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.

RIAA Publishes 2015 Year-End Sales & Shipments Data Report
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) published its annual Year-End Sales & Shipments report for 2015 and the results show that digital music subscription services reached new all-time highs, generating more than $1 billion in revenues for the first time, and averaging nearly 11 million paid subscriptions for the year. Revenues from vinyl albums also increased and represented a record $416 million.  Read More

Morel Brings High Fidelity To Soundbars With New Soundwall LCR4
Following the announcements made at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), speaker component and audio driver specialist Morel debuted its innovative in-wall modular soundbar at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2016 show in Amsterdam and is now shipping this versatile installation solution, which complements its invisible Soundwall in-wall speaker line.  Read More

CEntrance Successfully Launches DACportable on Indiegogo 
CEntrance's campaign to launch its DACportable USB DAC on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo received an amazing response and quickly surpassed its funding goal. The DACportable is a battery-operated, powerful, palm-sized USB DAC designed to convert the average audio of any smartphone, tablet, or computer into a high-quality, high-resolution, listening experience.  Read More

Smart Home Applications Enabled by New XMOS Voice Capture Technology
XMOS announced the launch of its new xCORE Array Microphone aggregation solution for voice user interfaces (VUI) in smart home applications. With the ability to aggregate up to 32 MEMS microphones, and offering USB and I2S backhaul, XMOS enables a new class of array microphones to be created. Applications include voice recognition for smart TVs, soundbars, virtual digital assistants (VDAs), and smart home automation.  Read More

NXP New TFA9911 Smart Sensing Amplifier Turns Smartphone Speaker into Microphone, Vibration Sensor
NXP Semiconductors recently introduced a new smart sensing amplifier, the TFA9911, featuring a high-efficiency Class-D audio amplifier, sophisticated speaker boost and protection, and combining speaker sensing and processing algorithms to optimize recording and calling experiences. The device transforms the speaker into a microphone and features vibration detection, which enables development of new "tap" activating use cases for smartphones.  Read More

Questyle Audio Unveils New Premium Integrated DAC and Amplifier Combo at CanJam 2016
Questyle Audio demoed its famed "Current Mode" powered audiophile systems in a new DAC/amp combo - the CMA600i - as well as even higher-grade Reference Edition components at the CanJam SoCal 2016 event in Costa Mesa, CA. The affordable integrated DAC and amplifier CMA600i with balanced output is certainly great news for all headphone enthusiasts around the world.  Read More

Focusrite New Red 4Pre Digitally-Controlled Preamp, Thunderbolt 2 and Dante Interface
British company Focusrite announced the launch of its new Red 4Pre flagship audio preamp and recording interface. Combining dual Thunderbolt 2, dual Pro Tools | HD DigiLink and Dante network audio connectivity options, the Red 4Pre features 58-in/64-out channels, and specially-developed digitally-controlled microphone preamps, and high-headroom instrument inputs.  Read More


Editor's Desk

Audio Technology, Stats, and Trends

Companies need to be aware of market trends and consumer behavior to plan ahead and make strategic decisions on the products they design and bring to market. But in the technology market, there's usually a caveat. Technology innovation is, by itself, disruptive... If a product introduces innovations that clearly resonate with a certain market segment and consumers become aware of its implications, planning according to market predictions and existing research doesn't help. Instead, executives need to focus on strategies to maximize consumer awareness and plan according to previously existing product cycles and historical data, identifying successful strategies from comparable metrics.
Wireless speaker market predictions in 2014. 
Click at your own risk...
Please forgive me for the "Harvard Business Review for Dummies" reference (and yes, that's my opinion, and no, I am not accepting invitations for lectures, thank you). The reason for the preamble is important because the audio industry is frequently too small and irrelevant to the general technology topic to deserve the attention of large market research companies. And, if we can find key studies on particular audio product segments, a careful analysis of the data frequently reveals that either the sample is too small or the geographic location is not relevant for establishing global company and product strategies.
Also, trying to find something relevant to very specific product segments - such as integrated amplifiers or portable headphone amplifiers - is very difficult. And when we find it, most are specific to the US market or North America and the so called "global statistics" don't properly reflect emerging economies or cultural differences - it's like assuming that the whole world listens to the current Billboard Hip-Hop chart.
A recent study by Strategy Analytics is a good example of this, stating that "low quality, built-in speakers now dominate how people listen to music." According to this study, 55% of Americans listen to music from built-in speakers on desktops and laptops, followed by headphones connected to a portable device (41%), standalone radios (41%) and built-in TV speakers (29%). "Including radios, only four of the 10 most popular are dedicated music playback devices - connected loudspeakers (12%), wireless speakers (11%), and speaker docking stations (10%)." The study also states that 43% are "very satisfied" with the audio quality (26% "somewhat satisfied") and that "over half (51%) report being interested in high-quality audio." This could be an interesting report, but notice the footnote: "Strategy Analytics Q3, 2015 ConsumerMetrix survey conducted online in September 2015 on a nationally representative sample of 2,041 US adults who listen to music aged 18-65."
Really bold predictions about the future of audio. Excellent article by John Lagrou, TapeOp.
So the question is, are available market statistics relevant? Should we trust market forecasts to define audio product strategies? We just have to look at the past three years and read all the available research and forecasts to understand that those CAGR growth percentages and "billion dollar" market forecasts are not exactly decisive, unless you want to impress an investor or raise capital to fund a new R&D project. Examples include the "exponential growth" in living-room surround sound setups or 3DTV grabbing a significant share of the television market. Reading some of the available research done four years ago on any audio topic reveal statistics are not exactly relevant, but trends can be useful. Particularly useful is to analyze those predictions and compare the effect of disruptive technologies, to see where they got it right and where they failed.
Many studies also fail to anticipate consumer awareness of key technologies and content availability to actually feed consumption. No study that I have looked at accurately predicted that, in 2016, consumers would still be realizing the benefits of Bluetooth headphones and the correct take-up of that particular technology. The same can be said about High Resolution Audio (HRA) predictions, which were based mostly on file downloading being the dominant model for music distribution (i.e., Pono) and not taking into account the fast take-up in music streaming services.
That's why it is so important to actually look at these things from a supply-demand cycle perspective and establish comparable trends. Examples such as the 2015 CEA study (US specific) on HRA, which audioXpress highlighted here. According to that study, only 22% use home theater speakers, 87% listen to music in the car (87%) and 70% listen to music typically through broadcast radio, CDs (56%), and Internet streaming services (51%). 40% of consumers said they are familiar with high resolution audio.
According also to the Smartphone Trends 2015-2016 report by Futuresource Consulting, worldwide smartphone shipments are still increasing (1,491 million units sold in 2015 and overall mobile market grew by 6.7% to 2,071 million units). Rapid adoption of "low cost smartphones tailored to meet basic internet and application requirements at an affordable price point" are on the rise in emerging markets, while developed markets are buying their third, fourth, or fifth smartphone (and Apple is gaining market share in those markets because of higher-end features, like payment functionality and secure cloud service access).
The connected car and consumer implications
 according to McKinsey & Company
Consider this as well. According to a recent study from Grand View Research, Inc., the global connected car market is expected to reach $180.30 billion by 2022. "Surging consumer demand, constant need for connectivity, increased dependency on technology and the growing number of tech-savvy people are some of the factors expected to boost global connected car market growth."
To add up to the mix, just read one of the many studies recently published on car-networks and connectivity, Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, and wireless standards. It's not difficult to establish a powerful link towards connected audio devices and the disruptive force of streaming media services, when those become available seamlessly across smartphones, smartwatches, and connected-cars. Living-room stereos? For companies in that market, I would seriously start considering network interfaces and connected services.

From the Vault
Choosing and Using Electronic Parts: A Survival Guide (Part 2)
By Charles Hansen
Everything you need to know about how parts function, and how to select and maintain them. In the second part of this article, the author continues to examine electronic circuits with a look at some common circuit components, such as resistors - carbon composition, film, thermistors, carbon film, metal oxide, metal film and wirewound - semiconductors, diodes, small signal transistors, power semiconductors, and microelectronics. This article series was published in audioXpress, from November 2001 to January 2002. Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Test-Bench
RCF ND950 Neodymium Compression Driver and HF950 Horn 
By Vance Dickason
In this Test Bench, Vance Dickason characterizes, for the first time, a transducer from RCF. In this case, a combination of the ND950 1.4 neodymium compression driver along with the HF950 injection-molded composite horn specifically designed to work with the ND950. The ND950 uses a 0.05-mm thick pure titanium diaphragm coupled to a flat Mylar suspension mounted behind a four-slot phase plug. The 1.4" diaphragm is driven by a large 100-mm (4.0") diameter voice coil wound on a Kapton former with edge wound aluminum wire. Other features include a large neodymium ring magnet, and copper shorting ring. The horn supplied with the ND950 1.4" driver is RCF's 1.4" throat 90°-H × 50°-V HF950 constant directivity horn, featuring a 400-Hz cutoff frequency. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2013.  Read The Full Article Online

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