Industry & Product News
Dirac Supplies Digital Audio Technology to BYD Motors' New Han Car Series
Swedish digital audio DSP pioneer Dirac and Chinese car company BYD Motors, one of the leading automotive companies in the hybrid and fully-electric vehicle space, announced that BYD's new Han series of vehicles will feature Dirac digital audio technology for a best-in-class in-car listening experience. Dirac will infuse all Han Series Electric Vehicle (EV) and Dual Mode (DM) models with its cutting-edge digital audio technology, to elevate in-car acoustics. A new level of automotive luxury in electric and hybrid cars, including Dirac-branded speaker grills .    Read More  
TV Manufacturer Skyworth Joins WiSA Association
Momentum continues to build for WiSA, LLC, the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association, as a leading wireless, multichannel audio solution for television manufacturers. WiSA is comprised of more than 60 leading consumer electronics brands, including already some television manufacturers that have helped make the wireless audio technology much more appealing for home theater and gaming setups, expanding from stereo to multichannel audio applications. Now WiSA has confirmed Skyworth Group Limited as its newest member.    Read More  
Audio Builders Workshop "Learn to Solder" Kits Now Available at CrowdSupply
We received a notice from audioXpress author and good friend Brewster LaMacchia that the two learn-to-solder kits designed by the Audio Builders Workshop (ABW is an offshoot of the Boston Audio Engineering Society section) are now available for purchase online at CrowdSupply - a crowdfunding organization and website helping creators fund and launch products that people can build themselves and customize at will. CrowdSupply and its parent company, Mouser, have been great supporters of ABW, and it was just natural that the entities would team up to offer the kit .    Read More

Andover Introduces Spindeck Plug-and-Play Belt-Drive Turntable
Massachusetts-based Andover Audio continues to focus on expanding its portfolio of self-branded products. Following the introduction of the Model One Record Player, an integrated record player, speaker, and entertainment system; the Spinbase, a compact, speaker solution for under-turntable placement; and the launch of the PM-50 planar magnetic headphones, the company now announces the Spindeck, an affordable belt-driven turntable, custom designed by Pro-Ject for Andover .    Read More  

AKM Develops Ultra-Low Power Intelligent System Wakeup ADC with Integrated Acoustic Activity Analyzer
Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) Corp. has developed the AK5706, a high-performance 24-bit stereo A/D converter (ADC) with an integrated Acoustic Activity Analyzer (AAA) wakeup solution consuming only 30 μA, audio buffer, and support for digital and high-SNR microphones. Designed for systems that must listen for specific types of audio activity while consuming very low power, the AK5706 is ideal for products such as speech recognition systems, as well as security and smart home devices .    Read More

NAD Flagship Masters M33 BluOS Streaming DAC Amplifier Is Now Shipping!
Following a preview at CES 2020, the highly anticipated amplifier of the year 2020 by NAD Electronics - the first company to license Purifi Audio's amplifier technology - is now shipping! NAD M33 is the latest BluOS enabled DAC/amplifier that can serve as the heart of a reference whole-home system. In its simplest form, the M33 ($4,999 U.S. MSRP) is an ultra-high-performance streaming amplifier with superb sound. And it can obviously be combined with a BluOS ecosystem of wirelessly networked music players, creating a whole-home audio system .    Read More  

Avantone Pro Launches Planar Open-Back Reference-Grade Headphones
Avantone Pro introduced Planar, a new high-definition, open-planar driver design that allows for lower distortion, fast response, and an extended frequency response, going all the way to 30 kHz. Avantone says the new design is inherently flat, and tuned in order to deliver more precision and accuracy when monitoring and mixing, which is the aim for the brand's core target audience. But these over-the-ear planar headphones, being lightweight and comfortable, are certainly going to appeal to a broader audience, which also uses headphones for long periods of time .    Read More

PSB Speakers Partners with Audiodo for Personal Hearing Profiles
PSB Speakers, founded by renowned acoustics designer, Paul Barton, and maker of high-fidelity stereo and home theater speakers, and Audiodo, the personal audio technologies company from Sweden, announced an agreement that will see Audiodo's Personal Sound algorithms integrated into future yet-to-be-announced headphones from PSB Speakers. This partnership marks the first time Audiodo's technology will appear in a high-fidelity product .    Read More  

Guest Editorial
Mike Klasco

Sound Matters Because soundmatters
And Now for Something Completely Different...
This headline, the signature opening line for British comedy-sketch show, Monty Python's Flying Circus is also a good fit for this article on a very cool new product category from soundmatters and their UPstage concept - a new speaker product category and the next trend from the people that invented the soundbar.

Let's provide some background to provide a bit of credibility to this story, as they have a long and successful history developing noteworthy audio products. soundmatters was founded in 1998 as an audio research and development company with projects for Logitech, Viewsonic, Roku, IGT, and Jawbone as well as for the many brands that Eastech (a large Asian OEM/ODM) supplied.

soundmatters' MAINstage, the original one-piece home theater sound solution.

Twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to visit their futuristic design center in San Francisco, CA, which also was conveniently down the block from Dolby Labs. My clients working with soundmatters included Power Integrations, which has a novel and very high-performance switching power supply that enables very high peak power, and Tripath, now a legend for its early innovative work on the first decent sounding parametric switching amplifier chips. soundmatters was one of the few design teams that were able to get the best out of Power Integrations and Tripath stuff together.

In 2003, soundmatters introduced its first product for itself, the MAINstage 1-Box Surround System. This powered speaker converted any TV, computer, or other audio source into a mini home theater and was the prelude to the one-box soundbar surround solution. Powered stereo/virtual surround; easy hookup; just 2.5" tall; analog and digital inputs. Opening up a new category entirely, soundmatters lacked the mindshare to make it stick. Not surprisingly, consumer electronics giants including Samsung, Vizio, Harman, and company, quickly got into the game and ate soundmatters' lunch. Nevertheless, soundmatters evolved the concept and are still very much alive and kicking today, now based in Taiwan.

In 2018, startup Level 10, engineered by soundmatters was created to launch the UPstage360 speaker on Kickstarter, which was one of the most-funded speaker projects on the platform. UPstage360's aim was to reinvent traditional speaker soundstage to a 360-degree sweet zone. After a year of further development, Level 10 has new tricks with its UPstage180 concept and it is combining music and soft lighting with a streamlined design for wall mounting or to just sit on a flat surface with even beamwidth 180 coverage.

UPstage 360, the world's first 360 degrees, hi-res, three-way speaker, was quickly fully funded on Kickstarter.

Let's Roll Back
With the UPstage introduced, let's roll back and introduce the illustrious founder of soundmatters, Dr. Godehard Guenther, NASA scientist and audio legend. Born in Germany, Dr. Guenther earned his PhD in astrophysics at the University of Heidelberg. Recruited by Dr. Wernher von Braun, Dr. Guenther immigrated to the United States where he worked with a group of scientists at NASA on the development of America's first space station. 

In 1972, he left NASA to pursue his passion for audio, initially importing Braun loudspeakers to the US, then founding Analog + Digital Systems (a/d/s/), which later acquired Braun Audio. There he led the development of such innovations as the use of rare earth metals, including samarium cobalt and neodymium in loudspeakers, the first fully digital surround sound system, the first in-wall loudspeaker, and a pet project of a fully automated tweeter production machine. In 1998, Dr. Guenther went on to establish soundmatters.

Dr. Godehard Guenther and Emma Yu, soundmatters' CEO.

At this stage, let me introduce Beijing Design and Creation Electronics Company (BDNC), founded 2007 as the R&D arm of a Taiwan semiconductor company and later spun off in 2016. One of its more recent developments is a unique damped glass diaphragm shallow speaker. And the UPstage180 speaker is the launch customer for BDNC's high-power, flat glass woofer with a 0.2 mm glass diaphragm and the highest excursion-to-thickness Index without the interference of rocking modes common in other transducers.

UPstage180 is compact, about one-quarter the size of the classic bookshelf speaker, and yet delivers solid bass that can reach down to 60 Hz. soundmatters' Linear Magnetic Drive Twoofer is both a tweeter and a woofer - it is the first single device produced by carbon fiber injection technology with sound-enhancing capabilities on both ends of the audio spectrum.

The well-crafted UPstage180 adopts a simple aesthetic design and uses BDNC's flat glass speaker driver and soundmatters' own Linear Magnetic Drive Twoofers.

I talked with Emma Yu, soundmatters' CEO for the global operations, about her selection of the drivers for the Upstage 180; "I chose our Twoofer carbon fiber diaphragm and glass speaker, which both have very high Young's modulus in similar speed to transfer soundwave. Quick response. The quality is very even with both Carbon Fiber and Glass. Take a listen to 'The Sheffield Track & Drum Record' and enjoy very impressive sound quality."

For Bluetooth, the UPstage180 design uses Microchip's BM83 module with Bluetooth 5.0, to support also Sony's LDAC 24-bit/96 kHz Hi-Res audio and maintain a reliable connection. This Bluetooth module also features an innovative application of True Wireless Stereo (TWS) and Bluetooth Wireless Concert Technology (WCT) so that users can connect multiple UPstage180 speakers. Just like your TWS earphones, using two UPstage180 speakers with its proprietary app will automatically assign left and right channels to the two units. Finally, the design is powered with Infineon MERUS Class-D amplifiers, known for compact, cool stable operation and good sound.

The enclosure is light yet very rigid due to the injected-molded thermoplastic with a very high carbon fiber loading. I would mention that soundmatters is working with my firm and other partners evaluating various injection molding resins for acoustic properties and related mechanical attributes.

BDNC's innovative thin technology/high excursion woofer used in the UPstage 180 with its glass diaphragm and unusual non-rocking suspension.

Both the UPstage360 and 180 projects involved the use of great electroacoustic measurement technology. The UPstage180 was tested at Warkwyn, Klippel's US training, calibration, and distribution partner. The test was done with the latest Klippel R&D system dB-Lab 210, which is part of an interesting story in of itself. Back in the 1990s, I worked with Bell Labs on its SYSid acoustic analyzer and the agency for Taiwan and China was run by Emma Yu. But Bell Labs was lost when AT&T was disassembled. Yu also founded SOMA, which today is the agency in Taiwan for both Klippel and Loudsoft.

Next week I will expand on the BDNC think tank, its glass speaker, and other developments.

Bass Shakers (Part 1): Enhancing the Deep Bass Experience with Tactile Energy
By  Mike Klasco and Steve Tatarunis
Get ready to shake! Our perception of live music and the auditory world in general includes not only airborne sound energy, but also structure-borne vibrational energy. At a concert you see the performers, hear the music, and feel the venue resonate with the bass. For home theaters this "tactile" component adds a dimension (sometimes referred to as 4-D) to reproduce the impact of explosions, engine sounds, thunder, and other bone-rattling low-frequency content. This creative impact can be powerful, and as subtle as the anticipation created when Jurassic Park viewers first see the dinosaur's footfall as waves in a puddle, feel the first tremor, and finally hear the thundering vibration. This article was originally published in audioXpress, April 2014 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here
Voice Coil  Test Bench
Eminence's Tour Grade NSW4018-8 18" Woofer
By  Vance Dickason
In this Test Bench, Vance Dickason characterizes a very high power handling 18" woofer from Eminence's recently announced Tour Grade pro sound product line, the NSW4018-8. The Tour Grade family of speakers consists of two 18" options, including the ferrite magnet FSW4018-8, the neodymium magnet NSW4018-8, and the massive neodymium magnet 21" NSW6021-6, and was developed over two years to support the undisputed growth of professional audio. Applications for the new Eminence NSW4018-8 include use as a bass driver in multiway systems, or as a dedicated subwoofer in bass reflex designs. The feature set for the NSW4018-8 is substantial, starting with the frame, the series of cooling vents, or the impressive cone assembly that consists of a straight profile thick "X5" pulp paper ribbed cone along with a 5.75" diameter convex paper dust cap. The entire cone assembly (cone, surround, and spider) is water resistant. The Eminence NSW4018-8 motor is based on a FEA-designed neodymium magnet structure using a 102 mm (4-inch) diameter voice coil wound with round copper wire on a non-conducting fiberglass former. Factory-rated power handling for this driver is 1600 W AES, 3200 W program, and 6400 W peak power. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, May 2020 .    Read the Full Article Now Available Here

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