Industry & Product News

Tempow Unveils New Technology for True Wireless Earbuds Compatible with Any Bluetooth Chipset
As audioXpress previously anticipated, French wireless audio pioneer Tempow has been developing a new technology approach to bring next-generation True Wireless Stereo (TWS) to the Bluetooth earbud mass market. Tempow's hardware-agnostic solution lets any smartphone manufacturer create wireless earbuds with near-zero latency, increased battery, and high fidelity, an alternative to proprietary or non-standard Bluetooth solutions.   Read More

HEAD acoustics Announces Fully Automated Testing of Voice-Controlled Smart Home Devices
With HQS-SmartHome the measurement technology specialist HEAD acoustics provides a new tool for testing communication and audio quality of voice-controlled smart home devices. The database for the ACQUA analysis system contains efficient test series for analyzing and optimizing smart speakers, speakerphones and conferencing devices. HQS-SmartHome (HEAD acoustics Quality Standard) offers a wide range of realistic and reproducible measurements and simulations for the research and development phase up to production.    Read More

Meyer Sound Introduces USW-210P Compact Narrow Subwoofer
Meyer Sound has introduced the USW-210P Compact Narrow Subwoofer, a self-powered loudspeaker providing robust forceful low-frequency reproduction in a slender form factor that is ideally suited to space-restricted installations or very small performance stages. According to the California-based company, the dual 10" driver configuration produces greater output than typical single 12" designs, making the USW-210P a preferable alternative wherever convincing bass power must be combined with minimal cabinet width and depth.    Read More

Headphones Market Revenues Surged 26% in Q3 Says Futuresource Consulting
In its latest Global Headphones Report update, market research firm Futuresource Consulting continues to see solid growth in the headphones market, both in units sold and revenue. According to the latest quarterly tracking report from Futuresource, the global headphones market enjoyed an upsurge in revenues in Q3 this year, growing by 26% year-on-year. It seems noise-cancelling and true wireless headphones are exciting consumers.   Read More

Juniper Predicts Hearables to Revolutionize Personal Audio Tech by 2022 
Predicting that more than 50% of all wireless headphones will incorporate Hearable Voice assistants, touch sensors, and other interface technologies, a new report by Juniper Research forecasts that hearables will become the new standard for personal audio in less than 5 years. The new report from Juniper has found that there will be an estimated 417 million hearables in use by 2022. This includes fitness-focused devices, hearing augmentation, and purely audio-focused devices.   Read More

Wireless Speaker and Audio Association (WiSA) Announces Global Collaboration with LG Electronics and Exciting Product Introductions from Nine Leading Speaker Brands at CES 2019
WiSA has announced that LG is adopting WiSA industry standards across its display products in 2019 (debuting at CES). As such, LG will leverage Summit Wireless technology and WiSA Certification to make its 2019 lines of OLED and flagship UHD LCD TVs 'WiSA Ready' and compatible with WiSA USB Transmitters as well as a range of intelligent, WiSA Certified speakers that together deliver unprecedented wireless sound for home entertainment. WiSA estimates up to 60 million units of WiSA-Ready platforms will be on the market during 2019.   Read More

RCF Group Expands Global Reach with Acquisition of DPA Microphones
RCF Group, the same Italian group that recently expanded into the US market with the acquisition of Eastern Acoustics Works (EAW), is now expanding its presence even more into the global production market with the signing of a definitive agreement for the acquisition of DPA Microphones A/S from private equity firm The Riverside Company. Based in Reggio Emilia, RCF is one of the fastest growing organizations in the professional audio market, and microphones was one of the few product segments missing from its portfolio.   Read More

D5 Wireless Speaker from 0W1 Audio Wants to Offer Smart Hi-Fi Experiences
Among the many new speaker designs that deserve a close look at CES 2019 (January 8-11), there is one that is the first product from a startup company, 0W1 Audio, that has already been awarded a CES 2019 Innovation Awards nomination in the Wireless Devices, Accessories, and Services category. The 0W1 Smart HiFi Audio Speaker is described as "the first truly High-End Connected Portable Audio system," and is said to offer "much more than just another wireless speaker," focusing on the emotional side of the hi-fi experience.   Read More

Editor's Desk
J. Martins

Audio Collaborative 2018
Live Sound, Pro Audio, Artists, and the Audio Industry

For the fifth consecutive year, market research firm Futuresource Consulting promoted its Audio Collaborative conference, a highly successful event dedicated to the latest audio trends. This year, Audio Collaborative 2018 was an all-day event, held in London, UK, on November 8, 2018. 
Featuring inspiring presentations, discussion panels, and great summaries of Futuresource's market data and forecasts, in front of an audience predominantly consisting of industry professionals, the sessions deserve to be shared with a wider audience than those in the room. Futuresource makes audio recordings of all sessions available on YouTube here . But I know that's not something for which we all have time. So, I thought that I should look at another two of the sessions, the panels discussing live and touring trends, and how the pro audio industry can leverage opportunities in the consumer space (the latter available online here); and try to summarize some key content, and maybe add some context and perspective. For another write-up, I'll try to do the same with the panels on trends and opportunities in the music market and the gaming sector.
"The Importance of Live and Touring to Artists and the Audio Hardware Industry," a great discussion panel during Audio Collaborative 2018.

"The Importance of Live and Touring to Artists and the Audio Hardware Industry," was one of the most topic-rich panels, with excellent perspective and questions from Futuresource market analyst James Kirby to Stephen O'Reilly, Director of ie:music (mainly speaking from the artist management perspective); Ric Salmon, Co-Founder and Director ATC Management (also with a great perspective in artist management and production); Paul Keating, Co-Founder Delta Live (bringing the essential rental, events, and audio design perspective); and Jeff Rocha, Director of Product Management for L-Acoustics (contributing with the perspective of a professional loudspeaker manufacturer, and a leading one in concert touring and systems for large venues.)
As Kirby pointed out to kick things off, Futuresource research indicates that the loudspeaker market on the pro audio side remains quite strong but seldom do we discuss its trends from the perspective of how artists, managers, and suppliers see the potential to capture further growth. In general, the panel agreed with the growth opportunities and that artists continue to be able to see their activities expand from live shows.
As Salmon, from ATC management mentioned, given the evolution of the recording industry to streaming services, "From a revenue perspective, a successful artist gets 70% to 80% of its revenues from live performances, on average. And streaming is now the big driver for artists to manage their schedule and expand their global coverage." Interestingly as he noted, as streaming grows "and the physical media cash cow for the industry fades away" the industry embraced and adapted to new metrics, and it actually allows musicians to sell more tickets and merchandise... and also physical media, CDs, and vinyl records.
As Salmon also reminded the audience, since it became a market connected to digital streaming services, the industry evolved toward a global model. "Streaming has accelerated the consumption of music, in a more broadly democratized way, and lowered the entry barriers, and while more fans now have access to the music, they also buy tickets to live shows. The evolution of streaming not only provides an opportunity to communicate with music in a different way, and access it in a far more broad and fluent way, but above all it enables artist managers to know where the fans are. While with the physical media it was an entirely anonymous purchase, now the industry is an entirely personalized experience. Artist management, right holders, and record companies know precisely who the buyers are, where they live, what consumption habits they might have, what that user listened before to listening to a certain album, and what shows he attended." 
All this information about trends and consumption enables the industry to react faster and provides an enormous opportunity for the live sector as it evolves further. As O'Reilly also mentioned, bands are promoting concerts in countries where they previously didn't even knew they had fans, and artists even will create a set list according to their music preferences, based on country-specific Spotify data.

Live performances and touring currently represent 70% to 80% of an established artist's revenue. Improving the live quality experience is a massive opportunity. Click this photo of Childish Gambino Live to read the update on L-Acoustics latest shows using L-ISA immersive sound - Photography Greg Noire.

This also helps to produce more profitable shows because data provides an overview on the number of fans in a certain city, and it enables promoters to sell tickets in advance using the social aspects of streaming platforms, while producers can reliably predict if the tour should consider two shows in a certain venue, given the capacity and interest generated.
Even though this is early days and record labels and managers are still adapting to the amount of data available, those who are adopting it quickly are able to grasp massive opportunities - all members of the panel agreed that live performances are going to evolve and grow in the next few years.
The reflex of this transition in terms of audio hardware, is that the industry is no longer just focusing on making sure the artist is seen and heard, but actually providing unique experiences to the fans. Also, the profitability of the shows makes it possible to invest in better systems... and more speakers.
According to Rocha, L-Acoustic is now promoting the immersive L-ISA concept, which no longer restricts sound design to left/right or left/center/right PA arrays, and instead surrounds the space with multiple arrays. This concept creates the ability to make sure that everyone inside the venue is able to listen perfectly to the source, and not the PA, and allow the public to "share the space" with the artist. Also, according to Rocha, technology is making it possible to use larger venues, with much better quality.
This panel of industry experts agreed that touring and festivals are growing significantly and that revenues from live shows and events are increasing. Also, the public buying tickets for live shows and festivals is now a new generation with a different expectation - much more demanding. "That's what is driving the next generation of innovation in technology with multichannel deployment, object-based mixing, and the immersive experience that results from changing the whole experience of audio," stated Rocha.
Still, audio remains a relatively modest part of the show or touring budget, when compared with stage, lighting, video, and scenic technology. While the production values for global tours are huge, audio is increasing as well, but is still a fraction of the overall budget.

Great insights from a panel representing artist management and production, rental and touring services and a leading pro audio manufacturer.
More importantly, as Delta's Keating pointed out, the introduction of immersive, multichannel systems is extremely well received and his company has seen something unusual, which is the audience praising the sound after the show. "While previously people would only comment on the sound when it was really bad." Keating also shared that recent classical performances at Royal Albert Hall in London, made it virtually impossible to distinguish the presence of the sound reinforcement system, creating a much more balanced experience. According to Keating, the L-ISA experience - which he describes as "hyperreal sound," makes large venues sound more intimate, as though the artist was singing "just for us."
For rental companies, these innovations are helping their clients to see the value and get the extra budget. Producers of live shows have tried many different ways to create different experiences for concert-goers, but most of the solutions have not proved scalable and they quickly lose the novelty factor. "Immersive audio is not a 'novelty' and can help the live industry sustain growth," Keating confirmed.

Please follow this link to read more about another Audio Collaborative session dedicated to Pro and Consumer Audio Converge, which completes this article online. 

From the Vault
Getting the Most from THAT's Balanced Line Drivers and Receivers
By Gary Galo
I completed the design and construction of an archival phono preamplifier, which provides variable equalization along with several other operational necessities for playing vintage records (78-rpm discs, pre-RIAA LPs, lacquer transcription discs, and so on). When it came to selecting topologies for the balanced inputs and outputs, I ruled out transformers due to high cost, physical bulk, and weight. The most practical choice, in terms of size and cost, are the balanced line driver and receiver ICs made by several IC manufacturers. After surveying the field, it became clear that the products from THAT Corporation offer superior performance to any of their competitors' chips. Like IC op-amps, these devices are capable of varying degrees of performance depending on the quality of the passive components used in the associated circuitry, and power supplies. This article describes how to get the most from these chips. Originally published in audioXpress, June 2010.   Read the Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Spotlight
A Look at Soundbar Audio Signal Processing 
By Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific)
In this article, we will take a look at what is trending in audio signal processing for the poster child of integrated electronics speakers... the soundbar. As an audio consumer product category, soundbars remain a top seller, having replaced receivers and their associated passive speaker systems, which have sadly been reduced to legacy product categories. More than 10 million soundbars are sold annually but most deliver barely more performance than a table radio. Entry-level soundbars typically have very little power, a bit of rudimentary spatial processing, and a woofer posing as a subwoofer. The Samsung surround soundbar that I use in my bedroom has a power supply rated at 40 W - so with maybe 80% real-world Class D efficiency along with the power for the signal processing, the amplifier output power probably is about 5 W per channel. Therefore, I think about 50-plus million soundbars in use are due for an upgrade. Aside from better components overall and a reasonably higher price point, there are a number of truly outstanding signal processing algorithms that can provide a step-change for immersive spatiality, freedom from overload, clearer dialog, and more credible bass. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, October 2018.   Check it out here!

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