Expanded Exhibits and Exciting Seminars at AXPONA 2015

Established as a leading event for audiophiles, manufacturers of high-end audio equipment, musicians, and music lovers alike, Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) returns April 24-26, 2015, to The Westin O'Hare in Chicago, IL, for its third straight year. The show will feature Audio Con seminars and live music performances, the Ear Gear Expo (EGX) showcase for headphones and associated equipment, and the AXPONA Marketplace. Read More



iSEMcon Acoustics Announces New iSEMic Series Measurement Microphones

iSEMcon announced its new iSEMic Series of measurement microphones and accessories for iPhone, iPad devices, and laptop computers. The new iSEMic microphones support phantom power from 9 to 52 V and ICP/IEPE power simply by using one of several available connector adapters, without need for signal converters. Read More




CSR Expands Dual-Mode BlueCore Platform with Turnkey SoC for Bluetooth Modules and Embedded Systems

CSRs highly integrated Bluetooth Smart Ready-compliant CSRB5348 offers significant bill of material (BOM) savings while speeding time to market for multiple applications. The new dual-mode BlueCore platform offers a powerful set of classic and low-energy features in a highly integrated package, making it ideal for module manufacturers looking to speed time to market. Read More



OPPO Releases PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones

On the heels of its HA-2 portable headphone amplifier, OPPO Digital released the PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones. The OPPO PM-3 combines true audiophile performance, elegant styling, noise isolation, and portability into a pair of sleek lightweight planar magnetic headphones. Read More





NXP Announces Ultra-Low Power Radio Transceiver Enabling Truly Wireless Earbuds 

Never worry about tangled earbud wires again, says NXP Semiconductors at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain (March 2-5, 2015). The Dutch semiconductor giant is demonstrating Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) technology in a truly wireless earbud that enables wireless audio streaming from ear to ear, using its new NxH2280 NFMI-based radio transceiver. Read More


Larson Davis Launches New SDK for Sound Level Meter Control with Support for Microsoft and Linux

Larson Davis' PCB division expanded support to acoustic engineers and consultants using sound level meters for OEM integration and project customization by creating a new Software Development Kit (SDK) for custom application development, control and download of data, enabling the ability to interface with other systems. Read More




Embedded Systems, Mobile and the Future

By Joćo Martins



What happens when major industry trade shows are promoted in two consecutive weeks? You get repeat announcements, an overdose of technology news, and certainly, lots of material to consider. Last week, we had the 2015 Embedded World Conference (February 24-26) in Nuremberg, Germany, immediately followed by the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain.


The news generated by those two events is simply overwhelming-in the first case, because embedded systems are currently driving innovation in all application areas, from industrial to automotive and consumer, benefiting from a unique combination of new and increasingly efficient hardware and software. The second event currently powers the most powerful industry of the 21st century: Mobile. While the GSMA essentially started promoting the technology to power mobile networks and the telecom business, it quickly evolved to become the hub for innovation in wireless technologies-in general, eCommerce, mobile payments, and everything IP, and Connected Living.

While this might sound unrelated with our primary interest in audio, the reality is that embedded electronics and mobile are the core technologies currently powering the highest level of innovation we have seen in many years. They are also the main reasons why the market is witnessing strong growth and an increasing level of convergence. This week, we learned about NXP Semiconductors merging with Freescale Semiconductor in a $40 billion transaction and Hewlett-Packard acquiring Aruba Networks, which is focused on wireless mobility solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT), and next-generation mobile networks and services.


According to a new GSMA study, published during the Mobile World Congress, an additional one billion people will become mobile subscribers during the next five years, increasing from 3.6 billion at the end of 2014 to 4.6 billion by 2020. GSMA also predicts that, by 2020, almost 60% of the global population will subscribe to mobile services, up from half of the population at the end of 2014. The period out to 2020 will also see a rapid migration to mobile broadband technology as 3G/4G network availability and affordability increases.

 Let's quickly review a series of announcements that might also have a major impact in audio applications.


At the Embedded World Conference 2015, ON Semiconductor announced a series of low-power and energy-efficient communication transceivers for IoT and wireless, including high-quality audio through ultra-low power Bluetooth.


ARM is powering most of the new intelligent devices. In Nuremberg, the company launched its new ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit Ethernet Edition to channel data from Internet-connected devices directly into IBM's Bluemix cloud platform and "accelerate the availability of connected devices by making product and service prototyping faster and easier."


Freescale was among the first companies to show support for the ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit, integrating its Freescale FRDM-K64F Freedom development platform.


In direct response to ARM, Intel announced a series of mobile platforms including the company's new low-cost system-on-chip (SoC) for phones, phablets, and tablets, and new LTE and network infrastructure solutions, combining silicon, software, and security technologies. The announcements include the Intel Atom x3 processor series, combining 64-bit multi-core Intel Atom processors with 3G or 4G LTE connectivity and powerful integrated audio capabilities. At the Mobile World Congress, Intel also demonstrated a pre-5G concept system that combines LTE with 802.11ad to deliver speeds of more than 1 Gbps.


During both events, multiple companies promoted new Gigabit Wireless solutions (WiGig 60 GHz and 802.11ad) to power wireless 4K video and high-resolution audio solutions.

Qualcomm and Ericsson featured the first public demonstration of Category 11 LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) Carrier Aggregation (CA) connectivity, using three-channel 60 MHz CA and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) to achieve download speeds of up to 600 Mbps. Qualcomm also teamed up with Facebook and Ericsson to demonstrate the ability to efficiently and simultaneously push application updates to many mobile devices via LTE-Broadcast, relieving network congestion for distribution of high-quality video and large files, with minimal impact on network capacity.


Another technology demonstration allowed converging LTE and Wi-Fi Link Aggregation to support seamless transfers of voice and video calls between LTE and Wi-Fi without dropping the call.

ZTE Corp. was among several manufacturers already promoting 5G mobile networks, combining multi-user multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antenna technologies to significantly enhance radio spectral efficiency.

Wireless charging was a major focus in all the announcements, as well as high-quality audio for mobile devices. Austrian company ams announced new high-performance analog ICs and speaker drivers, powering advanced active noise cancellation (ANC) and using pure analog circuitry to shape the speaker's output, instead of dedicated DSP. According to ams, its new chip uses less than half the power of digital systems, offering a typical total harmonic distortion (THD) of just 0.004% and a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of greater than 110 dB (34-mW output into a 32-ohm load) with a typical active noise attenuation of 95%.

Also focused on audio, but in terms of voice quality, the German research institute Fraunhofer IIS promoted its Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec, designed specifically for Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) services. The new 3GPP communication codec delivers an unprecedented level of audio quality and provides an experience comparable to speaking with someone in the same room.

HARMAN International Industries confirmed the acquisition of Redbend, an Israeli-based provider of software management technology for connected devices, and over-the-air (OTA) software and firmware upgrading services. The Redbend technology allows HARMAN to deliver upgrades to its new generation solutions for automotive and home wireless applications.




Joćo Martins

Editor in Chief


Klippel's Three-Day Lecture on Sound Quality of Audio Systems

By Vance Dickason (Editor, Voice Coil)      


Registration is open for the three-day lecture "Sound Quality of Audio Systems-Modeling, Measurement, and Control," by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Klippel at Dresden University of Technology, March 23-25, 2015. The lecture is geared toward engineers active in audio product and loudspeaker design, research and development, quality control and any interested students. New topics for this year's lecture include:


* Nonlinear distortion generated by break-up modes

* Physical causes, rocking modes, and remedies

* Comprehensive evaluation of active loudspeaker systems

* Designing green speakers providing more output with higher efficiency and lower cost.


Read More


A Versatile Line Amp for Preamp, Headphone, & Power Use  

By Joseph Norwood Still


Here's a do-it-yourselfer's dream in tube amp design: four operating modes, high quality, low cost, and low distortion. It is a  true versatile project, which we think deserves to be shared. As the author explains, "This design offers two versions: a 10-tube $160 line amplifier and an 11-tube preamplifier/headphone amplifier/power amplifier. Either way, it is probably the most versatile stereo amplifying device ever offered to the DIY audiophile. It offers four operating modes with outstanding specifications: line amp, headphone amp, preamp, and power amp." This article was originally published by audioXpress in May 2007. See the complete project here



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