Industry & Product News
GRAS Sound & Vibration Joins Audio Precision in Battery Ventures' Acoustic Test and Measurement Group
Denmark-based GRAS Sound & Vibration (GRAS), the prestigious manufacturer of acoustic-measurement microphones, has reached an agreement with Battery Ventures, a global, technology-focused investment firm, to join its group of companies in the acoustic test and measurement market. GRAS will operate alongside US-based Audio Precision, acquired by Battery Ventures in 2018. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed .   Read More
Lavoce Expands Next-Generation Compression Drivers with Three Lightweight Neodymium Magnet Designs
Lavoce Italiana, the Italian transducer OEM and one of the fastest-growing driver manufacturers in the pro audio industry, announced three new "Next-Generation" neodymium magnet 1" exit compression drivers. Presented for the first time at NAMM 2020, following the success of the ferrite models released last year, Lavoce confirmed availability of the new products at the recent ISE 2020 show in Amsterdam, where the company exhibited for the first time .    Read More  


PSB Speakers Launches In-Room CSIR SUB with Optional Amplifier and Multiple Placement Options
PSB Speakers announced availability of its flexible CustomSound In-Room Subwoofer (CSIR SUB). The CSIR SUB, originally previewed at CEDIA 2019 in Denver, CO, is now available in both black and white finishes and offers several highly versatile and elegant mounting solutions to satisfy any application. It can disappear into the décor of any room, and yet is stylish enough to be a design feature on its own. When in standing mode, the integrated IsoAcoustics isolators manage energy and provide a high level of isolation for audio speakers over the entire audio spectrum .    Read More

 
HIFIMAN Debuts DEVA Advanced Active Headphone with Custom Bluetooth Dongle
HIFIMAN is a company renowned for price-is-no-object, flagship electrostatic and premium planar magnetic circumaural headphones or even high-end IEMs - all wired. Now, HIFIMAN is also offering wireless headphones in the same spirit of pleasing the most demanding music enthusiasts. After launching the flagship Ananda-BT ($999), the company has now announced the more affordable DEVA, using a planar driver derived from the Susvara model. The DEVA works in wired or wireless model, with a custom Bluetooth dongle supporting aptX HD and LDAC high-resolution codecs .    Read More  


House of Marley Launches Redemption True Wireless ANC Earbuds
House of Marley launched a greener alternative to existing true wireless earbuds and the second-generation TWS design from the brand, now adding active noise cancellation (ANC). The new Redemption ANC Earbuds are also being released to commemorate Bob Marley's 75th birthday and House of Marley's 10th anniversary. A follow up to Marley's Liberate Air earbuds, the new Redemption ANC Earbuds are similar in their use of eco-conscious materials which includes bamboo, natural wood fiber composite from sawdust and recycled silicone. And they look great .    Read More  


HEAD acoustics ABLE Automatically Assesses Perceived Listening Effort of Speech
Environmental noise impairs the intelligibility of received speech signals in headphones, mobile phones, in-vehicle hands-free terminals and in-car communication systems. In order to evaluate the influence of background noise on speech signals, HEAD acoustics has developed "ABLE" (Assessment of Binaural Listening Effort), a method to predict perceived listening effort, available as a new option for the measuring and analysis software ACQUA .    Read More  
   
 
NTi Audio NetBox Expands Uninterrupted Storage of Data for More Than Five Years
NTi Audio has been continuously investing in remote monitoring tools, allowing applications such as noise control and long-term sound measurements. Using the XL2 Sound Level Meter and NTi's NoiseScout 24/7 noise monitoring solution, remote monitoring becomes practical for both short-term noise assessments and long-term monitoring applications. For really long periods of monitoring, reports can even be massively expanded using the company's NetBox, a device that connects the XL2 to the Internet .    Read More


Lithe Audio Introduces Modular Ceiling Speaker Including WiSA For Wireless Sound
At ISE 2020, visitors could find multiple companies offering Audio-over-IP networking solutions, fast becoming the norm among system integrators. Other companies, such as UK-based Lithe Audio have installation solutions that offer the complete scope of connectivity options for residential or commercial audio, combining Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Chromecast Audio and AirPlay2. At ISE 2020, Lithe Audio surprised show goers by introducing a ceiling speaker that even offers an optional PoE module and a WiSA module .    Read More  

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


The Road to USB4
A Different Perspective from OWC
Following my conversation with the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) at CES 2020, where we met a USB-IF team confident in the simple USB4 message, helping to dilute the complicated transition for the standard as it stood last year, we gained a valuable perspective on what will be the foreseeable evolution - at least concerning the mainstream, CE market. But for the content creation, and professional production market working with digital video, photography, and of course audio, the mood is slightly different. The media creation and creativity industry heavily relies on the strengths of Thunderbolt 3 technology - and the warm embrace of Apple's products and eco-system, especially now that the new modular and upgradable Mac Pro has been released.

"Eventually, it will all be about USB4," confidently said Brad Saunders during our briefing at CES 2020, highlighting the fact that the new USB4 architecture is actually based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification contributed by Intel Corp. to the USB Promoter Group. This allows all the advantages of Thunderbolt 3 within USB4, but also for multiple data and display protocols sharing the same connectivity, with backward compatibility with USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 and the entire current USB eco-system. 

It's always highly educational to chat with the OWC team, and in particular with Larry O'Connor, the founder and CEO of Other World Computing (OWC).

After CES, while attending the NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, I grabbed the opportunity for a briefing with Larry O'Connor, the founder and CEO of Other World Computing (OWC), the company that helps professional markets deal with the pains of these technology transitions - and the company that can rightfully claim to offer more Thunderbolt 3 products than any other.

While there are several well-established companies designing and manufacturing computer peripherals to help support media production activities with Mac and PCs and leveraging all the benefits of the faster interfaces, OWC is different because it was founded in 1988 with the vision to help Mac and PC enthusiasts benefit from the best storage, connectivity, software, and expansion solutions for performance, reliability, and longevity, extending the capabilities of technology. As OWC states, its solutions enable users to "maximize the technology investment they have already made." But this doesn't mean encouraging users to ignore technology advances. Quite the opposite.

OWC is dedicated to helping PC/Windows users adopt the latest technologies even before they are officially supported by Microsoft, while also helping Apple users to maximize their cutting-edge but more expensive investments, by upgrading Mac hardware even long after Apple declares a product obsolete. Of course, with the professional content creation industries trending massively toward Apple hardware (certainly in the North-American market,) OWC does most of its business focusing on Macs - and they never had so much to do!

It's a Thunderbolt 3 world for professionals. The OWC ThunderBay 8 is a professional-grade, 8-Bay Thunderbolt 3 storage solution supporting from 16TB to 112TB. ThunderBay Flex 8 is OWC's latest solution for Thunderbolt 3 expansion combining storage (up to 128TB), docking, and PCIe expansion.

Visiting the OWC booth and demonstrations at any show such as CES or NAMM is always a fascinating opportunity, with the company demonstrating side by side how an "old" 2009 Mac Pro machine can still keep up with the memory, storage, and performance challenges of today, and how the latest 2019 Mac Pro can be expanded in the most efficient and economical way to support the formidable challenges of content creation. And in general, OWC is increasingly focusing on the advantages of Thunderbolt 3 technology, not so much because of the fact that it provides up to 4x the speed of the fastest USB connection today, it supports two 4K monitors, up to 100 W of power delivery, or the ability to daisy chain up to six devices in a single cable chain, but mostly because it allows for laptops or any machine that doesn't allow additional video, graphics, or audio upgrades internally, to work with external hardware, such as external Thunderbolt 3 graphics. 

This means, a MacBook, a Mac mini, or a simple iMac can connect to an external chassis and run the latest and most powerful GPU and rendering hardware for computer graphics or visual effects, and likewise support massive amounts of external SSD storage and even old Avid Pro-Tools HDX PCIe cards, as though they were installed internally.

And Larry O'Connor is not only the founder of this unique and highly successfully company, but he actually knows all the products that OWC carries better than anyone else, and he knows exactly how the market behaves when facing complicated technology transitions. He is right there on the front line with Apple, criticizing the Cupertino company when it degrades the support of a perfectly valid technology, while being always ready to leverage every market opportunity that Apple creates for OWC's solutions. 

It is thanks to OWC and its amazing OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock that I could keep using all the Firewire hardware that I still use today, and it's also thanks to the latest OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock or the OWC USB-C Dock that a lot of people I know felt perfectly confident in buying the latest Mac laptop with only two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and connect it to anything that is out there. Better than anyone else, O'Connor could offer us the perspective of how important Thunderbolt 3 technology is for the professional audio industry.

I met with O'Connor at the OWC NAMM 2020 booth, just in front of an impressive new Apple Mac Pro machine - and there were still not many of those at this year's show (deliveries started in mid-December, barely four weeks before NAMM...). "This is a machine that I really believe is going to be around. This is a decade machine! When we look at the "old" Mac Pro machines, they are still an integral piece in the production workflows... and that's without Thunderbolt, that's without USB 3 integrated in it. If those machines had Thunderbolt, they would last another five years easily. While this new guy (points to the expensive new Mac Pro in front of us...) has got lots of Thunderbolt, lots of PCIe slots, lots of memory slots, it's a really solid machine that is going to last!"

Apple's latest Mac Pro is the dream machine for content production and certainly one of the most powerful and versatile computers ever manufactured. A new industry standard. And thanks to OWC it is possible to max it out at a much lower cost.

J. Martins: I can imagine you haven't even seized the full scope of solutions you can bring to support this new Mac Pro...
Larry O'Connor: We're just getting started! We started with what we felt were the most important things, like the memory. And that tells us about the adoption rate for this machine, because we already upgraded thousands of these Mac Pros with more memory. We've shipped far more memory than what I would have thought reasonable. This machine has definitely taken off like a rocket-ship! And it has a really high starting cost...
But today we are really spoiled. Memory used to cost so much more. Remember when 32MB of memory used to cost $1,000 dollars? Just look at what a Mac SE cost in the 1980s. In today's dollars, this machine is cheaper than a Mac SE/30! The horsepower you get in this machine, and what you can do with it, and how much income you can generate from your work, get more done, be more creative, do better things, and when you realize it's a machine to last a decade... This is a 10-year system, it's pretty exciting what Apple has delivered! I mean you can upgrade the memory on this machine to 1.5TB! We can have 8TB with our Accelsior high-performance PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD solution, which is twice as fast as Apple's internal drive. You can't do this today with any other system. And we can max out all external options with Thunderbolt 3, getting data transfer speeds in the 2500MB/s sustained range. 
We're just hoping that Apple will offer official support for booting from other devices other than the built-in drive. There are a couple of ways around that, but Apple doesn't official support it. That would be mission critical in case of a failure, to be able to have a mirrored backup in case something happens to the computer. I don't think we are going to see a lot of failures with this machine, but it is good to have peace of mind, knowing there will be no downtime when something happens... But I'm excited.

JM: That is the everlasting discussion about Apple's obsession with simplicity and ease of use in its software, and suddenly making simple things extremely difficult for professional users.
LO: Right. Professionals were always an important evangelistic crowd for Apple and now that we have this machine, we really have a system that people can get behind and be excited about. The professionals can really showcase this technology and influence the OS and the developments going forward. This is a big step forward. This is the most functional machine that Apple's delivered in probably a decade. 

"At OWC, we've devoted over 30 years to helping our Mac and PC customers upgrade, expand, and accelerate their machines to keep pace with our world's ever-increasing demand for computing power," says Larry O'Connor.

JM: Talking about about things that are certain to make your message more complicated, how do you see the transition to USB4 and the merging with Thunderbolt 3?
LO: USB has made the world a very confusing place in general... with USB-C, USB 3, USB 3 Gen1 and Gen2, then USB 3.2, and now to USB4... It's been interesting.
USB4 at least, sort of unifies some stuff. Thunderbolt, in terms of its robustness, reliability, the fact that it's a direct PCIe interface, really is the solution you want. On the Mac platform, USB4 devices will plug-in natively into Thunderbolt 3. There's no difference, you're not missing anything. In our future Thunderbolt 3 dock, you can plug future USB4 items and have USB4 compatibility.
But the biggest aspect on a Mac is that nothing really changes. Everything just plugs into our system and there's no difference.
For a PC person, having only USB4, honestly I don't really know what they are going to get. My advice currently for a professional is to buy a machine with Thunderbolt 3.

JM: The problem is that the marketing will always focus on promoting USB4 to the mass-market, in a consumer's perspective...
LO: Yes, like the message "Thunderbolt 3. The USB-C that does it all." Are you kidding me? Now people who see USB-C are confused. Even professionals get confused. People are going to see USB4 and assume that "4" must mean "40Gbps"... 
So, at least with Thunderbolt 3, life is good. Thunderbolt 3 offers the performance that people expect.

Everything needed to upgrade Apple's hardware to support the toughest professional workflows. At CES 2020 and NAMM 2020, OWC once again showcased a world of solutions for power users, DIYers, and professionals to improve their digital lives and workflows.

JM: OWC was the last company supplying a dock that still supported Firewire 800, and at least maintained that bridge for a while... What are your plans for the Firewire systems that are still out there?
LO: Yes, unfortunately Firewire is no longer being certified. I would recommend that anyone with data stored on Firewire devices should start copying that data. Drives last a long time, but I am a firm believer that with mechanical drives, once you pass 4 years, it's time to move data to a new drive.
The good thing is that there are still a lot of machines out there with a Firewire port and they should be able to access any data out there. Now, there's a convoluted way to get Firewire into a brand new system, and that is through a Thunderbolt 2 device, and a dock of some kind that's got power because the Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter needs the bus power. Then, you need an adapter from Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 to connect the whole thing. This will work on a machine that will be shipping in 2020 and probably 2021.

JM: So, the OWC docks with Firewire ports will continue to work on those systems?
LO: Yes, absolutely. Apple did not striped away support from the operating system.

JM: What do you tell people that are still using perfectly working hardware?
LO: I'll tell them that if it works and is doing everything that they need it to do, unless they're going to get a benefit from an upgrade, don't! We still support memory for machines that are almost two decades old. And that's why when people walk into an Apple Store or an official Apple support house, they usually will send you to macsales.com, which is OWC. Most Apple folks out there are passionate about the machines and supporting the users. Of course, the corporate advice will always be, "buy a new one!"

                     
From The Vault
Loudspeaker Failures and Protections (Part 1)
By  Mike Klasco and Steve Tatarunis
 
A new generation of effective and powerful speaker protection technology, using literally all the capabilities and power of pro sound rackmount loudspeaker management processors, is now being designed into mobile audio products that use very small loudspeakers. The implications are that mobile consumer electronics are going to play louder and sound better than ever. But to optimize speakers this way, we need to understand what causes loudspeakers to fail, typically for either mechanical or thermal reasons. There is an invisible line where above a certain frequency band, the voice coil ' s heat causes failure modes. Below that frequency band, damage can also occur due to excessive physical movement. The loudspeaker ' s size generally indicates where the failure mode transition is located. Excursion issues usually begin at a higher frequency in smaller loudspeakers. Many failures are actually a byproduct of a loudspeaker operating at too high an excursion level, which results in high temperatures that compromise the integrity of the parts and adhesives. This article was originally published in audioXpress, August 2013 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here
Voice Coil  Test Bench
The Dayton Audio DMA58-4 2" Full-Range Speaker Driver
By  Vance Dickason
 
In this Test Bench, the focus is the Dayton Audio DMA58-4, a new 2" full-range line array/smart speaker from Dayton Audio. The DMA58 is nearly identical to the 3" version, the DMA80, which appeared in the November 2019 issue of Voice Coil magazine. DMA stands for Dual Magnet Aluminum Cone and the series already includes five models of full-range drivers, all with both 8 and 4 ohm versions. All five models have pretty much the same feature set starting with a proprietary 12-spoke injection-molded frame. This frame is very open to reduce reflections back into the cone and also has a very generous mounting flange making multiple driver arrays cosmetically attractive and compact. The DMA58 cone assembly consists of a black anodized aluminum cone, with a 26 mm diameter convex aluminum dust cap (directly coupled to the voice coil former), and suspended with NBR and a 45 mm diameter treated cloth surround spider (damper) for compliance. Driving the assembly is a 1" aluminum vented (five 2 mm diameter vents below the spider mounting shelf and 10 more 2 mm diameter vents above it) former wound with two layers of round copper wire. Other features include a large copper cap shorting ring (Faraday Shield) that lowers distortion and extends the high-frequency SPL profile. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, December 2019 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here
AX March 2020: Digital Login
Audio Product Design | DIY Audio Projects | Audio Electronics | Audio Show Reports | Interviews | And More 

Don't Have a Subscription?
VC February 2020: Digital Login
Industry News & Developments | Products & Services | Test Bench | Acoustic Patents | Industry Watch | And More