InfoComm Releases New Standard to Harmonize Cable Labeling Practices
InfoComm International announced the publication of a new audio-visual standard, Cable Labeling for Audiovisual Systems (CLAS). The new standard defines requirements for labeling cables used in installed AV systems and provides guidance for the easy identification of all power and signal paths in a completed system. Proper cable labeling aids in the operation, support, maintenance, and troubleshooting of AV systems.  Read More

Open Control Architecture is Standardized as AES70
Open Control Architecture (OCA) Alliance confirmed that OCA - an open control and monitoring standard for professional audio and AV media network devices - has been officially standardized as of January 4, 2016 by the Audio Engineering Society Standards Committee (AESSC) in the newly published AES70-2015 standard for audio applications of networks - Open Control Architecture. With the ratification, OCA is now an official open standard.  Read More

Orange Amplification New 'O' Edition Headphones Announced at NAMM 2016 
Orange Amplification announced the introduction of its new "O" Edition headphones at Winter NAMM 2016. This is a first for the famous guitar amplification company, which has been revitalized in the last decade. Simple, robust, and lightweight, the "O" headphones were designed to appeal to musicians and the brand's loyal fans, while fulfilling the music retailers' desire to expand their business to a much-needed product segment.  Read More

Sennheiser HD 25 - The Classic Pro Headphone Range Streamlined
Sennheiser has streamlined its classic HD 25 pro headphones portfolio to make product selection easier. Beginning in March 2016, there will be one classic HD 25 with two sister models - the HD 25 LIGHT, which has slightly different features and accessories, and the HD 25 PLUS, which adds additional accessories to further enhance the classic. All new versions can be easily recognized by the compact Sennheiser logo on the earpieces and the version and impedance information provided on the headband.  Read More

DiGiGrid Releases New Desktop Series at NAMM 2016
Introduced by Waves and DiGiCo as an initiative to accelerate the networked audio concept to live sound and live recording markets, DiGiGrid is becoming a separate entity with an entirely new range of products to address the studio and musician markets. The new DiGiGrid Desktop range introduced at NAMM 2016 - with four clever designs - opens that market.  Read More


Editor's Desk

NAMM 2016. Too Much Noise. Virtual Technology and Real Business.

NAMM 2016 should be about business. That's OK. But during two of the four days, it was hard to do any business.
The 2016 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show was the largest in NAMM's 115-year history. During four days, the NAMM Show was upbeat. There were a record number of 1,726 exhibiting companies (a 7% increase over 2015's event) and a record 101,736 registrants (a 2% increase) of which 15,915 came from 125 different countries (a 20% increase). More important, business was good.
The only problem with the NAMM Show, as we've noted in our first impressions report, is that the Anaheim Convention Center (ACC) is getting too small for this annual event, while the increasing attendance of non-trade visitors is becoming a serious problem. Friday and Saturday, the show turned into a loud circus. It was extremely difficult to walk between the halls or get to meetings on time. Even in Hall A, where most of the audio companies are concentrated, it was almost impossible to have conversations because of the increasing noise levels and loud demonstrations. Fortunately, the convention center expansion is underway, promised for Summer 2017 and will be a reality for NAMM 2018.
More Tubes than High-Resolution Audio_ the NAMM show is great for businesses of all kinds, like American Rock Room with its guitar amp furniture.
A main note for this year has to do with more focus on business and less on the technology advancements we have seen at other pro audio shows, and more recently confirmed at CES 2016. In a show where we have seen more tube gear than ever and where vintage analog continues to appeal - from outboard processing equipment to modular analog synthesizers and guitar stomp-box effects - there were not as many examples of disrupting product presentations. Apparently, manufacturers in this sector seem to think that musicians are less concerned about the latest technology and standards and that it is still too early for the music instrument (MI) markets to start worrying with new USB or wireless standards.
That's why there were still new Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 audio interfaces on display and plenty of Bluetooth 3.0 products being introduced. In a market where high-resolution audio is the production standard and 24-bit/96 kHz audio is available even for live sound applications, it was curious to see there were no presentations focused on the topic of high-resolution audio - as our friend Mark Waldrep noted. Still, there were many excellent new monitors being introduced and the latest audio networking technologies - Audinate's Dante and Waves DiGiGrid, in particular - were the focus of several new product introductions and some of the more interesting presentations.
Mark Waldrep checks-out Audionamix ADX Trax voice separation technology at NAMM 2016.
More confusing were the USB 2.0 products still being introduced. French company Arturia announced its AudioFuse compact audio interface last year. One year later, it was still showing at NAMM under a glass display and saying it will be "available soon." The AudioFuse should already be launched with USB 3.1 and at least one Type-C connector. Otherwise, the promised "revolution" will be obsolete when it starts. Companies such as M-Audio are already promising to launch affordable USB-C audio interfaces for the second quarter of 2016. The new M-Track audio recording/monitoring interface family includes four models with Type-C connector, including the new M-Track 1212 12-in/12 Out USB-C High Speed Audio Interface with support for 192 kHz audio.
Other technology trends continue to be the adoption of large touch-screen control surfaces for studio and live applications - maybe as a direct result of musicians' familiarity with tablets - while the discussion around "virtual" everything continues, from microphone preamp emulation to virtual microphones, from virtual room acoustics to headphone speaker simulators.
Clearly, the younger visitors to the NAMM Show - increasingly the NAMM Show is being invaded by "users" - are attracted by the more advanced and cutting-edge technologies for making music and recording, but the manufacturers seem to be more interested to sell their existing inventory and apparently unaware that the market is becoming more technology-savvy than ever. On one side musicians appreciate the "classic" and vintage musical instruments, but on the other side, there is a natural attraction toward more advanced and affordable technologies. At the NAMM Show, this was increasingly obvious in the home recording segment.
In-ears were everywhere at NAMM 2016. Ultimate Ears even offered full advanced scanning at the show.
As Louis Hernandez, Jr., Avid's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Office pointed out in the company's press conference, there's a disconnect between the increasing numbers or people making music and an industry where musicians need to reach a million streams on Spotify to make $1,000 - equivalent to working three weeks at McDonalds - when just not so long ago that would equate to selling 5,500 downloads on iTunes and previously to selling just 450 CDs. Hence the paradox of musicians increasingly using a bunch of $1.99 apps on an iPad with a $99 audio interface, while others actually record in studios using classic studio analog gear valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Some companies such as IK Multimedia understand these trends. The Italian innovator opted this year for a more restricted demo room on Level 1, close to the established MI brands and showed an impressive display of new advanced solutions for making music, recording, and even mastering on iPhones and iPads. Other companies address even the apparently conservative guitar amplification and effects markets are successfully evolving toward advanced digital processing, as Line 6 or Kemper Amps are showing. Another remarkable comeback this year was Mackie with a refreshed range of products, combining the best of everything, from mobile platforms (tablets and smartphones) to audio networking, digital processing, and new clever speaker designs.
Waves Nx, Virtual Mix Room over Headphones.
And speaking of speakers, NAMM 2016 unveiled an interesting number of new studio monitors and new brands, some of which were from familiar industry names. We discovered Hedd Audio, the new company founded by Klaus Heinz, the former founder and CEO of ADAM Audio, combining new designs based on his former work with the Accelerating Ribbon Technology (ART) tweeter, based on the Air Motion Transformer by Oskar Heil, now offering modular connectivity, including Dante/AES67 networks. An interesting comeback, at a moment when several speaker companies continue to emulate the original Adam Audio designs and when Adam Audio itself promises to return in full force. We also liked to see the new monitors by Keith Klawitter, new designs from British company Unity Audio, and the new Avantone Pro monitors and headphones.
On the topic of headphones, there was no shortage of new models, from Beyerdynamic to Fostex, Shure to Sennheiser, Focal to Audio-Technica and AKG. Something we continue to cover extensively on Truly remarkable was the number of in-ear monitor companies at NAMM 2016, some offering personalized molding options, while others focus on more lifestyle-oriented propositions or radical new designs. We even saw a new in-ear design using 14 (!!) balanced armature drivers. In-ears were everywhere and apparently the market is ripe for a shake-up, since the big companies are starting to jump onboard (even Fender has in-ears now) and patent and design disputes will be inevitable.
And since we mentioned advanced technologies, Waves Audio deserves to be mentioned with its Waves Nx, Virtual Mix Room acoustics emulation plugin for mixing with headphones. This plug-in simulates depth, natural reflections, and the stereo image of an actual, physical room, allowing for a "virtual speaker" experience on headphones. According to Waves, this technology allows for a more reliable mixing experience, instead of the "in-your-head" headphone sound. This is certainly an interesting concept, given that consumers are increasingly enjoying music on... headphones. But there's something here. Including, according to Waves, allowing mixing for 5.1 surround on regular stereo headphones.
NAMM is also about great parties. And one of the best this year was Eminence's 50th Anniversary on Friday night.
After seeing the demo of IK Multimedia's Lurssen Mastering Console for iPad, Mac, or PC, I couldn't help thinking that maybe room acoustics simulation on headphones could be a good thing for such applications. Not so certain about the "virtual speaker on headphones" concept.
Finally, a note regarding Eminence's 50th anniversary. What can be more "high-resolution" than actually listening to a great Blue's Jam night with amazing musicians, real high-quality guitar cabs, and a Hammond organ with Leslie speaker? That's precisely what the renowned speaker manufacturer did to celebrate its 50th anniversary at NAMM 2016. What a great party! Thank you Eminence! 

Mobile Audio
High-Performance Audio from Smartphones? The Testing Showdown
By Mike Klasco and Steve Tatarunis
In November 2015, audioXpress published a unique group testing on smartphone audio, complementing the article series on Mobile Audio published throughout the same year. Mike Klasco and Steve Tatarunis had been busy in the test lab measuring the performance of seven high-end smartphones and the famous Apple iPod classic, referenced by many as one of the best digital audio players in the market, discontinued that same year. This interesting article documents the state of smartphone audio playback.The products under test included the iconic iPod classic, the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6, Vivo Xplay 3S, Vivo X5 Max, HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, and Sony Xperia Z2.  Read the Complete Article Here

Voice Coil Spotlight
A New Approach to Loudspeaker Measurements 
By Dave Logan (Warkwyn)
Recently, there has been increased demand for loudspeaker 3-D directivity measurements both in the near- and far-fields for home audio, professional PA equipment, studio reference monitors and today's personal audio devices. New holographic near-field scanning techniques provide new ways to determine the sound pressure at any point in the 3-D sound field. This article explores and compares traditional measurements against this new technique using the Dayton Audio ES140Ti-8 woofer as the device under test (DUT) sample mounted in a sealed box. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, May 2015.  Read The Full Article Online

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