Wi-Fi Alliance Announces Wi-Fi 6 Designation to Easily Differentiate Between Wi-Fi Technologies
The Wi-Fi Alliance introduced Wi-Fi 6 as the industry designation for products and networks that support the next generation of Wi-Fi, based on 802.11ax technology. Wi-Fi 6 is part of a new naming approach by Wi-Fi Alliance that provides users with an easy-to-understand designation for both the Wi-Fi technology supported by their device and used in a connection the device makes with a Wi-Fi network. Multiple chip companies already announced enthusiastic support.   Read More

Microsoft Enters Headphone Market with New Noise-Cancelling Surface Headphones
Microsoft announced a new raft of hardware products, where it surprised the market with the introduction of its first "premium and smart" headphones. The new Microsoft Surface Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones are designed to complement the company's latest range of Surface computers, highlighting the integration with Windows 10 services and experiences. If that strategy will appeal to consumers or not that's a big question, but there's no doubt that the Surface Headphones are well-designed and combine an interesting set of unique features.   Read More

RHA Introduces Bluetooth 5 TrueConnect True Wireless Earbuds
Scottish headphone brand RHA has confirmed the launch of its first true wireless earbuds, the TrueConnect. Engineered for high quality sound and call quality with 25-hour battery life (5+20) and IPX5 rating, the new RHA TrueConnect earbuds are designed to deliver wireless audio all day, whatever the weather. With an ergonomic stem design, the RHA earbuds are truly unique, leveraging the combination of the latest Bluetooth 5 technology, a dynamic driver, and USB-C charging.    Read More

Powersoft Takes Control of Sound Reinforcement with New ArmoníaPlus Software
Already manufacturing the most "Green" amplifiers in terms of carbon footprint, Powersoft is now poised to shred efficiency agendas with the launch of a radical new redesign of its system-centric ArmoníaPlus control software. Uniquely loudspeaker-oriented, the new ArmoníaPlus interface mimics the real world and the physical process of audio design with a workflow approach that is both simple to use and easy to navigate.   Read More

Parasound to Debut New Halo P 6 Audio Preamplifier & DAC at RMAF 2018 
Parasound will introduce its new Halo P 6, 2.1-channel Audio Preamplifier and DAC to audio enthusiasts at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, CO, October 5-7. The Parasound Halo P 6, which is now in stock to replace the five-year-old P 5, improves upon its predecessor with a premium ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC, ladder-style volume control, many internal audio refinements, and subtle new gold highlights.   Read More

Timecode Systems Reveals New UltraSync BLUE Timecode-Over-Bluetooth Solution
Timecode Systems, a British manufacturer of wireless sync technology, introduced UltraSync BLUE, the first solution to use the company's new patented timecode sync and control protocol to transmit timecode to a recording device over Bluetooth with sub-frame accuracy. UltraSync BLUE uses Bluetooth pairing to connect to a device. This enables timecode to be wirelessly transmitted from UltraSync BLUE directly into the media file of a connected device.   Read More

Solid State Logic Launches Fusion Studio Analog Processor
Solid State Logic proudly announced Fusion, an all-analog 2U outboard processor created for the modern hybrid studio, which also signals a new generation of tools from the famous British brand. "Fusion introduces five completely new analogue coloration tools designed to bring the perfect combination of added tonal character, weight, and space to your mix bus or stereo stems, with the detail, warmth, and finesse that only real analogue circuits can provide."   Read More

Sensory Improves Wake Word and Speech Recognition Accuracy with New High-Resolution Voice Front-End and Authentication
Sensory, the originator of wake words for personal assistants, raised the performance bar for always-listening wake word and speech recognition with significant upgrades to the embedded AI in its sixth generation of TrulyHandsfree, boosting the technology's already industry-leading wake word performance and accuracy by more than 65%. The new solution introduces upgraded turn-key voice interface solutions for devices of all shapes, sizes, and power requirements.   Read More


Guest Editorial

Media Showdown

I have been very fortunate to have been invited to AIR Studios in London for a mastering session of a recording that was made earlier by Mike Valentine of Chasing The Dragon records (the report of that session was featured in audioXpress November 2016). Chasing The Dragon is a record label specializing in audiophile recordings of classical and jazz music, owned by Mike and Françoise Valentine.
Mike Valentine is particularly passionate about direct-to-disk, or direct cut, recordings (remember the Sheffield Labs direct-to-disk records of the seventies?) This recording resulted in a direct-to-disk LP entitled A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald featuring Clare Teal with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra. In addition to cutting the vinyl master, Valentine also made 30 inches per second recordings on a ½ inch Studer A80 tape machine. The purpose of the session I attended was to digitize the analog tapes and convert the master digital copy to CD format.

Mike Valentine and Neville Roberts at Air Studios. A rare opportunity to compare a direct cut vinyl record against a high-resolution studio master digital file of the identical live recording session.

The analog tapes were recorded from the same stereo mix from the Neve mixing desk that was fed to the cutting lathe, so the tapes were also an unedited capture of the live performance. The first job in making a CD is to digitize the analog masters to the high-quality digital standard of 24-bit, 192 kHz sampling, using a professional analog to digital convertor (ADC) and feeding the result into AIR Studio's Sequoia mastering software. Obviously, this process has to be carried out in real time and while this was going on, it occurred to me that here was a rare opportunity to compare a digital studio master against a direct cut vinyl recording of the identical sound source. I discussed this with Mike and he very kindly agreed to let me have a master digital copy of a track to compare with the identical track on the direct cut LP.
Once the digitizing process was complete for both Side A and Side B tapes, it was time for John Webber, the recording engineer, to work his magic on the digital file. This involved tightening up the gaps between tracks and a little subtle tweaking to the equalization using high quality digital filters. These allow him to adjust the balance of particular instruments to enable the final CD to produce the best possible sound in a domestic listening environment. This is where some real skill comes in, and the result of all this is a set of 24-bit/192-kHz digital master copies that were used to make the CD. John explained that there are two ways of creating the files to the CD Red Book standard of 16-bit, 44.1 kHz sampling. One is to use a straightforward digital conversion to the lower standard. However, in John's experience, this process can degrade the sound more than the alternative method of converting the digital signal back into analog in real time using a professional digital to analog convertor (DAC) and resampling this at 16/44 using the ADC. This latter, lengthier process was used to make the master CD files in order to produce the best possible quality from this format. Even though it sounded excellent, it was very clear that the CD format is certainly not up to the standard of the studio master digital copy, especially in terms of imaging and spatial positioning.

A few weeks after this session, the first vinyl pressings arrived from Germany and Mike was able to send me an LP and the digital master of the last track of Side A - "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead," a 238 Mb WAV file for a 3½ minute recording. I cue up the same track on the LP and drop the stylus in the groove, and at the same time I start playing the digital copy on my media player. This enables me to switch rapidly between the two formats to make the comparison.
Both recordings sounded superb. The dynamics were stupendous and yet the orchestra never swamped Clare's vocals, which really did sound as though she was singing live in the room. The orchestra had an amazing sense of realism and clarity and the instrument positions were clear and focused - you could almost pick out all of the individual instruments by their position in the sound stage. The sound stage itself was wide (i.e., it extended well outside the boundaries of the loudspeakers) and had an amazing depth.
So, which one sounded better? In truth, after a period of extensive listening, the answer is neither! However, that's not to say that I can't detect any differences between them, but that these differences are subtle and, well, different. In a nutshell, the digital master sounded a tad more analytical than the direct cut vinyl and this will certainly win it for many. On the other hand, the direct cut vinyl, which is my personal preference, conveyed more of the environment of the actual recording session and somehow transported this into my living room. What is very clear is that this recording certainly brings out the very best from both media and my socks are now well and truly blown off!

The LPs (and now CDs) of these audiophile recordings can be purchased directly from the Chasing The Dragon website or via the US distributor, Elusive Disk.


Amplifier Series
Energy-Efficient Multi-Level Amplifier Solutions
Review by Ward Maas
The September 2018 edition of audioXpress, once again included an important story on our Amplifier Series, exploring the latest Class-D technologies. Ward Maas writes about Danish-sensation Merus Audio, the company founded in 2010 by Hans Hasselby-Andersen and Mikkel Hoyerby, and recently acquired by Infineon Technologies. The article recalls how this Copenhagen-based start-up quickly ascended in the audio industry with its new generation of energy-efficient integrated Class-D amplifier solutions. Now available as Infineon's Multi-Level amplifier range, the underlying technology is certainly an important contribution to minimizing heat and design space, and maximizing audio performance and battery playback time for smart home and battery-powered speakers. Read the article here and subscribe to audioXpress to get our full content every month. This article was originally published in September 2018.   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
Acustica Beyma TPL200/H Pro Sound Air Velocity Transformer 
By Vance Dickason
In this edition of Test Bench, Vance Dickason characterized a different high-frequency transducer: the TPL200/H, a horn-loaded pro sound AMT from the Valencia, Spain, company Acustica Beyma. The TPL200/H is one of the Air Motion Transformers (AMT, aka AVT Air Velocity Transformer) that Beyma has developed for pro sound applications. Part of the success of Beyma's AMTs for pro sound comes from its proprietary X-Bow technology, which tries to open as much as possible the mechanical constraint in the diaphragm, allowing it to manage higher temperatures thus increasing the limit of the power it can handle. The Beyma TPL200/H is a Kapton horn-loaded version of the highest power handling AMT in the Beyma AMT line and is rated at 120 W AES (24 W program), with a sensitivity of 104 dB 1 W/1 m (3 dB more than the flat faceplate version, the TPL200B/S). It is a very interesting driver from Beyma, which Dickason found to be on par with most high-quality compression drivers, with the power handing required of high SPL applications, and the unique sound of AMTs. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, July 2018.   Check it out here!

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