Ross Offers Full Standards Compliance Solution for Manufacturers at IBC 2018
At IBC 2018, Ross Video is launching a pin-compatible drop-in replacement module to Dante Brooklyn II, named BACH Liberty. BACH Liberty features a fully compliant AES67 and ST2110 implementation, complete with full-stack support of RAVENNA, Dante/SAP, Livewire+, NMOS and various other network protocols and control solutions. Equipment manufacturers no longer have to wait for full AES67 and ST2110 compliance, nor tie themselves to a single supplier for their audio networking technology.   Read More

Pascal Reveals Expanded Line of Dedicated Amp Modules Optimized for Live and Installed Sound Applications
Pascal has unveiled a range of amplifier modules with features and performance optimized for integration within power amplifier designs, across the breadth of live sound and commercial and custom installation applications. A range of six modules enables both constant voltage (100/70 V) and low impedance output mode operation and a wide range power configurations - for half rack 1RU to full 19" 2RU form factors.   Read More

Audio Precision to Expand Audio Measurement Possibilities at 145th International AES Convention
Audio Precision (AP) confirmed its planned contributions to the 145th International Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention happening in New York. AP's participation in this key industry event includes both the technical program and the exhibition. The company will present a paper on how to measure audio when clocks differ and will conduct a demonstration on open-loop testing. AES attendees can check out the latest in audio testing or discuss their specific application with the AP team in Demo Suite #1E01.    Read More

Dolby and Ross Video Extend RAVENNA AoIP Partnership at IBC 2018
With Audio-over-IP (AoIP) workflows fast becoming the rule rather than the exception in broadcast environments, RAVENNA audio networking technology is a natural choice for transporting audio together with its associated metadata. IBC 2018 in Amsterdam (September 14-18) promises to be one of the busiest shows yet for everyone involved in the implementation of the technology. Especially because the RAVENNA community was just expanded, adding two leading companies in their respective fields: Dolby and Ross Video.   Read More

Focal Introduces Three New Loudspeakers to Complete the High-Fidelity Kanta Range 
Following the presentation of the Kanta range of speakers in 2017, Focal has expanded this hi-fi line with three new models, completing home theater and multi-channel configurations. The Kanta N°1, the Kanta N°3, and the Kanta Center speakers were introduced at the CEDIA Expo in San Diego, CA, all combining Focal's beryllium inverted dome tweeter with the company's flax-composite woofer and midrange drivers and are available in a variety of colors and finishes.   Read More

CEDIA Acquires The Cinema Designer
Just prior to the opening of another CEDIA Expo, the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) has announced the acquisition of The Cinema Designer cloud-based design software in a move that will offer members preferential access to this award-winning home theater design solution. The name has now changed to The CEDIA Designer, which nicely aligns with the often-used acronym TCD, and the website has been updated to reflect the new name and now provides a direct link to CEDIA.   Read More

Dynaudio's Completely Redesigned Confidence High-End Speaker Range Introduced at CEDIA 2018
Following an earlier presentation to the market at the High End Show in Munich, Danish loudspeaker specialist Dynaudio is offering the North American market its first look at an update to the company's legendary Confidence hi-fi speaker range at CEDIA 2018, in San Diego, CA. With this update, Dynaudio brings its most celebrated technologies - including soft-dome tweeters, Magnesium Silicate Polymer (MSP) cones, and Dynaudio Directivity Control (DDC) - to new heights with new materials, manufacturing techniques, and designs.   Read More

Audinate Announces New Production-Ready Dante Adapter Module Family
With audio networking expanding in all markets from live sound to installation, studio, and broadcast, Audinate has been developing ways to make Dante network integration even easier for manufacturers to implement, even for the simplest applications just a few channels. The new Dante Adapter Modules allow exactly that. Meanwhile, Audinate is showcasing the latest advancements at the IBC 2018 show in Amsterdam, including support for SMTPE-2110 and a new Dante Updater.   Read More

Nora Wong 
and Mike Klasco

Guest Editorial

CEDIA 2018 Show Report 
Forget DIY and go DIFM - Do It For Me :)

CEDIA Expo is the annual show created by and for the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA), founded 20 years ago to advocate home technology, promoting training/certification, business, and the industry in general. 
The event was held September 4-8, 2018 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, CA. CEDIA Expo attracts about 20,000 home tech pros and more than 500 exhibitors with the focus on home theater, whole house (and outdoor) audio/video, home automation, and everything else for residential integration for what is becoming predominantly "smart homes." A quick look at the show's daily newspaper revealed the clear trend, with a world of typical smart home installation products with bushings, brackets, hoods, and wall-plates, with and without touchscreens and thermostat controllers.

While San Diego was sunny, there was some gloom surrounding the event with what was perceived, at best, a flat show. Last year, CEDIA sold the ownership of the CEDIA Expo to Emerald Expositions, a large trade show operator. While the organization continues to be involved in the show and retains control of the educational programming, the expensive West Coast location and increased booth costs are causing both exhibitors and attendees some pain and were the reason for some apprehension. The press room this year was a good indicator that something was not right. While the staff was super nice as always, there were no computers installed, no printer, and no press kits were allowed in the press room!!
At least, CEDIA 2019 will be relocated to Denver, CO, a favorite location for most of the supporting companies. But that didn't stop the backstage discussions from many, who are already advocating they would rather join the InfoComm show and promote an "integrated systems" approach, as both CEDIA and AVIXA already do in Europe for the ISE show.

No, it wasn't busy at CEDIA 2018.

As expected, following the dominant topics from the previous year, one of the big trends was voice control, which I would say is becoming a must-have feature in everything from smart speakers to soundbars and just about everything else. An example of how pervasive voice control already is can be found in the Brilliant smart light switches that work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and just about every other smart home system. 
We all have experienced the frustration and marginal performance of voice technology. Crowds in a restaurant, a busy city street, even just an open window in the car, or room diminishes your chances of getting a quick and relevant response. For far-field accuracy at 10' (e.g., sitting on a couch watching a blaring TV), the chances are that you will end up cursing at the voice command system! Today, the short fall is the mic's signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is just not there - another 5 dB or 10 dB is needed (along with the algorithms to take advantage of the better SNR). While quieter mics are coming in 2019, I wonder how much the current products will discourage the market in trusting in voice command functionality.
But some companies are determined to "get things right," at least if you trust the custom installer to do a proper job of setting up the "smart home" integration. An example of a company that is working on it is audioXpress wrote about a year ago, after the company basically stole the show at CEDIA 2017 by affirming its ambitions as the "voice interface" for the custom integration industry.
A year after, everyone agrees that voice control is becoming mandatory as an additional interface for the home automation industry. But while the dominant voice personal assistants (e.g., Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri) are becoming exactly that - personal assistants that are with us every time and follow the users wherever they go - the installation industry is looking for a way to integrate voice to make smart home systems actually smarter. ties touch panels, mobile device apps, and keypads with natural language to interact and control the smart home. Since 2017, the company has been quietly assembling the pieces of its technology, testing home automation integration, expanding the development team, (the company operates from LA and Denver), and of course, integrating with Amazon, Google, and Apple, as well as Crestron, Control4, and other home automation companies. In 2017, the company started shipping its software and server (the Home Base) and perfected mobile apps for control.

Alex Capecelatro is the young CEO and founder of
This year, as we expected, had one of the busiest booths at CEDIA, and we met with Alex Capecelatro, the CEO and founder of to find out about the updates. The main news is that Micro - its hardware programmable controller that runs the software, using far-field microphones for hands-free voice control - is now fully shipping and many partner companies are now providing flush-mounting installs, like they already do for Amazon Echos, for instance (Origin Acoustics kicked off the trend last year). More importantly, Josh is an exclusive product for the CEDIA channel and the entire pricing structure was designed to provide a margin for the installer. The efficiency depends upon the robustness of the whole network and proper configuration, so there's another important argument for that policy.
From voice and natural language, Josh is developing a full control system and "going beyond voice," the theme for this year's show. They updated the apps and introduced an artificial intelligence (AI) dashboard where the entire system can be integrated based on recommendations about privacy and security, energy management, health and wellness, and general entertainment. With this dashboard, the Josh intelligent agent is able to supervise the whole installation and provide information and recommendations to the user (e.g., the need to lower the blinds to avoid getting the house too warm because the sun is shining or to stop the music left playing in the living room). As the user interacts with the system, Josh will learn what is relevant or not for that particular user and how he prefers things to be.

The Micro is like the Echo for the CEDIA channel. But the controller is also complemented by software and apps that improved remarkably since their presentation last year.

The system is now able to completely interact with all sorts of devices, and enables users to maintain an overview of an installation the entire time, from anywhere. New for 2018, Josh is now able to manage entire audio and video infrastructure, using its own distributed platform, integrated with Savant, Crestron, and others on scene integration.
Another voice capability that will be introduced to smart speakers, soundbars, and perhaps TVs, is that of full duplex speakerphone operation. At home, we have Xfinity Internet, phone, and cable and when a phone call comes in there is a caller ID on the TV screen. Adding voice commands where the user can tell the system to put the caller on or can trigger the "videophone" operation directly on the TV, could have traction. We would also mention that the Xfinity remote control has located the mic in the remote control cutting the distance down to what should be a workable distance. 
We worked with Limes Audio, a Swedish firm, which was an early developer of a full duplex solution for soundbars. Recently, it was acquired by Google so there is no mystery where this functionality will show up next.
As advertised, Parks Associates' international researcher Dina Abdelrazik spoke at CEDIA Expo about the impact that voice will have on user interfaces and the potential for the smart home. Basically, Parks' research indicates that smart speakers are fine, but consumers are ready and actually more interested in the fully integrated "smart home experience."

With all these products just hanging on your every word (and perhaps passing too much back to their makers) is another issue. Vizio, Bose, and others have already been called out for being too generous in passing this "big data" back home (sort of reenacting the "call home" seen in ET?). These systems have a wake-up phase when you want to get their attention, but maybe a "get lost" phase is also needed. This big brother snooping for big data is under the guise of AI so that the system can self-tune to your habits and needs but there are other agendas also at work here.
At CEDIA 2018, immersive audio in the form of soundbars was also the mantra, while surround sound receivers were scarce and separates (preamps and power amps) were an endangered species. Creative had one of the most impressive demos at CEDIA 2018 with its X-Fi Sonic Carrier 15.2 high-resolution audio wide-array soundbar. The slim unit is a high-end lifestyle entertainment platform, powered by a whopping seven processors with 14 cores and able to generate a 11.2.4 speaker configuration in Dolby Atmos! There is also a continued resurgence of classic stereo gear but this stuff is not really what CEDIA is about.
Coastal Source's high-performance $7,500 line source and light-changing Ellipse speakers impressed visitors at CEDIA Expo 2018. The massive speakers stand 54" high and 12" in diameter, weighing in at 88 lb each. Each speaker features 12 3" ribbon tweeters, six mid-range 4" woofers, and a 10" laminate cone subwoofer and can handle 1,000 W. And there's subwoofers to match!

Meanwhile outdoor audio has also become a key category for most product lines, just as in-walls and ceilings speakers are.  Outdoor audio product lines were very predominant at this year's show. These are all very similar, consisting of buried subwoofers and spotlight-shaped satellite speakers. The unexpected was to find companies now designing very high-end models, like Coastal Source's massive speakers using ribbon tweeters, and models also equipped with light-changing color LED surfaces. This was an obvious attention grabber at their booth, and it makes sense - get the outdoor audio and the garden lights all-in-one - and it's ready for parties. Another notable highlight was AmbiSonic Systems' Wi-Fi-Bluetooth amplifier audio outdoor system. We have had a decade where new construction and remodeling has been scarce and home owners are finally seeing their home worth as much or more than what they owe the bank. There is pent-up demand, and integration of next generation of in-walls, soundbars, whole house, and outdoor audio into the smart home control system is a no-brainer.
Coverage of the CEDIA 2018 is available on the audioXpress website as usual, and there will be more product updates posted in the next weeks. Much more to come! .

Parts Express had a wide range of products of interest to custom installers, including its own range of Dayton drivers, and finished products, such as waterproof outdoor speakers, pendant-style speakers, the very interesting Quadrant range of indoor and outdoor speakers with its full range of installation accessories, and the high-end EPIQUE by Dayton Audio (the legendary CBT Line Array Speaker). On the electronics side, Dayton has significantly expanded its range of amplifiers with DSP, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, including rack mountable versions for installers.


R&D Stories
Curing the Open Office Noise Epidemic... With Nature?
By Robert Manassero
Noise distraction is the number one complaint for open plan office workers according to a recent study from Oxford Economics. Robert Manassero provides a fascinating account of how, after experiencing challenges with noise in an open office, Plantronics tested and developed its own solution to noise and distraction using biophilic acoustics or acoustics based on elements from nature. In "Curing the Open Office Noise Epidemic... With Nature?", Mannassero details how the team arrived at the current Habitat Soundscaping solution. This completely integrated approach to working spaces, intelligently monitors and improves workplace acoustics, while adding biophilic elements, specifically the sights and sounds of nature, to create welcoming environments where focus work and collaboration can happen, and employees can thrive. This article was originally published in audioXpress, August 2018.   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Spotlight
A Visit to SoundChip 
By Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific, Ltd.)
In this Voice Coil Spotlight, Mike Klasco writes about SoundChip, a unique solution provider for active noise cancellation product engineering. Established in 2010, the company is headquartered in Switzerland but has offices located in Manchester, England, and Hong Kong. The team has decades of product experience from its previous endeavors working with Texas Instruments (TI), Nokia, and Phitek. SoundChip operates not as consultants but as solution providers and collaborators, enabling product development teams to access a vertically integrated portfolio of technologies, IPs, devices, tools, and services, needed to reliably develop and produce, at scale, high-performance noise cancelling headphones. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, July 2018,   Check it out here!

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