Feel the Beat: Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook 2018 Now Available!
The 2018 Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook (LIS) is now available! In the best tradition, the LIS 2018 edition contains so much more than the listings. You will find a complete series of must-read articles for everyone in the audio industry. Combining the editorial resources of our monthly publications, audioXpress and Voice Coil,LIS2018 contains cutting-edge articles from some of the finest industry leaders, interviews with audio professionals on trending industry topics, and our annual industry reports about the state of the industryRead More

CloviFi WiFi Audio Transmitter Impresses at InfoComm 2018
The CloviFi WiFi Audio Transmitter that streams audio directly to any headphones/speakers for multiple users at the same time, debuted at InfoComm 2018 causing a positive impression among commercial integrators. Following the company's successful debut at CES 2018, receiving a CES Innovations Award, Clovitek once again demonstrated in Las Vegas, NV, how its patented plug-and-play device is the simplest way for AV professionals and OEM partners to solve the most common home and business TV listening requests.   Read More

Yamaha Introduces the YVC-200 for On-the-Go Conferencing
Yamaha has announced the debut of its YVC-200 portable USB + Bluetooth speakerphone designed to provide users with ample, clear sound no matter where they work. Building on the benefits of its market-leading portfolio of conference phones, the YVC-200 portable conferencing unit leverages superior audio technology to boost productivity when meeting remotely. The new, portable conferencing solution accelerates remote work Movement with high-quality conversations anytime, anywhere.    Read More

Sonos Announces Sonos Beam Smart Soundbar for TV and Music
During a special event in San Francisco, CA, Sonos unveiled Sonos Beam, a new compact smart soundbar with support for 80 plus music services, as well as support for Amazon Alexa at launch (with multiple voice assistants to come over time). With Beam, Sonos combined three products into one - a smart speaker, a powerful soundbar, and a music and streaming center for the living room. Beam connects to the Sonos home sound system in multi-room set-ups. The Sonos Beam should be available beginning July 17, 2018 at $399 US, already supporting Apple AirPlay 2.   Read More

Texas Instruments Launches Three New Class-D Amplifiers to Solve Smart-Home Audio Design Challenges 
Texas Instruments (TI) introduced three new digital-input Class-D audio amplifiers that enable engineers to deliver high-resolution audio in more smart-home and voice-enabled applications. By combining first-of-its-kind integration, real-time protection and new modulation schemes, TI's new audio devices allow designers to reduce board space and overall bill of materials cost, while providing premium sound and integrated protection for applications such as smart speakers and soundbars.   Read More

Alexa and Amazon Echo Are Now Available in France
Amazon announced that Alexa and Echo are now available in France and speaking French. Additionally, developers around the world have created skills and Alexa-enabled devices for French users, including leading brands such as Marmiton, franceinfo, Netatmo, Legrand, La Fourchette, Philips Hue, Uber, Domino's Pizza, TP-Link, and more. Device makers like Boulanger, Sowee, Harman Kardon, Sonos, Ultimate Ears, Netgem, Archos and more are also introducing Alexa-enabled devices for French-speaking users. Amazon also confirmed the availability of Prime Music, available for all Amazon Prime members in France and supported through the voice assistant.   Read More

Sonarworks Updates Reference 4 Software with New Sonarworks SR Frequency Response Reference Curve for Speakers and Headphones
European audio software developer Sonarworks has established a new digital sound reference standard response curve, to be included with the latest update of the company's Reference 4.1 sound calibration software launching in early June 2018. The company says this is "a groundbreaking standardization methodology" that "will change the way the industry deals with frequency response related issues. The change is so significant, you going to see this technology implemented in more than just our own software."   Read More

AverLAB 2.0 Introduces Audio Analyzer Production Test Automation Capabilities for the Lowest Cost
Avermetrics has announced the release of version 2.0 of its AverLAB audio analyzer software. The new version debuts drag-and-drop automation, a new user interface, multi-level undo and redo, a host of usability improvements, and a revamped architecture under the hood. With this update, the Los Angeles, CA-based audio test manufacturer delivers on the promise of combining production test automation capabilities at the lowest cost currently available for a portable/desktop audio test solution.   Read More


Guest Editorial

A Weekend at The Home Entertainment Show 

Audio - and audio shows - seem to have come full circle over the last 50 years that I have been in the business. I started working in audio in the afternoons after high school at the Audio Exchange retail store in NYC in 1968. My job was to clean up the used audio gear that was traded in so it could be re-sold. At the time, many of our customers bought turntables, tone arms, phono cartridges, preamps, power amps (and FM tuners), and big speaker systems. In the following years, I saw quality stereo go mainstream with less bulky transistorized receivers, which packaged the tuner, the preamp, and the power amp into a single chassis. By the early 1970s, KLH and others offered automatic turntables with built-in amplifiers that were bundled with matching speakers for starter systems.
Surround sound's channel "binging" began from quad's modest 4 channels to 5 channels with a center channel to 7, and eventually 11 channels (not to mention the more recent additional installation challenges with overhead immersive audio). To be blunt, for mainstream consumers the component surround audio system overstayed its welcome. It's not just the number of speakers (and amplifier channels!) needed, but the constant "upgrading" of standards from Dolby, THX, DTS, HDMI, and so forth, led to the perceived rapid obsolesce of expensive audio gear. Setup and operation was not intuitive and all the components were rather intrusive. Not all of us wanted to turn our living rooms into media centers.
The soundbar entered the scene and its simplicity was embraced by consumers. The customer that would have purchased a receiver 15 years ago now buys a soundbar. A single cable from the TV to the soundbar does the trick and it also reduces the number of remote controls. Frankly, the bulk of the soundbars purchased over the last 10 years are not much more than table-radio-grade components bundled with a toy subwoofer, yet even this is better than what is integrated into the flat screen TV.
With about 10 million soundbars sold each year, there are now more than 50 million aging and very crappy soundbars that could be replaced with something with much better sound. An elegant solution is the immersive audio soundbar with advanced signal processing such as Dolby Atmos, Fraunhofer's MPEG-H, or Comhear's beam forming Yarra 3DX.

Classic cars, cigars, headphones, speakers, and classy dance acts...

An alternative to surround and soundbars are those who would go back to high fidelity's roots - these are the stereo audiophiles. This last weekend, before heading for InfoComm 2018 in Las Vegas, we spent time at a get-together of the audiophile tribe at The Home Entertainment (T.H.E.) Show in Orange County, California (previously known as The Home Entertainment Show, Newport).
Local audio shows were popular decades ago, but as audio gear became mainstream the need for these events faded. During recent years, shows (e.g., the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival and AXPONA) targeted for audio enthusiasts have re-emerged, and 2018 is going to be a hectic year for US high-end audio shows. The early-June spot was taken last year by the new Los Angeles Audio Show (LAAS), which was run by former T.H.E. Show director Marine Presson. Her group announced a 2018 date of June 8-10, for its second event, which was to be in Irvine, CA. Meanwhile T.H.E. Show was to be held a week earlier, also in Irvine! At the last minute the LA Audio Show management "imploded" and decided to cancel the event. 
Let's not even mention the California Audio Show, which will be held July 27-29, in Oakland, CA. I would not expect audio enthusiasts to visit multiple shows but what about the poor exhibitors (or the press...). The popularity of these shows has grown beyond what is healthy and some consolidation is in order. Perhaps the demise of the LA Audio Show was for the best, as there was enough time for its exhibitors to move over to the T.H.E. Show, which ended up with 100 brands being exhibited at the Marriott Spectrum in Irvine. 

MBL always impresses!

Exhibit demo rooms were on two floors of the hotel and also in the ballroom. The second day of the show, attendees were treated to an excellent live show with a classy dance act and performances by an impressive Stones tribute band - and of course a very good sound system. 
What was not at the show? Whole house Wi-Fi audio, Bluetooth wireless gizmos, and outdoor high-end audio were shunned. FM tuners, once upon a time were a must-have to be shown as part of component sets - the tuner and an integrated amp or the tuner, a preamp, and power amplifier(s). Now DACs and CD/DVD/Blu-ray players prevail. Surround sound processing was also nowhere to be seen (or heard).
No soundbars were harmed in the making of this show - and thankfully, none could be seen - or heard. More seriously, I would have appreciated auditioning a few of the serious efforts at immersive state-of-the-art soundbar efforts for comparisons to the creditable stereo sound stage that was demo'ed in many of the rooms. No need for a center channel when stereo speakers are done right!
Also, what was mostly gone was the bull that used to be the hallmark of audiophile shows. Yes, there were still a lot of quack speaker cables and a few characters spewing very questionable engineering ideas. In some cases, the demo room was actually presented by a local retailer who had teamed with the brand or the US agent for the brand - and the sales guy should not have been allowed out in public. Not that cables do not matter but putting most of your budget into this is... nuts. How do you explain to the sales guy doing his cable pitch that a few dollars would have been better spent on flat wire in the speaker voice coil or underhung voice coil geometry than his $1,000 garden hose speaker cable?
Previous editions of T.H.E. Show had a ballroom filled with headphone exhibitors (like the CanJam headphone area at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Colorado Springs, CO). This time around, the ballroom was filled with some quality and relevant exhibitors such as Base Audio with their earphones and headphones but also with a half dozen vendors peddling cosmetics (?), cigars (?), spicy liquors, and some other products that really marginalized the show's credibility. Even the few headphones that were on display in the demo rooms were often not even connected, as the focus was on the speakers and associated gear.

Is that a Studer CD player among the tubes? One of the very few rooms not using a turntable as source.
While not a single "receiver" (or tuner) could be found at the show (nor thank goodness any cassette decks), I saw more DAC preamps and power amps - and even a few open reel tape decks (!!) - in two days than I have seen in years.
Analog tape decks were used at a couple of booths for demos including MBL loudspeaker's impressive exhibit room. The tape recorders were typically ReVox or the Studer pro versions. Once very expensive, these could have been picked up for pocket change in the last few years but now are getting in vogue again and like classic sports cars, I expect we will see analog tape recorders' prices continue to rise. Speaking of classic cars, there were a number of awesome cars strewn around the ballroom and hallways, but none were accessible - even their doors were locked.
Turntables were commonly used for source material (I have forgotten how distracting pops and clicks, mistracking and groove pre-echoes are), but Blu-ray, DVD, and SACD players were also in most demo rooms, as well as music streaming sources. 

Esoteric audio electronics and Canton Reference K speakers.
Esoteric, which is TEAC's flagship brand was popular in many booths as their K series SACD/CD players were program sources of choice. Note that DVD and Blu-ray functions do not "contaminate" these Esoteric purest products. Their battleship disc transports are impressive "machines" and while most models are offered with integrated DACs, some are available without DACs so the buyer can pick and choose. TEAC had an affiliation with Gibson Brands, which just went bust but Esoteric is independently run and should not be affected.
OPPO Digital's outstanding disc players were not in sight as this brand is sadly phasing out its audiophile/videophile product lines. Just too much success in smartphones outside the US market and apparently, a boutique product line no longer made business sense.

These Finish speakers are everywhere! Amphion continues to relaunch the brand in the US and introducing the newest Argon models.
In the ballroom, there was a number of record sellers as well as wide-band CDs/SACDs. One booth, Music and Audio, was featuring both the book by Dr. Mark Waldrep "Music and Audio - A User Guide to Better Sound," along with a selection of CDs that represented true wide-band audio.
The Marriott Spectrum Irvine is a smaller venue than the original Marriott Irvine previously used for the show. In general the new venue is a good location, but although the wood floors look good, the hard reflective acoustics required most exhibitors to bring in rugs to cut down on reflections. With all the last minute drama with what was to be a conflicting show, the event was light on both exhibitors and attendees and the future of southern California audio shows is still yet to be determined.


Fresh From the Bench
IK Multimedia ARC 2.5 Advanced Room Correction System
By Ron Tipton
For the Test & Measurement Focus published in audioXpress March 2018, two of our authors tackled IK Multimedia's ARC 2.5 room correction system. Ron Tipton investigated IK Multimedia's claims that the new ARC 2.5 improves the audio monitoring accuracy of speakers in any studio or listening room, while Stuart Yaniger tested the new MEMS measurement microphone available with IK Multimedia's ARC 2.5 System. In this section of the review, Ron Tipton takes an in-depth look at how to make the best use of the acoustic room correction possibilities of the ARC System and applies it directly to his familiar listening room space, finding the results well worth the effort. This article was originally published in audioXpress, March 2018.   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
Wavecor WF259PA01 10-Inch PA Woofer 
By Vance Dickason
This time I characterized a 10" PA woofer from Wavecor, model WF259PA01. This is an interesting driver since, until now, Wavecor has been known mainly for its high-end home hi-fi drivers. However, the company has decided to expand its coverage in the loudspeaker market and has introduced a well-designed 10" OEM pro sound PA woofer. The WF259PA01 is for now available only as an 8 Ω model, and has a generous feature set that includes a proprietary four double-spoke cast aluminum frame with parallelogram-shaped vents, uses a very stiff flat black coated curvilinear paper cone, and an innovative low-loss surround, driven by a 76 mm diameter (3") voice coil wound with round wire on a vented black fiber glass non-conducting former. The motor structure powering the cone assembly utilizes a single 25 mm thick, 190 mm diameter ferrite magnet sandwiched between a black plated 8 mm thick front plate and a black-plated and shaped T-yoke that has 30 mm diameter a pole vent that is flared at both ends to suppress vent noise. As part of Wavecor's Balanced Drive motor format, the WF259PA01 further incorporates an aluminum shorting ring that reduces distortion. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, February 2018.   Read the Full Article Online

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