Industry & Product News
AES Show Fall 2020 Convention Technical Program Will Extend to a Full Month
The 149th International Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention has been converted into an expanded timeline of online events during the month of October, maximizing opportunities to Listen, Learn, and Connect with audio peers and pros from around the world. The AES Show Fall 2020 Convention encompasses four full weeks of live and streaming tech program content, live Q&As, networking, and more. Industry leaders and luminaries will share technical insights, there is the AES Show Product Launch, and three days of sessions promoted by the Audio Product Education Institute.  Read More 
An Immersive Champagne Tasting Space for the House of Krug in France
French designer and manufacturer of high-end electroacoustic systems Amadeus and the Krug Champagne winery in France have set up a tasting room with an immersive audio system with highly customized speakers for special composed music to accompany wine tasting. France's advanced acoustics and music technology research institute IRCAM was intimately involved with Amadeus to create an immersive "Audio Tasting Space" at the House of Krug, in Reims, France.  Read More 
NAD Announces New C 298 Two-Channel Power Amplifier with Purifi Eigentakt Technology
For those audio enthusiasts considering their options to acquire a new amplifier that uses Purifi Eigentakt amplification technology, NAD Electronics has announced another high-performance, affordable, and very attractive option. The C 298 is a two-channel design that is a perfect partner to high-quality preamplifiers or in any application where additional channels of high-end audio amplification are desired. This new NAD classic amp boasts 185 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms and can be bridged to 620W X 1 into 8 Ohms to create a huge monoblock.  Read More 
Consumer Electronics Market Hits $683 Billion Trade Value
Globally, the Consumer Electronics (CE) market increased in value during 2019, adding just over $3 billion to present a worldwide total of $683 billion in trade value. Shipments across CE product categories totaled almost 4.4 billion units worldwide, representing a growth of 2.7% year-on-year. These are some of the facts published by Futuresource Consulting in its latest "Global CE Market Insights and Commentary," helping to put 2020 into perspective.  Read More 

Orchard Audio PecanPi DAC Receives Roon Tested Certification
Orchard Audio announced that its versatile PecanPi DAC has now received Roon Tested certification from Roon Labs. This is an important achievement for Leonid (Leo) Ayzenshtat's company, which has been widely recognized for the excellent quality of its products and designs, but was lacking the support of a major software player. With the Roon certification, more users will be encouraged to try the PecanPi DAC, knowing they will be able to use Roon, with its superior music browsing experience and rich metadata.  Read More
 
Sonus faber Launches New Lumina Line of High-End Speakers
Sonus faber announced the new Lumina collection, a new home speaker line conceived on the notion that now, more than ever, it is important to savor time for ourselves and celebrate life's precious moments. Available with three models for stereo or home theater 5.1 configurations, the new Lumina series speakers are available in three luxury finishes using refined materials and careful craftsmanship. All models offer the natural sound reproduction of Sonus faber in one of the most affordable speaker series ever from the brand.  Read More 


Rotel Introduces Home Theater Products Supporting Dirac Room Correction
Rotel launched the new RSP-1576MKII and RAP-1580MKII integrated amplifiers and surround processors, joining the brand's family of home theater components of exceptional value. The two new models support Dolby Atmos and include a license for best-in-class Dirac room correction technology to ensure accurate room response and system configuration for installations of any size. The RSP-1576MKII model will be available September 2020 and retails for $3,499 USD, while the RAP-1580MKII starts shipping October 2020 and retails for $4,999 USD.  Read More

Skullcandy Crusher Evo Headphones Expand Haptic Bass and Personalization Options with Audiodo
Always trying to offer something unique, lifestyle audio brand Skullcandy announced the launch of Crusher Evo, the company's newest headphone model in the popular Crusher franchise. The new Crusher Evo improves the immersive audio experience and combines two notable audio advancements: an improved version of Skullcandy's patented Sensory Haptic Bass and Personal Sound from Audiodo, a progressive audio personalization technology enabled through the Skullcandy App.  Read More 

    
USound Introduces Next-Generation Waterproof MEMS Speakers Targeting Wearable Category
USound, the Austrian company pioneering microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) audio technology, has developed its next generation of MEMS speakers, surpassing market demands with its IPX8 water submersion resistance. Directly targeting wearable and hearable devices, these next-generation MEMS speakers withstand permanent submersion in water and are ready to power more efficient, low-power earbuds. USound also reports full bandwidth reproduction from a single MEMS speaker and competitive sound pressure level with no magnetic field or heat generation.  Read More

Guest Editorial
 
Mike Klasco
mike@menloscientific.com


The Foreseeable Future of Audio Industry
Trade Shows and Events
For many of us throughout the year, we usually attend a never-ending marathon of trade shows. I have often remarked that I am in the wrong business and could be getting wealthy organizing events. But that has certainly changed with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. The event business is still in a state of shock. Traditionally, I write about a dozen or more events each year for audioXpress and Voice Coil magazines, and here in The Audio Voice newsletter, but now my dance card is... rather blank.

First, let's look at 2020 - early-on the knee-jerk solution was to push out the event dates a few months, but to everyone's dismay COVID-19 did not go away and now almost every convention is canceled far into 2021. The promoting organizations have tried hard to maintain their presence and continuity with virtual webinars, but this is not the same as in-person trade shows. 

Conversely, premature efforts to continue with live events such as IFA in Berlin, Germany are perceived as both greedy and callous. As Editor-in-Chief J. Martins has commented in The Audio Voice about IFA 2020, which took place September 3-5, as a real-life B2B event - by invitation only: "I am waiting for the invitation and private jet to take me to Berlin."  While IFA promoters said: "Our industry - like the rest of the world - now has to plan and prepare for how we can recover and rebound. For 2020, we are planning to go ahead based on a reworked concept that highlights IFA's core functions: supporting brands and manufacturers, retailers, innovators, and the media."

IFA 2020 did take place in Berlin, Germany as a sort of hybrid event. A few "lucky" invited guests risked their lives to see content that was streamed worldwide. Photo credit: Messe Berlin GmbH

Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest 2020 (early October) was cancelled early, last May. "The very worst thing that we can envision is for someone to fall ill because they came to our show, whether as an exhibitor, a journalist, an attendee, or a volunteer," wisely stated Marjorie Baumert, RMAF Director, and Marcie Miller, Operations Director.

Beyond this year is just as bleak. CES in early January 2021 was canceled by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) or more specifically "is moving away from a physical format in favor of an all-digital experience." NAMM, which was scheduled for a few weeks later, has already converted into a virtual experience. Those of us who have made the pilgrimage to Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) in Amsterdam each year may remember that ISE in early February 2020 was the last AV show to (barely) take place prior to the lockdowns. ISE 2021, scheduled to move to Barcelona, Spain, has little or no chance of happening, since Spain is seeing huge virus spikes, well-ahead of the expected Winter second-wave. ISE is charging on at the moment, probably because Mobile World Congress (MWC), hosted by GSMA and also scheduled to happen in Barcelona a few weeks later has not yet been cancelled. Ironically, MWC Barcelona (March 1-4, 2021) adopted the slogan: Connected Impact!

Naturally, a GSMA spokesperson already confirmed that the global health situation is constantly being monitored and that if the situation prohibits a physical event in early 2021 then the event will move toward the all-digital format, which is also being worked on at the moment.

An appropriate slogan for MWC 2021, which will be converted to virtual by the time you read this.

With this grim scenario as the backdrop, the Audio & Loudspeaker Technologies International (ALTI - https://altiassoc.org) EXPO was swept away along with InfoComm 2020, its anchor event. And while Barry Vogel remains at the helm of ALTI after it transitioned into a new organization - formerly the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing & Acoustics (ALMA) International, it has not been an easy time. I recently asked Vogel for his thoughts during these uncertain times. The Speaker Building Workshop that proved so popular at the EXPO needs hands-on participation so that is off for now, but Vogel has some other innovations up his sleeve. One idea is to merge Menlo Scientific's Whiskey Tasting event that proved popular at past ALMA events into ALTI's schedule.

Vogel says: "Timing is everything. Imagine assuming control of a venerable association with a nearly 60 year history in the midst of a global pandemic? But our mission is the same. The route to get there has changed. The mission has always been to offer outstanding value to our members through education, networking, and in creating unique business opportunities. COVID-19 has put in-person events on the back burner. And until we can confirm another 'real' ALTI-EXPO, we made a commitment to developing online resources, webinars, live chat sessions, and collaborations with other parties in order to keep our members engaged and doing business. After all, even now there is business to be done!"

Vogel added, "A new ALTI program called Incubator, designed to help inventors, entrepreneurs and innovators to turn ideas into opportunities is now in dvelopment. By bringing expert consultants, marketing and branding experts, financing and management people together under a single umbrella, ALTI is able to put the knowledge and talent needed to succeed at the fingertips of a start-up. In the short term, ALTI will be presenting webinars and chat sessions for members and students." Longer term, hopefully ALTI-EXPO 2021 will return on June 13 -14 in Orlando, FL. That event will signal the association's 60-year anniversary. And Vogel is also committed to confirm events involving ALTI to take place in Europe in 2021.

What about the COVID-19 vaccine? I hope for the best, but this may not be the magic solution. A reality check is that HIV/AIDs has been around for 40 years, but we still don't have a vaccine nor one for SARS. The flu vaccine has been in widespread use since 1945 but you still need to get a shot (or two) every year. Widespread viruses mutate into different strains. Each year, new vaccines need to be tweaked for the latest virus strains. The more depressing news is that even after 75 years of development, the flu vaccines only provide immunity for about 50% to 60% of the people- so you can have been vaccinated yet catch the flu - and also be contagious. 

Until ALTI returns with its popular ALTI EXPO in 2021, the association is proposing networking events such as the "Audio Grounds Virtual Discussions."

But let's be optimistic. If all goes well with vaccines, the shows schedule for May 2021 onward may have a chance at something beyond virtual webinars. But even in the best case models, promoters are aware that attendance will likely be a fraction of the 2019 numbers. During the transition year of 2021, expect "brick and mortar" events to still have a much lower density of booths and attendees. And I suspect the bigger risk might be getting to the shows in the first place.

Mid-April 2021 shows, such as AXPONA in Chicago, IL, are still on the fence, and we are hopeful that the High-End show in Munich, Germany, in mid-May might be workable. By June 2021, ALTI EXPO and InfoComm have the potential for in-person trade shows. And by September, CEDIA and RMAF, both canceled this year, ought to be back in action by 2021.

Yet beyond safety risks from all directions, as J. Martins already pointed out, the most deadly elephant in the room is event Value Proposition. "A trade show is an event where companies and entrepreneurs can launch, demonstrate, and promote their latest products and services. Shows, fairs, exhibitions, or expositions are promoted to connect sellers with buyers - and that's why most trade shows have access reserved to professionals and industry members."

"So, trade show and event promoters just need to find a way to expand this unique value proposition - generating a balanced RoI - from an alternative, online model, knowing they are temporarily unable to produce a trade show, attract people from all over the world, and sell thousands of square meters of show floor. They can do exactly what a trade show or event is intended to do: promote networking and business opportunities. It was never about square meters," Martins concludes.

You can read the complete text here (recommended). I leave this note with a final comment, I hope to see many of you over a whiskey at the ALTI-EXPO next May.

Acoustic Praxis
The Elephant in the Lab
By Jim DeGrandis (Acoustics First)
 
In this very pertinent and opportune article, Jim DeGrandis discusses the important challenges of specifying acoustic materials. Specifically, his article discusses the need to update basic lab measurements and test data to improve the accuracy of the advanced design, modeling, and simulation tools that exist today. "When specifying acoustic materials, it is common to consult the lab reports to analyze the performance information so we can calculate their effects on reverb time, clarity, privacy, articulation, transmission, and more. But with more advanced tools evolving to assist the design, modeling, and simulation of spaces, is this basic reporting giving us all the information we  need?" he writes. This article was originally published in audioXpress, August 2020.  Read the Full Article Now Available Here
                    
Practical Test & Measurement
Loudspeaker Measurements at Home - A Guide for Building Your Own Test Chamber
By Geoff Hill
 
Given the fact that most audio professionals and developers are working from home, audioXpress asked Geoff Hill, the inventor of the original tetrahedral test chamber (TTC), to explore how to do loudspeaker measurements at home. A lot of Hill's work is now based at home, and indeed his front room. And like so many acoustics builders, designers, and engineers in these crazy times, he no longer has access to an anechoic chamber, so how is it possible to still make useful loudspeaker measurements? This article explains how to build a basic tetrahedral chamber to use at home, and then put together a measurement system and check the results. This article was originally published in audioXpress, September 2020.  Read the Full Article Now Available Here
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