High End 2015 in Munich Was Another High-Quality Show
Once again, the High End 2015 Show in Munich, Germany, made a splash as the world's largest trade fair for the audio industry. With 506 exhibitors from 42 countries (+11%), increased attendance with a total of 20,637 visitors (+16%) and 6,588 trade visitors from 71 countries (+22%), the show has an ever-increasing international profile.
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Apogee Groove Portable Headphone Amplifier and DAC is Now Available

Apogee Electronics announced the worldwide availability of Groove, a portable headphone amplifier and DAC for Mac and Windows computers. According to Apogee, Groove builds upon Apogee's 30-year history of digital audio technology for music creation and "unlocks the highest possible quality of any headphones or powered speakers" for music listening Read More


Positive Mood at the 138th Audio Engineering Society Convention in Warsaw, Poland
The Audio Engineering Society (AES) held its highly-successful 138th AES Convention at the Sofitel Victoria Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, May 7-10, 2015, featuring an all-encompassing lineup of the best professional audio has to offer. From more than 50 brands displaying and debuting the latest audio gear and technology to one of the largest Tech Programs in recent years, the AES138 Convention proved to be a success for attendees, presenters, and exhibitors alike.   Read More


Chord Electronics Introduces DAVE Advanced DAC, Preamp, and Headphone Amplifier
During the High End 2015 show in Munich, Germany, British high-end audio manufacturer Chord Electronics introduced what the company proudly calls "the world's most advanced digital to analogue convertor." Given the acronym DAVE, the $12,500 (£7,995) unit integrates a reference-grade DAC, digital preamp and headphone amplifier.  Read More


Yamaha Debuts TF StageMix Mobile Mixing App for TF Series Digital Consoles

The new Yamaha TF series digital consoles are now shipping. Concurrent with their availability, Yamaha launched the TF StageMix, a free iPad app that provides wireless remote control of TF digital mixing console functions via a simple, intuitive graphical interface. It makes setups faster and lets engineers adjust monitor mixes anywhere they need to be.  Read More

Linear Audio Volume 9 Is Now Available 

Linear Audio 9 is the 10th volume in a series of bookzines dedicated to audio technology and perception. Linear Audio offers a variety of articles written by an international team of authors and accredited academics on a plethora of engaging subjects, from tutorials to circuit and system design, test reports, and book reviews Read More


Sennheiser Launches HD 630VB Closed-Back Headphones 

Sennheiser introduced its first closed audiophile headphone model at the High End 2015 show in Munich. The new Sennheiser HD 630VB are circumaural headphones, designed to deliver well-balanced sound and offer a distraction-free listening experience, whether at home or on the move. A unique feature is a rotary bass dial, which enables users to increase the bass response according to personal preferences.

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New Focal Trio6 Be Switchable Monitoring Speakers

The new studio monitor from Focal's SM6 line supplies two speakers in a single cabinet. The Trio6 Be is effectively a three-way monitor and a two-way monitor, remotely switchable thanks to its new FOCUS mode, allowing users to compare the mix, focusing on the same acoustic basis and the same stereo image, minus the extreme frequencies.

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Joćo Martins

Editor's Desk

Headphones in the Spotlight


As claimed by all major market research firms, worldwide shipments of headphones keep on growing year after year and are already one of the top consumer electronics categories. As recently revealed in a recent Consumer Electronics Association market study, the top 10 most-commonly owned consumer electronics (CE) products dramatically shifted in 2015. Smartphones are now owned in 72% of US households - an 8% point jump in the last year - trailing only televisions, which are owned in almost every home in the country (97%), and DVD/Blu-ray players (78%). Laptop ownership experienced the second largest gain in household penetration; reaching two-thirds of households (67%) and headphones also saw a large gain in ownership (59%, up five percentage points), moving up one spot to seventh on the list of most-owned CE devices.


Smartphone ownership and the increasing adoption of portable/personal devices such as tablets and laptops help explain why headphones are such a strong product category and will continue to be in the next five years. In fact, according to Futuresource Consulting, the majority of headphones sold are in-ear models (60%), while wireless headphones (including sports headphones) are the fastest growing category. In-ear models are even conquering the high-end segment.


It's estimated the Global AV Headphones market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.43% over the period 2013-2018. Technology innovations such as noise canceling technologies, partnerships with smartphone manufacturers, and increased offerings in the high-end segment (for audio enthusiasts) and wireless, will continue to foster growth: 12% in shipment revenue over the period 2014-2019, according to TechNavio.


Following the market trends, in all the recent shows we were able to attend, the number of new headphone models was impressive. Designed and manufactured by new and established manufacturers, we have seen headphones leveraging all sorts of technologies and driver topologies and even experimenting in almost forgotten areas, like magnetic (ribbon) planar and electrostatic, allowing more choice for even the most demanding consumers. It seems like the whole market is reviewing headphone's history in the continuous search for differentiation in the market.


audioXpress has been featuring an article series on headphone engineering written by Mike Klasco and Steve Tatarunis, which documents that evolution. Also, Voice Coil June 2015 features a Spotlight article about "Trends and Innovations in Headphones" by Mike Klasco, as well as a directory of Earphones and Headphones original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and original design manufacturers (ODM).


The Gibson Les Paul headphones from Gibson Brands

The problem is, with all the excitement, it seems that many companies are not actually doing proper marketing research. Both in mass-market oriented designs and those models targeting high-end users the market is also being flooded with "me too" products. We don't believe it will be possible to keep feeding the market with products that offer little more than a fashion statement or a celebrity name, and not necessarily all users want to commute wearing a pair of electrostatics connected to ultra high-end preamps and DACs.


As Mike Klasco has pointed out in the Headsets article series, headphone designers need to consider weight, comfort, and choice of materials, in tune with their own transducer design choices. Mike advises, "if your headphone design weighs more than 300 grams, you will have trouble. Comfort should not be slighted as a key element of long-term satisfaction." He also recommends manufacturers should increasingly look to adopt innovative materials in their designs (e.g., new acoustically damped alloys or advanced composites), which might hold the key to the next big hit with consumers.



"The ear is hugely sensitive to timing detail. As sounds arrive at different times - microseconds apart - your brain uses this information to create a 3D soundscape. It's what makes live music such a powerful and emotive experience. Traditional technology can't capture this subtle timing information. The 3D soundscape becomes flattened and our ears know it isn't real."

Bob Stuart, Co-Founder Meridian Audio, Creator of MQA


From the Vault

Build a Low-Voltage Tube Hybrid Headphone/Line Amp 

By Pete Millett


Here's a simple, safe, inexpensive project for beginners and those who wish to "try tubes." That's how the project was described originally in November 2002 when it was published by audioXpress. Meanwhile the project has been tried, tested, approved, and improved, becoming one of the classic DIY audio projects from the author. This article was originally published in audioXpress magazine, November 2002Now available online


Voice Coil Spotlight

Driver Selection

for Multi-Way Speakers

By Dr. Richard Honeycutt


Speakers evolved from a single sound source to having separate low-frequency and high-frequency drivers, each optimized for its own frequency range. From there, multi-way designs, with additional low-mid, high-mid and even super-high frequency drivers have been adopted. Dr. Richard Honeycutt explains how to optimally choose these drivers. Originally published in Voice Coil, January 2012.   Read the Full Article


AX June 2015: Digital Login
Pro, Consumer, Commercial Applications | DIY Audio Projects | Audio Industry News | Audio Show Reports | And More 
VC May 2015: Digital Login
Industry News & Developments | Products & Services | Test Bench | Acoustic Patents | Industry Watch | And More