Industry & Product News

ESS Introduces the World's First Low-Power SABRE DAC with Hardware MQA Hi-Res Rendering
ESS Technology announced the ES9068Q Low-Power Audiophile CODEC, its newest in a line of SABRE DACs designed for small desktop and portable applications with demanding audio specifications. As previously announced in May 2018, this is the first product to offer an integrated hardware Master Quality Authentication (MQA) renderer that makes MQA playback easy and cost efficient. This is also the first product in the series with CODEC capabilities; it features microphone support as well as stereo PDM inputs.   Read More

Creative Launches Super X-Fi AIR Series Headphones at CES 2019
Creative Technology announced the worldwide launch of the Super X-Fi headphone holography technology at CES 2019, hailed as "an industry game-changer that will change the way one listens to headphones forever." According to Creative, Super X-Fi recreates the soundstage of a multi-speaker surround system in a pair of headphones, and personalizes it by scanning the user's head and ears, so that the custom-fit audio experience becomes more natural than ever. The technology was previewed at CES 2018 and will now be launched in two SXFI AIR headphone models, one wireless and one USB-powered.    Read More

USB-IF Launches USB Type-C Authentication Program
The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced the launch of its USB Type-C Authentication Program, marking an important milestone for the optional USB security protocol. The USB Type-C Authentication specification defines cryptographic-based authentication for USB Type-C chargers and devices. The optional security protocol enables USB Type-C OEMs to protect against malicious payloads and harmful power surges from non-compliant USB devices. DigiCert was selected by USB-IF to manage PKI and certificate authority services for USB Type-C Authentication.    Read More

Optek Licenses and Deploys CEVA Bluetooth IP for Next-Generation Bluetooth 5 Wireless Audio Applications
CEVA, a leading licensor of signal processing platforms and artificial intelligence (AI) processors for connected devices, announced that Optek Digital Technology, a fabless semiconductor company of advanced multimedia System-on-Chip (SoCs), has licensed and deployed CEVA's RivieraWaves Bluetooth 5 Dual Mode IP in its latest OTK528X multimedia SoC, targeting AI, voice, and music market segments and applications including hearables, wireless speakers, on/in ear headphone, multi-channel AVR, musical instruments and voice user interface (VUI).   Read More

Dirac Research Appoints Armin Prommersberger as Company's Chief Technology Officer 
Swedish sound pioneer Dirac Research announced the appointment of Armin Prommersberger to serve as the company's Chief Technology Officer. Armin joins Dirac from Harman International, a Samsung division, where he has held several senior management positions, most recently as Senior Vice President of Research & Development for its Professional Solutions Division. Prior to this, he served as SVP of Technology of the Harman Lifestyle Audio division and VP & General Manager of Harman's Automotive Audio business in Europe.   Read More

Parasound Introduces Affordable Preamplifier and DAC in its NewClassic Line
Already with an impressive line of new products introduced throughout 2018, Parasound ended the year with the announcement of its NewClassic 200 Pre, a moderately priced analog audio preamplifier and DAC with outstanding sound quality, excellent connectivity, and versatility. Like all NewClassic products, the model 200 Pre represents a new generation of affordable, high-performance audio products from Parasound. At the heart of the 200 Pre is a versatile analog signal path which includes analog bass management with high pass and low pass outputs.   Read More - The Most Popular Stories of 2018
2018 was another record-breaking year for with visits and users doubling the figures compared to our record year in 2016. Want to know which of the topics and stories published online in 2018 were the most popular? We looked at the most-read articles of 2018 in (which also includes selected articles from Voice Coilmagazine), and we created this Top 10 list of news stories and online articles. Check out the results!   Read More

Editor's Desk
J. Martins

When Was the Last Time You Saw Anything Exciting ?

For the previous newsletter, the last one for 2018, I looked back at the products and technologies that we found most interesting and clear highlights of the year, from the consumer audio perspective. There was more than enough to make for a large summary, even without going into much detail about each selection. For this first newsletter of 2019, we decided we would continue with the highlights, now focusing on professional audio products and technologies. Things that we found really exciting, every month of the year...
Just like in the consumer front, in pro audio things have been extremely dynamic, making 2018 a very interesting year to be in audio. Among the things that clearly stand out is the transition from multichannel to object-based audio formats and platforms, as we've described in one of the most visited and shared  Audio Voice editorials. This transition is also being characterized by the broadcast industry as Next-Generation Audio or NGA. Although NGA is frequently used to describe the new immersive sound formats, either channel-based or object-based (e.g., Dolby Atmos and MPEG-H), it also describes practices that are now understood to be dependent on IP-based workflows and distribution platforms, and the fact that media will reach the consumer using popular delivery protocols or the latest broadcast standards and rendered according to the target reproduction system, from binaural to a soundbar, or a fully featured theatrical Dolby Atmos setup. 
Click the image to follow all the latest stories on object-based audio

But the transition to immersive audio and object-based mixing in live sound is also creating one of the most exciting developments in the recent history of sound reinforcement systems. Following immersive audio in cinemas and spatial audio in gaming and consumer electronics, the professional audio industry is also moving away from the limitations and restrictions of stereo or dual mono configurations. Multi-array solutions from d&b audiotechnik, L-Acoustics, and Astro Spatial Audio are leading the way and opening up an entirely new world of creativity. An approach that opens completely new possibilities for sound designers and audio engineers, but above all for artists and audiences.
Another key evolution - basically it is the result of three continuous years of industry efforts - has to do with networked systems, with recording studios, live productions, facility management, and broadcast/content production, adopting flexible solutions based on any of the existing popular protocols such as Dante, Ravenna, Q-LAN, and Livewire+ (widely adopted on radio), knowing they will be able to connect and interchange audio whenever needed thanks to the AES67 interoperability standard. As I reported in my editorial summing up the trends at the IBC 2018 show, the companies and the audio consortiums that have propelled these protocols and standards have joined the larger-scope efforts ongoing in broadcast and content production industries, represented by the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), and reinforced with the promotion of organizations such as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). This means the AoIP roadmap is now part of a larger industry effort, reflected in the latest SMPTE ST-2110 suite of standards, signaling a new level of integration of those systems over IP.
If we look at drivers and speaker technologies, there were many announcements of new models with improved specs in all categories of professional audio. But the announcement by Powersoft of its second-generation M-Force 301P01 stands-out. The updated version is now available in two iterations, with the M-force 01 long throw linear motor for infra sub applications and the M-force 02 short throw linear motor for high-acceleration applications and extreme loads, such as bandpass applications and loaded horn configurations. 

Another nice surprise was finding startup company Arya Audio Labs at the High End 2018 Munich show and finding a production-ready realization of the revolutionary AirBlade loudspeaker driver, as envisaged and patented by Christensen Audio. Arya Audio Labs is working closely with scientist and inventor E.J. Christensen on the transducer project, which promises to be an exciting development for the high-end market, but also in Pro Audio and automotive applications, combining high sensitivity and power handling and, at the same time, reduced distortion. See the story here.

On the studio front, Universal Audio introduced one of the best products in 2018, with the new Arrow Thunderbolt 3 Desktop Audio Interface (pictured below). This practical and affordable desktop unit leverages the most powerful connection to any Mac or modern PC ever available, combines the company's class-leading audio technology and 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion, with Unison mic preamps, instrument input, and Realtime UAD Plug-In Processing. Not only is the Arrow bus-powered, but Thunderbolt 3 means that we can get 48 V phantom power in both microphone preamp channels when needed, in a compact, rugged interface to take anywhere.

Universal Audio, as well as Apogee Digital, both now offer a full range of Thunderbolt 3 studio interfaces, from solutions targeting project studios, to large numbers of channels. Many other audio companies in the recording market have decided to carry on with USB (2.0 and 3.0) interfaces, while others are venturing into AoIP proposals, which makes a lot of sense for live recording and large studio complexes. Also, there are manufacturers simply taking audio conversion to the highest quality levels, instead of looking at the latest technologies. That's fine. But in our opinion, nothing beats Thunderbolt 3 as the ideal choice for multichannel recording in the current market, and Universal Audio and Apogee certainly offer the best price/performance currently available. For more on the revolutionary benefits of Thunderbolt 3, click here.
In 2018, there were also many new great microphones and recording products, as recently highlighted in our special Microphone Market Update in audioXpress January 2019. But the Zylia ZM-1 Microphone Array stands out as a unique product that we think will be the start of something exciting. Marketed as the world's first portable recording studio able to capture a live performance directly onto multiple separate tracks, the Zylia ZM-1 actually found other possible applications including for spatial recording in virtual and augmented reality productions, showing great potential for R&D activities also in noise measurement and even voice capture in meeting rooms.

Zylia ZM-1 Microphone Array

And it would be impossible to discuss studio technology in 2018 without mentioning Sonarworks' Reference 4 Studio Edition Loudspeaker and Headphone Correction System. In 2018, the European audio software developer established a new digital sound reference standard response curve - Sonarworks SR - to be included with its Reference sound calibration software. The reference frequency response corresponds to an ideal setup of neutral speakers in a treated room and makes the entire concept much more consistent. And Sonarworks keeps expanding emulation profiles and the features of its software, making it one of the products - and companies - to watch in 2019.
Another major highlight of the year, and certainly one of the most interesting products to debut in 2018, was the S1 Pro multi-position PA system introduced by Bose Professional. This is an all-in-one PA, floor monitor, practice amplifier, and primary music system. It features an internal battery so it can go anywhere and is equipped with Bluetooth so that musicians can conveniently connect an audio player or smartphone. That by itself would not make it stand out, but the S1 Pro is also the first product we've seen in the segment to achieve what it is meant to achieve thanks to its built-in "smart features." In this case, built-in sensors that are able to detect positional changes and trigger Auto EQ, which automatically recalibrates the speaker for each different placement/application - tilted-back, elevated, mounted on a speaker stand, or placed on its side (as a floor monitor) - ensuring that users always sound their best with optimum sound in any position. I'm sure this will be a trend that Bose and many other companies will continue to explore, but the S1 Pro deserves to be remembered for being the first.
As for the systems integration and installation segments, there's also no lack of exciting developments, particularly in the field of Unified Communications. We liked the fact that a lot more attention is being paid to acoustics in this segment, and that there are a lot of innovative "passive" and "active" acoustic solutions being promoted in tandem with the latest networked and smart audio solutions. Our highlight would be on the conferencing systems area, where companies are really pushing all aspects of these technologies, from far-field capture to digital processing of the signals. The best solution we have seen in 2017 was the Nureva HDL300 integrated microphone and speaker bar solution. In 2018, Nureva announced an update, introducing intelligent sound targeting, a new patent-pending feature of its Microphone Mist technology platform that powers its HDL300 and Dual HDL300 audio conferencing systems. The new technology allows managing undesired sound sources in audio conferencing sessions and expands even more an already outstanding conferencing solution.

Nureva HDL300 integrated microphone and speaker bar solution

And a final reference needs to go to the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association (WiSA), which was revitalized in 2018 and has announced a series of important initiatives, including the "WiSA Ready" certification program, which marks an important milestone in delivering immersive wireless audio. The new certification coincides with the launch of the industry's first-ever WiSA Ready USB transmitter from Summit Wireless Technologies. As a compact USB accessory, the transmitter easily plugs into WiSA Ready sources to deliver an immersive audio experience with WiSA Certified interoperable products, making such systems extremely simple to set up. We look forward to seeing the results of WiSA's efforts in the market through 2019. The audio industry will benefit to have WiSA as a standard in wireless audio for multichannel entertainment.

From The Vault
Subwoofer Placement in Non-Rectangular Rooms
By Bohdan Raczynski
This article examines the problem of subwoofer placement in odd-shaped rooms, exploring corner locations of subwoofers and some pros and cons of single-woofer versus dual-woofer systems for a given placement within a listening room. In a previous article on loudspeaker placement, the author emphasized the importance of understanding the location of the room's nodal lines and pressure maximum. In this article, he extends the analysis and actually generates the "room contribution" curves for a non-rectangular room. All examples provided are generated with the Finite Element Method module for complex room geometries included in the SoundEasy modeling and measurement software.This article was originally published in audioXpress, September 2002.   Read the Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
The Wavecor SW275BD01 Home Audio Subwoofer 
By Vance Dickason
In this Test Bench article, I characterized the SW275BD01, a 10.75" high-end home audio subwoofer from OEM manufacturer Wavecor. The SW275BD01 is part of Wavecor's rather extensive line of subwoofers, ranging in size from 2.75" to 12". Accompanying this lineup of subwoofers are a broad range of nine passive radiators with sizes ranging from 6.25" to 12". Wavecor's SW275BD01, which is the 4Ω version of the subwoofer (the SW275BD02 is the 8Ω version), has a well-appointed feature set that includes a proprietary cast eight-spoke (four twin spokes) cast aluminum frame that has minimal reflection surfaces and has a completely open 1.5" deep space below the spider mounting shelf. Other features include the incorporation of a very stiff black mica/paper composite cone, further stiffened by a 4" convex black hard paper dust cap. Suspension is provided by a FEA optimized low-loss (high Qm) NBR surround plus dual 6" diameter black flat conex spiders (dampers). All this is driven by a 65 mm diameter (2.5") voice coil wound with round wire on a black fiber glass non-conducting former. The motor system powering the cone assembly utilizes three 18 mm thick by 135 mm diameter ferrite magnet sandwiched between a black plated 7 mm thick front plate and a black plated 10 mm thick T-yoke that incorporates an 18 mm diameter dual-flared pole vent surrounded by eight 10 mm diameter peripheral vents. This format drives more air out the gap area and across the front plate below the spider mounting shelf for enhanced cooling of the motor system. Additional cooling is accomplished with eight 12 mm diameter vents in the cone below the dust cap. Along with Wavecor's balanced drive technology (a shaped extended pole piece), the SW275BD01 also incorporates an aluminum shorting ring (Faraday shield) that reduces distortion caused by eddy currents. Last, the braided voice coil lead wires terminate to a pair of gold terminals. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, October 2018.   Check it out here!

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