Industry & Product News
High-Frequency Head and Torso Simulator (HATS) - Why?
The world of communication and entertainment is evolving and consumer expectations for audio quality continue to increase, and with it the requirements for improved test equipment that can accurately predict the perception of human hearing and speech.
A head and torso simulator (HATS) is an objective measurement instrument with built-in, human-like ear and mouth simulators that provides a realistic reproduction of the acoustic properties of an average adult human. The new high-frequency HATS Type 5128 is an innovative evolution of the legacy HATS Type 4128. This article describes the unique benefits and features of High-frequency HATS .   Read More
Micro Loudspeaker Innovator Arioso Systems GmbH Ready To Enter the Market
The Fraunhofer IPMS spin-off company Arioso Systems GmbH has successfully completed its first round of financing. The company is launching an innovative sound transducer principle for miniaturized headphones, in-ears, and hearables to the market. The company's new micro loudspeaker technology, made from 100% silicon, is based on the patented Nanoscopic Electrostatic Drive (NED) principle developed by Fraunhofer IPMS. The technology can considerably extend the functional scope for true wireless earbuds and revolutionize the industry, Arioso believes .    Read More  


Sennheiser Announces Half-Price Anniversary Promotion on IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO In-Ears
Sennheiser continues its 75th anniversary celebrations in 2020 with surprise announcements and promotions that will arrive throughout the year. The month of April brings a very special deal for musicians and music enthusiasts looking for high-quality neutral personal listening. The company is promoting up to 50% off the IE 400 PRO and the IE 500 PRO in-ears. Visiting the "Special-Deals" section of the website, there will be information of all local dealers participating in the promotion .    Read More
 
Concern over Touching Shared Surfaces Will Help Push Growth in Smart Home Voice Control
A global emphasis on working from home, combined with advice to minimize COVID-19 transmission from shared surfaces even within a home, will help cement the benefits of smart home voice control for millions of consumers. Last year, 141 million voice control smart home device shipped worldwide and, despite the key China market being impacted during the first quarter of 2020, the value of voice control during the pandemic will ensure that this year, voice control device shipments will grow globally by close to 30% over 2019, states ABI Research .    Read More  


Genelec Announces 1235A Smart Active Main Studio Monitor
Genelec unveiled its new 1235A Smart Active Monitor, which fuses the sound and heritage of the iconic 1035 main studio monitor with high-performance 96 kHz processing and the ability to adapt to any space through its tight integration with Genelec's GLM calibration software. The 1235A targets large music, film, and post-production studios that demand high SPL and neutral, stable imaging that can be perfectly optimized for the room's unique acoustic environment .    Read More  


Jabra Launches Evolve2 Next-Generation Business Headsets with Hybrid ANC
Jabra announced its Evolve2 range - the next generation of Evolve, its best-selling UC headsets for improved productivity. The new range consists of the Evolve2 85, Evolve2 65 and Evolve2 40, all engineered to transform concentration, collaboration, and flexibility in the workplace. By blocking out more noise and providing better voice clarity, the Evolve2 brings distributed teams together, giving people the power to work from anywhere while staying connected. The headsets work with all leading UC platforms and are pending certification for Microsoft Teams .    Read More  

    
Dirac Introduces Dirac Live for Studio Software and DAW Plug-In
Swedish sound processing pioneer Dirac decided to expand the application of its pioneering room correction solution - Dirac Live - to include studio environments that have been long plagued by acoustical challenges. Dirac Live for Studio features patented impulse response and frequency response correction to help tackle time domain and frequency domain issues - thereby improving the accuracy of sound reproduction in studio environments .    Read More


Tracktion Launches Fully Featured Unlimited Free DAW for All Operating Systems
In response to the virus pandemic situation, Tracktion Corp. announced Waveform Free, a perfect solution for making and sharing music for anyone stuck at home, self-isolating. "The software has no restrictions, other than imagination and more capabilities than most enthusiastic producers will ever need. Stay safe at home, keep busy, get the creative juices flowing, and dive into a genuinely complete, stand-alone, Free DAW," the company says .    Read More  

Guest Editorial 
 
Chin Beckmann
(DSP Concepts Co-founder, 
CEO and Board Director)



Voice User Interfaces
Challenges to Building Voice-Enabled Products
As innovation brings ever greater capabilities to consumer, commercial, and automotive products, a great User Experience (UX) and intuitive Human Machine Interface (HMI) have never been more valuable. After all, what good is a differentiating feature-set if nobody's willing to figure out how to use them! 

Allegedly, our microwave can "smartly" reheat a plate of leftovers to a perfect, consistent temperature all the way through. Yet we usually just press "2" and hope for the best! (More often than not, we either get food that's still cold or we haashahfahshah through the first steaming bites.)

We're living in an age where news, music, trivia, TV-series, books, and even meals are readily available where and when we want them.  So regardless of what your product does, it has to do it "on-demand"- as anything less than a streamlined, frictionless interface, will limit market acceptance.

This societal shift in expectations, along with a confluence of tech innovations, has led to the broad adoption of the most intuitive of user interfaces: the human voice. The trouble, however, is that successfully planning and delivering products with a high-quality voice experience is notoriously difficult. Here's what you should know.



Why Voice Interfaces Are So Popular
Voice-enabled devices are quickly becoming commonplace in nearly every region and for every consumer demographic. Whether making cloud-connected or offline products, OEMs need to understand what's driving this demand for voice. If you ask the average consumer what they like about voice, you might get a simple "it's just easier"; but a deeper look reveals a few fundamentals behind Voice's growing popularity.
 
The Bandwidth Problem. "With your phone, you can answer any question, video conference with anyone anywhere ... The only constraint is input/output," said Elon Musk, co-founder of Neuralink, a startup exploring the possibility of a direct Machine/Brain Interface (MBI). "On a phone, you have two thumbs tapping away - we have a bandwidth problem."

While it may not be as instantaneous as a hardwired "MBI," products with a voice-based UI are simply a generation ahead of products with traditional, touch interfaces.

The Translation Problem.  In many ways, machines have an "interface language" all their own. We learn their peculiarities and over time are able to fluently do what we want in that language - to the point where, in many cases, "language" even becomes standardized. For example, if you were handed an unfamiliar TV-remote, how long would it take you to figure out how to "turn it up"? (I'll put the over-under at 2 seconds.) 

The flip-side to this though, is that users are asked to learn a new language if you're selling a product that's unique, has high complexity, or is broadly capable. To use these devices, they have to figure out how to translate their intent into a series of device interactions.

Here again, largely thanks to innovations in AI & ML powered speech-to-intent engines, voice-based interfaces allow us to completely side-step this translation problem. "Hey microwave, reheat this medium bowl of spaghetti."

Social Shifts. Wondering what time the game's on? Just ask! Ready to resume that series on Netflix? Just say the word! Notice something while making dinner? "Add garlic powder to the shopping list." The convenience of voice is permeating our modern lives.

Many technologies are brought to market but never find purchase in society. Some, like Google Glass (2014) or GM's EV1 electric vehicle (1996), are perhaps ahead of their time - while others, like the Segway, are more a solution in need of a problem. Unlike these, it's safe to say that voice is here to stay.

Speech recognition is now reaching the "plateau of productivity" on the "hype cycle," where voice-based services are now fully integrating into modern life. Beyond the obvious functional benefits, the act of talking to a device has also become an expected, socially normal thing to do.



Presumably, if you're reading this article, you know that next-gen products will need voice control. It's probably also obvious that it's a bad idea to release a product with a BAD voice interface. (Nobody wants "this stupid thing" associated with their brand!) Unfortunately, despite the proliferating number of voice-enabled products, delivering a quality voice experience may be harder than you'd expect.

Unlike some new product features, adding a voice interface requires product architects to make a number of highly-impactful, interconnected design decisions. Development teams don't have it easy either, as integrating microphones in a product introduces another layer of complexity. 

Click here to read the complete article on the audioXpress website and learn how to overcome the three main development challenges.

You Can DIY!

A Class D HAT for Raspberry Pi
By  Jens Tybo Jensen
(Head of Marketing and Applications Engineering for Class D Audio, Infineon Denmark)
 
From a practical perspective, this project is a great suggestion for a new affordable high-end 2 x 40 W Class D audio amplifier implemented with a Hardware Attached on Top (HAT) board to connect onto a Raspberry Pi Zero platform, creating a solution ideally suited for DIY audio projects. On the other hand, this is a very clever way to promote the Merus amplifiers from Infineon and get a great number of developers and enthusiasts to actual use it, get to know it, and understand its advantages in a real audio project. Intended for the construction of active loudspeakers and wireless music streaming devices with minimum size, extremely low power consumption, and best-in-class high resolution audio quality, the MERUS audio amplifier reference boards are equipped with the MA12070P monolithic Class D multilevel amplifier IC. Driven from a single 5 V supply and an onboard voltage-boost-converter, the system can provide up to 2 × 40 W peak output power boosted from the Raspberry Pi supply with up to 24-bit/48 kHz music playback. There is no need for additional power supplies as the MERUS audio amplifier attaches directly on top of the Raspberry Pi Zero W board and is powered directly from its 5 V supply rail-so no additional components required . This article was originally published in audioXpress, January 2020 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here

Voice Coil  Test Bench
Oberton ND72CT/HB 1.4" Compression Driver
By  Vance Dickason
 
This article focuses on Oberton, another pro sound OEM new to Voice Coil's Test Bench. Oberton was founded in 1989 in Plovdiv, in the heart of Bulgaria, and began manufacturing professional cone loudspeakers, high-frequency drivers, and coaxial loudspeakers relying on the use of high-end technologies and materials, as well as precision engineering. Oberton built its own 21,500 ft 2 factory building in 2006, enabling to be more vertically integrated than a lot of pro sound OEMs. As a result, Oberton can guarantee tight tolerances compared with the reference driver of each model. Oberton supplied the company's recently released ND72CT/HB 1.4" compression driver along with the H-1464 1.4" cast aluminum 60° × 40° constant directivity horn. The ND72CT version of the ND72 has a 72 mm (2.85") diameter two-layer voice coil with copper-clad aluminum wire (CCAW) wound onto a Kapton former, driving a unique cotton composite diaphragm and polycotton surround - the entire assembly is field replaceable. However, the ND72 also has an alternative dome, named the Hybrid Dome, which turns the ND72CT into the ND72HB. The Hybrid Dome is a combination of carbon composite (the gray material) diaphragm with a center cotton composite "patch" that reduces break-up modes. The result is a dome with excellent stiffness and good internal damping making the subjective sound quality, again according to Oberton, that avoids the metal sound of some titanium domes. All the testing for the Oberton ND72 was conducted with the Hybrid Dome (ND72HB) unless otherwise designated. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, January 2020 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here
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