Register for Acoustic Engineering & Simulation Seminars to Optimize Product Performance
Engineers who design devices such as microphones, speakers, handheld devices, and headphones are always being challenged by consumers to create better-sounding products. While the challenges among acoustic engineers may vary according to industry, all share a common trait: gaining an understanding of their products' acoustic behavior before an expensive prototype is built, and before that product goes to market, is business-critical.
To help engineers understand their product's acoustic behavior, MSC is hosting a series of free seminars throughout the US. Each will be presented by Dr. Jean-Louis Migeot, a world-renowned acoustician who serves as Chairman of the Belgian Royal Academy of Science, Professor of Acoustics at the University of Brussels, and CEO of Free Field Technologies. Register for a seminar near you!

Rational Acoustics Smaart v8 Introduces new Software Environment
Rational Acoustics, the developers of the world-renowned Smaart Acoustic Test and Measurement Software have announced that Smaart v8, which the company says will be the most powerful, flexible, and adaptable version to date, will be released March 15, 2016. The new v8 brings several new features and greatly expanded control of the software environment.  Read More

Conexant Brings Far-Field Microphone Processing Software to Qualcomm Hexagon DSP
Conexant announced that its AudioSmart software has been integrated into Qualcomm's Hexagon digital signal processor family, found in more than a billion smart devices worldwide. With Conexant's audio software inside, consumers will benefit from clearer voice communication and accurate speech recognition from their smart devices, even in noisy conditions, up to five meters away from the target device.  Read More

AFMG Announces EASE Focus 3 Now Supporting Subwoofer Array Modeling 
AFMG, the professional audio, room acoustics, and structural physics simulation and measurement software specialist, confirmed that its new EASE Focus 3 solution will be released on March 10, 2016. The third version of AFMG's renowned free simulation tool has become a powerful software covering numerous aspects of for sound system design and optimization. Read More

embedded world Exhibition and Conference 2016 Closes with New Records
The biggest embedded world exhibition and conference ever, closed with new records. With 939 exhibitors and more than 30,000 trade visitors, the 2016 edition of the event, in Nuremberg, Germany, was the place to be for the international embedded community - effectively influencing all current industry segments, including the audio industry.  Read More

d&b audiotechnik Acquired by Private Investment Company, Targets New Expansion Stage
German professional audio equipment manufacturer d&b audiotechnik GmbH announced that Ardian, an independent private investment company, is acquiring the company from previous owners, investment companies Odewald & Compagnie and COBEPA. The move intends to support d&b audiotechnik's highly successful international growth strategy as defined by existing management, which also gets a stake in the company.  Read More

The Raspberry Pi Foundation Launches Raspberry Pi 3
All over the world, electronic and computer programming enthusiasts are celebrating the launch of the new Raspberry Pi 3 platform, the first with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1, keeping with the tradition of an affordable computer for all, at just $35! The Raspberry Pi 3 features a 1.2 GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU, giving about 10x the performance of a Raspberry Pi 1. And it's completely compatible with Raspberry Pi 1 and 2.  Read More

2016 GSMA Mobile World Congress Surpasses Record 100,000 Visitors
Visitors to the 2016 edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona, Spain, surpassed the 100,000 mark for the first time in the event's history, with nearly 101,000 attendees - an increase of more than 6% over last year - the GSMA reports. MWC 2016 featured more than 2,200 exhibitors, and the conference program featured 12 keynote sessions and 48 in-depth track sessions over four days.  Read More


Editor's Desk

Wireless Speaker Market: What's the Deal?

I had lots of meetings at CES 2016, met with key industry people and saw several interesting things. It was an exciting and busy show. Still, a few weeks past, I found myself in angst for not having published articles about many of the things I saw there, simply because they were mainly technology demonstrations and research efforts being made, not exactly about press conferences and press releases. The same thing has been happening at other shows, including the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain.
It is no wonder that lots of people who also attended CES 2016 have told me how "nothing happened this year." One thing is true: this was the first CES in many years, where we didn't have the "Apple axe" hanging over the industry. In 2015, the Apple Watch was about to be introduced. This year, no one anticipates Apple disrupting a new category. So, what does a large part of the consumer electronics (CE) industry do when they don't feel menaced by Apple? They hold tight and announce nothing, until they learn what Apple is going to do next...
Since, at CES 2016, I have focused on audio platforms and new connectivity interfaces (USB-C), there was much to see and very little to report (yet). While the industry is doing much backstage work, even Apple is facing a critical transition with Thunderbolt-3 and USB-C. The company must decide how it is going to do the transition to Lightning/USB-C connected headphones. Clearly, the industry is also waiting on Apple to unveil what the strategy will be with a new generation AirPlay and its iTunes/Apple Music services. Will Apple go uncompressed, high-resolution audio (HRA)?
HRA was indeed a common topic at CES 2016. But you may wonder why companies didn't make a bigger splash with immersive audio, or wireless multiroom solutions, as in previous years? Maybe because there are now multiple "arenas" to make those announcements - such as we have seen at the GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC). Also, key companies set their own calendar for product announcements. Sonos, the market leader on wireless multiroom audio, doesn't do announcements at CES. Like Apple, Google is also establishing its own calendar for technology announcements.
Meanwhile, several players, such as Qualcomm AllPlay and DTS PlayFi are working backstage trying to gain as much traction as possible for their wireless audio technology platforms. Imagination Caskeid, StreamUnlimited, Frontier Silicon and other companies were everywhere at CES and MWC, including supporting interesting WiSA and MQA demos. Meanwhile there was Google Cast for Audio scaring everyone who has already committed to one of the existing wireless audio technologies. Everyone will have to support Google Cast now, much as they have to support AirPlay.
But the problem is also that the market is completely flooded with Bluetooth wireless headphones and speakers. The typical consumer who visits an electronics store is greeted with lots of Bluetooth speakers, which are "portable" but also work fine at home - and probably doesn't even visit the store audio section where the multiroom/networked speakers are. Likewise, the visitor to a home audio showroom, will consider wireless for the convenience to have a good quality surround or immersive system in the living room (WiSA) but not exactly for multiroom. And, high-end audio enthusiasts usually discard the typical "Wi-Fi speaker," for being "plastic" things with a "thin sound" that distorts. Even though the new Sonos Play:5 sounds amazing.
The main idea being promoted to the average consumer is that you can now stream your Spotify/Apple Music music from a smartphone to a Bluetooth-speaker. As a recent report from Futuresource Consulting (Shopper Journey and Worldwide Audio market Report Dec 2015) confirms, worldwide sales of multiroom audio wireless speakers recorded growth of 30% in 2015, which was lower than industry expectations and actually fell as a share of total wireless speakers demand to around 8% of units.

Consumer research from Futuresource also indicates that a third of consumers who intend to purchase wireless speakers want to be able to simultaneously play music in multiple rooms, a desire not being translated into actual sales. Lack of retailer support to demonstrate this technology in-store and inadequate communication from manufacturers has resulted in consumers struggling to understand these products.
"Consumers are really confused about the technology," commented Rasika Iyer, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. "For example, over half of US wireless speaker shoppers that we spoke to believed that Bluetooth is an ideal technology for streaming music from one room to another; they don't realize that this is a key selling point for Wi-Fi speakers."
Click for the full Futuresource infographic
Futuresource Consulting anticipates that the industry will experience a shake down in the longer term, which will lead to more growth. "It is possible that all Wi-Fi-based speaker systems will be positioned as content-driven music devices, while multiroom will remain a tick-box feature for manufacturers and consumers. The recent announcement from Sonos that Apple's music streaming service can now be enjoyed on its speakers is a reminder that content has an important part to play in the success of multiroom."
According also to Futuresource, new entrants have caused fragmentation in the market, with a mix of single-brand ecosystems and multibrand platforms, while single-brand platforms still account for more than 95% of the multiroom audio segment. "There were only a few multiroom audio announcements at CES this year, somewhat indicative of this market slow down," adds Rasika Iyer. Google Cast recently stirred some interest in Wi-Fi audio, having announced a number of partnerships at CES 2016, most notably with Raumfeld, Bang & Olufsen, and Frontier Silicon. "Long term prospects are positive, as long as the industry can standardize product offerings and better communicate the technology and how that translates to an enhanced consumer experience," says Futuresouce.
It seems to me, one thing is what you can do with technology and another very different thing is what the consumer understands he needs or wants. Every time I hear that you "need to educate" the consumer for a technology, I get worried. Consumers didn't need much education when they adopted the iPod or smartphones....

You Can DIY!
The TERESA Amplifier
By Harald Frank
The TERESA amplifier is a simple and cascadable Class-AB design. The name is an acronym for manufacturers TExas Instruments and REneSAs, who provided the parts for the core of this amplifier. This versatile unit uses the latest audio MOSFETs from Renesas and a relatively new high-end drive component from National Semiconductor (which is now part of Texas Instruments). The result is worth seeing and hearing! This DIY project does not require any special experience in detailed analog circuit technology to build. This article was originally published in audioXpress, November 2014. Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Test-Bench
Wavecor SW223BD02 8.75" Subwoofer 
By Vance Dickason
In this Test Bench, Vance Dickason measures the SW223BD02 8.75" subwoofer from Wavecor, part of the brand's rather extensive line of subwoofers - 20 models in all, ranging in size from 2.75" to 12", and complemented with a broad range of passive radiators with sizes from 6.25" to 12". Wavecor's SW223BD02, which is the 4-Ω version (SW223BD03 is 8 Ω), was designed specifically for high performance compact subwoofer applications. The driver has a generous feature set that includes a proprietary eight-spoke cast-aluminum frame that has minimal reflection surfaces and is completely open below the spider mounting shelf. Other features include a very stiff flat black anodized aluminum cone, further stiffened by a 3.5" convex black anodized aluminum dust cap. This is driven by a 51-mm diameter (2") voice coil, wound with round wire on a black fiberglass former. The motor system powering the cone assembly utilizes two 20-mm thick, 125-mm diameter ferrite magnets sandwiched between a black plated 6-mm thick front plate and a black plated and shaped T-yoke that does not use a pole vent. This format drives more air out the gap area and across the front plate below the spider mounting shelf for enhanced cooling of the motor system. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2015.  Read The Full Article Online

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VC March 2016: Digital Login
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