Industry & Product News
Realistic Speech and Sound Testing of Voice-Operated Devices
Realistic testing is crucial when developing and incorporating smart speaker functionality into consumer products. A common approach is to use a standard loudspeaker and microphone, but this can give a false indication of the performance because it doesn't accurately reproduce the directivity and frequency response of a human voice. The precise method is to use mouth and ear simulators.
Brüel & Kjær offers market-leading products that facilitate more realistic speech synthesis and listening by faithfully reproducing human characteristics with very tight tolerances on accuracy to ensure repeatability. Our mouth and ear simulators - led by the new high-frequency Head-and-Torso Simulator (HATS) - accurately match human voice characteristics, thereby ensuring both quality and efficiency in smart device testing and development .   Read More
Data-Over-Sound Pioneer Chirp Acquired by Sonos
Founded in 2011 and with a very promising trajectory of industry partnerships and growth, Chirp.io, the British data-over-sound company announced that it was acquired by Sonos, the wireless speaker company from Santa Barbara, CA. With this new acquisition, that follows closely on other investments in voice- and edge-processing technologies, Sonos shows serious ambitions to expand its connected ecosystem of smart devices into the smart home and beyond .    Read More  


MIDI Manufacturers Association Announces MIDI 2.0 Set of Specifications
MIDI 2.0, the next-generation music and arts specification that enhances virtually all aspects of 1983's original MIDI 1.0 spec, made its worldwide debut at the 2020 Winter NAMM show. Current MIDI users wanted more nuanced expressiveness, higher resolution, and increased ease of use, but also demanded backward compatibility with the billions of existing MIDI 1.0 devices. The suite of MIDI 2.0 specifications adopted at the Winter NAMM 2020 meeting of the MIDI Manufacturers Association delivers on those promises .    Read More

 
Røde Releases NT-USB Mini Studio-Quality USB Microphone
The latest innovation from Røde Microphones, the NT-USB Mini is a compact USB microphone that offers studio-quality recording direct to a computer or tablet. Designed with a new high-quality condenser capsule to deliver crystal-clear, professional sound in a powerful yet easy-to-use package, the NT-USB Mini is a perfect microphone for gamers, podcasters, musicians, streamers, business professionals, and more .    Read More  


Lyngdorf Introduces TDAI-1120 Compact Streaming Integrated Amplifier
The new TDAI-1120 was one of the highlights at the Lyngdorf Audio booth at ISE 2020. The newest member of the TDAI collection, this streaming integrated amplifier is small  enough to be easily placed anywhere in the home, while its vast feature set offers a great variety of streaming options. The Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 combines the brand's latest digital amplification technology and patented RoomPerfect room correction with user-friendly features .    Read More  


Genelec Expands Factory and Logistics Operations Powered Exclusively by Sustainable Sources
Genelec has signaled a new era of sustainable growth for its operations with the opening of a brand new extension to its lakeside factory in Iisalmi, Finland. Adopting the latest technologies, the factory extension will significantly increase the space, flexibility and efficiency of the company's warehousing and logistics operations, while ensuring that the entire facility is now powered exclusively by sustainable sources including solar, wind and hydroelectric energy .    Read More  
   
 
Scan-Speak Expands Product Catalog with New Revelator Dome Tweeter and Classic Midwoofer
Scan-Speak announced two new drivers, each one strategically filling a gap in one of the brand's driver families. On the higher frequency range, Scans-Speak launched the Revelator 19 mm Dome Tweeter, D2104/712000, featuring the company's patented Symmetrical Drive (SD-2) motor, with a neodymium ring magnet system with double vent and coated textile diaphragm. The other driver is a brand new 15 cm midwoofer, the 15W/8534T00, expanding the established Classic line .    Read More


Fraunhofer Software Helps Power Immersive Music Services for Amazon Echo Studio Smart Speaker
Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, the inventor of MP3 and primary developer of AAC, MPEG-H Audio and other MPEG standard audio codecs, revealed that Amazon has become an important music-centric licensee of its MPEG-H audio decoder software, included in the new Echo Studio. MPEG-H is the audio scheme used for new immersive music services including those based on the Sony 360 Reality Audio format .    Read More  

Editor's Desk
 
J. Martins
(Editor-in-Chief)
 


ISE 2020 First Impressions
The End of An Era for Integrated Systems Europe
On Monday, February 10, it certainly looked like Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2020 was a show not intended to happen. 

While companies were working hard on the finishing touches to their ISE 2020 exhibits and conference attendees were already gathered at the multiple events that take place prior to the show's opening, things were already off to a rough start. ISE organizers were looking nervously at the continuous barrage of announcements coming from Barcelona, where many major exhibitors were cancelling their expected appearances at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020, a show scheduled for just 10 days after ISE 2020. 

Integrated Systems Europe, a joint venture of the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA) and the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) says goodbye to the RAI and Amsterdam in February.

With the worrying news coming out of China about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a travel ban in place for the affected areas in China, and flights from China and many connections around Asia closed due to fear of a major international epidemic spreading to other continents, many companies faced the dilemma of having to cancel their plans for major industry trade shows (and suffering heavy losses for commitments that in most cases are not refundable). At ISE, there had been already major cancellations, with LG Electronics one of the largest exhibitors, being the most notable. Approximately 50 Chinese exhibitors and about 20 exhibitors from other regions of the world didn't want to expose their employees to the risk of the contagious virus and also cancelled their presence at ISE. 

To make matters worse, in the days prior to the show's opening, a storm (or multiple storms) across Europe were causing havoc at all major central European airports, and in Amsterdam, news of flight cancelations and failed attempts to land at Schiphol were causing additional worries of lower attendance, even though the pre-registration numbers for the 2020 shows were originally 7% higher than the previous year's attendance.

In Amsterdam, the ISE organization had to work hard to quickly reorganize the exhibition spaces, create new food court areas to fill-in empty areas such as the planned massive LG booth space, while making sure they also accommodated requests from justifiably disappointed exhibitors located in less convenient aisles, eventually surrounded by empty spaces. That effort was certainly one of the great success stories for the show and should be commended.

A new food court at ISE 2020, where LG Electronics was supposed to be exhibiting.

During the show's opening press conference on Tuesday, Mike Blackman, Managing Director at Integrated Systems Events, could not hide the concerning changes even though the message was: "The show must go on." Show promoters are well aware of the risk of a virus outbreak and the fact that trade shows are "super incubators" for something like the coronavirus. But for ISE, even though some exhibitors had already decided to withdraw from the show, it was too late to cancel, and instead the effort was focused on making sure that all possible prevention measures were in place and following recommendations from health organizations.

And suddenly this brings an entirely new perspective to the relatively petty politics of trade shows. While trying to behave normally and conduct business as usual, the risks of "being there" were certainly on the minds of visitors and everyone working at the event. 

With the virus epidemic news, "Networking for Pros" suddenly gains a whole new meaning.

When ISE 2020 opened its doors on Tuesday, February 11, it was visibly apparent that attendance was lower. And the more than 1,300 exhibitors in attendance adapted to new measures such as handing out disinfectant dispensers and adopting a "no hand-shake" policy. For future reference, companies did not adopt the recommended "bumping fists" alternative, and instead many opted for the occasional elbow rubbing... Apparently, there's a whole new protocol that needs to be researched and promoted for future events.

And then there was Barcelona. ISE, aware of the limitations regarding the show's continuous growth trajectory being hampered by the constricted RAI exhibition center, had already decided to change the venue for the 2021 show. ISE had already announced the show would be leaving Amsterdam and moving to Barcelona next year to embrace the modern Barcelona Fira complex, which the city built to accommodate some of the largest shows in Europe and the world. Among which, is Mobile World Congress (MWC).

And then, on an apparently normal second show day, the GSMA announced it had decided to cancel the MWC Barcelona show for this year!

Second show day and the crowds made ISE 2020 look like everything would be business as usual.

At the end of that Wednesday, ISE 2020 was finally looking like much as it had been the prior year, and in some of the halls, the environment felt like some of the best moments in the industry. In the audio sections of ISE, in particular, it felt like they were "partying like its 1999!" The audio booths this year were larger and better than ever. The number of press conferences were more numerous than ever. New product announcements - some of which were clearly more intended for Prolight+Sound then ISE, were taking place here, and every single company was throwing a party or a booth reception with free food and drinks at the end of the day.

Add to this the fact that hundreds of companies were showing exciting new technologies and it appeared as if finally the industry was supportive of some of the open standard efforts and specifications promoted by industry alliances, and the perspectives for the show's exhibitors and everyone that attended, couldn't be better. In fact, it was extremely positive considering the proposed expansion of the show itself and the industries that converge on ISE, with the move to Barcelona. No doubt, ISE's relevance for a wide community of business media professionals has increased year after year as the show has grown to become the world's leading AV systems integration exhibition. 

ISE organizers issued multiple statements regarding the perspectives for its last show in Amsterdam, including an early one saying: For the past 16 years the show's co-owners AVIXA and CEDIA have been committed to delivering an event that benefits the global audiovisual industry. ISE has always perceived itself as the steward of this event - a place and time for the industry to come together and grow together. We reaffirm and continue that commitment for our last time in Amsterdam."

As the last hours of ISE 2020 approach, it is already clear that nowhere near the 80,000 registered attendees actually made it to Amsterdam. The third show day was already visibly less busy - with news that many companies where moving meetings to hotel rooms instead of their booths. Friday, the show opened its doors and again, while not exactly crowded, looked like a normal show day, with business being conducted as usual.

The big question, hanging over the industry, is not so much about actual trade shows, but what this disruption in China will mean for the whole supply and production chain. After all, what's the point of announcing new products at a trade show and piling up orders, when the whole production and get-to-market schedule is compromised by factory shutdowns, travel bans, and logistical constraints?

Hola Barcelona! ISE is scheduled to return in 2021, from February 2-5.

Most of the companies affected by the cancellation of MWC Barcelona will suffer much heavier consequences especially when taking into account that the launch of the new smartphone or network equipment that would be normally be introduced at the show is also compromised by the inability to actually ship anything in the proceeding months. 

For the companies that successfully attended ISE 2020 in Amsterdam and should be looking forward for the following weeks, there's no assurance that business will proceed as usual. For companies like Samsung, who have production facilities mostly concentrated in South Korea, and managed to anticipate the S20 product generation hardware launch just hours before the GSMA announcement for Barcelona, there's no assurance that products will ship as scheduled. One single chip or component that is produced by a supplier based in one of the affected areas in China, can compromise the whole product introduction plan. So, canceling press conferences or not being able to display the company's strategy in a big industry forum such as MWC is not exactly the problem.

The biggest danger, even if the virus outbreak proves not to be as severe as feared, is the domino effect of the global production chain affecting multiple industries, while the world's economy contracts in direct consequence of the whole process. 

For some reason, that exciting new subwoofer model launched at ISE is not looking as something relevant to talk about for now .

                     
R&D Stories
A Groundbreaking Approach to Gain Control that Cuts Conference Call Annoyance
By  Erica Yorga and Rich Ferguson
 
Nureva, a conferencing and collaboration-solutions company from Calgary, Alberta, was recently granted three new patents for its Microphone Mist technology, including the ability to focus sound signals in a shared 3D space, and the use of sound source positional information to derive automatic gain control output parameters. audioXpress invited Nureva's engineers to explain the thought process that lead to these innovations, which give the company substantial market runway. In this article, written by Erica Yorga and Rich Ferguson from Nureva, they explain how the company developed a groundbreaking approach to gain control that cuts conference call annoyance, and the thought process behind the innovative solution. This article was originally published in audioXpress, February 2020 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice Coil  Spotlight
The Smith & Larson Audio Analyzers
By  Dean Rivera
 
The "Woofer Tester" range of speaker test solutions from Smith & Larson Audio is one of those systems that thousands of speaker designers have learned to use and continue to rely upon in their daily activities or hobbies. In 2012, Dean Rivera wrote this simple review about the system's possibilities and compares the company's Woofer Tester 2, Speaker Tester, and Woofer Tester Pro products. The software used in these systems was last updated in 2011 (the company website definitely was not), so we can still say this is a relevant review of a system which, just by curiosity, supports a bare minimum "450 MHz Pentium class machine running Win98Se and 650 MHz for WinXP and Win2K." He he... And that's cutting-edge compared to a lot of measurement solutions like the MLSSA, which can still be found in production lines and some test facilities, running on early Windows PCs with full-length ISA cards! We think it is interesting to revisit this review for Voice Coil and see what these systems allow (we keep hoping that someone will bring systems like these up to speed with a 64-bit OS, maybe even iOS compatible with high definition graphics). This article was originally published in Voice Coil, March 2012 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here

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VC February 2020: Digital Login
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