Top Four Emerging Trends Impacting the Global Home Theater Market 2016-2020
According to technology research company, Technavio, the global home theater market is expected to grow steadily, exceeding USD 28 billion by 2020. The top emerging trends influencing the global home theater market, according to Technavio's media and entertainment research analysts are the growing number of smart homes, vendors collaborating on product bundling, the growing adoption of cloud services and expansion to emerging markets.  Read More

LG Introduces G5 Modular Smartphone with LG Hi-Fi Plus with B&O Play Audio Player
LG Electronics (LG) newest idea was revealed at the 2016 GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and signals an important trend on mobile devices. The LG G5 modular concept features Qualcomm's aptX HD for wireless 24-bit sound over Bluetooth, and offers a high quality audio player, designed in cooperation with B&O Play, featuring an ESS Tech DAC and amplifier. The G5 can also be paired with the new LG 360 VR goggles, featuring Fraunhofer's Cingo immersive audio technology and HE-AAC codec support.  Read More

Harman Connected Car Ecosystem Expands with New Service Delivery Platform
At the Mobile World Congress 2016, Harman International promoted their new connected car ecosystem with a new service provider program which allows automakers to provide drivers and passengers with a wide range of new vehicle-centric services over Harman's new Service Delivery Platform. Harman also announced the launch of its new Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 portable Bluetooth speaker, distributed exclusively by Sprint and Brightstar.  Read More

MSC Software Announces Acoustic Seminar Series to Help Engineers Better Understand Product Behavior 
MSC Software is promoting new free educational seminars throughout the US to help engineers from a variety of industries better understand their product's acoustic behavior. The new Acoustic Seminar Series includes an introduction to acoustic theory, an overview of acoustic scenarios from various industries, Q&A sessions and an acoustic simulation best practices overview. Read More

Knowles to Focus on MEMS Microphones and Divert from Microspeaker Business
Knowles Corporation is showcasing advanced audio systems for mobile, wearable, hearable, and Internet of Things devices (IoT) at Mobile World Congress 2016. The company confirmed that it has shipped more than 8 billion MEMS microphones globally and reaffirmed the decision to sell its speaker and receiver product line segment of the company, which includes highly sought-after microspeakers and balanced armature drivers.  Read More

IsoAcoustics Starts Shipping Larger Size Aperta 200 Speaker Stands
Following the successful introduction of the original Aperta Series aluminum speaker stands, two years ago, IsoAcoustics now announces availability of its larger Aperta 200 isolation stands, designed especially for high end hi-fi bookshelf and desktop speakers, for large speakers on floor stands, as well as under floor-standing speakers. The Aperta 200's solid aluminum frame and isolator construction supports speakers weighing up to 75 lbs (34Kgs).  Read More

DTS Headphone:X And DTS Play-Fi Technologies Integrated In New Tablets and Smartphones
The Mobile World Congress 2016, in Barcelona, is the place chosen to unveil "exciting" developments in mobile devices, while the world waits for Apple to unveil the latest iPhone. But at least it allows companies like DTS to actually have smartphones and tablets featuring advanced audio technologies such as Headphone:X immersive processing and Play-Fi wireless home audio.  Read More

ESS Technology Introduces ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC with High-Resolution and Lossless Audio for Smartphones
ESS Technology introduced its new SABRE HiFi SoC - the ES9118, a 2-channel, 32-bit device. This is a brand new solution for high-quality audio on smartphones, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 show, in Barcelona. The new ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC integrates the complete audio path from the application processor all the way to the headphone in one device.  Read More


Editor's Desk

Mobile Industry and Embedded Technology

The 2016 embedded world Exhibition &
 Conference saw major announcements which
 will impact audio product design with new
energy-efficient wearable concepts.
This has been probably one of the busiest weeks in the engineering industry calendar for the year. Two major technology events happening concurrently in Europe have generated important technology announcements which anyone in the audio industry should be aware of.
The embedded world Exhibition & Conference in Nuremberg offers the engineering the opportunity to obtain information about new products and innovations, with 939 exhibitors from 38 countries presenting state-of-the-art technology in all facets of embedded technologies, from construction elements, modules and complete systems through to operating systems, hard and software tools, right up to services covering all aspects of embedded systems.
This is an annual event where, increasingly, companies from all over the world make major product announcements, attended by an increasing number of visitors (25,500 in 2015). The 2016 edition was bigger than ever with the industry focus on Safety & Security and the Internet of Things and, naturally, wired and wireless connectivity, touchscreen interfaces, memory, DSP, measurement equipment and, of course, the latest processors and embedded systems' development platforms. ARM, Intel, Texas Instruments, Microchip, NXP made major announcements - all of which have a major impact on new product design in many application areas, including audio systems.
Dolby Labs and many other audio companies
 attended Mobile World Congress 2016 with their
 latest technologies for mobile devices.
Embedded systems is the foundation for product development in IoT and wearables, which is effectively what is being used on new-generation mobile and portable audio solutions, from fitness earphones with wireless connectivity to new whole-home wireless audio systems. NXP announced new multiple open-source reference platforms for wearable designers based on ARM Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 cores, while ARM introduced major innovations to its family of ARM processors and tools, starting with a new family of ultra-efficient ARM Cortex-A32 processors, a low-power wireless IP-mesh networking reference design and new solutions for Bluetooth 4.2 support.
But even ARM has elected to introduce its new Cortex-R8 quad-core real-time processor at the 2016 GSMA Mobile World Congress, happening also this week, with more than 2000 exhibitors and 100,000+ visitors. The Barcelona show also continues to expand and generate major trends for the mobile and communications industry, increasingly introducing major innovations in all connected-media application segments, from mobile audio to connected-cars.
Apart from smartphone and mobile devices, the Mobile World Congress focuses increasingly on wireless technology for the smart home and wearables, as well as consumer automotive applications. That explains the presence of key industry personalities from Facebook, Ford, and Intel Corporation. The show also reflects the exploding demand for mobile content globally, with a dedicated conference featuring keynotes by Netflix, CNN, Google, Warner, Amazon, and many others. It was already confirmed the event it will be hosted in Barcelona through 2023 and will continue to reflect the market growth in the mobile industry, forecasted to reach three-quarters of the world's population by 2020, according to GSMA.
This year, the Mobile World Congress was particularly relevant for the audio industry, since many of the DSP and audio systems companies have announced important implementations from major consumer electronics companies, increasingly active in the mobile device space. As our colleagues Mike Klasco and Nora Wong (Menlo Scientific) report for audioXpress, high-quality audio, high resolution and improvements in wireless audio where a major focus for many of the smartphone brands making announcements at the show.
Nora Wong and Mike Klasco, reporting from Barcelona.
Enhanced Smartphone Audio
Today most people have their music library on their smartphone and most of the time this serves as the "server" for their music listening. The Apple iPod started the phenomena of using earphones and headphones with a mobile audio device, and Apple's iPhone promoted the integration of the smartphone and music player into a single mobile product.
Still, the DAC and headphone amp integrated in mainstream smartphones remained a weak point. Japanese companies introduced separate DAC amplifiers to address this, but strapping a mobile headphone amp to a smartphone is just "too geeky" to gain acceptance and not something mobile carriers (T-Mobile, AT&T, etc.) are willing to store on the shelves.
A crop of boutique smartphones from brands such as Vivo, Oppo, One plus 1, Vertu, Sirin and others, boast premium DACs (such as ESS Tech's Sabre series) and TI or Maxim's high-performance headphone amplifiers. Yet, a great headphone section is not enough to win iPhone iOS users over to Android phones.
Now, LG is looking at this opportunity with its LG G5 modular smartphone concept, where the bottom section is removable and connects enhanced modules seamlessly (physically and electrically). At MWC, a LG G5 with B&O Play DAC amp was featured. B&O Play is a near luxury initiative of headphones and Bluetooth speakers, all more reasonably priced than the usual Bang & Olufsen branded products. It would seem this collaboration will bring more visibility to B&O Play while adding some prestige to LG's smartphone product line. LG sees enhanced speaker modules and more coming from other collaborations with other brands.
Luxury smartphone brand Vertu differentiates their latest Signature Touch models with high-quality audio, including Dolby Digital Plus surround.
While we are looking at better audio from smartphones, Qualcomm and others were promoting solutions for Super Wide Band (SWB) audio. NXP introduced new smart-amps for getting the most out of microspeakers, while new microspeakers and receivers for SWB were being unveiled behind closed doors at the show. Stereo music playback from the microspeakers is already here with HTC pushing the concept in its smartphones and others to follow. NXP's smart-amp solution of using the receiver as the stereo speaker for music playback looks to be the future of smartphones.
Signal processing for smartphones and tablets was everywhere in Barcelona and was the main focus for Dolby Labs who promoted the "Dolby Atmos on-the-go" concept. Dolby and Lenovo announced three new Lenovo TAB3 series tablets, all with Dolby Atmos. Lenovo now has more than 10 Dolby Atmos enabled devices in market.
In another direction was Samsung's 5G technology display, which is the future on the wireless transmission side of smartphones, delivering multi-gigabit per second (Gbps) speeds. All in all, a huge show, with thousands of booths and way too much to take in on just four days. Stay tuned.

From the Vault
On Angel's Wings (Part 2):
A Speaker Design for the Bohlender Graebener RD-75 Planar Magnetic Driver
By Thomas Perazella
In January and February 2001, audioXPress included this remarkable project from Thomas Perazella. Published in two parts, the articles described in detail the design and construction of a speaker using the Bohlender Graebener RD-75 planar magnetic driver, including references to previous experiments with dipole baffles. This is the second part of the project, detailing the final part of the speaker construction and listening trials. Perazella also details the total cost for the project and remarks, "If you heard them you would think that the music was so true and pure that it came directly from heaven on angels' wings. In this case, the wings are man-made, but the results are the same." Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Spotlight
Optical Transducers and the Laser Microphone 
By Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific)
Voice Coil continues its look at microphones with this exciting feature on optical sound pickup technology. Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific) discusses how VocalZoom's Laser Microphone is able to differentiate a speaker's voice from extraneous background noise. The technology is ingenious and combines a conventional audio microphone capsule in conjunction with the VocalZoom laser microphone. The laser microphone "looks" at the vibrations from the user's facial skin (e.g., mouth, lips, cheeks, or throat) as a reference to determine which of the sounds the conventional microphone picks up actually emanates from the user. When optical microphones are fully implemented in MEMS microphones, they can be integrated into next generation smartphones and the market potential is huge. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, December 2015.  Read The Full Article Online

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