INDUSTRY & PRODUCT NEWS

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.


COBBLE Micro Audio Amplifier Leverages iPhone Lightning Connector for High Resolution Audio
COBBLE is a new audio project currently being promoted on Kickstarter, promising the world's first battery-free, ultra-light, and iPhone-mic-compatible portable audio amplifier and DAC for the iPhone. Weighing less than an ounce, PEBBLE can be used anywhere, supports 24-bit 192 kHz audio and features an interesting "pebble-shaped" design.  Read More


ATSC 3.0 Next-Generation Television Broadcasting to Take Center Stage at 2016 NAB Show
Next-generation broadcast television moves a step closer to reality at the upcoming 2016 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show (Las Vegas, NV, April 16-21, 2016), when live transmissions originating from the show floor reach prototype receivers designed to demonstrate the myriad new capabilities of ATSC 3.0. Four days of NAB Show exhibits at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) open Monday, April 18.  Read More


New Tiny ams AS3412 Speaker Driver Opens Up Mass Market for Active Noise Cancellation 
Austrian high-performance sensors and analog ICs specialist, ams AG launched the AS3412, a compact, cost-effective speaker driver that promises to bring the benefits of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to mass-market headsets. The new AS3412 noise-cancellation speaker driver is ideal for use in the low-cost headphones and bundled headsets supplied with smartphones.  Read More
 

Analog Devices' Low Dropout Regulators Enable Cleaner Audio and Faster Communications
Analog Devices announced two series of low dropout regulators (LDOs) offering ultra-low noise performance that eliminate unwanted system noise and improve receiver, transmitter, and audio quality. Target applications for the new ADP176x and the ADP715x LDOs include wireless base stations, wired communications, industrial instrumentation, high-end audio equipment, and medical devices.  Read More


Steinberg Releases WaveLab Pro 9 and WaveLab Elements 9
Steinberg Media Technologies announced the immediate availability of WaveLab 9, a major update to its popular audio editing/mastering software. The ninth generation introduces a new product naming format: the professional version is now labeled "WaveLab Pro 9," while the entry-level version remains "WaveLab Elements 9" and includes all the essential tools.  Read More
 

New Xplay 5 Elite Smartphone Features Twin ES9028 SABRE Hi-Fi DAC Design
ESS Technology announced the company's ES9028 SABRE HiFi Digital to Analog Converter (DAC), implemented in a revolutionary twin DAC format, has been selected for Vivo's new flagship smartphone - the Xplay 5 Elite. Vivo selected twin ES9028 SABRE DACs to power its HiFi 3.0 capabilities because of the ES9028's dynamic range and superior performance.  Read More


Powersoft to Demonstrate Its M-Force System Low-Frequency Solution at Exclusive Listening Sessions in Boston and NYC
Amplifier manufacturer Powersoft announced that it will demonstrate its M-Force linear motor technology during exclusive listening sessions and product presentations in Boston and New York, on March 22 and March 24, respectively. The sessions will also feature an overview of Powersoft's other amplifier product lines.  Read More





Mike Klasco
(Menlo
Scientific)


Guest Editorial


Who Is On Your Phone With You?

My iPhone 6s has a ghost in the machine. This "genie friend" Siri seems to listen and comment even when uninvited. Meanwhile, if you are not in a coma, then you know the FBI has an appetite for phone gossip. Specifically, the FBI wants Apple to develop a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation of the San Bernardino, CA, attack. In the wrong hands, this software - which does not exist today - would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession. This topic will be in the news for some time and no one needs me to weigh in further on this.
 
Instead, I am going to focus on security (or lack of it) on the entire signal chain of mobile phones. This is seemingly appropriate on a flight home from Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona, Spain. MWC is a huge trade show for the mobile phone industry. Exhibitors included smartphone manufacturers, carriers, component makers (MEMs mics, chipsets, etc.), as well as test gear and the like. There was a lot of discussion about security, including who else might be listening even without the FBI having a magic password bypass. How about when your phone is switched off? When is off really on? It's not as easy to remotely turn a smartphone on when it is off, but hidden spy software works by causing your smartphone to "play dead" when you think you have turned it off - while it is actually in a standby mode that can be remotely accessed.
 
Personal Voice assistants like Apple's Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now or third-party apps are "always listening", meaning your device microphone's is always-on.
What types of smartphone spying possibilities are there?  Consider these situations:

- Software hidden apps allowing remote observation of the target cell phone position in real-time on a map

- Remotely enabling microphones to capture and forward conversations. Microphones can be activated when the phone is on standby for capturing conversations near the cell phone

- Receiving remote alerts and/or text messages each time the target dials a number on the cell phone as well as remotely reading text messages and call logs

- Sensors - most smartphone have a number of these and in some cases these can be remotely used for (marginal) voice and data pickup (see this Stanford University paper)
 
Some indications that possible cell phone surveillance is occurring may include a mobile phone unexpectedly illuminating when not in use, hearing clicking or beeping sounds when conversations are occurring, and the battery being warm despite the phone not being used (not used by you that is).
Preventative measures against cell phone surveillance include not losing or allowing strangers to use your mobile phone and the utilization of an access password. Turning the phone off and removing the battery when not in use is another rather awkward technique (especially on an iPhone...)! Another option is to deadbolt the microphones with a hardware switch on the mic inputs to prevent a phone from being remotely set to pick up nearby background conversations. However, when you plug the microphone back in, your calls and background noise can still be overheard.
 
The current encryption debate involving Apple and the FBI may prove useless. Companies like GSMK CryptoPhone already offer fully encrypted communication devices.
The Need for Encryption
Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars, contacts, our financial information, health data, and even where we have been and where we are going.
 
Apple points out that "all that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything to protect their personal information. Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us."
 
Encryption vs. anti-terrorism is not new, and Blackberry has had issues with various governments. In some cases, it has provided backdoor keys to these governments to be allowed to offer their mobile phones in various countries. At one point, Nokia offered secure mobile feature phones, but these required both ends of the call to use special phones. There are software apps (e.g., Telegram and Silent Circle) that provide enhanced security. Sirin Mobile Technologies, which is introducing a premium and elegant smartphone, features a hardware switch for enhanced security. Another secure mobile phone is the GSMK CryptoPhone (which has other applications such as locating fake towers). Silent Circle, an exhibitor at MWC, kept these security issues in mind when it co-created the Blackphone. It has a removable battery. And, it uses Silent OS, a stripped-down version of Android that resists tracking.
 
Silent Circle Blackphone focuses on privacy and security with Silent OS for encrypted communication and secure file transfers. The company also offers the Silent Phone encrypted communicatons service for iOS and Android.
While we watch Apple and the FBI square off on breaking the security on iPhones, what about less regulated agencies such as your local police department? Many police departments often use cell-phone-tracking technology. Perhaps more worrisome is access to this gear by private detectives, divorce lawyers, and scammers. Being able to control your entire home with a cell phone certainly has its appeal but now home automation can be hacked by thieves.
 
Are there really fake cell phone tower cell-site simulators? For sure! The StingRay, when operating in active mode, mimics a wireless carrier cell tower. Manufactured by Harris Corp., and initially developed for the military and intelligence community, the StingRay and similar Harris devices are in widespread use by local and state law enforcement agencies across the United States. The StingRay is an IMSI-catcher (International Mobile Subscriber Identity), and is a suitcase-sized device that can sweep up basic cell phone data from a neighborhood by tricking phones into believing it's a cell tower, allowing it to identify unique subscriber numbers.
 
Any expectation of assured privacy when using your smartphone is far from guaranteed. In the future, expect your security and privacy to continue to fade away. On the other hand, there is so much data in the air that unless you have been singled out for surveillance, the sheer quantity of noise will provide enough bulk so the rest of us are not worth the effort to watch.

From the Vault
Choosing and Using Electronic Parts: A Survival Guide (Part 1)
By Charles Hansen
 
Everything you need to know about how parts function, and how to select and maintain them. In the first part of this article, the author discusses damaging effects of high temperatures, why things fail, Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), component tolerances, and the effects of shock and vibration. The article also details the properties and reliability of capacitors: electrostatic, plastic film, ceramic, mica, glass, air variable, electrolytic, aluminum, and Tantalum. This article series was published in audioXpress, from November 2001 to January 2002. Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Test-Bench
Beston Technology RT002A Ribbon Tweeter 
By Vance Dickason
 
This Test Bench is dedicated to the Beston RT002A ribbon tweeter. Beston Technology was founded in 2002 in Taipei, Taiwan. Since its inception, Beston has focused on high-frequency ribbon devices using a Kapton substrate. The first transducer Beston sent to Voice Coil's Test Bench column was the RT002a ribbon tweeter. The Beston RT002A is a closed-back ribbon tweeter with a 10mm 50mm aperture. Features include a thin laminated aluminum diaphragm, an injection-molded faceplate, a stamped metal chassis, a neodymium (Nd-Fe-B) magnet, a 40-W rated power handling (third-order 2.5-kHz network), and a pair of solderable terminals. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2013.  Read The Full Article Online

AX April 2016: Digital Login
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