Industry & Product News
NAD Announces New CI 8-120 Eight-Channel DSP Amplifier for Distributed Audio
NAD Electronics announced an all-new advanced amplifier targeted at high-performance distributed audio systems. The CI 8-120 DSP uses a customized version of the proven Hypex UcD output stage and is capable of delivering massive power with extremely low distortion and noise in the audible range. Featured at CEDIA 2019, the networked controlled CI 8-120 DSP ($2,999 US MSRP) delivers 8 x 120 W per channel with unique features and will be available in November .    Read More

Marshall Day Acoustics and Sennheiser Announce Integration of AMBEO VR Mic with IRIS Room Acoustics Measurement System
At the 2019 International Congress on Acoustics, in Aachen, Germany, Marshall Day Acoustics (MDA) and Sennheiser announced a collaboration to ensure that the IRIS room acoustics measurement system from MDA will now fully support Sennheiser's AMBEO VR Mic. This is undoubtedly a new promising field of applications for an Ambisonics microphone and an important impulse response tool for users of the IRIS room acoustics measurement system .    Read More

Google Voice Assistant Coming to BluOS Products
Lenbrook International announced that its BluOS Hi-Res Distributed Audio platform will support Google Voice Assistant through Actions On Google. BluOS already supports Amazon Alexa voice control and Apple Siri with AirPlay 2-compatible products. Users of BluOS-enabled products from Bluesound, NAD Electronics, and DALI Speakers will be prompted to update their players on or around October 8, 2019, to add hands-free control of their music from any Google Home device .    Read More

Sony Takes True Wireless Noise Cancellation to a New Level with New WF-1000XM3 Earbuds
Among the new headphones announced by Sony at IFA 2019, the WF-1000XM3 true wireless earbuds with noise cancellation are a clear standout, combining the 1000X family's renowned sound quality with Sony's Dual Noise Sensor technology and HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1e. The wire-free design also offers stable Bluetooth 5 connectivity, comfortable fitting, long-lasting battery life with USB-C quick charging, and Adaptive Sound Control with customizable touch controls and voice assistant support .    Read More

DSP Concepts TalkTo Audio Voice Capture Technology Enables New Exciting Products at IFA 2019
Audio processing embedded software provider DSP Concepts announced that it has delivered the industry's most advanced voice user interface and audio playback technology, resulting in Braun Audio shipping the industry's first multichannel product with hands-free, far-field voice control for Google Assistant. As anticipated, Braun's return to the premium audio market was recently confirmed at IFA 2019, resulting from a collaboration with DSP Concepts, Pure, StreamUnlimited, and Karl-Heinz Fink .    Read More

PMC Introduces New ci140 and ci140sub Slimline Custom Installation Loudspeakers at CEDIA 2019
The first two models of PMC's all new custom installation loudspeakers will be unveiled at the CEDIA Expo 2019, aiming to bring the British company's technology and Hollywood studio audio quality to the custom installation and residential home theater sector. The first two models, the ci140 and ci140sub will be launched at CEDIA 2019 but PMC intends to reinforce the range with the ci30, ci45, ci90slim, and ci65 models in Q1 2020. PMC speakers featuring Advanced Transmission Line (ATL) designs will offer an innovative solution for residential integrators .    Read More

Global Headphone Market Revenue Growth Exceeds 40% in Q2 2019
Futuresource Consulting just released the latest market update on its dedicated global headphone market research. According to the latest quarterly tracker report from Futuresource, premium headphones continue to capture the imagination of consumers, with global revenues in Q2 2019 growing nearly four times faster than shipments, at 44% year-on-year .    Read More

Jabra Expands Leadership with Elite 75t True Wireless Earbuds
When Jabra launched its Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t models at CES 2018, benefiting from the company's expertise in wireless audio and hearing aids, it clearly established a benchmark for true wireless earbuds. This year, at IFA 2019 in Berlin, Jabra introduced the Elite 75t, featuring 50% more battery in a 20% smaller design, while still offering a premium sound and four-microphone technology for calls, fast USB-C charging, and a customizable music listening experience via the Jabra Sound+ app .    Read More

Genelec Announces Newly Expanded "The Ones" Studio Monitor Family
Genelec expanded "The Ones" series of Ultimate Point Source Monitors to bring uncompromised precision listening to a much wider range of room sizes, listening distances, and SPL requirements. With a breakthrough coaxial design, The Ones truly projected Genelec to a new precision level in professional audio monitoring. Now, the company introduces a new, more powerful flagship model, the 8361A, upgrades the 8351B, and introduces a unique low-frequency extension to the family   Read More

Editor's Desk
J. Martins

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019
It Was Fun, But It's Complicated...

Yes, it was strange to fly to Denver, CO so early in September while most of the industry was on the way to Berlin, Germany for another edition of the International Funkausstellung (IFA), the gigantic consumer electronics and appliance show, which rivals CES in visitor numbers. But the fact is, I don't regret it in the least.

Since the 2019 edition of the Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (RMAF) changed dates to September 6-8, and the CEDIA Expo takes place shortly after also in Denver (with the exhibition opening its doors as you will be reading this), it was a great incentive to opt for Colorado instead.

The Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center is an excellent venue for a show like RMAF.

Many other audio industry professionals must have thought the same, since I noticed familiar faces during RMAF, which I am quite certain wouldn't attend if it wasn't for CEDIA. Effectively, it just might be that the change in venue and the date change could have worked in favor of RMAF, which is first and foremost a hi-fidelity, high-end show.

IFA (much like CES, in fact) offers little in terms of high-end audio products these days, and many companies exhibiting at both IFA and RMAF (e.g., Sony) have presented some new products in Denver. Plus, the synergy with a residential integration show like CEDIA creates a positive impact for RMAF, this year at least in terms of (professional) visitors.

What didn't work in favor of RMAF this year was the loss of the CanJam@RMAF headphone and personal audio show. As audioXpress anticipated, Head-fi, the promoters of the CanJam show decided not to follow the RMAF date changes since they wanted to focus on their own - increasingly successful - shows, including the challenging CanJam Shanghai show, happening in the first days of November this year. Also, Head-Fi already promotes two shows in the US, CanJam NYC in February, and CanJam SoCal in June, and in 2020 they will be adding a third one, with CanJam Chicago in October. The headphone and personal audio experience at the Denver show remained - now called HeadSpace - organized directly by the Colorado Audio Society, the RMAF promoters.

The problem for RMAF this year, was that some headphone brands are now closely tied with the CanJam calendar, and the fact that IFA was taking place at the same time didn't help at all. The HeadSpace hall still had a very decent display of products and brands, but very little excitement, since at that same time, in Berlin, practically all the brands were introducing their greatest and latest products. IFA is a very strong venue for personal audio and portable devices, and most definitely for the exploding category of true wireless and hearables. In fact, if there were strong headlines at IFA 2019, it was in wearables and headphones. In future years, not colliding with IFA, the HeadSpace part of RMAF could be again one of the strongest growth areas for the show. 

With vinyl increasing in popularity again, there's an opportunity for new concepts in hi-fi. Boston, MA-based Andover Audio pleasantly surprised with the Model One Record Player integrated entertainment system.

It's important to understand that the Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest is a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) show. While one of the reasons why RMAF has changed dates and venues was to continue to propel its growth, accommodating increasing demands from exhibitors, many of which have been searching for a B2B (Business-to-Business) alternative to CES, the reality is, no other audio show in North America has so far managed to combine B2C and B2B. 

RMAF claims to be "the largest consumer high-end audio show in North America," (the show celebrated 16 years in 2019). But after attending the 2019 edition I can clearly say that Audio Expo North America (AXPONA), in Chicago, IL, with close to 10,000 attendees, nearly 500 brands exhibiting, and 190 demonstration rooms plus exhibition halls is the largest high-end audio show in North America, without a doubt. And with a strong focus also in B2B, AXPONA could become the North American version of the Munich High End show. April might not be the most favorite time of the year for many, who complain it is too close to Munich (happening in May every year), but the reality is that any date changes could simply kill its momentum. In fact, JD Events, the promoter of AXPONA has already confirmed the dates in early April, for 2020 and 2021.

The winner for the most pleasant and balanced speakers at RMAF 2019 goes to ATC, with the SCM50SE Active Tower loudspeakers, in a Special Edition piano black finish. Neutral and detailed - very close to the brand's studio monitors. Extremely pleasant to listen to.

Playing positively toward RMAF's future is the new venue. If I didn't find this year's show to be particularly exciting, I was deeply impressed with the location: the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center, in Aurora, CO, just a few miles from the Denver International Airport. The promoters couldn't have chosen a better venue. The Gaylord convention center offers everything that is needed for a show like this to grow. It's huge, modern, convenient, and beautiful. I have never been a fan of demonstration rooms in hotels, but the Gaylord was the best I've seen, with the rooms on each floor spread apart in order to avoid sound spills. The corner suites were splendid and the larger rooms had reasonable acoustics. I couldn't help noticing that many exhibitors, including those in the smaller rooms, didn't even include much acoustic treatment. Also, the elevators to access the rooms where always functional and there was little wait time, even on Saturday when it was the busiest.

The bad thing about the Gaylord? It is huge. It reminded me of the convention centers in Vegas, where you walk miles on soft carpet. And since it was the first RMAF at the venue, there were some clear organization missteps. Placing the visitors registration at one extreme of the convention center (there was supposed to be an exhibition hall for car audio there, but I will not even mention it...), with the Headspace and the Marketplace exhibitions a mile away on another floor, plus 12 large listening rooms on the third floor of the convention center, hidden away from the hotel access to the 67 listening rooms, was not ideal. The Level 3 rooms were excellent and there should be more companies there. But there is so much space available in the convention center area that the show could benefit from more exhibits and demonstrations being closer together.

For those companies who have been complaining for years that the US needs a B2B audio show alternative to CES, the RMAF has exactly what's needed in this facility. They just need to promote the idea, and change the dates back to October. The potential is there.

RMAF will return next year, October 1-4, 2020, and October 7-10, in 2021.

R&D Stories
Good Vibrations (Part 2) - Dealing With Unwanted Vibrations
By  Norman Varney
Following his first R&D article where Norman Varney discusses the basic principles of unwanted vibrations in audio playback environments, in the second part he writes about what his research found to be effective ways to counteract those effects. The article details the evaluation process and extensive measurements that lead to the creation of various products that AV RoomService provides when helping clients with their acoustic problems. This article was originally published in audioXpress, September 2019 .   Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Spotlight
Electroacoustic Measurements of Headphones
By Christopher J. Struck (CJS Labs)
In this article, Christopher J. Struck discusses electroacoustic measurements of headphones, providing a very detailed and updated overview on all the options available for headphone testing and calibration. The article discusses what should be included in a complete headphone test system, considerations on electrical impedance, considerations on repeatability of the results, free and diffuse field corrected responses, left-right tracking, and the use of two-tone distortion measurements. Reference reading material. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, July 2019 .   Check it out here!

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