Industry & Product News
Klippel New dB-Lab Version 212 and QC 7 Updates Extend Speaker and Enclosure Characterization Tools
Klippel released a major software update to its Klippel Analyzer System. The new dB-Lab Version 212 and QC 7 updates now add shared sensor management, support for the new Multi-Scanning Workbench hardware, and three further modules (LSIM, MTON, and RMA). The Klippel Multi-Scanning Workbench supports near-field holographic soundfield scanning measurements in a much smaller form factor, while the new modules add linear signal modeling and simulation and multi-tone measurements, dedicated to speaker and enclosure design. Read More
Beyma Expands Workforce with New Operations and Production Appointments
Professional audio loudspeaker driver manufacturer Beyma continues to invest in the expansion of its design and manufacturing operations in Valencia, Spain. The company, which is now majority-owned by Jose Vicente Farinós, announced an expansion of its workforce with two key hires to improve production and the company's operations. Adrian Benlloch has been hired to the position of Director of Operations (COO), while Jose Torres is Beyma's new Production Manager. Read More
TDK InvenSense Expands Design Options with New SmartSound MEMS Microphones
TDK introduced three new MEMS microphones as part of the SmartSound family of products for mobile and consumer connected devices. The new TDK T5919 is a high-performance PDM digital MEMS microphone and is the first with a built-in particle ingress filter (PIF) for harsh environments. The new T3903 is a high-performance PDM digital MEMS microphone with very low power and wide dynamic range, while the T4086 is an analog output MEMS microphone in a tiny package, ideal for very space-constrained applications. Read More
Alango Technologies Now Licensing Hearing Enhancement Technology to OEMs
Alango Technologies announced that OEMs and ODMs will now be able to license the same technologies that power its BeHear Bluetooth assistive hearing headsets. The audio and voice embedded DSP software specialist firm is now licensing its set of software technologies for full-featured customer-fit hearing personalization and amplification, enabling the rapid development of advanced hearables in new designs and form-factors. Read More
Sennheiser Introduces CX True Wireless Earbuds Focusing on Sound and Call Quality
Once again promoting superior sound quality as a differentiating feature, the consumer arm of Sennheiser, which is currently under ownership transition, introduced a new true wireless stereo model with plenty of outstanding features. The new CX True Wireless earbuds from Sennheiser offer a personal audio experience with crystal-clear sound, great battery life and effortless ease of use at an affordable price point. Read More
Poikosoft’s EZ CD Audio Converter Software Now Supports xHE-AAC Audio Codec from Fraunhofer IIS
Fraunhofer recently licensed its xHE-AAC implementation to Poikosoft, makers of the EZ CD Audio Converter software that enables users to convert files into many lossless and compressed audio formats. With xHE-AAC encoding and decoding, users of EZ CD Audio Converter 9.3 will gain access to the best-performing general audio codec available today. The Converter also fully supports the xHE-AAC loudness metadata, with which users can adapt content playback to any listening situation and dynamic range available. Read More
Skullcandy Confirms Partnership with Bragi for Software Upgradable True Wireless Earbuds
Skullcandy, the headphone company from Park City, UT, announced a partnership with Bragi, the inventor and largest intellectual property owner of true wireless headphones, now licensing its software to brands and manufacturers worldwide. The partnership enables Skullcandy to create truly smart, future-proof audio products, infused with easy-to-use, transformative technology incorporating Bragi’s software platform featuring embedded AI. Read More
VOXX International Confirms Joint Venture Agreement with Sharp to Acquire Onkyo Home Entertainment Business
VOXX International Corp. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Premium Audio Co., and Sharp Corp. have successfully entered into a joint venture to acquire certain assets of the audio/video business of Onkyo Home Entertainment Corp. This follows the Asset Purchase Agreement signed by the parties as announced on May 3, 2021. Premium Audio will own Onkyo and Integra products, IP and brands, and will market and sell the Pioneer and Pioneer Elite brands worldwide, except in China. Read More
Guest Editorial
Ketul Patel
(Director of Product Management, DSP Concepts)
Audio Weaver Development
Keeping Up with the Rising Demand for Voice-Enabled Products
There has been a significant increase in the demand for voice-enabled products over the past few years. While voice user interfaces originated with smart speakers, the market has rapidly evolved, with consumers adopting such products for use at home and on the go. In order to keep up with this increased demand for voice-controlled devices, audio engineers need the ability to design and develop without frequent delays or obstacles.

DSP Concepts has made substantial investments to develop new voice solutions available on Audio Weaver. The Audio Weaver low-code development system helps streamline the development process and enables product makers to design, develop, and deploy exciting new audio and voice features faster than ever. With its modular graphical UI, Audio Weaver facilitates cross-team collaboration, which is critical considering the multi-disciplinary nature of audio development.
This system allows product managers, audio engineers, embedded engineers, and audio test engineers to work together in a singular environment, collaborating in real-time. For example, one person can design the speaker processing on a PC while another team member integrates the run-time libraries. Design flexibility, reduced development costs and risk, and a faster time to market are some of the many reasons Audio Weaver is trusted by so many for their audio product development.

When designing with Audio Weaver, product makers can utilize the drag-and-drop interface to seamlessly develop and deploy embedded audio products. Historically, voice-enabled products have not performed well in noisy environments. Audio front ends, otherwise known as AFEs, help solve this problem. By acting like a “microphone cleaner,” the technology captures the user’s voice, making the voice command more intelligible for machines by amplifying the user’s voice and reducing background noise, and then sends the extracted, clean voice to either a cloud or local Wake Word engine.

TalkTo is our AFE combining advanced signal processing techniques to create clean audio signals for voice assistants, even at an extended range of 6 meters from the device. By utilizing Adaptive Interference Cancellation (AIC), the technology effectively cancels out up to 30dB of interfering noise to detect a user’s commands regardless of competing sound and includes. Additionally, product makers can use the Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) capabilities of TalkTo for removing echo caused by the acoustic coupling of the device’s speakers and microphone, thereby improving far-field voice detection for devices generating high output levels. Additionally, Direction of Arrival (DoA) determines the direction of the desired voice to steer the adaptive beamformer, maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio. TalkTo is voice assistant agnostic and easily integrates with Alexa Voice Services and Google Voice Assistant.

Now available within Audio Weaver is TalkTogether, a scalable solution for human-to-human voice communication that resolves acoustic echoes and background noises. Available as part of Audio Weaver’s included library of signal processing modules, TalkTogether features a wide range of audio capabilities, allowing for the deployment of designs for different verticals that feature full duplex calls either on-device or through voice services such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

TalkTogether provides noise suppression for indoor/outdoor environments including de-reverb for clear speech in reflective environments, keyclick removal, and wind noise reduction. Single-Channel Noise Reduction (SCNR) is implemented for directional voice pickup and device noise cancellation. The Residual Echo Suppressor (RES) further supplements AEC performance.
Also supported are multi-mic configurations along with DoA tracking with either a fixed or adaptive beamformer, and automatic gain compensation for transmission of speech at a more consistent level. TalkTogether can be combined with the PlayPack suite of loudspeaker processing modules available in Audio Weaver, with tuning as required by the design.

TalkTogether can meet the demands of various products to serve a variety of use cases, and effective combinations of features can be deployed based on proximity and application. It is an ideal audio front end to use when developing close-talk products such as headsets and wearables that benefit from noise reduction or other forms of noise suppression, with additional processing being tailored for either single or multiple onboard microphones.

In near-field products, such as home office conference speakers and gaming soundbars designed for near-field voice communication, it becomes easy to employ and tune AEC and residual echo suppression, along with keyclick removal and AGC for clear voice calls uninterrupted by typing or variations in speech level.
For more complex mid- and far-field products, such as enterprise conferencing systems, multi-microphone systems employing DoA and fixed or adaptive beamformers plus de-reverb enable intelligible and consistent communication in crowded settings or reverberant spaces. Such systems are effective regardless of the user’s position relative to the product, even at considerable distances of 5 meters or more.

With this flexibility in desired feature sets, implementations of TalkTogether can be customized for multiple product types with the features determined by the product requirements and scaled to the target microcontroller unit or SOC.
There is much untapped potential for voice technology to simplify people’s lives, and it sometimes can feel like we are only scratching the surface of the uses for voice technology — especially when it comes to the kind of human-to-human voice communication TalkTogether enables. With a wide variety of use cases — from connected exercise machines where users can talk to their instructor in real-time, to soundbars that allow gamers to talk to each other mid-game without headsets, to enterprise conference systems that facilitate effective communication even in crowded settings — TalkTogether gives innovative product makers a full suite of easily deployable solutions for clear voice communication, near or far, single or multiple voices, in quiet or noisy environments.

As remote voice communication continues to evolve and become increasingly popular, there is increasing demand for voice-enabled products. Product makers are continuously looking for new ways to set themselves apart with better audio features. We have seen leading brands successfully deploy voice control with TalkTo for years, and with the launch of TalkTogether on Audio Weaver, DSP Concepts is providing an easy way to add human-to-human voice communication to personal, workplace, gaming, and public communications devices.
Fresh From the Bench
KEF LS50 Meta Loudspeaker: A Material Improvement
By Oliver Masciarotte and Kent Peterson
Recently, the British brand KEF updated its extremely popular LS50 coaxial speaker design and introduced the LS50 Meta, an improved version of the original LS50 passive design, now featuring a new Uni-Q driver that is coupled with an interesting new Metamaterial absorber in the back. audioXpress requested a pair of speakers for review and Oliver Masciarotte did the listening, while Kent Peterson checked the measurements. The KEF LS50 Meta was measured at Warkwyn’s facility using the Klippel Near Field Scanning system (NFS), which provides a great overview of the effect of the redesign. A team listening session also took place at 8VB Recording studios in downtown Minneapolis, MN, allowing the group to compare this home audio design with some very linear reference monitors. And the KEF LS50 Meta impressed. Read this detailed review of the completely redesigned KEF LS50 Meta loudspeaker now. This article was originally published in audioXpress, June 2021.  Read the Full Article Now Available Here
Voice Coil Spotlight
Practical Considerations for Quality Control Testing of Loudspeakers
By Daniel Knighten and Eric Hodges (Audio Precision)
This article details how the latest Audio Precision APx517B acoustic analyzer, developed specifically with the manufacturing environment in mind, can be conveniently and efficiently adapted for different test strategies. Integrating a power amplifier, microphone power supply, and analyzer required for speaker tests, the APx517B can save time in the overall test process through reduced setup and configuration steps. The authors also explain how this new AP solution meets the need to balance the cost of testing, including time, test methods, and system cost, against "the cost of failure" that might result from the expense of warranty repairs, or the possible negative impact to brand from product returns. Read this article for valuable insights on manufacturing test considerations and applied strategies for efficient testing. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2021. Read the Full Article Now Available Here
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