Industry & Product News
Audio Engineering Society Introduces Audio Product Education Institute and First Interactive Voice Con Online Event
The Audio Product Education Institute (APEI) is an initiative of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) that is committed to furthering the knowledge and skills of professionals involved in the development of audio products. The new entity will present Interactive Voice Con,  an online program designed to address real-world experiences in Voice Integrated Product Development. The first presentation will take place July 9, 2020 and registration is now open .    Read More
Odeon A/S Announces Version 16 of the ODEON Room Acoustics Software
Danish company Odeon A/S, the pioneer of ray tracing and hybrid models that combine particle and ray tracing used to simulate and measure room acoustics, announced a new version of its ODEON Room Acoustics software. Introducing several important enhancements and new features, the new version 16 is now available in four different application editions. Improved Reflectogram and 3D reflection-paths, improved Decay Curve, improved sweep-measurement tool, 3D Matrix, and support of ambisonic measurements are among the highlights .   Read More  

Mvoid Technologies Expands Methodology for Acoustical Virtual Product Development
Mvoid Technologies GmbH, the German company specializing in virtual audio product development, has released the latest Mvoid Methodology version 2.3. Mvoid Acoustical Virtual Product Development methods use a combination of physical and acoustical modeling, simulation, and measurement software, combined with virtual reality and 3D visualization and binaural auralization tools for Automotive and Professional Audio applications. The new process level now enables the measurement of physical audio products .    Read More

 
Powersoft Extends Duecanali and Quattrocanali Amplifier Ranges for Medium to Large Installations
Powersoft expanded its range of rack-mounted amplifiers for the installation market with new models in the Duecanali and Quattrocanali Series. Unveiled at the InfoComm 2020 Connected event, the two newest additions to the company's Duecanali and Quattrocanali lines have more power, add power-sharing features, and deliver even more in the popular single rack two- and four-channel platforms. The Duecanali 6404 DSP+D and the Quattrocanali 8804 DSP+D bring 175 Vpeak performances into an extremely convenient package .    Read More  


Audio Precision Announces Version 6.0 of Its Apx500 Audio Measurement Software with Correlated Cross-Domain Measurement and Reduced Test Time
Audio Precision released the latest update to APx500 audio measurement software, version 6.0. With this release, APx software supports multiple simultaneous input types, enabling the concurrent measurement of up to 16 channels of digital and eight channels of analog audio data. This new multi-input capability, paired with the highest channel count and widest range of digital I/O available, provides APx users critical cross-domain insight and the opportunity to reduce testing time .    Read More  

Marten Unveils New Parker Series Speakers With Isolators Made by IsoAcoustics
Marten, a Swedish premium loudspeaker manufacturer, and IsoAcoustics, the acoustic isolation manufacturer for home and professional speakers, teamed up to announce the new Parker series of loudspeakers: the Parker Duo, the Parker Trio, and the Parker Quintet. An integral part to the new Parker Series, Marten Isolators created by IsoAcoustics were designed to provide a stable foundation, allowing improved stereo imaging and clarity regardless of the floor construction .    Read More  
    

Cerwin-Vega Inc. Acquires Cerwin-Vega! Pro & Home
Brands From Gibson
Cerwin-Vega Inc., a company with headquarters in Los Angeles, CA and the owner of Cerwin-Vega's Mobile business announced that it has acquired the Cerwin-Vega! Pro & Home Audio brand from Gibson Corporation. The announcement paves the way for a reunification of the Cerwin-Vega brand, a return to its original home base, while helping the new Gibson management to focus its restructuring efforts .    Read More


DSP Concepts TalkTo Audio Front End Qualified by Amazon for Alexa Built-In Devices
DSP Concepts announced that TalkTo, its suite of proprietary microphone processing algorithms that use adaptive learning technology to deliver a quiet-room experience in noisy and unpredictable environments, has been qualified by Amazon for Alexa built-in devices using Alexa Voice Service (AVS). This enables more hardware brands to easily build Alexa built-in devices that will perform well even in noisy situations, thanks to TalkTo's leading sound cancellation technology .    Read More  

Guest Editorial
 
Mike Klasco
(Menlo Scientific)



Audio Manufacturing in Vietnam
A Brave New World
China is a good supplier, and most Chinese audio vendors are committed and invested for the long term. Over the years, both factories and Western brands grew to understand what was needed to succeed. Those of us who were working in Asia long ago developed our favorite vendors, hotels, and restaurants in China.

But rising costs of sourcing from China have ramped up over the years and now, with the burden of tariffs, some importers are reaching the tipping point. World trade is a zero sum game - which essentially means there is a pie and it gets cut into pieces. One guy gets a bigger piece so someone else gets a smaller chunk. We sent more work over to China as it was a great value proposition and less was left for the UAW, teamsters, and other well-paid workers here. Over the last few decades, our infrastructure has been hollowed out. Neither Democrat nor Republican politicians had an interest in R&D tax credits nor incentives for our innovations to be built in new factories here. Regardless of your politics, our relations with China are not going well and continue to decline. The protests in Hong Kong are destabilizing  resources and the stress and finger pointing from the pandemic have created additional problems. The risks and repercussions of overly concentrating the supply chain on one geographical/ political source are now painfully apparent.

The strategy of China +1 is now becoming a standard approach for many audio manufacturers. And the +1 is loud and clear: Vietnam.

Moving away won't be easy for Asian transplants in China, as they are finding the supply chains there are more developed compared with emerging markets. Local Chinese governments also offer tax incentives and friendly investment policies to encourage manufacturers to stay.

For all these reasons and many more, we won't be completely leaving China anytime soon, and the strategy of China +1 is the message of the day. And who the +1 is has become loud and clear: Vietnam. 

Vietnam is looking to be the best addition, due to its close proximity to China, and therefore, close access to the component parts via air, sea, or land. Moreover, labor costs are about a third of China's, and the current workforce is full of fresh engineering graduates. The government is offering tax breaks and subsidies to those who want to set up their business in the country.

Let me preface that by saying I am only the messenger, along with a warning. Vietnam's total population is 95 million, and it won't take too many customers transferring their Chinese-sourced production to Vietnam before there are more jobs than workers... soon followed by unions and inflation. There must be some sense of déjà vu for those who remember Korea in the mid-1980s - when salaries went from $0.40 cents an hour to $8.00 an hour by the time the Olympics took place in Korea (1988). At least for the speaker industry, production moved onto China and never came back. Around this time, there also was a huge shift of high-tech manufacturing to Malaysia and the resultant ramping up of wages and inflation throughout the 1990s, was abruptly followed by the exodus of manufacturing business to China. This process left the Malaysian economy devastated by a 10-year depression and the long-dark audio factories of Eastech, YKS, Forum Audio, Dai-ichi Malaysia, Yahorng and others. 

Founded in 1999, Sound Corp is a leading OEM/ODM audio manufacturer in Vietnam. Its facilities are located in the Binh Duong province (25 km from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula and is bordered by China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, and part of Thailand to the Southwest. The capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, while the largest city is Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Da Nang's city and port is in central Vietnam. Since 2000, Vietnam's economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world and Vietnam's production base has matured. Industrial parks are in the south, central, and the north. In the Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook (LIS) 2020 directory (www.loudspeakerindustrysourcebook.com), you will see many firms from the Bac Ninh Province in the Red River Delta of the north.  While as of yet, there are no non-stop flights from the US to Vietnam, it is within the range of the 787-9 (of which Vietnamese Air happens to have a few). There are many International flights to Vietnam from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines to the main airports in Hanoi and Saigon.

In central Vietnam, Da Nang's industrial parks are likely to attract many audio factories (GGEC has its new factory there). International flights to Da Nang airport operate from Singapore, Seoul Korea, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hotels prices are reasonable, even for the international chains. Ho Chi Min (Saigon) to Hanoi is a two-hour flight and Saigon City to DaNang is a 1 hour and 20 minute flight. Domestic flights are inexpensive and safe. Conversely, the train takes forever (20 hours from Saigon to Da Nang, and 30+ hours all the way to Hanoi).

Vietnam is on track to attract nearly $40 billion USD in foreign direct investments this year. That word comes from Vietnam's government - which says it's the highest inbound investment figure in 10 years. And money for manufacturing and other projects is coming from elsewhere in the region. This year, South Korea is the country's biggest source of outside financing - making up more than 20% of all foreign direct investment flowing to Vietnam. Second is Hong Kong - with nearly the same amount.

Singapore, Japan and China round out the top five foreign investors in Vietnam. US firms are also increasing their presence in Vietnam - sometimes by way of their suppliers. Apple's largest assembly contractor Foxconn has recently increased its presence in Vietnam. In 2007, Foxconn announced that it would invest $5 billion in Vietnam and this was expected to help bring Vietnam into the global supply chain. Foxconn kickstarted its Vietnamese investment by opening two factories, worth $160 million in total, in Bac Ninh's Que Vo Industrial Park.

The minimum wage is $1,000 per year but in the main cities, salaries are much higher. Still, China factory salaries are halved in Vietnam for the same work. Some of the established audio manufacturers have already moved significant production to Vietnam. Twenty years ago ESTec (Korea) came to Vietnam with its first factory. Soon ESTec and Foster (Japan) built joint-venture speaker factories, both in the north. Today, microspeaker giants AAC, Goertek, and Bujeon all have factories in Vietnam. 

Luxshare is not that well-known as yet, but this Taiwan group is an Apple vendor (AirPods) and includes Merry Electronics and Sonavox, and is firmly in Vietnam.  GoerTek, the other AirPods vendor has announced its intention to also move production of the wireless earphones from China to Vietnam to avoid being caught up in the escalating trade friction between the United States and China.

Hank Tech was one of several manufacturers with modern facilities in Vietnam, hoping to attract OEM business at CES 2020.

Aside from loudspeaker assembly developments, there has been a long-established speaker parts infrastructure in Vietnam. In 1996, Taiwanese transplant CX Technology wanted to expand from Taiwan but not to China. Its bold move was to establish a production base for forging back plates and top plates in Vietnam. PoYun, known for its voice coils (and diaphragms), has been in Vietnam since 2012 and recently opened a new plant in the Hai Duong province in the north.

Uniquely, the Vietnamese supply chain boasts a very special member in Power Development, a neodymium magnet factory. I would mention that the ore is readily available from California and from Australia (these sources now supply 40% of Chinese feedstock).

Korean Anam, established its Vietnamese factory in 2013 and further expanded in 2018, making integrated audio electronics (e.g., soundbars) for large corporations.  While the golden days of Vietnam speaker manufacturing may only last for the next 5 years or so before this low-cost country with smart people gains the standard of living they deserve,  Cambodia and Laos are just next door...

The upcoming September issue of Voice Coil magazine will feature a special focus article on Vietnam, and a directory of audio factories and trade shows.

R&D Stories
Acoustic Echo Canceller Calibration in Real Time
By  Erica Yorga (Nureva)
 
Is it an understatement to say that echo cancellation has been a kind of "holy grail" ever since the first conference call? Nureva's patented Microphone Mist technology rethinks that quest in innovative ways. In this article, Erica Yorga shares how the development process of a real-time calibration method for acoustic echo cancellation awarded surprising results. 
Nureva is a Canadian company with a number of important patents in microphone and signal processing applied for conference calls - which most probably will also be of great value in other audio applications. As another valuable tool within Nureva's patented Microphone Mist technology framework, the company developed a unique and innovative approach to calibrate the acoustic echo canceller in a manner that other systems are unable to achieve. This article was originally published in audioXpress, June 2020 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here
Voice Coil Test Bench
The Punktkilde AUGWL0016-JN02 6.5" Midbass Driver
By  Vance Dickason
 
In this Test Bench, Vance Dickason characterizes a home audio transducer from Eastech's Punktkilde line, more precisely the AUGWL0016-JN02 6.5" midbass driver. This is a new model from the Punktkilde brand that features a unique Magnesium-Lithium (Mg-Li) alloy cone. Mg-Li alloy is the same material used in the Punktkilde 1" dome tweeter (the AUGDL0003-JN03) featured in Test Bench in the November 2019 issue of Voice Coil. Notable features for the 6.5" AUGWL0016-JN02 include a proprietary eight-spoke cast-aluminum frame (basket) that is vented below the spider (damper) mounting shelf, and a lightweight, low density heat resistant Mg-Li alloy flat profile cone with a 2" diameter convex dust cap out of the same material. Compliance is provided by a fairly narrow 9 mm wide NBR (CBR) surround and a 3.5" diameter cloth elevated spider, all driven by a 49.5 mm diameter aluminum voice coil with five 0.25" diameter vents around the peripheral of the voice coil. These five vents are located below the spider mounting shelf. The motor structure consists of a 119 mm diameter, 20 mm thick ferrite ring magnet with a milled and polished 6 mm thick front plate and a milled, shaped, and polished T-yoke. Additional cooling is provided by a 20 mm diameter pole vent with a curved outlet to minimize turbulence and a screen to keep out foreign material. As Dickason notes, this is a very nice looking woofer worth taking a closer look. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, March 2020 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here

AX July 2020: Digital Login
Audio Product Design | DIY Audio Projects | Audio Electronics | Audio Show Reports | Interviews | And More 

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