Microchip Announces New Bluetooth Audio SoC for High-Resolution Audio Devices Using Sony's LDAC Technology
Microchip announced a fully-certified, Bluetooth 5-compliant System-on-Chip (SoC) with Sony's LDAC audio codec, extending availability of the high-resolution audio technology into mass market Bluetooth wireless products. Headphone manufacturer Audeze already implemented the new IS2064GM-0L3 SoC in its award-winning Mobius gaming headphones to create the best possible immersive Bluetooth audio experience today's consumers demandRead More

Smart Speakers, Smart Home, and Whole Home Wi-Fi Solutions to Reach Revenue Milestones Says Consumer Technology Association
Artificial intelligence (AI), voice-recognition technology, and fast connectivity - critical ingredients for smart speakers, smart home technologies, and smartphones - will help spur overall US consumer technology industry revenue to $377 billion in retail revenues in 2018, a 6% increase, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The mid-year update of CTA's flagship report, U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts, also shows whole home Wi-Fi solutions and wireless earbuds will each cross the $1 billion wholesale revenue milestone for the first time this year.   Read More

Travis Launches Improved Travis Touch Translator
From Dutch natural language and voice recognition specialists, the company behind Travis the Translator, the Travis Blue wireless speaker, and the Volareo music smart speaker, comes a new generation of language translation device. Travis Touch, launched on Indiegogo, promises to support 100 plus languages in a new more sophisticated device. Having raised $1.8 million USD on their first device by selling 110,000 units globally, Travis has managed to reach its goal of raising $50,000 USD in less than 16 minutes with Travis Touch.    Read More

Logitech Acquires Blue Microphones
Logitech has agreed to acquire Blue Microphones, the company that evolved from its roots in professional studio microphones to make the popular Snowball USB podcast microphone - sold worldwide on Apple stores - and all sorts of microphones for home studio, web calls, and musician's use. But apart from microphones, Blue is also currently a contender in the headphone space, since it introduced its ambitious active Mo-Fi headphones using custom 50 mm drivers, which later also evolved into wireless models, addressing the lifestyle segment.   Read More

ALMA International Announces Speaker Builders Workshop for AISE 2019 
As announced during the latest ALMA International Symposium & Expo (AISE) 2018, the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics (ALMA) International is moving its annual event to InfoComm in 2019, scheduled for June 9-10 in Orlando, FL. ALMA is now pleased to announce a key education track for the upcoming AISE 2019 focusing on speaker building. More education initiatives and the full program of conferences, panels, and tutorials, will be confirmed soon.   Read More

Pioneer Transforms the Wireless In-Car Experience with Flagship AVH-Z9150BT Multimedia Receiver
Pioneer Electronics Asia Centre, a leading manufacturer of aftermarket car audio solutions, announced the launch of the new AVH-Z9150BT multimedia receiver, featuring built-in Wi-Fi wireless connectivity specifically designed to support a cable-free connection between the driver or passenger's smartphone and the receiver. The Pioneer AVH-Z9150BT takes the car infotainment experience to the next level by being the first receiver in Pioneer's lineup to support Apple CarPlay over wired USB and wireless, as well as Wi-Fi Certified Miracast wireless mirroring for selected Android phones.   Read More

ICEpower Announces 200AS1 Amplifier Module Designed for Guitar Amplifiers, Bass Amplifiers, and Subwoofers
ICEpower just announced its new 200AS1 power amplifier, a "rock solid" power module for guitarists and bass players. The 200AS1 is the latest member of ICEpower's AS series and it was designed with a rock-steady regulated power supply of 300 W with universal mains, combined with a 1x 200 W (4 Ω) Class-D power module. Everything manufacturers will need for the latest in musical instrument or subwoofer amplification. The new module is in stock now and ready for purchase.   Read More

All-New miniDSP Streaming HD Series Debuts with Dirac Live
The new miniDSP Streaming HD (SHD) series stereo processor combines leading digital signal processing, network streaming, and premier digital room correction in one device that sets a new benchmark for streamed high-definition audio. Featuring Dirac Research's Dirac Live room correction platform, miniDSP's SHD series affordable yet powerful DSP-based network streamers are enabled by the latest embedded SHARC and ARM processors, combined with the Volumio open-source music player.   Read More


Editor's Desk

The New Music Players 

Windows Media Player 7. The world of Music Players before iTunes.
Hold on to your seats for a rollercoaster ride through the fascinating world of software music players! It wasn't so long ago we all started ripping those CDs to create our own - more convenient - music file libraries on our Macs and PCs... Some, even more patient music enthusiasts, went as far as digitizing their vinyls, with all the tail editing and the noise removing required. As a music player, basically there was the Media Player, on Windows (OK and WinAmp!), with Quicktime and iTunes (SoundJam as it was called before Apple acquired it) on Mac.
The really crazy among us, had the idea of digging deep into the metadata, collecting those cover images and related info associated with the music files, so that when music would play, we could also enjoy looking at the artwork and even perform extended searches (e.g., soloists, conductors, and so forth). Then the iTunes Music Store really kicked in, and people moved from copying their own physical media (or illegal downloads, for some) directly to creating their own iTunes download libraries.
That's when some people started to make serious investments on real music servers with the best possible audio sound cards and external DACs and the world looked nice while we enjoyed flipping through that Cover Flow experience... That's also when some of us started to collect higher resolution files. Everything looked really promising (our colleague Oliver Masciarotte even wrote a book about how to be a computer audiophile, To Serve & Groove).
Then, one day, something smelly hit the fan. Moving their focus completely from "computers" to mobile devices, the iPhone, and apps, Apple updated iTunes to something that was supposed to work better on small displays. And your songs were suddenly moved to a cloud database (the logic being you could "complete your album" and easily synchronize your library with all your mobile devices...). It seemed like a good idea, until we all realized Cover Flow was no longer, our precious artwork and metadata painfully collected over the years was all messed up and - nightmare - our original files were suddenly being replaced by iTunes own material, which connecting to the wrong metadata immediately led to some files being replaced by all sorts of weird stuff. My own band's music files (never commercially released) received artwork by some obscure Latin American folk-rock groups, and those precious compilation CDs and digitized vinyl and tapes that we so painfully cleaned up during long hours, suddenly were nowhere to be found, with iTunes displaying just a long collection of empty covers. No wonder Apple decided to keep those quavers as the symbol for iTunes... 

This was iTunes Cover Flow...

And this is what happened!

Yes, I had backups of my library, but with new devices, OS updates, and so forth, all that was gradually pushed to the side - side by side with the piles of CDs and Vinyl, which I keep and that, together with the bookshelfs, at least make for some reasonable acoustic treatment. And that was it, until streaming services came along. At least for me...
Some more persistent - and many of those that arrived later to the world of music files - have moved on to other things adopting dedicated hardware music players and servers, others focused on hi-res portable players replacing iPods, and many continued to explore the "free" software players available for PC, continuing to harvest their precious "music libraries." (I started on this before iPod and iTunes, on a Windows 98 machine when Creative released the DAP Jukebox - which I still keep - so I was completely done with Windows and PCs.)
While the Mac was without question the most reliable and convenient platform for music, lots of people continued to explore the wonderful world of "waiting Windows" and still work with software players like MusicBee (precisely because it supports gigantic music libraries and extensive metadata editing), while others use AIMP, which allows more encoding options and even adding (and programming) our own plug-ins, or even MediaMonkey because they were totally committed to MP3 encoding and using iPod-clones, progressively moving to Android devices and UPnP/DLNA-based or NAS-oriented home systems. Some really crazy guys are still using foobar2000 or even VLC Media Player because they have libraries with video and other media formats, other than music. Some Windows sufferers even persisted on using Windows Media Player (!)

The Vox Music Player, a great example of clean interface, with a powerful approach to audio reproduction (and Hi-Res) for Macs

While iTunes itself survived on Windows for a while, Mac users also had a not entirely stress-free but much more sophisticated array of player choices. Some of which, evolved and endured until now, from the open-source Tomahawk to Clementine, with its cool cloud-storage options, to the more sophisticated Fidelia Music Player, the "Premium Music Player for Mac" which supports AirPlay; Channel D Pure Music, which now also decodes MQA; Musique, which is light and simple (and free); Swinsian; or Vox Music Player for those into clean interfaces but great for tweaking playback processing; and many more than I would even dare to mention.
And of course, there are players with different targets, such as those that have specialized in-home streaming of our own music libraries, for example Murfie and many others, more or less tied up to whole home audio and multiroom streaming hardware brands, such as Sonos, while many also specialize in podcast and web radio support, like the excellent radio-centric mytuner-radio.com.

It's amazing how many of these applications still didn't evolve past the phase of "replacing iTunes."

And finally, because the "music library" market matured with music enthusiasts and those truly devoted to high-quality and high-resolution audio files, there's the major league of software players, currently represented by Audirvana, Sonic Studio Amarra, and Roon the truly high-end luxury choice - all of which offer extended HRA support and now even MQA unfolding to deliver higher than CD-quality sound, and even supporting MQA-enabled streaming services, such as TIDAL. 
With music streaming services becoming mainstream everything changed and I think that's precisely where software houses and the developers of those media players need to focus if they want to stay relevant. With the introduction of HRA streaming, even the most devoted "music library" devotees are now experimenting with streaming and most will never go back. Many music players already support cloud-storage options for music libraries, and that transition will soon show a seamless experience between streaming from a personal-cloud or from commercial services. Also, there are new markets to explore (e.g., automotive applications). Next week, I will expand on these, and address why there's a world of opportunities and challenges for software music players in hardware and streaming music integration. And why I think we need to keep watching this space....


Audio Praxis
Smart Speakers: Helping Improve User Experience -
Audio Design Rules for Voice-Enabled Devices

By Kevin Connor
(Smart Home Applications, Cirrus Logic)
Because every R&D department in the planet is currently looking at implementing voice, and everyone's looking at audioXpress for guidance on how to design a smart speaker, in this edition Kevin Connor, shares his insider knowledge on the topic. Connor, a Cirrus Logic engineer, explains how to provide audio and voice solutions, and design products that sound great and respond reliably to voice commands, regardless of backend service. His article also explains what we need to know about ICs and software for mic capture, front-end processing, and loudspeaker playback. This article was originally published in audioXpress, January 2018.   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
Celestion CDX1-1742 1" Exit Pro Sound Compression Driver 
By Vance Dickason
For this Test Bench, Vance Dickason characterizes the CDX1-1742 from legendary UK Pro Sound OEM manufacturer Celestion. This driver joins the CDX family of ferrite motor compression drivers, now 15 models in total, and is designed for use with 1" throat horns, featuring a FEA-optimized ferrite magnet motor structure, and a proprietary next-generation "Sound Castle" soft diaphragm clamping assembly that reduces diaphragm mechanical stress and distortion. For this Test Bench, Celestion supplied the H1-9040P horn, with a 90° × 40° coverage pattern. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, May 2018.   Check it out here!

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