Industry & Product News
Qualcomm Ultra Low-Power Bluetooth Audio SoCs Now Powering Compact, Feature-Rich Wireless Earbuds, Headsets, and Speakers
Qualcomm Technologies International, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, showcased the most recent wireless earbuds and hearables using the latest Qualcomm QCC5100 and QCC302x series, ultra-low power Bluetooth audio SoCs at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona. Now available in more than 10 products, Qualcomm is finding increased traction from audio, mobile, and consumer electronics manufacturers for these SoCs, allowing for robust, low-latency and high-quality wireless audio experiences, in compact, feature-rich wireless earbuds, headsets, and speakers .    Read More

Dirac Research Debuts Dirac Distortion Control, Enabling Cleaner Audio From Mobile Devices at MWC19
Dirac Research announced the debut of Dirac Distortion Control, a patent-pending audio solution that reduces audible distortion in smartphones, tablets, laptops, and all-in-one PCs with minimal impact on volume. The company introduced Dirac Distortion Control to the mobile market at MWC 2019 in Barcelona with a demo experience developed to showcase the next-generation of mobile audio performance in partnership with leading microspeaker manufacturer AAC Technologies .    Read More

Analog Devices Unveils New SHARC Audio Module Platform for Rapid Audio DSP Project Development
Analog Devices announced the availability of its new SHARC Audio Module (ADZS-SC589-MINI), a hardware/software platform that facilitates efficient product prototyping, development, and production of a variety of digital audio products. Delivering an innovative combination of high-performance audio signal processing components and a comprehensive software development environment, the SHARC Audio Module is ideal for effects processors, multi-channel audio systems, MIDI synthesizers, and many other DSP-based audio projects .    Read More

Bragi Offers New Technology Suite and Reference Design for Consumer and Professional Hearables
Bragi, the company that can rightfully claim to be the creators of the world's first Hearable, is unveiling the next-generation of its technology suite and is to introduce it at MWC 2019. As previously announced, Bragi is now developing ultra-efficient artificial intelligence and edge computing technologies for ultra-low power devices that it intends to make available to other manufacturers. At MWC 2019, the German company will disclose details of the new platform as a reference design for professional Hearables .    Read More

Analogix Introduces Second-Generation 10G USB-C Re-timer for Smartphones
Analogix Semiconductor, announced the availability of its ANX7451, second generation 10 Gbps USB-C re-timer capable of supporting USB 3.2 Gen2 data rates and DisplayPort 1.4a at 8.1 Gbps for next generation 10G mobile devices that require re-timers to drive appreciable distances. ANX7451 guarantees high bandwidth data and video transport over long channels in smartphone system boards and external cable connections.    Read More

HEAD acoustics Launches Acoustic Environment for Realistic Noise and Reverberation Measurements
Users of mobile phones, voice-operated smart home device, and hands-free terminals have to deal with different background noises and room reverberation that impair their user experiences. Therefore, realistic performance tests of communication devices do not only need to consider background noise but also reverberation. HEAD acoustics launches 3PASS reverb for this purpose, a software option for its background noise simulation systems 3PASS lab and 3PASS flex. 3PASS reverb is capable of simulating realistic room reverberation .    Read More

AcoustiTools AR Acoustical Analysis Now Available on for iPhone and iPad
Introduced at NAMM 2019 by Acoustic Masterminds, the new AcoustiTools app for iOS is now available in the Apple Store and provides a collection of cutting-edge 3D acoustic measurement tools. Using advanced scanning abilities, augmented reality, 3D visualizations, patented and patent-pending technology, Acoustic Masterminds' AcoustiTools makes it easier to solve acoustic issues and creating superior listening environments from massive arenas to small recording studios and home theaters .    Read More

Listen Offers ETSI Standard Background Noise Generation System
Listen, Inc. has launched the ETSI standard background noise generation module, a SoundCheck test sequence, which calibrates a 4.1 speaker array to conform with the ETSI ES 202 396-1 Standard. This provides an equalized, calibrated playback solution to stress devices in a standardized and repeatable way. With a purchase price of just $5,000 for the test sequence, this offers an extremely economical alternative to a conventional $20,000+ stand-alone background noise generation system .   Read More

Guest Editorial

Two Perspectives on Hi-Fi
Is Super High-End Audio Really Worth the Money?

I often have to review a wide variety of hi-fi equipment, ranging from so-called entry-level systems right up to those items of audio exotica that most of us can only drool over. At the starter end of the spectrum, there is a plethora of equipment that can suit most pockets, ranging from items that can be enjoyed by all to others that perhaps should be laid down and avoided. The equally well-populated middle ground consists of a quality kit that we like to save up for and aspire to as funds permit. However, at the very top end, there sits a sparse range of audio equipment elite with price tags approaching that of a small house. Can such things be justified and do they really have a place in today's audio line-up?

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to the UK launch of the Clearaudio Statement v2 turntable at the purpose-built premises of Stone Audio, a high-end hi-fi and residential audio dealer in Lytchett Minster, near Poole in Dorset. Nestling alongside other high-end systems in Stone Audio's superb premises was the Statement v2, situated in pride of place in a specially set up listening area on the ground floor. It was connected to a fantastic support system comprising an EAR 88PB Phono Amp, a pair of GamuT M250i Monoblocks, and GamuT RS7i Floorstanders. The support system alone would set you back around $75,000 and then you still need another $145,000 for the Clearaudio Statement v2 turntable and Statement TT1 tangential-tracking tonearm. Oh yes, I nearly forgot to mention the Clearaudio flagship MC Goldfinger cartridge installed in the TT1 for an additional $12,000.

The Clearaudio Statement v2 turntable at Stone Audio's premises, connected to an EAR 88PB Phono Amp, a pair of GamuT M250i Monoblocks, and GamuT RS7i Floorstander speakers. The Statement is built from aluminum, stainless steel and wood and uses a patented non-contact magnetic drive system and ceramic bearing (CMB).

With that line-up of equipment, I was expecting to have my socks blown off - and I wasn't disappointed. I was totally smitten - big time! When I turned up at Stone Audio, I was greeted by the music of a 180g audiophile vinyl LP of the Dave Brubeck Quartet entitled "Time Out." It sounded truly amazing. I had also taken my special direct-to-disk Mike Valentine Chasing The Dragon LPs of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" performed by Interpreti Veneziani and some big band music by the Syd Lawrence Orchestra. The records were duly placed on the Statement v2's platter and, although I consider myself fortunate enough to have quite a high-end setup at home, I could actually pick out instruments that I had not previously heard. In fact, as soon as the stylus of the Goldfinger had been lowered into the groove, somehow I was conscious of the almost inaudible ambience that the system managed to recreate. I had to wait right until the end of the record before I could get my breath back!

Having come back to earth, given the amazing sounds I had just experienced, I asked myself whether I would actually consider parting with $232,000 to own such a system, even if I had that sort of money lying around and my other half would allow me to spend it. In my case, I guess that the answer would be "No" because, as appealing as the Clearaudio Statement v2 is, it would probably lose out to a Porsche Mission E concept car if push came to shove. So is it really worth a manufacturer expending R&D effort and manufacturing costs to make such a turntable for the select few that can comfortably afford it? I believe the answer is very much "Yes."

The outstanding Statement turntable and the Statement TT1 tangential tonearm, designed and "Made in Germany" by Clearaudio to reproduce music from vinyl records at the highest possible level.

Sadly, audio bulletin boards are littered with people who are critical of companies that make expensive products, which are out of the range of most of us; they write their equipment off as "overpriced." Why then is it "acceptable" for a car manufacturer to make a concept car, but "unacceptable" for a hi-fi equipment manufacturer to make a premium piece of kit? Firstly, it is often overlooked that the company has to be able to recoup its development costs for a limited market, and this must be reflected in the final price tag for the equipment. This will inevitably account for what some might see as a disproportionately high cost, but there is more to it than that. Quite apart from satisfying the market for the fortunate few, it is really important for a company to be able to showcase its achievements and demonstrate what can actually be achieved when no expense is spared. Such a product can become a yardstick by which others are measured and it raises the sound quality bar even higher. It is also often the case that while developing an uber-product, useful spin-offs from the research can be applied to models lower down the price range, which can benefit everyone.

So I believe that companies such as Clearaudio should be applauded for being prepared to invest in the R&D at this level and see the result through to production. I thoroughly enjoy being able to listen to the results of their endeavors, even though I am unable to afford them. In any case, am I not allowed to dream?

Guest Editorial

Two Perspectives on Hi-Fi
Do Expensive Audio Wires Provide Any Improvement to the Sound?

For years, many audiophiles and even some audio professionals have believed that signal wires can sound different. The result has been a growth of "wire" companies selling simple RCA and other signal wires for hundreds and even thousands of dollars each. The electrical properties of wires have been understood fully for more than a century, and engineers know exactly what to measure in order to learn how audio passing through them is affected.

Ethan's video with the Null Tester compares inexpensive RCA wires, plus a boutique $700 wire.

However, some people believe there's more to audio than test equipment can measure, and they prefer to trust their ears. So to settle this dilemma, I designed a Null Tester device that compares any two signal wires and reveals their difference to a level below -110 dB. The beauty of a null test is that it's absolute, and reveals all the differences, including frequency response, noise, distortion, phase shift, and every possible artifact whether known or unknown.

To subtract one audio stream from another you simply reverse the polarity of one, then mix both together at equal volumes. Whatever remains is called the Null Residual. This is very important because it dispels the common beliefs that "Science doesn't know everything people can hear," and that "Some aspects of audio fidelity can't be measured using sine waves and other standard test signals." In addition to test tones, my Null Tester works just as well using music or any other sounds as the source.

After a long research effort and two iterations, the Null Tester is working and soon will be fully explained in a dedicated article for audioXpress .

To prove the point that inexpensive wires pass audio identically to very expensive wires, I made a video showing my Null Tester device comparing four RCA wires ranging in price from less than $5 to $700. The video first explains null testing in detail, and how the Null Tester itself works, then proceeds to a live demonstration of the wire comparisons. In every case, the nulled residual signals were below the noise level of the testing device, proving for certain that music sent down both wires arrived the same at the other end, with no possible audible difference. These comparisons use RCA signal wires, but the conclusion applies equally to other wire types because it proves what audio engineers have known for years: there is no magic, and everything about wire can be fully understood using the standard known parameters.


Sound Control
Predictive Acoustics and Acoustical Modeling Software:
By  Richard Honeycutt
From March to August 2014, in his Sound Control column dedicated to acoustics, Richard Honeycutt reviewed and wrote a series of articles on the evolution of predictive acoustics and acoustical modeling software, including a review of some of the available tools. This second article in the series discusses CATT-Acoustic, a software for room acoustics prediction, auralization, studio stereo, and surround reverberation, and one of the leading modeling programs for architectural acoustics. This article was originally published in audioXpress, May 2014 .   Read the Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
SEAS Excel T35C002 Dome Midrange Tweeter
By Vance Dickason
This month's Test Bench driver is the T35C002 1.5" tweeter from Norwegian high-end home audio manufacturer SEAS. The T35C002 is basically an Excel line version of the company's Exotic line T35 Alnico V tweeter, but it uses a neodymium magnet. The T35C002 incorporates a 1.5" coated cloth diaphragm (effective piston area is 11.9 cm2) sourced from German high-end diaphragm manufacturer Dr. Kurt  Müller  (DKM). DKM was among the world's first to offer fabric tweeter dome diaphragms. It also manufactured the famous 1.5" H087 tweeter, featured in the successful Dynaco A25 loudspeaker, which was produced from 1969-1974. The underhung motor has a 3mm gap height and a 2 mm voice coil height for a 0.5 mm physical XMAX. Other features include a 35 mm (1.38") voice coil wound with copper-clad aluminum wire (CCAW) on a vented aluminum former, 7 mm thick cast aluminum face plate with moderate horn loading, a neodymium ring magnet in the motor system, a CNC-machined top plate and T-yoke, plus a damped cast aluminum cavity and gold-plated terminals. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2014 .   Check it out here!

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