Industry & Product News
PMC Opens New Factory to Meet Demand for Custom Installation Products
Acclaimed British loudspeaker manufacturer PMC has opened a new factory in Bedfordshire, UK, to cope with the burgeoning demand for its expanding Custom Installation (CI) Monitor series. Since launching in September 2019, PMC's CI monitors have proven hugely popular with the installation market where they are answering the demand for delivering Hollywood studio audio quality. The British manufacturer is also expanding its staff resources to support this expansion. Read More
inMusic Brands Expands Market Reach with Acquisition of ArKaos
Florida-based inMusic Brands, the music technology hardware and software company founded by Jack O'Donnell, which already owns some of the most powerful brands in the DJ, Music Production, and Musical Instrument industries, announced the acquisition of Belgium company ArKaos. ArKaos is the world's reference in VJ software and the pioneer in combining light, video, and LED in a single visual server and control software solution. ArKaos also introduced the Kling-Net protocol, a global de-fact standard for lighting control and Remote Device Management (RDM). Read More
Orchard Audio Announces PecanPi Streamer Ultra with Touchscreen
Following the successful launch of the original PecanPi Streamer and Streamer USB, which was quickly followed with the Starkrimson (formerly BOSC) monoblock GaN-based amps, New Jersey-based Orchard Audio is now promoting the launch of PecanPi Streamer Ultra. The Ultra builds upon the affordable and highly reviewed PecanPi Streamer by adding a 5” touchscreen, built-in RCA connectors, and moving all of the connections to the back of the device. Read More
Wavecor Introduces Three New High-End Drivers Covering All Frequency Ranges
Renowned high-end OEM manufacturer Wavecor continues to keep its focus on creativity and recently announced the results of its latest development efforts with three new drivers, all now in stock and ready for sampling. The new transducers comprise the WF275BD01 (4 ohm) and the WF275BD02 (8 ohm) 10" mid/woofers in die-cast frames, the TW022WA07/09 and the TW022WA08/10 high-end tweeters, and the FR070WA05 70 mm aluminum-cone full-range driver with extended bass response. Read More
Qualcomm Adds Jacoti Hearing Enhancement Technology to QCC5100 Bluetooth True Wireless SoCs
Qualcomm is working with Jacoti, an audio technology company focused on hearing enhancement, to bring Jacoti’s medical-grade algorithms to the Qualcomm QCC5100 Series Ultra-Low Power Bluetooth SoCs. This integration combines classical audiology approaches with Jacoti’s own and software to add accessible, accurate personalized hearing assistance with additional safety features to true wireless earbuds and Bluetooth headsets. Read More
Growth and Opportunities in Audio Delivery to Connected Vehicles
The significant growth of connected vehicles and Internet accessibility supported by network expansion is transforming the in-car dashboards of vehicles today and in the future. The automotive market has become increasingly connected, servicing an increased base of audio system solutions. The integration of advanced technologies within the automotive audio space is shaping the in-vehicle radio experience, according to SAR Insight & Consulting. Read More
Editor's Desk
J. Martins
Editor-In-Chief
Adapt, Evolve, and Thrive
The Appeal of Marketing Intersections
It seems everyone needs to prepare for another five or more rough months that risk being far more disruptive to business than the effects the global pandemic has caused so far. While it was hard to anticipate how long this COVID-19 crisis would extend, there's no doubt that we need to reinforce those early strategies to endure another period of lockdowns.

As I wrote back in March, this is temporary. A company should not completely alter its fundamental strategies in the face of such volatile conditions, and should adapt while planning for the aftermath. And in the absence of traditional channels, it's essential to keep online operations working and plan ahead.

The changing conditions have effectively inspired some audio companies to quickly embrace new channel strategies (direct-to-consumer suddenly becomes not only an alternative but an essential tool for some brands and product categories). Others have repositioned their existing products to appeal to new usage profiles and reach the needs of consumers at home. Many are just testing how they can leverage new horizontal and vertical diversification strategies to simply reinforce their brand or actually expand their markets.

Among other things, these strategies include crossover marketing for expanding a brand’s reach in favorable segments or strong growth categories. While potentially interesting under the current circumstances, a marketing crossover and co-branding strategy is also full of challenges, including understanding the need to carry the correct, specific message across markets.
Shure was able to offer the ideal response to meet the increasing demand for audio streaming and recording solutions at home with its new MV7 Podcast Microphone.
I was recently reminded of that with the announced acquisition of Bowers & Wilkins by Sound United, which was in fact motivated by an attempt by the former investors (Eva Automation) to expand the product strategy away from the brand’s fundamental values and core markets. Sound United is clearly positioned around home audio and could be a great match for the British brand. Even some of Bowers & Wilkins' successful diversification strategies, such as in headphones, will be appreciated and expanded. But we can always be reminded that a brand's equity is not always fully understood, as I wrote back in 2014, when someone thought that labelling dance festival music systems “unlike anything else ever manufactured by Bowers & Wilkins" would be good for the brand.

This week, I've seen interesting examples of companies showing the ability to successfully adapt in just a few months. That was the case with Shure, which saw its SM7B studio microphone quickly become an icon among musicians, podcasters, and creatives forced to work from home. Unexpectedly, Shure's recent USB microphone range - which apparently would be perfect for home users - did not sell as well, as I noted in the article we published. Leveraging the SM7B’s popularity effect, Shure designed and launched the new Shure MV7, a similar dynamic microphone with both USB and XLR outputs for use with computers and professional interfaces, available for half the price of the SM7B and offering additional software features. Great move from Shure!
Leveraging its reputation in premium professional audio for many of the world’s most renowned performing arts centers and music venues, L-Acoustics Creations now markets immersive sound technologies for residential, cultural, and experiential spaces.
Another interesting example comes from French professional audio and touring market leader L-Acoustics, which surprised us positively with a very clever repackaging of its professional solutions to target the luxury home audio space. The early strategy was announced two years ago, when L-Acoustics introduced the bold Island concept, appealing to the predictable crowd of millionaires and celebrities in need of the ultimate luxury. The formula worked, and the company created its separate L-Acoustics Creations division, which was making its own sales channels when the pandemic happened.

L-Acoustics Creations quickly announced an expanded range of luxury home audio packages with the release of Archipel Sound Systems, which are basically existing product designs and professional audio technologies, now targeting state-of-the-art private, residential, cultural, and marine AV environments.

And this week, L-Acoustics announced another brand diversification effort, introducing a limited edition In-Ear Monitor (IEM), developed in partnership with IEM pioneer Jerry Harvey and his brand JH Audio. An interesting and apparently highly synergetic announcement, the first-ever consumer category product to display the logo of a sound reinforcement/PA brand - at least one that is available for sale, and is not just corporate merchandise or a holiday giveaway.

At first, custom IEMs carrying the L-Acoustics brand seem like a natural combination. After all, combining the world of stage with L-Acoustics products seems logical for musicians or sound engineers who are familiar with the concept. For years, the industry has been debating the benefits of removing traditional wedge stage monitors with IEMs, and one could easily speculate what this could mean for L-Acoustics, which traditionally focuses on the sound for the audience and not for the stage.

The problem is, JH Audio typically markets the same IEM products to a larger personal audio market, which is particularly important (and profitable) in Asia. And that is probably the reason why the L-Acoustics Contour XO IEM announcement was illustrated with marketing arguments such as offering a "unique sonic signature frequency contour," something which is not desirable on professional IEMs or sound reinforcement products - intended to be neutral and transparent.

Professional audio products need to simply translate the sound of each performance, event, and creative intention, while "tuning" a certain frequency response is something typical in the marketing of a consumer product, or as in this case, a premium product "designed to reproduce the nuances, emotion, and impact of live music." Unfortunately, the announcement reinforces with insistence that "L-Acoustics professional sound systems have their own “sonic signature,” revealing the dangers of crossing brand values between different market segments.
The highly unlikely scenario of a band playing on a small stage shared with a PA system. No matter how good it might sound, musicians hate the idea.
Another interesting story this week was the announcement by Bose Professional of the new L1 Pro portable line array systems. The new designs are a remarkable improvement over the original, launched 17 years ago. I clearly remember the product launch event at Musikmesse and Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt, and how Bose tried so hard to explain that this was a system designed for bands and musicians on stage - totally replacing the need for any other amplifiers and backstage systems, while at the same time providing all the sound reinforcement needed for a small auditorium. And the demonstrations showed exactly that!

The problem was, musicians adore their Mesa Boogies, Ampeg SVTs, and Marshall stacks and don't really care about the benefits of a distortion-less, feedback-exempt sound approach. So, in fact, the original Bose L1 system sold very well to small rental companies that loved its integration and portability, but more importantly its effectiveness to reinforce corporate events in hotel rooms. In fact, it was so successful that countless versions were created by other manufacturers that targeted their products directly to those professional markets. And I could easily write another thousands words just to revisit so many interesting stories surrounding the “pioneering” Bose L1 concept.
Communications
Testing and Optimizing Strategies for Conference Terminal Equipment
By Hans W. Gierlich (HEAD acoustics GmbH)
Following up on the two Communication articles published in audioXpress October 2020, Hans W. Gierlich, from HEAD acoustics GmbH, a top expert in his field, contributed this great overview article about "Testing and Optimizing Strategies for Conference Terminal Equipment." With most company employees working from home and the trend toward decentralized organizations and remote collaborations, where webinar and conferencing services are the new way of communication, this a timely topic. As Gierlich explains, "Once these communication solutions are adopted, we all have the same problems: The speech transmission quality varies. Sometimes it is so bad that good communication is not possible. But the reasons for this are complex. This article addresses how to evaluate and determine strategies for these challenges.” This article was originally published in audioXpress, November 2020.  Read the Full Article Now Available Here
Voice Coil Spotlight
Thin-Film High-Frequency Transducers (Part 2) - The LT2/LT6 Ribbon Transducers
By Igor Levitsky
In its August 2020 edition, Voice Coil featured an article by experienced speaker designer Igor Levitsky on “The Advantages of Thin-Film High-Frequency Transducers.” In a follow-up Spotlight article, the author returns to expand on the development and design aspects of the Radian Audio LT2/LT6 Ribbon Planar transducers - its more recent, commercially available project, in which he continues to be involved. Following an overview of different approaches to ribbon, electrostatic, AMT, planar magnetic and other thin-film technologies for speakers and headphones, in this second article Levitsky explains why the new-generation LT series from the Californian manufacturer takes high-frequency transducers to a whole new level. "In the heart of Radian planar ribbon technology lays a symmetric push-pull, FEA-optimized magnetic structure based on very high MGO energy neodymium magnets with very even magnetic flux distribution. A lot of care has been applied to metal parts design to minimize stray flux, maximize efficiency, and reduce and even eliminate distortion related to magnetic structure," Levitsky details. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, September 2020.  Read the Full Article Now Available Here
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