Industry & Product News
LEA Professional Launches New Technology Platform and First Low Power, Connected Amplifiers
As highly anticipated, LEA Professional was the focus of attention as soon as InfoComm 2019 opened its doors in Orlando, FL, introducing its professional-grade Internet of Things (IoT) technology platform with the launch of the LEA Connect Series amplifier family. As promised, LEA wants to bring the benefits of a connected world to the Professional A/V market, allowing system designers and integrators to provide real-time system performance coverage to their existing service contacts .    Read More

Martin Audio Expands Wavefront Precision Line Array Series with Very Compact WPS Model
During InfoComm 2019, Martin Audio announced WPS, the fourth in the British company's best-selling series of optimized line arrays, Wavefront Precision. WPS is a passive three-way, high density, very compact enclosure. It features 2x 8" low frequency drivers, 4x 4" midrange drivers and 4x 1" exit high frequency compression drivers loaded by a molded high frequency horn, which occupies the full width of the enclosure - defining the 100° horizontal constant directivity coverage pattern of both the high frequency and midrange sections .    Read More

Powersoft Unveils Mezzo Smart Amplifiers for Corporate, Hospitality, and Education Applications
Powersoft has unveiled its newest amplifier platform at InfoComm 2019 in Orlando, FL. Mezzo is a new line of audio amplifiers expressly designed for the AV/IT market, consisting of eight models, each offering different power and connectivity options, including Dante and AES67. Mezzo amplifiers are a self-configuring system that delivers unprecedented power and flexibility in a highly compact, Class-D technology design that is easy to install and operate, and are perfectly suited for corporate, hospitality and educational environments .    Read More

Knowles Announces First Amazon-Qualified Development Kit for Wake-on-Voice Alexa Headsets
Knowles announced that it has developed a new hands-free reference solution to enable OEMs and ODMs to build headphones, headsets, and wireless earbuds that allow users to talk directly to Alexa. The new AISonic SmartMic Headset Development Kit for Amazon AVS supports Alexa with the lowest power voice activation, eliminating the need for Push-to-Talk activation. This Development Kit includes the Knowles AISonic IA611 SmartMic, which integrates a low power audio edge processor inside a tiny microphone .    Read More

Tectonic Audio Labs Introduces New DML500 Flat Panel Speaker and LS-118 Subwoofer 
During InfoComm 2019, Tectonic Audio Labs will introduce the DML500 flat panel speaker and the company's first front firing passive subwoofer, the LS-118, which together promises to "completely alter the way we hear sound." The DML500 is Tectonic's next-generation distributed mode loudspeaker featuring bending wave technology and the evolution of Tectonic's PL Series of loudspeakers, in a lighter, thinner, and easier to mount solution that improves directivity and intelligibility .    Read More

Meyer Sound Debuts Ultra-X40 and Previews Spacemap Live at InfoComm 2019
Following European presentations at ISE and Prolight+Sound 2019, at InfoComm 2019, Meyer Sound will have an expanded booth and demo room to preview its new immersive system, Spacemap Live and to demo Ultra-X40, the company's latest point source loudspeaker. In Demo Room W240, visitors will be immersed in a captivating preview of Spacemap Live, Meyer Sound's prototype spatial sound mixing tool .    Read More

Yamaha Announces Fourth-Generation Active Field Control System
Yamaha announced an upcoming upgrade to its Active Field Control (AFC) acoustic enhancement system. According to Yamaha, the new AFC4 (fourth generation) system features significant upgrades in DSP processing and hardware. When combined with optimally placed microphones and loudspeakers, AFC4 operators can greatly enhance or create any acoustic environment, even in an outdoor or roofless venue. The new updated solution will be part of Yamaha's presentations scheduled for InfoComm 2019 .    Read More

Dusun Electron Announces Far-Field Voice Control Solution
Dusun Electron demonstrated its far-field voice control solution at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, NV, and the company now confirmed its availability. This new voice control solution enables voice-activated devices to clearly capture voice commands from a distance or even in noisy environments for a hands-free interactive experience. The Dusun platform features multi-microphone interfaces, an ARM-based processor, and supports voice front-end processing algorithms such as AEC, AGC, NR, beamforming, etc .    Read More

Guest Editorial

The Comeback Cassette
No Longer Just on eBay. New Releases Are Also Appearing Now!

Now that the vinyl format has well and truly returned as a mainstream music source, we can really no longer talk about the great vinyl revival. More recently, we have been seeing an increase in the number of companies that are producing music on open reel tape. The original pre-recorded open reel tapes that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s were quarter-track 7.5IPS stereo releases on 7-inch spools. They were mass-produced, quarter-track recordings, usually made on high-speed duplicating machines. This resulted in a reduction in the sound quality but enabled the recordings to be sold at prices that could compete with vinyl LPs.

Chasing the Dragon is now selling "Real Time Cassettes," copied directly from the original master tapes.

Then along came the compact cassette. These are also quarter-track recordings, but made on eighth-inch tape running at 1.75 IPS. Commercially made pre-recorded cassette tapes were also made on high-speed duplicating machines, and developments in tape formulations meant that very high-quality recordings could be made at this slower speed and on the narrower tape of a cassette. 

When the CD appeared on the scene, cassette sales dwindled as consumers headed for the new digital format. However, in recent years, people are realizing that the old analog formats still have a great deal to offer in terms of sound quality. The current revival of interest in pre-recorded open reel tapes is not about the mass-produced quarter-track 7.5 IPS tapes of yesteryear but about true copy master tapes made at the original mastering speed of 15 IPS on 10.5" NAB spools. Some companies focus on re-releasing master copies of the master tapes of original analog recordings, while others are now producing modern recordings that have been made on professional analog tape. The problem for many is that copy-master tapes are made on expensive media and making a copy is a time-consuming process as it has to be made in real-time. This makes the end product rather costly when compared to the LP, although the sound quality is generally considerably superior.

Now, we are beginning to see a resurgence of interest in the compact cassette. According to a report released by The Official UK Charts Co., sales of cassette albums in the UK in 2017 more than doubled compared with the previous year. Sales in 2018 were even better, thanks to a number of high-profile artists releasing their latest albums on cassette. This has prompted UK audiophile recording label Chasing The Dragon to start releasing its catalog of recordings on cassette. As far as I am aware, this company is one of the first, if not the first, to do so. These cassettes are not made on high-speed duplicating machines, but like their copy-master open reel counterparts, they are recorded individually in real-time from the master tape on a Nakamichi CR-7E, which re-calibrates the bias and azimuth before every recording. The tapes are Chromium Oxide standard play C60 cassettes from ATR, recorded with or without Dolby noise reduction, depending on the customer's requirements. Even given the labor-intensive process, the cost is considerably less than copy-master open reel recordings - around the same cost as the LP version. Also, you don't need to purchase an expensive studio-quality machine to play the cassettes.

When recording and playing Compact Audio Cassettes, the Nakamichi CR-7E is considered one of the best available machines, proven also by its long-term maintainability.

Needless to say, I was eager to get my hands on one of these cassettes and I chose a recording of Vivaldi in Venice in both the Dolby and non-Dolby versions. I have the same recording on LP and open reel tape, so I was able to compare the cassette against other analog formats. My first job was to dash up to the loft and dig out my trusty Technics RS-B665 cassette deck. After removing the cobwebs from the tape heads and giving it a general service, I plumbed it back into my audio system.

I lined up my copy-master open reel tape on my Studer, lifted my stylus over the same track on the LP, and positioned the cassette at the same point on my Technics. I was then ready to press "play" on both tape machines and lower the stylus onto the record all at the same time. With all three recordings playing simultaneously, I was able to switch between the different formats to make comparisons.
ATR Magnetics acquired a stock of the increasingly scarce BASF Super Chrome Cassette tape and is now selling type II cassettes in boxes of 10 in the C-60 and C-90 format, 30 and 45 minutes per side, respectively.

The results were somewhat surprising. Both the open reel master tape and LP were superb, but the open reel tape conveyed more of the atmosphere and realism of the live performance. What I was not expecting was that the cassette was really up there with both these analog formats. It really sounded pretty close to the LP, although the background noise was quieter on the LP and the open reel tape. The non-Dolby cassette had all the dynamic range and extended bass response of the open reel tape, at the expense of a little bit of tape hiss. However, that is a small price to pay for nearly an order of magnitude lower cost. The Dolby cassette, as you would expect, did not suffer from the hiss of its non-Dolby counterpart, but lacked the openness, attack, and clarity of the non-Dolby cassette. With Dolby, the bass performance was similar, but the top end of the strings felt a bit more restrained and also edgy. Overall, I preferred the non-Dolby cassette, but I can see others wanting the quieter noise floor of the Dolby version.
Hmm - I wonder if it's worth me bidding on an unopened, ten-pack of TDK SA60s on eBay.

Practical T&M
The Smart Way of Testing Smart Home Devices
By  Hans W. Gierlich (HEAD acoustics)
Smart speakers and smart home devices with speech recognition, hands-free communication, conference functionalities, or audio playback must be tested to the highest requirements in order to ensure optimal voice and audio quality. In this article for audioXpress, Hans W. Gierlich, managing director of HEAD acoustics, explains how to test the different performance parameters of these systems under real-life conditions, how to deal with the challenges of optimizing systems for voice and audio quality, how to simulate environmental conditions, user behavior, and test the performance of the various functionalities. This article was originally published in audioXpress, January 2019 .   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
The SB Acoustics Satori TW29DN-B-8 Dome Tweeter
By Vance Dickason
In this Test Bench article, we look at the 29 mm TW29DN-B cloth dome tweeter from the SB Acoustics Satori line of high-end devices. This new TW29DN-B-8 SB Satori tweeter is a wide surround format-type similar to the original Vifa DX tweeter, or the current Scan-Speak D2604 or D2607. However, all of these are 26 mm diaphragm tweeters, and the new Satori ST29DN-B-8 is a 29 mm diaphragm type. Features include a 8 mm wide surround coated cloth-type diaphragm, a non-reflective cast-aluminum rear cavity, a two-part aluminum faceplate with integrated mechanical decoupling, dual-balanced compression chambers, a high-saturation neodymium ring type motor magnet with a T-shaped pole and dual copper shorting rings (Faraday shields), a CCAW wound voice coil, foam mounting gasket, and gold-plated terminals. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, March 2019 .   Check it out here!

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