SABRE DACs from ESS Technology to Integrate MQA Rendering
ESS Technology has announced that it will be launching versions of its popular SABRE audio DACs that feature integrated MQA rendering. This will enable easy implementation of MQA across a variety of applications, including more mobile devices. As MQA technology is becoming widely accepted as a standard for distributing high-resolution files and streams across a variety of platforms, the new ESS chips will enable manufacturers to easily implement MQA supportRead More

Roon Labs Releases Roon 1.5 Update with Powerful MQA Integration
Roon Labs has launched its much anticipated MQA integration with its version 1.5 update. The new updated Roon music player, supports and decodes MQA files and streams, as part of Roon's multi-room, a multi-user networked audio platform. Enno Vandermeer, Founder & CEO, Roon Labs, said, "We feel that the rapidly expanding ecosystem of 'Roon-ready' audio products, combined with the growing number of MQA-enabled products and services in the market, makes this a powerful partnership."   Read More

Revolutionary "Curante" Full-Range Speaker from Bayz Audio Unveiled at High End Munich 2018
Bayz Audio from Budapest, Hungary, will be premiering Curante, an omnidirectional, full-range loudspeaker, at the 2018 High End show in Munich. The Curante represents a complete re-thinking of traditional speakers by utilizing the patented Bay Radial Speaker (BRS), a unique "radial tweeter" design by Zoltan Bay, CEO and Chief Engineer, in collaboration with Frank Nielsen of Danesian Audio, and András Voloscsuk of Composite Project Kft.    Read More

Powersoft M-Force and Rat Sound Showcase New SuperSub Low Frequency Cabinets at Coachella 2018
During the Coachella 2018 music festival, a new subwoofer design, powered by Powersoft's M-Force system, was put to the test and proved how promising the solution is for sound design in general and large music festivals in particular. The new SuperSub M-Force-powered cabinets by Rat Sound provided an unprecedented display of super-low frequency soundwave propagation for thousands of excited music fans, while also exciting the audio engineers with the excellent results.   Read More

Global Wireless Headphones Market - Increasing Use of Smart Devices to Promote Growth 
Technavio's latest market research report on the global wireless headphones market provides an analysis of the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2018-2022. Technavio defines the increasing penetration of smart devices as an emerging trend with the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline. The report signals the increasing adoption of sports and fitness wireless headphones to drive growth of the wireless headphones market till the end of 2022.   Read More

Audeze Announces New Easy-to-Drive LCD-4z Headphones
There are hundreds of innovative apps for iOS and Android devices, Audeze grabbed the opportunity of an expanding attendance in Munich for the annual High End show, this year reinforced with the first concurrent edition of the CanJam Europe 2018 partner event (, to announce the release of the new LCD-4z headphones. This is an improved version of the popular LCD-4 open model, featuring a new look and greater efficiency - 15 ohms, 98 dB/1mW sensitivity - being basically easier to drive. As Audeze anticipates, "The design and sound of the LCD-4z is sure to thrill!".   Read More

Adam Hall North America Merges with Musical Distributors Group to Expand US and Canada Activities
Adam Hall North America, Inc., a newly-formed subsidiary of the German-based Adam Hall Group, announced that it has merged with its New Jersey-based North American Distributor, Musical Distributors Group (MDG). The partnership will enhance the Adam Hall Group's presence in the US and Canada and improve customer experience and growth. The deal will strengthen the presence of the Adam Hall brands, including LD Systems, Cameo Lighting, Gravity Stands, Palmer and Defender Cable Protection, as well as MDG's exclusive distribution brands, such as Höfner, Ultrasone, EBS, Mad Professor, and Lock-It Straps.   Read More

Pascal Appoints Michael Munch to New Product Manager Position
Continuing its accelerating pace of expansion, Pascal has announced the appointment of industry veteran Michael Munch to the newly created position of Product Manager. As an industry-leading OEM manufacturer of high-power amplifier modules for the professional audio industry, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, Pascal will benefit from Munch's extensive experience and market knowledge, having worked previously with leading amplifier brand Lab.gruppen.   Read More


Editor's Desk

Eurovision Song Contest 2018 

Imagine that you had to compose a 3-minute song that would represent your country in the largest song contest, televised live to 200 million viewers - the world's largest live music broadcast event. You have exactly 3 minutes to conquer the preferences of professional judges and each country's TV audience, knowing that a large number of people (and the majority in some countries) would vote simply based on their sympathy for neighbouring countries, cultural affinity, or artist recognition, given that no country can vote for its own song.

The ESC 2018 backstage. Altogether, more than 100 wireless channels are in use for audio alone. An ideal environment for Sennheiser's Digital 6000 to demonstrate its spectrum efficiency. "As the system has been designed to be intermodulation-free, we can arrange its transmission frequencies in an equidistant grid, saving spectrum for other wireless applications," explains Volker Schmitt, Director Customer Development - Application Engineering at Sennheiser.
The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), already running for 63 years, is one of the most debated, loved, and hated entertainment formats ever created. Those not familiar with ESC can start here or here.
Politics apart (which is hard to discard), ESC has grown to become a true annual behemoth in live TV production and a cultural phenomenon around the world.

Since the contest started to be widely promoted on social media and streamed live on the Internet, the originally European base of ESC's fan base has evolved globally, conquered millions of additional viewers in Asia, South America, and North America, and participating countries, which recently expanded to include Australia.

For me personally, there were always two reasons to closely follow the event every year.
On a personal level, I love studying how the songs and the performers actually rate in the contest, knowing that some of the best song composers and popular artists from participating countries have already been involved - in all music genres, from naturally fitting easy-listening stars to classically trained names and even rock, hip-hop, and country artists.  And because the rules don't dictate that the song's composer needs to be a native of the represented country, in past years we have seen some countries hiring the services of some of the most renowned composers and producers.

But no matter the formula, no one has been actually able to predict how the voting will occur and which song will do better or be the winner, with trends changing from year to year to elect a huge variety of genres and formats, from love ballads to happy disco tunes and plastic pop, to heartfelt political manifestos or true popular song masterpieces - the latter being the Holy Grail that ESC enthusiasts revere and advocate as being the "official ESC winners."

All artists from the 43 participating countries have to configure their in-ear monitors and stage microphones from the vast array of Sennheiser gear available.

When the contest goes live - currently with 43 countries, forcing Eurovision to broadcast two semi-finals and one final - every song has those same 3 minutes on stage to impress. And, independently of genre, songs usually follow a highly studied structure: The chorus should start not long after the first 20 seconds; repeat the chorus as much as you can; avoid long bridges; no solos; introduce clever hooks, pre-chorus; preferably structure the song in crescendo; introduce a key-change on climax, a favorite of the crowds.  Analyzing and dissecting the most voted songs is a popular hobby among ESC aficionados, and the subject for intense studies.

The second reason to closely follow the popular ESC format is related to the technology showcase and technical challenges. Every year since its early inception, the ESC format represents the most formidable challenge in live television production, far surpassing any other format, including the Olympic opening ceremonies or even the Super Bowl. Because this is about live music, an endless parade of 53 countries live on stage and on-air, representing the millions of viewers in each country - with all the political and cultural extent - the pressure for the production teams is tremendous. And to make matters worse, this is followed by the always entertaining and nerve-wrecking voting process, where all countries have to submit the results of their vote - creating a massive infrastructure for bidirectional live contribution links, which is precisely what the Eurovision broadcast network represents after all.

The monitor mixing position over the immense ESC 2018 stage.

Every year, the ESC draws manufacturers in the professional audio, broadcast technology, stage lighting, stage design, and many other disciplines to submit their state of the art technologies. Every year, the production gets more and more sophisticated, introducing new spectacular uses of pyrotechnics, sophisticated flying cameras, synchronized moving stage structures and lighting, video mapping, etc. Of course, brands all try to be among the official technical suppliers and struggle to supply the latest technologies and solutions, which need to get approved and selected by a joint production team, managed by the organizing country official broadcaster (the wining country from the previous year), and the hired technical production companies.  Having your name on the technical credits of an ESC is also a tremendous highlight for professionals, given the tremendous responsibility and pressure of the live format.
I've been following those technical challenges and formidable achievements for decades now, and I never cease to be fascinated with the level of innovation and creativity that's incorporated in the format every year, making it one of the top entertainment moments of the year.

Even for those scorning the musical content and disliking the political (nationalistic) implications, you have to admire how much the quality of the show itself has evolved and improved over decades.  This year, I've been invited by Sennheiser to do a backstage tour of the ESC 2018, happening in Lisbon, Portugal, following last year's surprising victory from young talent, Salvador Sobral. Sennheiser is one of the official technical suppliers of ESC 2018, and has supported the event for many years, supplying wireless microphones and in-ear monitors ever since those technologies were adopted for broadcast and live productions. And these days, there's not a single speaker on stage, and all the microphones are wireless.

For this year's edition, the host broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP), opted to tune down the format slightly, inspired by the simple formula of Salvador's winning song, and also due to financial restrictions. As Salvador Sobral stated when he won in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2017, "Music is not fireworks, music is feeling." His song broke ESC records, by scoring the largest number of points ever in the history of the contest, scoring wins in both the jury and public vote, and even receiving two of the three prestigious Marcel Bezençon awards: artistic and composer awards.

Of particular interest is the fact that the song contest no longer involves a live orchestra or instrumental bands as it did in the first decades and until 1998, with only the voice captured live over an instrumental playback. This was the result of the expansion in the number of countries over the years, from the original seven in 1956 to the current 43.

One of 18 L-Acoustics K2 line-arrays configured to cover the entire arena.

As a technical supplier to the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, Sennheiser and its local distribution partner Magnelusa have supplied Digital 6000 wireless microphones and 2000 series wireless monitors to the event. With rehearsals ongoing since April 22, the equipment used in Lisbon's Altice Arena and the ESC press center involves 41 Sennheiser EM 6000 two-channel receivers, 74 SK 6000 bodypack transmitters, 68 SKM 6000 handheld transmitters, with MD 9235 dynamic cardioid capsules for the artists and KK 204 capsules for communication purposes, and 115 custom Sennheiser headmics (using a cardioid capsule adapted to the existing SL headmic model). There are also 6 SKM 9000 COM handheld transmitters, 6 KA 9000 COM Command switches, 21 L 6000 rack-mount charging units with chargers for SK 6000 and SKM 6000/9000, 17 SR 2050 IEM two-channel transmitters, and 112 EK 2000 IEM bodypack receivers.
With 43 participating nations, the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest features live broadcasts of the two semi-finals (May 8 and 10) and the grand finale on May 12. All artists rely on Digital 6000 microphones, and use either SKM 6000 handhelds with MD 9235 dynamic capsules, or the SK 6000 bodypacks with Sennheiser custom headmics. For wireless monitoring, 2000 series systems are on duty: Rack-mount SR 2050 IEM two-channel transmitters transmit their signals via A 5000-CP circularly polarized antennas to the artists' EK 2000 IEM bodypack receivers. A large number of bodypacks ensures that all artist groups and the technical crew can be provided with high-quality audio signals.
Volker Schmitt, Director Customer Development & Application Engineering at Sennheiser, and his team are on site to provide technical support for the wireless systems, working with Auditiv's Daniel Bekerman, the Head of Sound for the live shows.

After having worked in many massive events, including several Olympic opening ceremonies, Daniel Bekerman, Head of Sound, configured the system for ESC 2018, a responsibility he confesses was his dream project for many years.

The thing that impressed me the most was the sound quality in the arena. Renowned for its serious acoustical challenges, the Pavilhão Atlântico (currently Altice Arena) was recently benefited with an acoustic treatment by Portuguese specialists Jocavi Acoustic Panels, which managed to significantly reduce the existing reverberation time, allowing a significant intelligibility improvement for the audience. Also, Daniel Bekerman has extensive experience with the arena, having been in charge of several large musical productions taking place there. The Eurovision Song Contest, however, gave him the chance to finally try the ideal sound installation for the space, with a total of 18 L-Acoustics K2 line-arrays and suspended SB28 subwoofers (239 cabinets in total), all connected by a redundant Dante network, perfectly covering all audience areas and all carefully adjusted and processed in order to sound as one single source. All mixing operations in the arena, front of house, monitoring, control rooms, and programming use a total of 15 DiGiCo consoles (SD7, SD10).

In total, there are nearly 260 tons of material suspended over the stage, designed by Florian Wieder.
I had the chance to listen to the sound mix on headphones and compare it with the sound in the arena and I was really impressed with how balanced and perfect it was. An impressive work from the Auditiv team, and a testimony of how good sound reinforcement technology has become..


You Can DIY!
A Double-Ended Two-Channel Amp
By Ari Polisois
Following the publication of its original SE 6C33C amplifier in audioXpress July 2004, esteemed author Ari Polisois returned with more information on how to further simplify the whole construction and reduce the costs. The results, as the author describes, "combine the advantage(s) of the push-pull (mainly power) to the wonderful character of the SE: sensitivity, smoothness, simplicity, and warmth (due to the second harmonic content, easily tolerated by our ears, as against the third, fifth, seventh, and so on harmonics produced by the push-pull)."  This article was originally published in audioXpress, February 2008.   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
Volt RV3143 Studio Monitor Woofer 
By Vance Dickason
The driver for this Test Bench explication comes from the UK. Volt sent the 12" RV3143 Studio Monitor woofer, which is probably the most uniquely designed woofer to come across my desk in a while - there is no frame on the back side of the driver! The Volt Radial Technology consists of a front-mounted eight-spoke proprietary cast aluminum frame that is mechanically coupled to both the back plate and to the top of the pole structure/phase plug, in contrast to a normal rear frame that is only coupled to the motor front plate. This not only has greater mechanical coupling to the major heat conducting elements of the motor structure, but much of the heat produced by the motor is being radiated to the air outside the enclosure rather than heating the air within the enclosure. Additional cooling to the front plate is provided by a rather substantial 72 fin heatsink that also includes 36 vents (5 mm × 9 mm) beneath the primary spider mounting shelf. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, December 2017.   Read the Full Article Online

AX June 2018: Digital Login
Audio Product Design | DIY Audio Projects | Audio Electronics | Audio Show Reports | Interviews | And More 

Don't Have a Subscription?
VC May 2018: Digital Login
Industry News & Developments | Products & Services | Test Bench | Acoustic Patents | Industry Watch | And More