Industry & Product News
Renkus-Heinz Now Shipping Advanced ICLive X Steerable Array Loudspeakers
During InfoComm 2019, Renkus-Heinz debuted several new products directly aiming at both installations and live events. Among the new products was the all-new ICLive X series of high-powered steerable arrays, based on the new ICL-X and ICL-XS modules, both using Renkus-Heinz's exclusive Acoustic Source Multiplier (ASM) waveguide. With greater power density, higher output, simple integrated hardware, and its unique coaxially mounted driver arrangement, the new ICLive X series is a new flexible solution for integrators, contractors, and production/rental houses .    Read More

Headphone Shipments Achieve Q1 2019 Revenues of $5.9 Billion
Consumer appetite for premium headphones continues to grow, with global revenues rising five times faster than shipments in Q1 2019, according to the latest market tracker report from Futuresource Consulting. As the CE Team at Futuresource highlights in its latest update of the "Worldwide Headphone Market Report," headphone market revenues have reached $5.9 billion. True wireless maintained its ascent, outperforming all other form factors with growth of 223% in units and 188% in value .    Read More

Focusrite Announces New Generation of Scarlett Audio Interfaces with USB-C
British manufacturer Focusrite has enjoyed enormous success with its affordable range of USB Scarlett audio interfaces. From home and project studios to radio stations and anyone who needs a simple to use and reliable audio interface with good microphone preamps, the Scarlett range was the epitome for "good-enough" studio equipment from a respected brand. Now in its third generation, Focusrite updated the interface itself to USB 3.1 and using a USB-C connector and matched updated 24-bit audio circuits so they'll sound better than ever .    Read More

KEF Launches Mounting Accessories for LSX Wireless Speakers
The LSX compact two-speaker wireless music system from KEF truly depicts what a modern, fully integrated wireless music playback system should encompass. A great pair of active speakers that directly support music streaming services, with decent amplification and DAC, and truly convenient to use. Now, KEF announced the arrival of the LSX Accessories range expanding that convenience even more. The accessories include the S1 Floor Stand ($349.99/pair), the B1 Wall Bracket ($229.99/pair) and the P1 Desk Pad ($179.99/pair), available from August 2019 .    Read More

RME Updates ADI-2 Pro Firmware with User-Requested Features 
RME released a new firmware for its ADI-2 Pro series, including ADI-2 Pro AE and FS. The ADI-2 Pro is a measurement quality AD/DA converter, a high-end DAC, and an unbelievably clean and powerful headphone amp. Based on sample rates up to 768 kHz and DSD256 playback and recording, up to six input and eight output channels of mixed digital and analog domain, and a powerful DSP providing a multitude of audio processing functions, the unit has been extremely successful and is still growing in popularity .    Read More

Celestion CDV1-1757 Compression Driver Designed for Vocal Applications Now Shipping Worldwide
Celestion has announced the worldwide availability of the CDV1-1757 compression driver. The CDV1-1757 was designed for optimum vocal clarity across the critical vocal band, which makes this driver especially well-suited to applications such as mass notification systems, voice alarms and emergency evacuation systems as well as long-distance call to prayer loudspeakers. It features a next-generation proprietary Sound Castle diaphragm clamping system for improved reliability, even in the most demanding of applications. A standard 1.38" (35 mm) screw fitting provides maximum compatibility with a range of Celestion and third-party horn flares .    Read More

Oupio Launches Lighting Concept with Integrated Speaker Using Tectonic BMR Drivers
A small team of designers from Bucharest, Romania, have been working for the past couple of years on a new brand called Oupio. Currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, their first product combines a portable speaker with LED lighting and it's called Oupio M. The design and concept looks great, and the team carefully researched the best possible options, including choice of materials and speaker design, opting for a combination of Balance Mode Radiator drivers from Tectonic Audio Labs .    Read More

B&C Speakers Joins Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA)
A group of stakeholders from the Rare Earth supply chain met recently for The Global Rare Earth Industry Association Conference, June 25- 27, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting was also the first General Assembly to establish a global association to develop an integrated, de-risked, and sustainable value chain for rare earth materials. The Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA) was founded by 12 organizations, including Italian loudspeaker manufacturer B&C Speakers, which was already part of a European-funded project committed to the reuse of rare-earth magnets .    Read More

Editor's Desk
J. Martins

New Shallow Subwoofers from Wavecor
Discussing  High-End and Custom Development

During the High End show in Munich I caught up once again with Wavecor, the expert high-end driver manufacturer, which usually has an important presence at the Munich show. They always have many clients that release finished products using Wavecor drivers at this show. Not that all brands will reveal that they do...

Usually we meet Wavecor at the CES show, where the company has a suite and shows new products first-hand. But with the busy schedule at the Las Vegas, NV show, there's never enough time to discuss products in detail. In Munich, Wavecor has a nice booth and we can eventually see the new products in better light, compared to the dark suites of the Venetian... Also, they always kindly agree to hand out copies of Voice Coil, so I tend to get back often for refills.

Allan Isaksen is the founder, General Manager and Chairman of Wavecor.

As usual, we caught up with Allan Isaksen, General Manager and Chairman of Wavecor, which is not only an authority on speakers, but he is always kind enough to patiently explain what I need to know. After all, he was the former General Manager for DST Loudspeakers, and prior to that, he was engineering manager and director of sales & engineering for Vifa, Videbæk højttalerfabrik from 1983 to 2000 in Denmark, where he started his career. In 1999, Isaksen relocated from Denmark to the GuangDong Province of China, where he established the Chinese production base for Vifa/Scan-Speak, Vifa Loudspeakers (PanYu) Ltd., which subsequently merged into Danish Sound Technology (DST), later acquired by Tymphany. In 2005, he founded Wavecor, Ltd., and was later joined by his former Vifa/DST colleague Per Madsen, who is now Director of Technology at Wavecor. Together, Isaksen and Madsen have designed many of the famous drivers at Vifa/Scan-Speak.

Wavecor produces all its drivers in China, but the company's heritage is heavily routed in the best Danish loudspeaker tradition, and it's not surprising that Wavecor products power so many important consumer audio and high-end brands in Europe and all over the world. In that tradition, Wavecor likes to promote its products for how they sound, instead on how they measure - even if, as attested over the years by Vance Dickason in Voice Coil's Test Bench, they usually measure and sound very good. In the company's "manifesto" they state: "We optimize each and every parameter. However, at the end, our ears will make the final decisions. If we have to choose between two design directions, where one for instance linearizes the frequency response, and the other improves the sound judged by our ears, we will always pick the choice that makes the better sound." And that's probably why Wavecor drivers are frequently praised for being natural sounding and transparent.

Over the years, I have heard some of those companies that openly reveal they work with Wavecor, praising the brand's drivers. But one thing that intrigued me, is that, even though the company has a rather extensive catalog with tweeters, full-range drivers, midrange units, woofers, subwoofers, and even passive radiators, usually the loudspeaker companies brag about the fact that all their drivers are "completely custom made for them" by Wavecor.

When I visited Wavecor this year at the High End show, I was prepared to jump on the extensive range of tweeters and full-range units on display, but couldn't help noticing that there was an unusual number of large-sized drivers, and that the products standing out in the front where all low-frequency units... But extremely shallow for woofers. At least two of them.

The SW280WA01 (top) and the SW280WA03 shallow subwoofers are two of Wavecor's latest developments and were highlights at the High End 2019 show in Munich, Germany.

I asked Isaksen about those, and he explain they were two new 11" (27 cm) high-performance, low-profile subwoofers, the first of which, the SW280WA01 uses an innovative design with a dual rubber surround, no-spider suspension and a flat sandwich cone made of glass fiber/PMI foam. "Recommended for high-end audio applications, where build-in depth is limited, typically for high-performance in-wall systems," Isaksen explained. In the June 2019 edition of Voice Coil, the SW280WA01 was the focus of a Test Bench. As Dickason characterized, "the SW280WA01 represents some interesting driver technology that has application in small narrow spaces. The SW280WA01 has a unique and interesting feature set that starts with an extremely shallow 76 mm (3") depth proprietary eight-spoke vented cast-aluminum frame."

The innovative dual-cone design is the key to mounting the motor structure inside the frame, which uses its "balanced drive" motor configuration, with the magnet mounted "inside" the cone, all mounted on a rigid die cast aluminum chassis. The result is an impressive low profile woofer that offers extremely low mechanical losses and allows for great performance between 20 to 200 Hz, responding all the way to 400 Hz, with a continuous power handling of 200 W.

Side by side with the SW280WA01 - which was my initial focus of attention - was another driver, referenced as the SW280WA03. Like the other one, my immediate thinking was that this could be a very large passive radiator like I had seen from Wavecor, but Allan Isaksen was quick to indicate that it wasn't. In fact, like the reference number indicated, it is a very similar unit to the previous shallow woofer, just that it uses a 10" inverted paper cone and a basket with no opening from the front, because the venting and radiation is from the back. Like the SW280WA01, the SW280WA03 uses a balanced drive motor and its features are overall very similar.

The Wavecor SW280WA03 uses a 10" inverted paper cone and a basket with no opening from the front, because the venting and radiation is from the back.

Really thin, and designed with in-wall installations in mind, this driver provides a hi-fi level solution for custom residential or home theater setups. "These are the first ones in a range," Isaksen explained. "Many customers were asking for a shallow design, and we had to figure out how to do that, and this was one way. We always look at existing patents, and to find a way around that, these drivers are just two ways of achieving the same thing."

"We worked on both projects at the same time, and it turned out that both work, so the project resulted in two products. The SW280WA01 was born to be in a die-cast frame, and that was actually the first one we started. Both are 10" and use the same magnet. But the SW280WA01 is spider-less and uses two surrounds." As he revealed, maybe there will be an 8" follow-up but no model larger than 10". Essentially, Wavecor will monitor how the market reaction will be before deciding to go any further, and the High End show was an opportunity to get some feedback.

While the SW280WA01 uses glass fiber, that's only a thin layer. The real structure is foam. "The glass fiber layer provides additional stiffness but it's mainly for cosmetic purposes, looking much nicer than the foam. Also, there's a hole for the voice coil fitting, so although there is foam on top of the voice coil, the glass fiber provides a better cosmetic look," Isaksen added. 

On both the SW280WA01 and the SW280WA03, the voice coil is 39 mm, with copper wire on a glass fiber former and the intended frequency response should cover 20 Hz to 200 Hz with a resonance frequency (fs) of 26 Hz. Currently, the SW280WA01 is in production, available at resellers like Parts Express (for the US), and there are already at least two companies with finished products using it. As for the SW280WA03, Wavecor is ready to take orders and units are sampling now.

Renowned in the high-end space, Wavecor also seems to be exploring the installation and segments of professional audio. I asked Allan Isaksen about it. "We are focused on the high-end and consumer audio segments, but we continuously monitor the installation/residential markets. We have this 10" woofer that is directed more toward the installation segment and even PA applications, and we have quite a lot of small full range speakers that are not really for hi-fi, they are more for small, personal audio products, and they are actually doing quite OK. We try not to seat on only one segment of the market," he explained.

The SW275BD02 (left) is currently the highest performing Wavecor subwoofer in the catalog. The Wavecor WF182CUX1 paper cone mid/woofer (right) was basically created on request for the German market but is available if any manufacturer asks for it.

And keeping up with the low-frequency topic, Isaksen highlighted two other new subwoofers for us. First, the SW275BD02, a high excursion, high output, double-spider, 10.75" mica/paper composite cone subwoofer (8 Ohm) with a large motor and 2.5" (65 mm) voice coil. This is the highest performing Wavecor subwoofer in the catalog. Officially introduced in 2018, there are already some finished products in the market using it. The SW275BD01, the 4 Ohm version of this subwoofer was characterized in Voice Coil, October 2018.

Again using a Balanced Drive motor for optimal drive force symmetry, resulting in largely reduced even order harmonic distortion, the big NBR surround is one of the SW275BD02 distinctive features. FEA optimized for improved suspension symmetry, it features very low distortion from below 20 Hz and its vented center pole with dual flares, and rigid die cast aluminum chassis offer extensive venting for lower air flow speed, reducing audible distortion.

Since 2018, Wavecor also launched the WF182CUX1 paper cone mid/woofer, which is not something that can be found on the brand's website, but we found it at the company's booth in Munich. This is because it is a product that is made on special request from Wavecor's German distributor. Nevertheless, the company can make it available if any manufacturer asks for it. It is basically an existing catalog woofer, where the dust cap was replaced by a phase plug, and the result is getting an enthusiastic response in the high-end market.

These drivers are nice examples of Wavecor's ability to develop both completely new solutions and quickly respond to a market request with adapted products from its catalog. But as Allan Isaksen explains, "for a company like ours, it's always a compromise because we get a lot of customer requirements, so it's difficult to balance the time spent on our own developments, versus what you do for one customer. This is a difficult one, because once you have a customer asking for something, you have a relatively high degree of certainty for business, but if you are not careful, your own development suffers.

"And it is very typical that clients completely specify the product they want. An example is Audio Physic. We do all their drivers and none of them are standard. They are not even close to being standard. And around this show, we have quite a good quantity of drivers. Some of our customers will explain to you proudly that they use Wavecor, others don't talk about it. Others even say they do their own drivers... But it doesn't matter, as long as it works for them."

Knowing Allan Isaksen sees himself as a loudspeaker engineer, much more than a salesperson - even though he reluctantly confesses ending up actually doing most of the sales - he is always ready to offer all the advice a client will need. And that's essentially a hallmark for Wavecor.

I couldn't resist using the opportunity to chat a bit with Allan Isaksen about the dilemma that many audio manufacturers go through, when their ambitions sometimes are bigger than their actual engineering expertise (and budget). Something that is not so common in high-end, but we can see very often among consumer audio companies and especially startups, attending CES.

How many times do you risk specifying the exact drivers you intend to use on a speaker design - and risk ending up with a product that is more expensive because you only committed to certain quantities, you paid for some specific tooling, and in the end it's not what you thought it would be - but hey, that's your fault - or you basically grab a standard product from a driver manufacturer catalog and you design the speaker around it, keeping your resources for other aspects, like the cabinet design?

Isaksen was amused by this description and commented, "If a manufacturer knows exactly what they want, which by the way is not always the case, I would say that for us it's not that hard to do. I don't see any difficulty. There might be some materials, cosmetic things that are a little bit harder, but technically, if you can tell us what you want, it should be easy. Once the finally engineering samples are approved, that's what comes out of production. And as with specs, it's the same with the price. Once we fix the price, it's fixed."

Fresh From the Bench
The Nu:Tekt HA-K1 "Tube" Headphone Amplifier by Korg NuTube
By  Erik Owen
For the May 2019 "Glass Audio" special edition, audioXpress asked Erik Owen to share with us his experience with the new Nu:Tekt HA-K1 "Tube" headphone amplifier using the novel Korg Nutube 6P1 device (read about it here) - a miniature, low-power dual directly-heated triode that uses a one-pixel vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) device, emulating the properties of a driver tube. This interesting headphone amplifier is sold as a kit for $199, it's relatively easy to assemble, and - more interestingly - makes for a practical way to actually induce some of the magic of tubes in a relatively portable configuration. As Owen puts it "a small piece of innovation that I purchased on a whim: a miniaturized vacuum tube amplifier." In this article he shares everything he learned about this new approach on tubes and how it delivers. This article was originally published in audioXpress May 2019 .   Read the Full Article Now Available Here
Voice  Coil Focus
Trends in Microspeakers
By Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific)
Voice Coil April 2019 featured another great Focus article by Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific) discussing trends in Microspeakers. With more than 1.6 billion mobile phones built annually, each with a microspeaker for the speakerphone and another for the receiver, this side of the speaker industry attracts the giants. Top players include AAC, Goertek, Gettop, ForGrand, Bujon, and Merry Electronics along with others that share the sizable crumbs from laptops and tablets. Fast ramp-up, intense pricing, and other tough challenges have kept many companies away from the segment, while many other vendors continuously search for a chance to get a piece of the action. Get the full scoop on one of the hottest market segments. In that same edition, this Voice Coil Focus article was complemented with the latest and most up-to-date Directory of key microspeaker vendors and solutions for mobile electronics. You can read Klasco's article now, but you will have to subscribe to Voice Coil (it's free!) to access the directory! This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2019 .   Check it out here!

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