European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) Awards 2016-2017 in Audio Categories
An established annual tradition for more than 30 years, the prestigious European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) Awards, featuring more than 20 products in different audio categories, have been announced. Harman, Bluesound, Bowers & Wilkins, Chord, ELAC, Hegel, Marantz, Naim Audio, Pro-Ject, Sonos, Canton, DALI, Denon, Monitor Audio, Panasonic, Trinnov, and Yamaha are among the winners in hi-fi, mobile, and home-theater categories. Winners for 2016-2017 will receive the awards at IFA Berlin 2016.  Read More

Townsend Labs Sphere 3D Microphone Modeling System is Huge Crowdfunding Success Story
The Sphere L22 microphone, unveiled by Townsend Labs as its debut product, was launched August 4, 2016 with a phenomenally successful international crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, raising more than $100,000 (250% of its target) in 24 hours. The high-precision, side-address, large-diaphragm condenser microphone, combined with microphone modeling software has proved its appeal to the market, emulating the characteristics of the most sought-after microphones on the market.  Read More

Bryston Unveils BDP-π Compact Digital Music Player Leveraging Raspberry Pi and HifiBerry Platforms
Bryston has announced the introduction of the BDP-π digital music player, designed for users wishing to enjoy high-resolution audio files without tying a standard computer for the task. The compact BDP-π features advanced Bryston hardware and software built upon the Raspberry Pi and HifiBerry open source platforms, supports up to 24/192 high-resolution lossless files and can be connected to virtually any DAC using the provided S/PDIF, Toslink, USB, and HDMI connectors.  Read More

Focal Introduces Next Generation of Dme Flax System with Dolby Atmos Compatibility Using ICW-4 In-Ceiling Speakers 
Focal announced the company's new flagship in the Home Cinema range, Dme Flax 5.1.2, a Dolby Atmos compatible speaker system. Building on the already impressive Dme Flax 5.1 channel speaker system, which features the French speaker manufacturer's Sub Air wireless subwoofer and five matching Dme Flax, this new offering adds two 300 Series ICW-4 speakers to mount in the ceiling and enable the Atmos effect when combined with an Atmos-enabled AV receiver and appropriate content.  Read More

ETAL Group Completes Anaview Integration and Changes Name of Class D Amplifier Specialist to ETAL
ETAL Group, based in Stockholm, Sweden, announced that it is renaming Anaview, the manufacturer of Class D amplifiers, as ETAL. The recognized and regarded Anaview name will continue as the product line name for the Group's Class D amplifier range. KAMIC Group, the parent company of ETAL acquired Anaview in 2013, managing it as a unit of ETAL Group, an international supplier of inductive components.  Read More

Drawmer Introduces CPA-50 Small-Footprint Stereo Amplifier
Based in Yorkshire, England, Ivor Drawmer's company has a long history of audio processing innovation and brilliant audio circuits. In recent years, Drawmer has been working on some brilliant monitor controllers and monitor preamps for studio work. Complementing those new studio systems, Drawmer has introduced its high-performance CPA-50 compact Class D amplifier, delivering 25 W RMS per channel into 8 Ω (50 W RMS per channel into 4 Ω) or working as a 100 W RMS into 8 Ω monoblock which allows bi-amped or bridged modes.  Read More


Editor's Desk

Re-Writing Headphone Design Rules

The 2016 AES International Conference on Headphone Technology will be held in Aalborg, Denmark.
Next week, from August 24-26, 2016, the brightest minds in the world of headphone transducers, audiology, sensors, wearables, mobile audio, personal and assistive listening, binaural techniques, noise control, monitoring and analytic listening and evaluation will gather in Aalborg, Denmark, for the 2016 Audio Engineering Society (AES) International Conference On Headphone Technology.
These themed international conferences promoted by the AES are usually a magnet for R&D engineers and manufacturers to share the latest experiences in technology as well as to learn about the latest innovations and scientific research in different fields of audio. In August 2013, a similar event, focused on Loudspeakers and Headphones took place in Helsinki, Finland, and attracted more than 125 participants, doubling the original projected number. The event focused on loudspeaker and headphone system designs and the increasing close-coupled integration in measurement technology, modeling, and embedded signal processing, highlighting the popularity of headphones and the limitations of microspeakers, as well as new transducer designs and manufacturing technologies.
Three years later, the Aalborg event will focus entirely on headphones, wireless audio transmission, and developments in low-power processors and sensors, which have enabled the augmentation of headphones with features more typically associated with hearing aids or smartphones. In fact, given the popularity of "smart and wearable" devices, this AES conference will focus on technologies for headphones with a special emphasis on the emerging fields of Mobile Spatial Audio, Personal Assistive Listening, and Augmented Reality.
audioXpress will attend the event, but the registration process was not easy. To the promoters' surprise, registrations quickly surpassed the auditorium capacity of the available rooms at Aalborg's Nordkraft building, topping 160 participants. This clearly reflects the industry momentum and robust market growth in the category. But the event also reflects the clear realization that we are facing important technological challenges, including the transition to new wireless technologies and standards (increasingly defined by the mobile industry), such as the anticipated Bluetooth 5 update, or the replacement of the venerable analog jack for USB Type-C and Lightning connectors on computers and mobile devices, among many other topics about which audioXpress regularly reports.

The latest LG Tone Platinum Wireless Stereo Headset features audio technology by Harman Kardon, uses new balanced armature drivers and dual MEMS microphones, reaching more than 10 hours of music play time.
Just this summer, an important indicator surfaced. As reported by the NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service, Bluetooth-capable headphone sales have surpassed non-Bluetooth sales for the first time in June this year. This might be a surprise for many in the audio industry, considering the fact that Bluetooth, even with all the recent developments, was never a technology designed for high-quality audio streaming. Still, consumers recognize Bluetooth for its convenience and apparently the quality is already acknowledged as "good-enough." Bluetooth headphones already account for 54% of US dollar sales in the category and 17% of unit sales in the U.S, according to NPD.
As the NPD report also states, while the headphone category saw a 7% year-over-year increase in dollar sales for the first half of 2016, Bluetooth headphones saw double-digit growth with a 42% year-over-year increase in dollar sales for the first half of the year. Beats and LG have led the Bluetooth headphone market throughout the first half of the year, accounting for approximately 65% of dollar sales. The top five brands in the industry in Bluetooth headphone sales are 1-Beats, 2-LG, 3-Bose, 4-Jaybird and 5-Skullcandy
Jaybird (owned by Logitech) is a pioneer brand in premium sport wireless headphones and recently introduced its fifth-generation Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Buds.
NPD also reports that decreasing average sales prices have helped to grow Bluetooth headphone sales. The average price for the first half of 2016 decreased 5% compared to the year prior. Additionally, nearly 30% of Bluetooth headphones sold in the first half of the year were less than or equal to $50, compared to 16% in the first half of 2015.
"Promotions and new product introductions have helped spur the growth we are seeing in Bluetooth headphones. Consumers are already embracing a wireless future and if, as rumored, the headphone jack is removed from the next iPhone, we expect this will continue to drive market share of the Bluetooth category," says Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for The NPD Group.

From the Vault
A Battery-Powered Class A Headphone Amp
By Rick MacDonald
This project is based on Erno Borbely's EB-602/210 single-ended pure Class A amplifier and is capable of driving headphones between 32 and 600 Ω. It consists of two identical but separate amps laid out on the same PCB. The schematic is the same as Erno's extremely popular hybrid tube/MOSFET line amp, published in Glass Audio (January 1998). However, the dual triode at the input is replaced by a dual JFET (SK389). As the author Rick MacDonald explains, JFET offers less noise, more gain, and better linearity than the ECC86 tube. "I wanted a tested, proven, discrete Class A circuit. Several friends suggested Erno Borbely's MOSFET amp, and with the variety of ways you can buy the PCB and components, it was the best option. The sound for such a simple and elegant design is better than much more expensive "high-end" systems I have auditioned. This circuit has good detail, dynamics, and low-level resolution." This article was originally published in audioXpress, July 2004.  Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Test Bench
Motus UH205PW1 High-End Home Audio 8" Woofer 
By Vance Dickason
This Test Bench is dedicated to a woofer from Motus, a fairly new company in the esoteric end of the home audio business. The transducer under test is the Motus UH205PW1, an 8" mid-bass driver. The Motus UH205PI's feature set starts with the frame. Motus used a really nicely configured six-spoke cast-aluminum frame with narrow 11-mm wide spokes to minimize reflections back into the cone. The area below the suspended spider mounting shelf is almost completely open, resulting in effective cooling of the motor and the voice coil. For the cone assembly, Motus chose a rather stiff curvilinear profile pressed paper cone with a fairly large (reinforcing almost at the midpoint of the cone) 3.125" diameter concave pressed paper dust cap. Compliance is provided by a nitrile-butadiene rubber (NBR) surround, designed with a shallow discontinuity where it attaches to the cone edge. Remaining compliance comes from a 5.5" diameter flat cloth spider. The Motus UH205PW1's finite element analysis (FEA) optimized motor design is well thought out and incorporates a ferrite ring magnet, a machined undercut pole piece, and dual copper shorting rings. Last, the voice coil is terminated to a pair of gold-plated terminals, appropriately located on opposite sides of the frame. In terms of the UH205PW1's overall physical appearance, this is a really good-looking driver. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, November 2015.  Read the Full Article Online

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