What's new to CEDIA Expo?
The  Smart Stage will be introduced to host a number of new attendee engagement opportunities.  TechBites will launch in 2018 and will give exhibitors the chance to apply for a 5-minute slot to present a new product and/or service in a short elevator pitch. Designed to encourage product innovation,  TechBites will be a valuable opportunity for both press and attendees to receive concise access to new products hitting the market.  TechTalks will also utilize the  Smart Stage and give attendees a platform to listen to short, powerful talks from industry leaders about current trends, market changes, and other general industry topics.

CEDIA Expo brings more than 20,000 home tech pros and 500+ exhibitors to the leading event in smart and home technology. Receive concentrated access to new products, breakthrough innovations and targeted training in home tech integration. CEDIA Expo is your opportunity to stay informed, equipped and connected with a passionate network of home technology professionals.  Don't miss CEDIA Expo taking place September 4-8, 2018 at the San Diego Convention Center.    Register early & save!

Integrated Systems Europe to Relocate to Barcelona in 2021
Integrated Systems Events, the producers of the Integrated Systems Europe exhibition, has announced that its 2021 edition will be held at Gran Via, part of the Fira de Barcelona exhibition complex in Spain on February 2-5. Taking place in Amsterdam until then, the new location will give the exhibition a chance to grow. The new venue will become the permanent location for the world's largest AV and systems integration showRead More

Knowles Announces SmartMic Headset Development Kit for Baidu DuerOS
Knowles Corp. announced that it has developed with Baidu and Bestechnic (BES) a new hands-free reference design for headphones, headsets, and true wireless earbuds that works with smart devices powered by DuerOS, Baidu's conversational AI system. The Knowles IA610 SmartMic supports the industry's lowest-power, always-on voice wake capability to enable Baidu voice service on-the-go for ear worn consumer products.   Read More

Shinola Partners with Barefoot Sound for Two-Way Bookshelf Bluetooth Loudspeakers
Shinola, the Made-in-USA lifestyle stalwart brand has once again partnered with another established US manufacturer to create a new range of audio products. Following the collaboration with Ken Ball and Campfire Audio for Shinola's line of headphones and earphones, now the Detroit, MI, company has reached out to Thomas Barefoot and his company, Barefoot Sound, to design a two-way bookshelf Bluetooth speaker. The speakers were also designed to be an ideal partner for Shinola's range of beautifully crafted Runwell turntables.    Read More

Dynaudio First All-In-One Intelligent Wireless Multiroom Audio System Arrives in US
First unveiled at the end of 2017, the new Dynaudio Music family of intelligent wireless speakers automatically adapts to users' music preferences and the listening environment. Dynaudio has leveraged its vast experience in speaker design, manufacturing, and digital signal processing to create a family of products that shows how a speaker can be smart, intelligently benefiting consumers in what truly matters. Now "Music" arrives in the US.   Read More

Revolution Acoustics Introduces New System Extensions to Its SSP6 Multiducer Planar Wave Technology 
Since Canadian company Revolution Acoustics introduced its unique transducer, the Revolution Acoustics SSP6 actuator, which transforms nearly any panel structure into an audio speaker, the company has been expanding its ecosystem in order to deliver specific solutions for different market segments. At InfoComm 2018, Revolution Acoustics announced the Pendant360 speaker, the Ubiqui-T360 ceiling tile, and the new RevNet 2140 Series of installation amplifiers.   Read More

PMC Joins The Cinema Designer Database for Home Theater and Media Room Projects
UK loudspeaker company PMC has strengthened its commitment to providing the custom install market with the ultimate surround sound cinema experience by joining The Cinema Designer's (TCD) manufacturer database. By joining this multiple CEDIA award-winning, cloud-based design software, PMC is ensuring that integrators have much quicker and easier access to its full product range.   Read More

ACTIVO CT10 Hi-Res Portable Audio Player with MQA Support
ACTIVO is a new audio brand focused on portable devices and high-resolution music. The CT10 portable audio player is the brand's first product, and the first hi-res portable audio player with MQA support at an affordable price of just $299. Manufactured in South Korea by iRiver, the device, probably the first portable player with a decent design since Apple's iPod, is actually designed by groovers Japan, a high-res jazz music label and distribution website. The ACTIVO CT10 is now available in the US.   Read More

Global Music Production Software Market to Triple in Value in the Next Five Years
The global music production software market is expected to grow to USD $6.26 billion by the end of the period 2018-2022, from USD $2.12 billion in 2017, according to the latest market research report by Technavio. The new report, "Global Music Production Software Market 2018-2022," which is now available, forecasts high growth for music software (recording, mixing, and editing) due to the strong demand for digital audio content worldwide.   Read More


Editor's Desk

What If?... We Would Just Avoid Silly Ideas 

Oh yes, the disco lights smart speaker!
In my previous write-up for The Audio Voice, when mentioning "gadgetry" - or the class of consumer electronics in the crossroads between innovation, ingenuity, and plain idiocy - 
I stated that usually cross-pollination between product categories is not the best way to sell a product. I received some feedback (not all of it negative) about my comment, reminding me that we are surrounded by multifunctional products such as smartphones that seem to have an app for virtually anything and are replacing more and more classes of products.
Yes, it's true, most smartphones these days use the screen backlight or the flash LED from the built-in camera to serve as a flashlight. This could lead a flashlight manufacturer that sees its sales slump - I really would like to see statistics for the flashlight market - to think of a way to increase sales, by adding other "smart" technologies. After all, there's already a powerful battery inside, right?
That could lead to innovative ideas, such as making flashlights with a built-in programmable coder, which could convert text - or even better, voice - directly into Morse code for communication. If you are thinking "that's brilliant," and you are about to rush to get a booth at the CES Eureka Park, know that I have already patented the idea for all devices and platforms, including smartphones :)
Anyway, that must be the same reason why I get so many emails of campaigns on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and BackerCity for flashlights that also are a glass-breaker, can/bottle opener, survival knife, etc., etc... I am also quite certain that there will be many voice-controlled toilets at CES 2019, but I'm still having second thoughts about the always-listening implementation for that... And don't tell me it's also a "high-quality" smart speaker. We know anything sounds better in the bathroom.
The truth is, sometimes this type of thinking can lead to truly great ideas, but 999 out of a thousand are just silly. And because we are supposed to focus on audio, and not on "gadgetry," here is the latest example to arrive in my inbox. The Plant Pot Speaker! Play songs at the touch of a plant!

This music playing Plant Pot is genius... And it is waterproof, or so we hope...
"Ideal for use in the home or garden parties, this music playing Plant Pot is genius. At the touch of a petal or leaf, the LED lights will shine and the song notes will play. Create an amazingly fun and unique music experience, every day. However, if you're not in the musician playing kind of mood then you can also play your own tracks from your Bluetooth device. Features touch control, 7 built-in songs and 7 x multi-colored LED lights." Yes, of course there needs to be multi-colored LED lights! Believe it or not, you can go to Amazon and buy one for $21.99! Click the photo. That's a steal.
Actually, considering the latest statistics about what people are actually doing with all the first-generation Amazon Echos - either because they got tired of it, or simply because they bought a new one - it seems likely that there will be a market to convert those things into plant pots. Or maybe just ask Alexa to "play music to grow the plants." It works.
Sometimes it's just surprising that people don't spend their energy thinking of actual problems and design products around that, actually developing the necessary technology to do it - not just piling up ideas on top of each other. "Wait, what about we add an air-purifier to that subwoofer?"
I'm certain that you have already felt annoyed by those parents who take their kids to the restaurant, hand them their smartphones, and allow them to watch cartoons or play a game with screeching LOUD noises. Or the guy that thinks he can watch those "funny" videos on the smartphone with the sound ON! Or the elderly person that takes calls on a smartphone in highly distorted speaker mode in the table next to you? Well, there's a very good case to apply that beamforming technology and head-tracking sensors to restrict the soundfield generated by smartphones and tablets to create a "personal bubble of sound." Yes, Noveto I'm thinking of you.
But no, instead, some supposedly smart guys devote their time to design the "World's first voice mask for smartphones," a "revolutionary personal acoustic device that protects speech privacy and reduces noise pollution when speaking on the phone in open space environments." Yes, Hushme did just that! It doesn't matter that others will think that we are going to rob the bank, or that we are so stupid that we have our Beats headphones backward.

Believe it or not, these are actually the developers of the "useful" Hushme mask - "a personal acoustic device that protects speech privacy."

And in case someone wants to use truly wireless earbuds to listen to music anywhere and is afraid of losing them while getting out of the subway, the Scandi Electronics "Revolutionary Swings Bluetooth Earrings" are now launching on Kickstarter! Yes, why have something on your ears that looks like a cigarette butt, when you can have elegant earbuds as earrings?
According to Melissa Eldridge, "a consumer electronics expert with over a decade of experience" and the creator of Swings Bluetooth Earrings, "After years of struggling to keep my own earbuds in, I knew there was an opportunity to make a better product. Swings, are simple to wear, provide stability, and combine function with fashion!" The Swings earrings use advanced audio technology, including Bluetooth 5.0, precision sound quality drivers, dual microphones with "calibrated" noise cancellation, optical sensors/motion accelerometers to control audio and they last for five hours when fully charged. Retail prices start at $179 with a 24-hour battery-life case, and there's even a Swings "Bling" Swarovski Crystal model for $349 MSRP. Backers on the Kickstarter campaign can get them at lower prices. But there's a caveat. Scandi Electronics designed the Swings Bluetooth earrings for pierced ears only!

OK. It doesn't even look good. And why for pierced ears only? Maybe with a clip? Maybe design an add-on clip for TWS earbuds instead?
Again, why? I can think of a million things to improve on wireless earbuds but generating "ultra-niche" iterations is not one of them. And if we really want to narrow down our target market, then "less is more" usually works better. Design one product, test it, bring it to market. Don't start with 20 SKUs, which started with "let's make a Swarovski Crystal model, in white and gold..."
And here's another piece of free advice. If possible, design products to work with the battery devices we already carry. We are getting to the point where there's far too many different things we need to remember to charge daily!
As always, agree or totally disagree, or if you simply want to contribute topics for The Audio Voice, send me a message here. Don't necessarily expect a reply. I'm probably too busy editing next week's newsletter.


Fresh From the Bench
Naim Audio Mu-so Qb Wireless Music System
A Case of Groundbreaking Design

By Oliver A. Masciarotte and Kent Peterson
In this article, Oliver Masciarotte explores the Naim Mu-so Qb Wireless Music System, with its stunning design, glass-filled polymer casing, and the same clever digital brain as the original Mu-so. The review was no small challenge. We really wanted to measure the Mu-so Qb objectively and confirm all the positive subjective impressions, to find out if this was indeed a model for what complete wireless integrated audio systems can do. Kent Peterson measured the Naim Mu-so Qb at Warkwyn's facility using the Klippel Near Field Scanning (NFS) system delivering a 360° balloon, which allows for an examination of the radiation pattern and off-axis frequency response and at any frequency-important information when determining where to place this compact but substantial system in your home. For measurement of the Mu-so Qb, Warkwyn used 0.5 V as an input through the line-in and with the volume at full gain. A calibrated ACO Pacific (7052E capsule) free-field mic with the 4048 preamp was used as the measurement mic and all on-axis data is referenced at 1 m and between its two opposing tweeters. Measurements points around the speaker totaled 2598 and were processed with a resolution of 0.73 Hz and from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The length of the stimulus was 1.4 s. Further subjective listening was performed in a 12' × 20' carpeted conference room with padded seating and a small kitchenette in the corner - similar to what may be encountered in a typical living room. This article was originally published in audioXpress, December 2017.   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
The New Ellipticor D3404/552000 Tweeter from Scan-Speak 
By Vance Dickason
I have been anxiously awaiting these new oval voice coil drivers ever since the first press release on the Scan-Speak Ellipticor drivers was featured on the cover of the July 2017 issue of Voice Coil. Using an oval (elliptical) voice coil shape to defeat cone and dome standing wave modes is a compelling concept. Scan-Speak has tried different techniques over the years to suppress cone modes (a source of coloration). By not driving the diaphragm asymmetrically, what you get is an "infinite" number of Eigen frequencies, but with less contribution for each frequency and overall lower distortion. Driving the diaphragm symmetrically you get a finite number of Eigen frequencies with a higher contribution combining at certain frequencies producing the "dreaded" coloration modes. The first elliptical voice coil device I characterized was the Scan-Speak Ellipticor D3404/552000 dome neodymium motor tweeter. Overall, the D3404/552000 is a big tweeter with a diaphragm Sd (11.4 cm2) equal to somewhere between a 38 mm (14 cm2) and a 28 mm (8.5 cm2) conventional round dome tweeters. The voice coil diameter is 28 mm × 39 mm, so you could think of it as an elongated 28 mm diameter tweeter. For a motor system, Scan-Speak basically scaled up their currently successful Air-Circ tweeter motor with 10 (versus six slugs for the original Air-Circ motors) neodymium slugs and copper shorting rings (part of the patented Symmetrical Drive SD-2 motor format) and a titanium former. The motor system is underhung like most tweeters and has a gap height of 3 mm and a voice coil length of 2.5 mm for a 0.25 mm Xmax. The big news is that this motor and diaphragm yield a 2.83 V/1 m sensitivity of 97 dB! Other features include a coated cloth elliptical dome, aluminum face plate, gold-plated terminals, and a very slick aluminum trim ring that covers the mounting screws. This "beauty" ring snaps into place and is held tight through the use of three neodymium magnets mounted on the underneath side around it peripheral. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2018.   Check it out here!

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