Industry & Product News
Sonus Faber Shows Minima Amator II Speakers at High End 2019
Some companies in the high-end of the hi-fidelity market have such long traditions that sometimes they assume we should all be aware of their history and achievements, which might happen mostly among the people who actually purchased their products. But that's hardly the case in a wider market that should actually be aware of what they do. That's why the introduction of the Minima Amator II speakers by Italian brand Sonus Faber is important. Because there's a lot of potential buyers for these high-quality, but not so expensive speakers .    Read More

NAD Electronics and Purifi Audio Announce Cooperation Agreement
NAD Electronics, the acclaimed high-fidelity audio brand, particularly recognized for its innovations in amplifiers, announced that it will be the first international brand to incorporate and launch Purifi's new patent-pending Class-D technology into its product family. The announcement was made at the opening of another edition of the High End 2019 show, in Munich, Germany. NAD will license Purifi's patent-pending amplification technology to create its next-generation amplifier platform .    Read More

SEAS Announces New W19 Excel Graphene Woofer Series
Following the announcement in early March 2019 of a completely new Excel Graphene Woofer Series  and the commercial introduction of the new W16NX003 E0073-08 driver, the first in the new Excel Graphene series, SEAS Fabrikker has now announced a completely new product-size series as part of the Excel-Graphene product line. Named the 19-series, the new woofers are classical 176 mm in diameter, but with a new basket design and larger roll surround, with a focus on improved linear excursion capability and dynamic headroom in the bass .    Read More

PSI Audio to Introduce Héritage3 Active Home Speakers at High End 2019
Following prior demonstrations in prototype stage, Swiss speaker manufacturer PSI Audio has confirmed it will officially introduce the Héritage3, the company's first home entertainment speaker, during the High End Munich show. Visitors to the the High End and AXPONA shows in 2018 have already experienced a glimpse of the company's purposely designed high-fidelity speaker, based on the technological prowess and expertise of more than 40 years of developing professional speakers and studio monitors .    Read More

Genelec Introduces Updated F Series Subwoofers at High End 2019  
Genelec will attend the 2019 High End Munich show to unveil major updates to the connectivity, performance, and feature set of its design-iconic F Series Home Audio subwoofers. The two new updated designs feature optical and coaxial digital inputs, higher SPL, updated remote capability, more comprehensive DIP switch features, and improved power supply and amplifier design. One of the models features stereo analog outputs on XLR to allow compatibility with Genelec professional series .    Read More

AudioControl Announces Avalon G4 4-Channel Home Theater Amplifier
Using its Savoy G3 amplifier as a basis, the new AudioControl Avalon G4 amplifier is a highly efficient Class H design that effortlessly achieves 230 W per channel, all channels driven. As AudioControl details, the Class H design topology also provides bullet-proof reliability while reducing heat dissipation from a compact form factor. The Avalon G4 also features AudioControl's LightDrive anti-clipping protection circuit, which protects loudspeakers from clipping and distortion even in extreme conditions such as a highly dynamic action movie soundtrack .    Read More

KRK ROKIT G4 Studio Monitors Are Now Available Worldwide
KRK Systems is one of the most popular monitor brands in the global home studio market and for a good reason. KRK studio monitors provide a reliable reproduction for recording and mixing in less than ideal environments, while providing great value per watt compared to existing alternatives. The KRK Rokit family is practically a flagship of the brand in terms of affordability and features, and the company completely refreshed the range with the new ROKIT G4 series, introducing DSP-driven LCD on-board EQ presets .    Read More

WiSA Announces Certification of Electrocompaniet Latest EC Living TANA L-2 Speaker
WiSA, the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association founded by Summit Wireless Technologies and comprised of leading consumer electronics brands, announced the certification of EC Living's TANA L-2 wireless speaker. The TANA L-2, set for retail launch in Summer 2019, is part of EC Living's wireless lifestyle speaker system, a division of the Norwegian company Electrocompaniet. The TANA L-2 is designed to enhance other EC Living speaker models and create a wireless home entertainment system .    Read More

Editor's Desk
J. Martins

Equity Crowdfunding an Audio Business

Until now, for many technology companies lucky enough to reach revenues in the millions - not yet in the hundreds of millions or billions - or 98% of audio companies, any expansion plan or new vision for launching into new market segments normally depends upon reaching out to the usual credit sources or hope to lure new rich partners or venture capital investors.

From a different perspective, crowdfunding has been an excellent way to fund completely new ventures, turn new product ideas into reality without depending on a bank loan, or simply a great way to test a product and marketing concept. As I've written before, crowdfunding platforms are excellent for product-based initiatives - but one product is not a company, and a nice idea or a great product does not a business make.

New product concepts from Como Audio. Available to buy or invest...

Of course, to fund a new business venture in the technology sector there's no shortage of venture capitalists ready to listen to your pitch - if the company is entering an exciting cutting-edge new market, owns unique and exclusive technologies, or simply uses the right buzzwords such as VR, AR, AI, machine learning, voice recognition, or wearables. But audio-focused companies hardly ever generate that kind of excitement, even when they do everything right - as we can see clearly from Sonos' stock price, one of the rare pure audio companies managing to go public in recent years.

But now there's another way, and it's called Equity Crowdfunding.

The concept is ideal for startups that have already launched first-generation products and have tested the market on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but it is also a viable idea for a "boring business" managed by people of solid credentials with great product ideas or simply for entrepreneurs looking for a different way of doing things.

I confess that until recently I was not aware of Equity Crowdfunding. That is until, thanks to constantly monitoring the main crowdfunding websites and following that fascinating case-study called Massdrop (now expanding and changing its name to simply Drop), I ended up following AngelList, one of the  oldest platforms of the kind, but there are already dozens around.

The rise of the Equity Crowdfunding model was made possible since a law was approved by the Obama administration - as part of the 2012 passage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) - relaxing regulations on how companies can raise money. In a way, crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe were doing just that but associated with fundraising for charitable causes. The difference with equity crowdfunding is the clear investment pitch to individual investors - up to $50 million in any 12-month period. This is a risky, long-term investment, but extremely positive to get the feel for market support and brand equity. Instead of getting funds for a first production run directly from interested consumers, companies go directly to the market looking for investors who believe in the project for its intrinsic values - people who believe the pitch. Those people become shareholders and their stake will gain value if the company grows, or loose everything if the companies goes bust.

The model can vary and can be more or less complicated, but that's it essentially. By lowering the value needed to be an investor, companies can get some funding from thousands of small private investors. Since most of the investors will be interested in buying the company's products anyway, some companies can also attract more investors with special discounts or by making available exclusive limited editions. 

I already mentioned AngelList, but there's also CircleUp, EquityNet, Fundable, Crowdfunder, and many others involved in consumer products businesses. Some are only active in the US, others have already expanded internationally. Some of those equity crowdfunding companies even allow investors to sell their shares to other members.

Another name in Equity Crowdfunding I've learned about in past weeks was Wefunder. Wefunder is becoming a popular platform since it allows really small investments of $100 USD, while other platforms work with $1,000 as a minimum investment threshold. Also, because they are based in Cambridge, MA, they are supporting a new local audio company.

Not exactly any audio company, but a recent business from a local Boston, MA, famous name, Tom DeVesto, someone who audioXpress interviewed in 2018, precisely when he was getting noticed with his most recent company, Como Audio.

Recently, I received a press release from their PR agency (always admire new companies who hire PR professionals!) titled "Tom DeVesto Attempts to Raise $3 Million for his Latest Company Como Audio." And that's how I learned about the WeFunder campaign for Como Audio - a company I have been following closely. First because it's impossible not to admire someone like Tom DeVesto, who worked and shared multiple adventures with Henry Kloss, who has already created so many successful brands and products, but more important, because I think the products from Como Audio make total sense. In fact, I have been recommending Como Audio products to all people who come to me for advice and that I know are not the kind to really deal with technology, don't really like using a computer and, more importantly, and are not into investing four digit sums in speakers. Como Audio is such a company.

So, why would they need to go the Equity Crowdfunding route?

Meeting Tom DeVesto and Peter Skiera, Como Audio General Manager at ShowStoppers 2019

"Music is and always will be in my DNA," says Tom DeVesto.

Tom DeVesto is a consumer electronics visionary and legend, who spent the last 40 years designing and introducing quality consumer electronics brands for consumers worldwide. His career began in the late 1960s, while in college, building sound systems for rock bands such as The Allman Brothers at concerts and bluegrass festivals. In the 1970s he was V.P. of Sales and Marketing for Kloss Video, a Henry Kloss company, where he introduced the first projection TV to the masses. Tom moved on to his next venture and co-founded Cambridge SoundWorks in 1988, with Henry Kloss. Later he sold Cambridge SoundWorks to Creative and founded Tivoli Audio in 2000, where he made listening to a table radio popular again.
Tom DeVesto's latest venture is Como Audio, founded in 2016, based on the premise that all music content should be accessed in one smart device with the press of a button. Como is currently introducing a new line of Amazon and Google voice-activated smart speakers, and because Tom is also a great believer in retro products and vinyl is making a comeback, Como is introducing a streaming turntable that wirelessly connects via Bluetooth to any Como Audio product.

A display of current and under development products from Como Audio at CES 2019, including a turntable with built-in wireless streamer and SpeakEasy, with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support.

I met Tom DeVesto and Peter Skiera, the company's General Manager at CES 2019, where we could see examples of new product ideas for Como Audio, including the turntable. It was truly an honor having the chance to see the products all displayed and learn a little more about Tom's vision for the company. Clearly he knows what they are doing and - to me - all products are winners. In Cambridge SoundWorks, Tivoli Audio and now Como Audio, Tom DeVesto introduced iconic speaker designs and beautiful wood boxes. But more important, he always cared about how his products appeal and reach the consumer. His vision of the marketing mix is complete.

Now, Como Audio set out to raise $3 million through Wefunder, because Tom DeVesto knows he needs funding to embed all the voice features that can turn his connected wireless audio designs into "smart speakers." He is already selling Como Audio's products very successfully on Amazon, directly online, and to more than 300 dealers and retailers worldwide who recognize him and all the successful brands he founded or was involved with. They have their reasons.

From my side, I think Wefunder and Equity Crowdfunding is a perfect match for Como Audio. This is something I think could work really well for all parties. Tom DeVesto sold millions of products worldwide. He clearly has a vision and his designs are unique. The brand is recognizable. It's a great pitch.

The minimum investment for Como Audio in Wefunder is $300 and the campaign will run until June 26. Visit the campaign website. It's all there!
R&D Stories
Enabling Higher Quality Audio Capture for Smartphones
By  Jyri Huopaniemi and Kai Havukainen
(Nokia Technologies)
In this article for audioXpress, Jyri Huopaniemi and Kai Havukainen from Nokia Technologies, the licensing arm of Nokia, explain how to enable higher quality audio capture for smartphones and introduces us to some of the most exciting audio recording features ever available for mobile devices. How would you like to be able to completely isolate sound sources or zoom in on specific sounds and cancel the rest in location recordings, directly on a smartphone?
The rise of user-generated content is placing more and more demands on the capture capabilities of today's smartphones. Yet while imaging and camera technologies have improved significantly over the past few years, audio recording features have been lagging behind. Until Nokia's OZO Audio.
The Nokia Technologies group offers licensing of innovative audio technologies to manufacturers, including the OZO Audio portfolio of solutions that enhance the consumer experience. This includes advanced audio focus and zoom capabilities of the captured sound from a specific direction and noise suppression without distortion, enabling the user to adjust audio to a specific part of the screen and select what matters. Audio focus parameters such as direction, sector size are controlled by touch UI. This article was originally published in audioXpress, April 2019 .   Read the Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
Bold North Audio MS-10W:
A Legendary 6.5" Woofer
By Vance Dickason
For this Test Bench, Vance Dickason actually had lots of fun characterizing a new version of a legendary 6.5" woofer recently announced by MISCO (Minneapolis Speaker Company). The new MS-10W, will be marketed under the new MISCO brand, Bold North Audio, and it is effectively a direct replacement for the famous white driver on Yamaha's NS10 studio monitors! The MS-10W is an extremely close replacement woofer and it actually includes a lightweight white flat profile seamed paper cone with a white paper convex dust cap. There is no pole venting or venting below the spider mounting shelf, and compliance is provided by a 12 mm wide coated cloth surround and a 3.25" diameter cupped cloth spider. The motor assembly is powered by a 16 mm × 89 mm ferrite magnet sandwiched between 5 mm front and back plates. Driving the cone assembly is a voice coil that consists of a 32 mm (1.25") diameter paper former wound with a single layer of edge-wound copper wire. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, February 2019 .   Check it out here!

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