a complex thread of multiple business layers, from licensing IP and technology to manufacturing and services contracting, to the more traditional channel relationships between brands and reps/distributors and retailers, in a multitude of very distinct industries, from IT to white good appliances and automotive technologies. Add to this the normal brand and product marketing efforts of the many consumer electronics segments - from audio to iDevices and smart home - and we get an extremely complex event, which is hard to characterize.
If you look at CES exclusively from one industry angle, you will fail to understand why CES is still so important and why it does attract so many people to Vegas every year. There are people selling CRM software that attend CES every year, close millions of dollars of business, have business meetings at all the famous and exclusive restaurants, spend the night on strip clubs, and return home on a corporate jet, all thanks to its recent cryptocurrency gains... And they never even get close to the Las Vegas Convention Center. (And that's why they didn't even noticed this year's power outage...)
In contrast, there are those poor souls that visit Vegas every year looking for the remaining of an "audio/hifi show" at the Venetian - with those pathetic elevator cues and the awful smell of dirty socks that emanates from some suites - to see a remaining handful of living room speaker/amplifier demonstrations - which would get far more attention at Rocky Mountain, Axpona or any other audio show. I really don't understand, why that "thing" is still there. In those Venetian suites there are many technology providers, and brands who attend just to meet the press and distributors, that could do much better elsewhere (and there are plenty of options).
Anyway, even worse is to meet with the thousands of "media" colleagues from all over the world, which visit CES looking to report on "the latest gadgets" for their click-bait blogs, Youtube channels or tabloid newspapers. They will point their GoPro/iPhone cameras at anything that looks like a robot, and will report on how Artificial Intelligence will dominate our lives, because Samsung released their 28th generation of the Internet-connected-fridge - and no one even bothers to check back at what those same companies introduced last year at CES, which would reveal that 99% of those "gadgets" never actually existed, much less made it to market!
CES is a show promoted by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). And it is telling that they changed the name to "Technology," because that's what CES is about. Selling new technologies to multiple industries, and demonstrating those industries' vision of applied technology.  It's not the products. It's not the gadgets.
The reason why CES is still thriving as a show, it's because there's increasing business every year on selling technology to those industries. Including now to the automotive sector that used to be about "car-audio" and "infotainment" systems at CES, and is now looking at redefining its very core technology, replacing the combustion engine and introducing autonomous driving, with all the implications that entails.

Now with nearly 300,000 NSF of automotive exhibit space, the vehicle footprint at CES makes it the fifth largest stand-alone automotive show in the U.S. and self-driving vehicles are at the show in a big way.

Of course, the automotive industry doesn't need another "car show", where the goal is to promote and sell the latest models. Instead, at CES, car brands look for the latest ways to generate emotional engagement with consumers, exploring the latest technologies and experiences with and within the car. And at CES they can do it much better - a good example being the case of voice assistants. After all, when we enter a taxi today, the first thing we tell the driver is our destination. So, why would that be any different when we take autonomous-driving rides - like those from Lyft that already circulated in Vegas this year?
And CES 2018 was not "just" the show of voice assistants, AI, or VR, as the "tech-blogs" want you to think. It was the show of the cryptocurrency economy. As I could confirm in those always enlightening chats with taxi and Uber drivers, Las Vegas "gentlemen's clubs" are now accepting cryptocurrency and there are even bitcoin ATMs available...
Much in the same way as the real technology "revolution" at CES last year was ride-sharing companies finally taking over Las Vegas, this year was in fact about the digital economy. Immediately after CES, other trade-shows descend upon Las Vegas, including the Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), World of Concrete 2018, and the Adult Entertainment Expo - AVN Adult Expo 2018 (running concurrently...). Compared to CES, those shows are conservative and relatively low-tech moments for the Sin City, even if Uber and Lyft drivers will be as busy as ever.


Fresh From the Bench
Vanatoo Transparent Zero Powered Speakers
By Stuart Yaniger
During the AXPONA 2017 show in Chicago, IL, Stuart Yaniger visited the Vanatoo room and was greatly impressed with the small and inexpensive proposition of the Transparent Zero  powered speakers. As he noted in his report for our Audio Voice newsletter, they "seemed to punch far out of their weight class. I'd love to get a pair into my lab for extended listening and measurement." That's precisely what he did, and accounts for here. This is the most extensive and detailed review these extremely affordable speakers will get, because, as Yaniger writes, "I think the engineering is enough to merit the high ratio of words to price." As Stuart Yaniger writes: The Vanatoo Transparent Zero wireless speaker is an exemplar of the old saying, "Good engineering costs no more than poor engineering." This article was originally published in audioXpress, January 2018.   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
B&C Speakers DE990TN Compression Driver 
By Vance Dickason
The compression driver I examined this month came from Italian Pro Sound OEM manufacturer B&C Speakers and is the "little brother" to the titanium diaphragm DE1090TN compression driver featured in the August 2016 issue of Voice Coil magazine. As with the DE1090TN, the DE990TN was coupled with B&C Speakers' ME90 80° × 60° constant directivity horn. The DE990TN joins B&C Speakers' extensive series of 1.4" throat compression drivers, now numbering 16 models (nine ferrite motor compression drivers and seven neodymium motor compression drivers. The DE990TN has a 36 mm (1.4") throat diameter and is driven by a titanium diaphragm with a 86 mm (3.4") diameter voice coil wound with aluminum wire. Other features include a neodymium ring magnet motor structure, nominal 100 W-rated power handling (200 W continuous), an injection-molded aluminum black heatsink, and color-coded chrome push terminals. The horn supplied with the DE990TN is B&C Speakers' 1.4" throat 80°H × 60°V constant directivity cast aluminum ME90 horn with a 0.9 kHz cutoff frequency. Recommended crossover frequency for the DE990TN is 1 kHz. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, July 2017.   Read the Full Article Online

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