New Premium Multichannel A/D Converters Series from Asahi Kasei Microdevices Reaches the Market
Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) announced that its new 32-bit premium/advanced multichannel A/D converters series AK555x and AK553x are now available. There are four new converter devices in two-channel, four-channel, six-channel and eight-channel variants in the AK555x series, featuring 115 dB signal/noise and supporting up to 768 kHz PCM at 24-bit/32-bit or 11.2 MHz DSD256 outputs. The AK553x range, targeting pro audio applications includes four-, six-, and eight-channel variants, featuring 111 dB signal/noise, -103 dB THD+N and the same PCM/DSD output capabilities.  Read More

IEC Formally Adopts USB Type-C, USB Power Delivery and USB 3.1 Specifications
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced that IEC has formally adopted the latest USB-IF specifications for high-speed data delivery and enhanced usages for device charging. In particular, the USB Type-C Cable and Connector, USB Power Delivery and USB 3.1 (SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps) specifications. These specifications define a truly single-cable solution for audio/video, data, and power delivery.  Read More

StreamUnlimited Adds Smart Home Sound Recognition Technology from Audio Analytic to StreamSDK Solution
British sound recognition software company Audio Analytic announced a new strategic partnership with audio software and hardware development consultancy StreamUnlimited. Under the terms of the agreement, Audio Analytic's ai3 sound recognition software will be integrated with StreamUnlimited's StreamSDK adding value for audio manufacturers and end-users. Audio Analytic's technology enables devices in the smart home to recognize generic sounds, opening up a range of new applications for smarter living, which can be tailored to the individual audio OEM's requirements.  Read More

ELWN Fit Earbuds Truly Wireless Hybrid Concept Lasts Longer 
Multiple concepts of truly wireless earbuds were introduced to the market, all struggling with the same battery dilemma, independently of the level of features. Increasing battery capacity also increases size and weight, which in turn affects user's comfort and fit. ELWN Fit Truly Wireless earbuds launched on Kickstarter with an interesting hybrid wireless concept to answer the question: "How can I work, play, and live my indoor/outdoor lifestyle without a thought about charging or adjusting my earbuds?".  Read More

Japanese Label UNAMAS Chooses MQA Format to Showcase Hi-Res Recordings
UNAMAS, the Japanese high-resolution music label run by award-winning recording engineer, Mick Sawaguchi, has selected 10 albums from its catalog for encoding in Master Quality Authenticated (MQA). The recordings, ranging from Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" performed by the Unamas String Quintet, to Hiroshi Fukamizu's "Everything for Drums," will be available from July 15 on music download service, e-onkyo music, priced at „3.000 ($29/£19) each.  Read More

Schertler "Build Your Own Mixer" Concept Now Available
Introduced at the 2016 Musikmesse show in Frankfurt, Schertler's ARTHUR mixer created real excitement for the concept of a new self-configurable, modular audio mixer. Given the Swiss manufacturer's reputation in instrument amplification and its recent expansion into the pro audio market with 500 series modules, the release of the ARTHUR (Format48) modular mixer promises to be an interesting initiativeRead More


Editor's Desk

Impressive Speaker Designs at
T.H.E. Show 2016

Recently I attended the excellent, The Home Entertainment (T.H.E.) Show in Newport, CA. Celebrating its 6th anniversary, and still mourning the tragic loss of its president and founder, Richard Beers, T.H.E. Show Newport exceeded its own 2015 attendance figures, with more than 10,000 attendees. I left with excellent memories of a wonderful organization, a very pleasant location (Irvine), and the motivation to return.
I didn't intend to write a review since my time at the show was limited and I was there mainly because of a few key meetings. Still, I found myself spending my available time visiting demo rooms and auditioning some excellent systems, which left me with enduring impressions that I thought fit to share in this space.

Prism Sound's Graham Boswell shows why his excellent new Callia DAC, preamplifier, and headphone amplifier excels on all fronts!
Not that I wasn't pleasantly surprised by electronics as well. I have to confess I stayed in ecstasy in the Bricasti design room, the Ayon Audio, and the Master Sound presentations (USA Tube Audio Labs room), and of course, it was a privilege to have an exclusive session with Prism Sound's Graham Boswell and an extended audition of its excellent Callia, DAC, preamplifier, and headphone amplifier. About the Callia, I am expecting to have a review in audioXpress very soon. In all cases, of course, excellent speakers were involved.

When looking at my notes from the show, I couldn't help noticing that the rooms that most surprised me and left me with long-lasting impressions where not the most expensive ones or the most "high-end." And it always involved mainly the speakers. I know it's not fair, but in the end it's always the speakers you remember the most - sometimes not for the best reasons. I know each room is the result of a complete audio chain, as well as the way the room itself is set up acoustically, with the sound resulting from the sum of the parts (and sometimes the music playing...), but speakers, and in particular, speaker design options, always create an impact.

Allen Sides is proud to show the Ocean Way Audio HR4 monitors in front of a high-end crowd. Glad he did!

The first day, dedicated to press and industry previews, gave me the chance to visit Ocean Way Audio and listen to their HR4 near/midfield monitors - which were an unexpected but very pleasant surprise. I had seen the HR4s previously, at the 2015 New York Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention, but this provided me with a chance to properly listen to what Allen Sides and team have been doing. The session was a very nice surprise and gave me "clean ears" for the remaining days, since these active monitors are clearly reference-class. The 100× 40° dispersion pattern and waveguide system design allows for an impressively wide sweet-spot. And considering they sound big, accurate and cost $6,000 a pair...

On the remaining presentation days at T.H.E Show 2016, among the rooms that impressed me the most was Merrill Audio, featuring the impressive German Physiks HRS-130 speakers. As always, this was a combination of excellent equipment, involving a VPI Avenger Signature turntable, Jens phono pre-amplifier, Christine Reference Preamplifier, Veritas monoblock power amplifiers, and EMM Labs DAC2X. Immediately upon entering the room and without having the chance to take a seat (this was always a busy room and I had to return), I could feel the musical sound emanating in an almost magical way. The German Physiks HRS-130 design is certainly not a conventional system and the term tridimensional immediately comes to mind.

This is the room that impressed everyone at T.H.E. Show 2016. Merrill Audio features the very impressive German Physiks HRS-130 speakers!

The HRS-130s use a single carbon fiber German Physiks DDD bending wave driver mounted on top of a floor-standing cabinet, with a downward firing woofer set in its base. These are detailed, transparent, immersive and, as I said, extremely musical. The auditioning levels were unusually high for this type of room, and still everything was balanced and coherent in all frequencies, even considering that they have an omnidirectional (spherical, according to German Physiks) pattern. The second time I visited the room, I found a seat that allowed me to listen to a very sweet-sounding stereo image and confirm my earlier impressions that these are some of the most "musical" speakers I ever heard. They didn't suffer from the smaller dimensions of the room at all. Definitely worth exploring more.

The next room that left me with enduring and very positive impressions - and I regret not having been able to return - was the Eclipse room (On A Higher Note), the high-performance loudspeaker division within Fujitsu Ten. I have seen Eclipse presentations in multiple shows, including the AES convention, but I never had the time to sit down and listen properly. At T.H.E. Show, the presentation was an impactful 2.2 combination of its "invisible loudspeaker" concept: two Eclipse TD510ZMK2 stand-mount speakers, complemented by two TD520SW subwoofers, incorporating ICEPower amplification. The room itself deserves a commendation for the fact that it allowed the sunshine in with the beautiful Irvine view in the background. This, not only caused a totally different impression, but also enhanced the unique Time Domain design approach used in this speaker design, using a single custom full-range driver in a diffraction-free egg-shaped design that generates an extremely accurate sound reproduction.

The Eclipse (On A Higher Note) 2.2 presentation was absolutely captivating. Playing music from CD, it sounded high resolution!

The result is not only "invisible," as the company claims, but also extremely pleasant to listen to, in this case with the enhancement resulting from the extended frequency response and extra dynamics allowed by the two subwoofers. Again, a tridimensional soundstage enhanced the CD source that was playing (so, no high-resolution benefits there...). This impression was reinforced by the surprisingly accurate and extended frequency response. In comparison with other more "boxy" speakers I had heard previously, I felt very impressed with the Eclipse time-coherent approach.
Yes, this is a picture of serious Bluetooth speakers at a high-end show. The RIVA Turbo X and RIVA S could impress anyone entering the room!
The next room that created positive impressions is on another - even more extreme - end of the speaker segment: a Bluetooth speaker, would you believe it! In one of the rooms, I was pleasantly surprised to find lifestyle brand RIVA Audio, which we have already mentioned a few times on our website. The RIVA Turbo X and RIVA S Bluetooth speakers feature technology from Audio Design Experts, Inc. (ADX), a company from California which was recently issued a patent for its Trillium sound system processor that "creates a broad sound field from a compact multi-speaker." This proprietary process up-mixes the left-right stereo signal and outputs it through three channels of amplification and seven transducers to generate a sound image much larger than the actual speaker size would indicate.

This was my chance to experience these speakers and I was deeply impressed with the results. A strange experience to get into a hotel demo room during a high-end show and actually be positively impressed by a very small (portable and battery-operated) speaker... Considering the RIVA Turbo X (the larger one) sells for $299 and that it would be hard to even buy a speaker cable for that price at the show, this is worth mentioning. The sound reproduction was clean, balanced to the low frequencies at impressive levels, with no unwanted resonances or distortion as we can find in so many products of this kind - some of which also cost much more.
I have also learned this company is working on more products and technology in the area of wireless speakers (including stereo pairing), and it certainly is exciting to learn about the potential for such small cabinets.

Andrew Jones' enthusiastic presentations always conquer the audience and those ELAC speakers do the rest!

In other rooms, I have listened to many more "conventional" speakers, two- and three-ways, with ribbon tweeters, AMTs, and all kinds of configurations, but I was probably more impressed listening to the affordable ELAC Uni-Fi range than anything else in that class. In a constantly packed demo room, Andrew Jones generated lots of surprise and compliments with its "music on-demand" sessions, proving that the new ELACs are able to perform as well as many speakers costing much more. Employing a new in-house developed concentric driver in a three-way bass reflex design, with three aluminum cone woofers, the floor-standing UF5 model, costing less than $1,000, the pair is stunning, to say the least.

Volti Audio's Greg Roberts explains why his Vittora three-way horn-loaded speaker (four-way with the ELF low extension) is a high-efficiency system that makes listening to music a pleasure!

Finally, on the always personal and subjective category of "what I would buy if I could," my favorite speakers were the Volti Audio Vittora. As always, this is the result of a nice sound chain and in this room the combination involved the outstanding Vinnie Rossi LIO directly heated triode (DHT) Class-A preamp, an Acoustic Signature Triple-X turntable with an Ortofon 2M Black and TA-1000 12" tonearm, all connected with Triode Wire Labs cables.

Vinnie Rossi explaining its LIO modular design and the Directly Heated Triode Linestage (LIO DHT PRE) Class-A magic!
I always liked Klipschorns and the Vittoras can be considered an evolution of that concept, coming from loudspeaker designer Greg Roberts, who started his career modifying Klipschorns. Effectively, the Vittora is an original design, in the words of Greg Roberts "a fully horn-loaded, three-way, high-efficiency speaker system that delivers wide dynamic range, high output, and extremely low distortion."
My impressions were totally positive. Balanced, smooth, dynamic and turned even more impressive by the addition of the extended low-frequency (ELF) cabinet, which removes the unwanted burden from the two top horn sections (each with a midrange horn and a tweeter horn), and the two folded bass horns. After the session, I would have ordered one if I could. In fact, I would order the complete setup, as it was so totally engaging. No doubt, the most accomplished demo room at the show.

Practical Test & Measurement
Testing Audio ADCs and DACs
By David Mathew
audioXpress December 2015 included another great Practical Test & Measurement article on "Testing Audio ADCs and DACs," written by David Mathew from Audio Precision. As he explains, the article discusses methods used to procure high-quality results by correctly evaluating the critical AD and DA stages, with conventional and more evolved measurements used in audio tests. This article also includes an interesting text, written by Eric Hodges (Marketing Manager for Audio Precision), detailing how Audio Precision found an ideal test case on Benchmark's AHB2 amplifier, when they introduced the APx555 analyzer at the 137th International Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention. John Siau (Benchmark), together with Laurie Fincham and Jayant Datta from THX (a patent holder for amplifier and error-correction technologies used in the AHB2), visited the Audio Precision booth wondering if it was possible to set up a test of the AHB2 with the APx555 - and effectively test the APx555's analog performance as indicated by its total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) measurement capability.  Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Test Bench
Precision Devices PD.185N02 Woofer 
By Vance Dickason
I received a transducer for Test Bench review from a pro sound OEM company that has not previously appeared in Test Bench - Precision Devices from the UK. Precision Devices sent the PD.185N02, a new 18" high-power handling neodymium motor woofer, from its next-generation transducer range, which features four different 18" models. Intended for use as a sub bass driver or woofer in bass reflex and horn-loaded systems, this driver can also be used in closed box designs. Featuring an FEA optimized, compact neodymium motor system configuration, the PD.185N02 has been designed to provide low frequency reproduction with the power handling and performance capabilities expected in pro audio applications. Very similar in characteristics to the PD.185N01, the PD.185N02 offers an increased BL force factor, over 30T/m, and a modified surround profile designed to limit the excursion of the cone while providing faster transient response. The unit also has a slightly higher power rating of 1100 W (AES) and exhibits an average sensitivity of 98 dB across its working bandwidth of 35 Hz to 1 kHz. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, October 2015.  Read the Full Article Online

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