Industry & Product News
Audio Industry Returns to New York for 147th International Audio Engineering Society Convention
Now solidly established as an annual tradition for the entire audio industry, and particularly for the professional audio sector, the International Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention returns to New York City, October 16-19, at the Javits Center. As in previous years, AES New York 2019 will be co-located with the independent NAB Show New York, open October 16-17 in an adjacent exhibition hall. AES New York registration includes access to both exhibition halls. 
Use this Code for FREE Exhibits-Plus registration: AES19AUDIOXPRESS    Register Now
Biamp Systems Accelerates Expansion with Acquisition of Community Loudspeakers and Apart Audio
Biamp Systems, a manufacturer of video and audio networked solutions for commercial audio applications based in Beaverton, OR, announced the acquisition of Audioprof Group International, parent company of Community Loudspeakers based in Philadelphia, PA, and Apart Audio based in Antwerp, Belgium from 3d Investors of Gent, Belgium. The strategic acquisition follows the expansion strategy defined by Rashid Skaf, Biamp's President and CEO, appointed by Highlander Partners, a private investment firm, which acquired Biamp in November 2017 .    Read More

Listen Announces Updated Bluetooth Interface with Support for High Definition and Low Latency Bluetooth Measurements
The updated BTC-4149 Bluetooth measurement interface, available worldwide exclusively from Listen, Inc., together with its  SoundCheck 17 software, now supports aptX HD and aptX-Low Latency Bluetooth protocols for accurate measurement of high-definition and low-latency Bluetooth devices. This enables manufacturers of Bluetooth audio devices to accurately test the audio of the latest high-performance Bluetooth sink and Bluetooth source devices, making the same measurements as on traditional audio devices .    Read More

RHA Introduces Bluetooth 5 Universal Wireless Flight Adapter
Scottish headphone manufacturer RHA has released a Wireless Flight Adapter with a market leading 16-hour battery life - allowing users to connect wireless headphones to in-flight entertainment systems. The adapter can also be used to turn audio devices - from cassette players to game consoles - into Bluetooth-compatible devices. The RHA Wireless Flight Adapter is a Bluetooth 5 device able to transmit in a range of 10 meters or more, and is available now for only 49.95 EUR/USD .    Read More

Waves Audio Uses Nx Technology to Recreate Abbey Road Studio 3 Room Emulation
Waves Audio, a signal processing technology company and leading creator of audio plug-ins for studios, introduced the Abbey Road Studio 3 plugin, created in collaboration with Abbey Road Studios. Using its Waves Nx 3D audio binaural encoding technology to emulate the acoustics of a space, the new plug-in allows anyone to work with headphones, as if it was inside the Abbey Road Studio 3 Control Room. For music producers, this means the ability to hear the music in the renowned studio, with an emulation of the studio's stereo nearfield monitors, 5.1, or 7.1 setups .    Read More

SEAS Announces E0101-04 Dark Diamond Tweeter Launch by Popular Demand 
SEAS just announced that it is launching the new E0101-04 Dark Diamond tweeter, in direct response to market interest. With its beautifully precision machined, black anodized aluminum faceplate, which is horn loaded for a smooth frequency response, maximum stability, and smooth appearance, the Dark Diamond essentially follows the improvements implemented to the renowned White Diamond tweeter, which the company states, represent "the ultimate sound reproduction quality at high frequencies, flawless, clean, uncolored, and natural."    Read More

Sennheiser Acquires Majority Stake in VR/AR Audio Software Company Dear Reality
Sennheiser has become a majority shareholder in Dear Reality GmbH. The German company specializing in spatial audio algorithms and VR/AR audio software will continue to operate as a separate company based in Düsseldorf and Dear Reality confirms that its existing customers will be able to rely on existing dearVR products, while looking forward to new joint VR/AR workflows developed in collaboration with Sennheiser. Uwe Cremering, responsible for AMBEO Immersive Audio at Sennheiser, will support the company as a third CEO alongside founders Achim Fell and Christian Sander .    Read More

AudioControl Showcases New Studio Six Digital Audio Test and Measurement Solutions at InfoComm 2019
Certainly one of the most interesting displays at InfoComm 2019 was the Studio Six Digital side of the AudioControl booth, now that the companies are effectively united, following the acquisition in 2018 of part of the capital of the company founded by Andrew Smith. AudioControl is also now the exclusive distributor for Studio Six Digital products in the US and many other countries worldwide. It was great to see important updates on the Studio Six audio test and measurement systems for the iOS platform, but also an exciting new product, the dBPod Smart Sound Monitor .    Read More

Sony Introduces New WF-1000XM3 Noise-Canceling True Wireless Headphones Featuring Dedicated Processor
The race to lead the true wireless earbud market category is heating up, with the major brands introducing updated specifications and focusing on key selling points. The entire market recognizes that Apple has a clear lead due to its tight hardware integration and dedicated wireless chip, already in its second-generation. Now Sony enters the market with the new and improved WF-1000XM3 model - $229.99 - featuring also its own HD Noise-Canceling Processor QN1e processor, new Bluetooth chip, and optimized antenna design .    Read More

Editor's Desk
J. Martins

The Self-Driving Loudspeaker

In an earlier edition of audioXpress, where we focused on truly wireless earbuds and voice assistants, I forecasted that the underlying technologies fostering those consumer-focused developments would quickly enable an expansion of innovation in other product segments, including for professional applications.

The development of the essential technologies that enable those product categories - which expand to the now highly discussed smart-speaker category - share many essential components and will inevitably converge. As I wrote in my editorial for the April 2019 edition, I don't believe it will make much sense to continue having a separate category called "smart speakers" in the future, once all speakers become "smart."

Today, we have this novelty of small speakers that are essentially being used to promote the use of voice digital assistants and incentivize the adoption of services from Amazon, Google, Apple, Baidu, Tencent, and others. In the near future, all speakers - portable, floor-standing, musicians' stage monitors, and even large-size line arrays for touring in the largest arenas will also be "smart." Meaning, they will be connected, include a sophisticated computer inside, and will be equipped with microphone arrays and signal processing capabilities, enabling real-time adjustments to any acoustic environment or usage scenario. According to the demands of the situation, those speakers will be able to adjust automatically to deliver the best possible reproduction, sometimes using shared resources available through the cloud, sometimes purely based on their own built-in "intelligence."

And I envisage a scenario where home users and audio engineers alike will not need to voice-interact with those systems much, since the systems themselves will "talk to them" when needed. If today we associate Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri to services we need to "call" and ask something, very soon those AI-powered assistants will be talking to us instead. 

The latest generation of loudspeakers from Renkus-Heinz introduced at InfoComm 2019. On the left are the new ICLive X series of high-powered steerable arrays. On the right, the new DC12/2 Directivity Control compact steerable array.

The technology pieces needed for these scenarios are exactly what's powering today's pioneering efforts in voice, machine learning, AI, digital signal processing, low-power embedded electronics, sensors, fast-charging batteries, wireless networks, and more. But also, low-power highly sensitive MEMS for those microphone arrays, extremely efficient audio amplifiers closely tied to signal processing, and highly efficient transducers that are able to project sound exactly where needed and nothing else, avoiding reflections in rooms and including the ability to track and follow a listener in a room, if needed. All the parts of the equation are needed.

These ideas were on my mind while recently visiting the InfoComm 2019 show in Orlando, FL, and much more when I returned and I was browsing through the different company announcements looking for the things that stand-out. One of the pieces I wrote, and which we highlighted last week was the all-new Renkus-Heinz ICLive X series of high-powered steerable arrays, the latest and most promising effort from the California company that (together with Duran Audio in The Netherlands, later acquired by Harman) pioneered fully-networked speaker arrays that could be completely "steered" as needed, not only in terms of exact dispersion coverage but also in terms of optimization of the sound beams. And Renkus-Heinz took the concept a step further, designing systems able to tour, scale, and respond to musical signals in live concerts with very high SPLs - not only for voice-optimized fixed installations. This, to me, is the right direction for speaker technology, and it was good to see the concept evolving, even if the complexity of the whole design still demands a premium price - having a single amplifier and DSP channel per driver, plus all the high-quality transducers, plus all the network interfaces, bears its cost.

I have no doubt that the price is bound to dramatically change, as professional audio companies start to leverage even more of the innovations I previously mentioned, and which are being propelled by Audio-over-IP (AoIP), sensors, smart amplifier platforms, etc.

Renkus-Heinz was celebrating its 40th anniversary during the InfoComm 2019 show, and even though the company's co-founder and still acting CEO, Harro Heinz, didn't attend, the company had life-size photos of him everywhere - and taking selfies with Harro suddenly became one of the most popular social media trends from the show. To signal the Renkus-Heinz anniversary, our friends from Pro AVL magazines have released a short video profiling the company, which is available on their YouTube channel available here.

Harro Heinz, Renkus-Heinz co-founder and CEO shared his vision for the future of speakers and his company... (Image from video courtesy of Pro AVL)

In that video, I was indeed very glad to hear a testimony from Harro Heinz regarding his vision for the "Self-Driving Loudspeaker," as the equivalent of a self-driving car. In the video he describes: "A loudspeaker that is placed in a room, the loudspeaker is immediately aware of the room, knows its surroundings and knows how to adjust itself for the best possible sound and coverage. That is where we are headed and we have the basic of what is required there. It is not self-adjustable yet, but could be."

Today, driving those efforts at Renkus-Heinz is Harro's son, Ralph Heinz, the company's Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, who briefly guided audioXpress through all the new products when we visited their demo room at InfoComm this year (and they had many new speakers to talk about...). I know this vision is what Ralph envisages. Because he knows that there aren't many ways to differentiate pro audio companies, which basically all have very good quality loudspeakers these days, mostly all use drivers manufactured by other companies, and mostly powered by very good amplifiers, manufactured by a handful of companies. Renkus-Heinz has been also heavily investing to differentiate its products with in-house electronics and networking expertise.

Ralph Heinz has been pushing the gigantic R&D effort behind the company's speaker designs, including coaxial loudspeakers, the Iconyx steerable beamforming arrays, all the DSP development that's needed to go with it, and the company's own Renkus-Heinz Audio Operations Network (RHAON), which currently also support Dante and AES67. Because, as Ralph said, speakers "are dumb systems until an expert applies his experience to complete all the settings relating to coverage and system response."

Ralph Heinz, Renkus-Heinz's Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, with the very popular image of Harro Heinz at InfoComm 2019, where the company celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Beyond adaptive directivity and beam forming, there is a lot more happening on this front from other companies, including real applications using wave field synthesis, spatial and object-based audio, and a lot happening in predictive acoustics software to support new generations of highly effective speakers. But the missing piece is actually coming from outside the pro audio industry, in the intensive research happening in smart speakers and all the consumer-focused research in microphone arrays and real-time signal processing for room compensation.

By seeing Harro Heinz, the company's founder which will be celebrating his 90th birthday this next December, taking that vision to the extreme, I felt confident that we will see this happening sooner rather than later. But from what I saw also at InfoComm 2019, the pro audio industry does need to be far more focused and engaged with all the things that are happening around it. Because the vision for the Self-Driving Loudspeaker is certainly not going to be self-driven...

Audio Electronics
A Transformer-Coupled Balanced Output for Solid-State Preamps
By  Gary Galo
Longtime audioXpress contributor Gary Galo writes about a transformer-coupled balanced output circuit for solid-state preamps, both for microphone-level and line-level signals. Exploring the differences between balanced interfaces and unbalanced interfaces - and finding things that we really want to be aware of, he then explains why he selected Jensen transformers for his own project. This article was originally published in audioXpress, February 2019 .   Read the Full Article Now Available Here
Voice  Coil Spotlight
Remembering the Electro-Voice T35 Super Tweeter
By Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific, Ltd.)
Do you remember the Electro-Voice T35 Super Tweeter? This was a high-performance horn tweeter that even today has state-of-the-art wideband response, high sensitivity, and a history that spans over six decades! The T35 series was quite popular in audiophile high-end systems, studio monitors, club speaker systems, movie theater sound systems, as well as home-brew speakers. Klipsch used variants of the T35 (the K-77 tweeter) starting around 1959 in the big Klipschorn. The K-77 was also used in other Klipsch models including the Cornwall, Heresy, and La Scala. Klipsch employed this tweeter for 40 years until EV discontinued production in 2000. Yet the T35 lives on today, better than ever, in Klipsch products (and other pro and hi-fi speaker systems), manufactured exclusively for High Performance Stereo by Dai-Ichi in the Philippines. This trip down memory lane relates the story of the T35, with a look at not just the tweeters, but also the people behind these developments. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2010 .   Check it out here!

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