Industry & Product News
audioXpress.com - The Most Popular Stories of 2019
As the website that supports both audioXpress and Voice Coil magazine communities, audioXpress.com continues to be the reference destination for anyone interested in audio product development, audio technology, and the people, companies, and facts behind the audio industry. Want to know which of the topics and stories published online in 2019 were the most popular? We looked at the most-read articles of 2019 from audioXpress.com (which also includes selected articles from Voice Coil magazine), and we created this Top 10 list of news stories and online articles. Here are the results!    Read More
Earthworks Debuts M23R Reference Measurement Microphone
Part of Earthworks' infinitely matched series of measurement microphones, the new M23R was designed by the New Hampshire-based company to be a reference measurement microphone with an affordable price. This new omnidirectional microphone from Earthworks is able to sustain extremely powerful SPL levels and is extremely stable with temperature variations, making it perfect for multiple acoustical measurement applications, including front-of-house measurements .    Read More  


Sensory Unveils TrulyNatural Voice Assistant SDK Specific for Smart Appliances
Sensory announced the release of a specialized model of TrulyNatural, the company's large vocabulary speech recognition and natural language understanding platform, which has been designed for home appliances. This domain-specific assistant technology will help manufacturers create a new wave of smart kitchen appliances that don't relay voice requests to the cloud. Collaborating with Midea Microwave and Cleaner Appliances (MCA) business unit, Sensory will preview a microwave oven with a natural language user interface at CES 2020 .    Read More  
 
Knowles Acquires Microphone Design Assets from ams AG
Knowles Corp., a market leader in advanced micro-acoustic, audio processing, and precision device solutions, announced it has acquired the MEMS microphone ASIC design business from Austrian company ams AG. The transaction includes intellectual property, rights to source ASIC wafers from multiple foundry partners, and the transfer of the ASIC design team, which will continue to be based in Switzerland.  ams has worked in close partnership with Knowles for a number of years to create bespoke audio sensor interfaces .    Read More  


Virtual Assistants to Exceed 2.5 Billion Shipments in 2023
The market for virtual assistants (VAs) continues to illustrate strong positive momentum, according to a new report from Futuresource Consulting. Shipments of products supporting virtual assistants rose 25% year-on-year to 1.1 billion units in 2019, with the market on course to exceed 2.5 billion shipments by 2023. Apple leads the market in terms of products sold with support for its Siri voice assistant .    Read More  

LaVoce Italiana Expands Presence in The Americas
LaVoce Italiana announced the appointment of Tom James as the company's new Business Development Manager for The Americas. The appointment follows a period of significant expansion, including the release of multiple high-quality drivers to the company's already comprehensive transducer catalog. James' practical experience includes more than 30 years in positions conducting loudspeaker development, enabling LaVoce to reinforce its contacts with strategic OEM and distribution partners in the region .    Read More  
   
 
WiSA Announces Launch of Immersive Wireless Home Audio System Tuned by THX
WiSA LLC, the Wireless Speaker Audio Association, founded by Summit Wireless Technologies, announced an updated edition of the successful Tuned by THX Monaco 5.1 Immersive Wireless Home Audio System from Platin - now bundled with the Axiim LINK Wireless Audio Transmitter. The new Monaco 5.1 Plus Axiim LINK System gives users even greater options to not only connect the Monaco 5.1 System to any WiSA Ready 2019 LG OLED or NanoCell TV, but also to Xbox One systems (all models), Windows 10 PCs, and Macs .    Read More

Lenbrook International and OraStream Announce BluOS Integration Agreement
Lenbrook International, owner of high fidelity audio brands NAD Electronics, PSB Speakers, and Bluesound, announced a North American collaboration with OraStream, the high-resolution audio streaming platform. The agreement will allow OraStream's customers - all high-quality music content providers - unique access to a fast-growing ecosystem of high-resolution music streaming users through "BluOS enabled" products from brands such as NAD Electronics, Bluesound, and DALI Loudspeakers .    Read More  

Editor's Desk
 
J. Martins
(editor-in-chief)
 


Audio Topics from 2019
Inspiration and High Expectations for 2020

Another year is over - and even more exciting, a decade is ending - and there's hardly time for proper writing, with the magazine deadlines getting tighter, the midweek holiday breaks complicating the work schedule, and two big shows fast approaching, and causing our inboxes to overflow with thousands of meeting requests and pre-show announcements under embargo.

Still, we needed to find the time to send out our final The Audio Voice newsletter for 2019 and wish everyone Health, Peace, Love, and Prosperity in 2020!

We also intended to take a more serious look back at 2019 in terms of content and trends, but for all the reasons previously listed, all we could find time for was our traditional Most Popular Stories of 2019, where we compile the top news stories of the year for our readers, and we also highlight the online articles that received greater interest. These are only the most popular out of the news and articles published in 2019 - not our most popular items online ever, which continue to be - by far - our classic articles, including Ron Tipton's "Build a Sound Level Meter and Spectrum Analyzer;" Joe D'Appolito's "Testing Loudspeakers: Which Measurements Matter;" Pete Millett's "Power Transformers for Audio Equipment;" and Nelson Pass' "The F5 Power Amplifier." The top absolute most visited project article on the audioXpress.com website continues to be "Build a Hybrid Tube/MOSFET SE Amp" by Generoso Cozza, which consistently receives daily visits from readers all over the world.

This year, as can be seen from our Most Popular articles of 2019, Vance Dickason's Test Bench articles were apparently discovered by a lot of speaker builder enthusiasts from all over the world. Even though sometimes we post characterizations of older drivers that are still available or that we think are still of interest to our community, they consistently make it to the most popular publications in the website. And even though we post those Voice Coil articles almost every week, it's never enough to reminding everyone that Voice Coil is a publication available for free to industry professionals. If you are in the loudspeaker industry, just go here: https://audioxpress.com/page/Voice-Coil-Subscriber-Services

Also interesting is the fact that our friend Ethan Winer had two of the most popular audioXpress articles published in the magazine this year, and subsequently made available for free online. The most popular article being the theory article "Why Doesn't My Stereo Sound Like a Live Concert?" and the project article on "Building a Null Tester Device." 

Qobuz launching in the US is one of the success stories of 2019. The French company proved that it can offer higher resolution audio lossless streaming in a FLAC container.

Not surprisingly, our audioXpress review of the Qobuz High-Resolution music streaming service, by Luke McCready, was also one of the top articles online in 2019. With a lot of people in the US eagerly waiting to see if it really was an alternative to TIDAL's MQA-based high resolution audio service - and if a direct FLAC container would be a viable streaming solution for large HRA files... The launch of the service in the US in February 2019 was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year for all music enthusiasts.

Later this year, Amazon validated the Qobuz strategy by announcing also its new Amazon Music HD service, where the new "Ultra HD" tier defines in fact a FLAC streaming option of 24-bit material with a sample rate up to 192 kHz. And Amazon Music HD is now available to stream in the US, the UK, Germany, and Japan. No matter what people think of the HRA streaming service, and the possible confusion that the Amazon promotion of the Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio "immersive audio" music options can cause among consumers, the reality is that FLAC lossless compression is proving viable. Deezer HiFi - a former MQA adopter is now another FLAC-based streaming option available, and I am certain, more will come from other services after seeing how Amazon successfully transitioned from a mediocre MP3-based service into one of the leading music streaming services.

I have looked at the topic in-depth in my article "In Perspective: Amazon Lossless Audio Streaming Option with Amazon Music HD", where I mentioned the fact that this new FLAC-based services will effectively endanger the whole MQA format - "small enough to stream" - strategy. 

In 2019, Amazon Music was converted from what was essentially a mediocre service that started as Amazon MP3, into a FLAC-based revenue-generating service, competing with global leaders Spotify and Apple Music.

There's no question that MQA continues to have a strong technology foundation and business case, and currently offers the best "authentication" assurance for consumers that the files are effectively high-resolution audio (when they are) and the best existing file master. The problem, as I wrote previously, is that the "Sounds Better with MQA" argument was never properly consolidated. MQA has done very little to actually explain to the professional community what it does in the remastering process - and detractors keep calling MQA a "lossy" codec and a new form of DRM (when it's neither). Even the whole MQA unfolding of the master quality remains an extremely complicated message that consumers will never be able to fully understand (even professionals struggle with it...).

Among my wishes for 2020, would be that MQA would finally make an effort to explain its encoding process, including promoting and explaining its hardware and software audio-streaming tools - in particular demonstrating the benefits of its time-domain process applied to old CD-mastered material from the 1980s and 1990s, when the early and terrible A/D converters where used. MQA clearly still has margin to defend its technology and its business case, but as 2019 has shown, the window is closing extremely fast.

For 2020, I will also continue to look closely at the implementation of voice interfaces and how the entire voice recognition technology unravels in more and better use-cases. And of course, hope that the language barriers don't continue to increase - in 2019 we did not see any significant evolution from Amazon or any other major players in the Spanish or French language markets, for example. If things continue this way, voice services will continue to expand only in English and Mandarin Chinese, and the rest of the world will simply ignore the technology. When I see major consumer electronic companies enthusiastically promoting their voice strategies for all kinds of products, globally, I cannot help but worry.

The audioXpress dedicated Voice Recognition section compiles all the vital information for anyone working or following the topic and technology evolution.

The positive side of the entire voice interface revolution is the fact that all the associated technologies, from MEMS microphones with powerful DSP, audio processing algorithms, sensors, and highly efficient audio amplification solutions, among many others, are benefiting the entire consumer electronics industry in general and causing many incremental important "revolutions," including in the area of wireless and wearables/hearables. 

Looking at what's on the schedule for CES 2020, it is clear that these are among the dominant technologies being promoted for new exciting products to be unveiled in Las Vegas, NV. No one expects major announcements in terms of voice technologies and platforms from CES, but we know that a lot will happen in related areas, such as Bluetooth audio - there's an official Bluetooth SIG event scheduled that should bring important announcements on the audio front (at last!).

And there are so many other topics on my mind for CES 2020 including, of course, fast charging via USB-C, wireless charging and the promised transition to USB4 in the data interface front. There's even a few new products promising "always wireless," involving self-powered solutions. Very exciting stuff.

We Wish Everyone the Best for the New Year
Advancing the Evolution of Audio Technology into 2020!

Speaker Builder
Back EMF Phase Relationships in Moving-Coil Loudspeakers - Part 1
By  Andy Lewis
 
Andy Lewis (Acme Sound, LLC) starts an original look at Back EMF Phase Relationships in Moving Coil Loudspeakers in this four-part article. In the first article, Identifying, Quantifying, and Modeling Back EMF, the author explores the generation of Back EMF in the region of a loudspeaker's resonance. He also demonstrates a method for calculating the position of the moving assembly (or "cone") relative to input signal, using complex impedance measurements. This article was originally published in audioXpress, May 2018 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice Coil  Test Bench
Trueanalog TAFE28 Silk Dome Tweeter
By  Vance Dickason
 
Vance Dickason characterizes the TAFE28, a 28 mm silk dome tweeter from Trueanalog, the company that promotes and supports the Loudspeaker Sourcing Show, which takes place every year in October in Nansha, China (www.loudspeakersourcingshow.com). This is the first time Test Bench has characterized any product from Trueanalog, and the company sent Voice Coil its new 28 mm diameter silk dome tweeter, intended for high-end hi-fi and recording studio applications. Features for the TAFE28 include a coated silk/cotton-type diaphragm and surround made from a string weave using twisted cotton and silk, super low carbon content steel for the front plate and T-yoke (the low carbon steel from Sumitomo is coupled with a proprietary forging process), a two-layer 28 mm diameter CCAW voice coil wound on an aluminum former, a felt damped pole piece venting into a shaped and damped plastic back enclosure . This article was originally published in Voice Coil, October 2019 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here
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