Technicolor And Fraunhofer IIS Announce Licensing Program For MPEG-H Audio Alliance TV System
Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS announced the formation of a licensing program as part of the market introduction of the next-generation TV audio system developed by the MPEG-H Audio Alliance. The MPEG-H Audio Alliance TV System is under consideration for the ATSC 3.0 standard.  Read More

Fostex Releases New RP-Series Professional Headphones
Fostex has released the newly updated RP mK3 series headphones. These redesigned models are the newest incarnations of Fostex's legendary RP and T-series models, which for more than 30 years have been used as reliable monitoring headphones in recording studios across the globe.

Better Headphones for a Good Cause
New headphones are introduced in the market practically everyday and, more surprisingly, start-ups are designing new headphones. LIFE Acoustics founders decided to launch their LIFE headphones in a different way. They have designed a great new product and hope to change the lives of deaf children living in poverty. We can support their initiative on Kickstarter. The crowdfunding ends on Monday, September 7, 2015. The motto for LIFE Headphones is "Better Fit, Better Sound, Higher Purpose."   Read More

Merging Finalizes NADAC Distribution for North America
Merging Technologies announced that On a Higher Note, LLC, has been appointed as the exclusive distributor for US and Canada for its new NADAC products. The agreement covers the consumer market and the high-end audio industry, tapping On A Higher Note's ever-growing elite network of high-fidelity retailers and custom installers.

James Loudspeaker Expands Mavericks Home Theater Lineup with MQ84/MQ84A
James Loudspeaker announced the addition of the MQ84/MQ84A mid/high frequency modules to its Mavericks home theater lineup. This highly efficient four-way loudspeaker was designed to enhance immersive experiences for all surround formats in combination with the M152 dual 15" subwoofer, creating a stackable no-compromise full-range solution.  Read More

TSL Products Launches New Phinix Suite of Software Tools for Audio File Correction
Audio files can now be corrected and adjusted for loudness, Dolby-E shuffling and up/down mixing without being sent back to post-production suites. TSL Products' new Phinix Suite of Software are now available and will be showcased for the first time in Europe at IBC 2015, in Amsterdam.   Read More

Blue Gecko Module Simplifies Bluetooth Smart Design
Silicon Labs recently introduced a fully integrated, pre-certified Bluetooth Smart module solution that provides a speedy path to low-power wireless connectivity for IoT, wearables, and mobile audio applications. The BGM111 modules are preloaded with the Bluegiga Bluetooth 4.1-compliant software stack and profiles and are field-upgradable using device firmware upgrades to Bluetooth 4.2 and beyond.  Read More

Joćo Martins

Editor's Desk

Is Ultra HD Blu-ray Also Important for Audio?

With the holiday season fast approaching, it's time to evaluate the available options for an upgraded 4K UHD TV and Ultra HD Blu-ray player (with true 4K support not simple 1080p upscaled), which will also be a new high-resolution audio (HRA) source in home entertainment setups. As expected the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is now licensing the Ultra HD Blu-ray format and content is expected to be available for Christmas 2015. The Ultra HD Blu-ray optical disc format is expected to attract the already existing owners of 11.7 million Ultra HD TVs sold since 2014 and are expected to reach 95.6 million in 2019, according to the BDA.

Those Ultra HD Blu-ray players will support new immersive audio options (Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, at least) and also play back current HD Blu-ray Discs as well as the existing HRA Blu-ray releases. Unfortunately, not much additional detail is available about audio specifications. One can only assume that, apart from new immersive audio formats, this will be up to hardware manufacturers to implement further audio options. With existing Blu-ray players also supporting Super-Audio CD (SACD) playback, any high-quality release of original or properly remastered quality is attractive to music and high-end enthusiasts. Otherwise, why buy the same music, if there is no guarantee of a new rewarding experience?
Even when SACD was widely available, my expectations regarding new audio content in a superior format had to be lowered. Original Direct Stream Digital recordings were never enough to satisfy my appetite, while most SACD releases of remastered works - especially those stereo-to-multichannel catalog reissues - never provided a convincing experience and some where even appalling.
The main reason why I will invest in UHD Blu-ray has to do with the same reason why I never looked back at DVDs again: movies. I simply love surround and cinema and multichannel audio are a natural combination. With Ultra HD Blu-ray, as mentioned, we will finally have an affordable immersive audio source for home-theater and a great way to watch the hundreds of new movies released every year.

It's not the same with music. I buy music because of the music, not because it's high-resolution or multichannel. There were very few occasions when I actually felt convinced to buy a SACD (or even a HRA download) of something I owned on CD. Some restorations projects are appealing because of the content itself, but otherwise I don't see any reason to buy those Coltrane, Miles, and Diana Krall records again. I just hope the availability of the new Ultra HD Blu-ray players will be an incentive for new great Blu-ray Disc audio releases of original new content - apart from movies. It will certainly create another expansion platform to support high-resolution audio as the SACD format did.

That didn't happened in the transition to Blu-ray Disc because of the "format wars", DVD-A, and so forth. A quick look at the tiles available from Naxos, Pure Audio, Universal, and more reveals how poor the Blu-ray Disc-audio catalog is. Great new classical recordings, but lots of "repackaged" content as well.

I certainly hope that the manufacturers of those new Ultra HD Blu-ray players will do as OPPO Digital does and allow those same players to playback audio files from external storage devices and servers, including DSD files. Because content producers will not be putting all their eggs in one basket again and downloads will remain an important distribution platform for HRA.
Selling Music in Stems?
Music distribution is always finding new creative ways to reinvent itself, as we can see with what is happening in Electronic Dance Music and the new Stems format promoted by Native Instruments.
Stems have always been used in film and live sound mixing to enable control over groups of channels (e.g., separating certain music elements and dialog from sound effects). Now, a new generation of "digital DJs" is using Stems as a new multi-channel audio format for creative mixing. Stems files contain multichannel audio information, splitting the musical elements, like bass, drums, and melody from vocals. This enables DJs and live performers to easily interact with the musical elements in new creative ways.
The new "open format" is already being supported by music artists and labels and there are already online stores (Beatport, Bleep, Juno, Traxsource, whatpeopleplay, and Wasabeat) selling Stems files. 

Questions & Answers
An Interview with Richard Schram, Founder of Parasound
By Shannon Becker
This interview with Richard Schram was published in audioXpress, May 2015. The founder of Parasound discusses his background and early professional experiences, sourcing products in Japan and how he decided to start Parasound in 1981. Richard Schram reveals his philosophy for the company, talks about its legendary products and gives insights on its cooperation with John Curl.   Read the interview here

Voice Coil Spotlight
MEMS Microspeakers Are Truly Digital Transducers 
By Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific)
This Voice Coil Spotlight article from Mike Klasco includes some really great insight on upcoming developments and new companies active in the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) field. MEMS microphones are in most smartphones, tablets, and laptops, but MEMS loudspeakers are just now appearing. As Mike explains "this is a really new technology, so new that only recently were functional lab prototypes operational." Article originally published in Voice Coil, May 2015.  Read the Full Article

AX September 2015: Digital Login
Audio Product Design | DIY Audio Projects | Audio Electronics | Audio Show Reports | Interviews | And More 
VC September 2015: Digital Login
Industry News & Developments | Products & Services | Test Bench | Acoustic Patents | Industry Watch | And More