Yamaha Surprises with HPH-MT7 Studio Monitor Headphones
Yamaha introduces its new HPH-MT7 Studio Monitor Headphones as having exceptional precision and fidelity for audio engineers, which is a pleasant surprise just unveiled by the Japanese brand. The HPH-MT7 combines custom drivers equipped with CCAW voice coils and powerful neodymium magnets to deliver flat, high-resolution sound, for long working (or enjoyment) sessions.   Read More

CES Announces Best of Innovation 2016 Awards Honorees
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA - former CEA) announced its Best of Innovation Awards Honorees for CES 2016. Among the winners in 27 product categories is Harman, with the JBL Reflect Aware in-ears, Klipsch with its Reference Premiere Dolby Atmos Speaker System, and Sengled Voice, the first integrated microphone/speaker LED bulb on the market.  Read More

Worldwide Headphone Shipments Projected to Grow by 6.2% to 328.7 Million Units in 2015 
According to the latest Futuresource Headphones Market Report, which provides a snapshot of the current trends and forthcoming evolutions in headphone technology and serves as a guide for Christmas tech gadget shopping, aftermarket shipments of headphones are projected to grow by 6.2% this year to 328.7 million units. Wireless headphones is a major growth category, expected to grow by 63% in 2015 to reach 38 million units.  Read More
Tang Band Speakers Announces Compact Bundled Subwoofer Products
Tang Band Speakers announced a new integrated bass solution comprising of wave-shapped passive radiators, which are bundled with active drivers. According to the Taiwanese speaker manufacturer, the many combinations are an ideal choice for passive radiator subwoofer designs.  Read More

PMC Unveils Big QB1-XBD-A Main Monitors
Inspired by requests from high-profile clients, PMC designed the QB1-XBD-A Active Reference Monitor, which is larger than anything the company has previously manufactured. The QB1-XBD-A Class-D active ATL studio monitors were shown for the first time at the 139th Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention in New York, impressing attendees in terms of sheer power and resolution.  Read More

Meridian Launches New Upgraded 808v6 Signature Reference Compact Disc Player With MQA Decoder
Meridian has introduced the latest generation of the 808 source player, part of its 800 Reference Series, specifically developed to render the best sound from Compact Disc and network audio. The new 808v6 now decodes Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) sources and features upgraded S/PDIF and USB Receivers.  Read More

Audinate Announces Immediate Availability of Dante Via Software
Audinate has announced the immediate worldwide availability of its new Dante Via software. With this new important tool, the creators of the widely adopted Dante networking solution are paving the way to expand audio-over-IP (AoIP) networks to a wide range of computer audio devices and applications, without the need for dedicated Dante hardware.  Read More

Jensen Transformers Solves Hum and Buzz Problems with New GLX Line Isolator
Jensen Transformers introduced the ISO-MAX GLX line isolator solution. A true problem solver, the GLX is a compact balanced line isolator designed to eliminate hum and buzz caused by ground loops in audio systems, which will not degrade the audio quality by limiting the bandwidth or introducing phase shift, harsh sound, or unpleasant artifacts.  Read More


Editor's Desk

Consumer Headphone Preferences - Are We Able To Be Objective?

Market reports indicate headphones continue to be a strong growth market category for the audio industry, with the wireless segment now pushing that growth even further.
With the growing popularity of mobile and wearable devices and the proliferation of fitness activities, that market is only going to expand. But there are multiple headphone categories to consider, from the most expensive and luxurious electrostatic to noise cancelling models ideal for traveling and in-flight use, all the way to generic earphones with built-in microphones that are usually bundled with smartphones. The utility headphone/in-ear concept of today will probably continue to evolve into a broader category of connected and intelligent wireless earpieces - call it "wearables" if you want.
As can be seen in the strong evolution we are witnessing in the audiology market, headphone products are also expanding into the utility category, improving communication and providing comfortable listening experiences. From in-ears to earpieces evolving into fully-featured wireless devices equipped with biomedical and environmental sensors (autonomous or connected to smartphones/smartphones, etc.), the concept of today's hearing aids could converge with utility systems for everyone, simultaneously enabling users to stream sound from the TV, mobile phone, and music player and improving speech intelligibility in noisy environments.
For that to materialize, we need to objectively recognize the criteria for achieving absolute audio quality and how to adapt it to everyone's hearing abilities, achieving consumer satisfaction. Audiology research has long revealed huge differences among human beings in areas such as sensitivity to higher frequencies and physical differences between right and left ears.
This is a fundamental aspect for the audio industry, in parallel with understanding consumers' far reaching motivations to buy a certain product, from a certain brand. Those research scenarios are concurrently evolving in all price segments with entertainment and music enjoyment devices, while the high-end music enthusiasts will continue to pursue their never-ending search for the ultimate audio nirvana.
Focusing on the audio performance aspects, at the 139th International AES convention in New York, Sean Olive and Todd Welti from Harman International presented their latest paper on "Factors that Influence Listeners' Preferred Bass and Treble Balance in Headphones". Their presentation starts with the question if companies should design the sound of their headphones to satisfy the alleged different tastes of different demographic groups. There is an interesting video summary of the findings here.
Olive has been working in this field for some time now, trying to understand if there is a scientific basis for consumer preferences and behavior. This latest experiment was conducted on male and female listeners from different age groups, listening experiences, and nationalities. He concluded that younger and less experienced listeners on average preferred more bass and treble in their headphones compared to the older, more experienced listeners. Female listeners on average preferred less bass and treble than their male counterparts.
Olive's remarkable and extensive series of research studies in this field includes previous experiments on "The Relationship between Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality" (AES paper 8744 - 2012) and "Assessing Influence of a Headphone Type on Individualized Ear Training" (AES paper 9272 - 2015), showing that standardized diffuse or free-field curves are not preferred by listeners compared to alternative headphone target responses that have some amount of low-frequency boost below 100-200 Hz. Olive and Welti also proposed a new standard headphone target response curve to help advance the consistency and sound quality of consumer and professional headphones, enabling users to add more or less bass or treble (within limits) without compromising the sound quality of the headphone.
Much more research needs to be conducted in this area, trying to detect preferred response curves influenced by different cultural and geographic factors. Live sound engineers who have toured the world have already reported how crowds in different continents respond differently to PA equalization settings and the use of subwoofers in particular. The same can be said of the presets used on radio processors around the world, which show different approaches to try and retain an audience, responding to their musical genre preference - listening to the same song playing on radio stations around the world reveals completely different spectrum profiles.
Much in the same way as we need to be able to understand how the consumer responds to frequency curves, we should also be able to objectively understand how to evaluate quality on headphones. If voicing a speaker is a process much more open to subjectivity, and objective measurement in real applications is conditioned by the surrounding acoustic space, headphones and especially in-ears are much more sensitive and adaptable devices, allowing for personal preferences. As Olive's research shows, those should be able to simultaneously offer a neutral response, while being able to respond to customization - "to compensate for program effects, hearing loss and variations in tastes related to age and experience."
That also means understanding how to effectively measure and rate headphones, providing a basic set of objective measurements that could be used for comparison on a basic level (not necessarily a rating). After all, when we compare cars, even though there are multiple things we look at, at least we can compare the engine based on things like horsepower, torque, miles per gallon (MPG) and the capacity to accelerate to 60 miles per hour from a standstill (0-100 kilometers per hour). Do we buy a car based on torque or MPG? No, but they all have a significance and they weigh on our evaluation prior to the purchase, even though our final decision might ultimately depend on that last minute add-on of the "deluxe" set of extras, or payment facilities.
Test and measurement companies are currently researching new benchmark audio systems, perfecting the existing international standards IEC 60318-x that specify the electro-acoustic equipment for testing headphones, earphones, hearing protectors, and hearing aids. audioXpress will continue to explore this exciting topic.

You Can DIY!
LuminAria SIT Preamplifier
By Michael Rothacher
With little time to present a project for the annual Burning Amp Festival (BAF) in San Francisco, CA, Michael Rothacher decided to do a preamplifier project using static induction transistors (SITs). He also wanted a versatile preamplifier that would work well in a variety of situations, with ample gain, a lot of voltage swing, high input impedance, low output impedance, low distortion and no feedback, and which could fit conveniently in a suitcase. This article was originally published in audioXpress, April 2014.  Read the Complete Article Here

Voice Coil Spotlight
Driver Selection for Multi-Way Speakers 
By Richard Honeycutt
For the first decades after Kellogg and Rice introduced the electrodynamic speaker in 1921, listeners were satisfied just to be able to hear sound of any kind from a radio or a phonograph. However, it was recognized early on that the speakers in motion-picture theaters benefited from having separate low-frequency and high-frequency drivers, each optimized for its own frequency range. Then in the late 1940s, a market for improved sound emerged in "Hi-Fi" for the home. Consequently, names were needed to easily identify the various speakers in a cabinet. The woofer was adopted for the low-frequency speaker, tweeter for the high-frequency reproducer, and squawker for the middle-frequency transducer. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, January 2012.  Read The Full Article Online

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