RIVA Audio Introduces WAND Series Multi-Space Music System
Audio manufacturer RIVA, the lifestyle brand of Audio Design Experts, Inc. (ADX) is at the forefront of Bluetooth speaker development and electroacoustic design with its patented Trillium audio technology. As previewed earlier at CES 2016, RIVA has announced the launch of its WAND Series, entering the whole-home audio space with new designs, allowing more connectivity options including Wi-Fi, DLNA, DDMS, Airplay, Bluetooth, high-resolution audio (HRA), and extended support for streaming audio services.  Read More

Sonos Announces Expanded Partnerships for Connected Home Listening
Founded in 2002, Sonos is now present in more than 60 countries, and already supports dozens of streaming music providers. Still, the company's networked home sound systems have remained a closed garden concerning software and remote control integration. Now, Sonos wants to change all that and has announced new partnerships with Amazon for voice control, a new level of software integration with Spotify, and control integration with AV control manufacturers such as Crestron, Lutron, Savant, Control4, and iPort, among others.  Read More

Yamaha Introduces R-N402 Receiver and MusicCast Wireless Multiroom Audio Solution
Yamaha wants to redefine the hi-fi experience at home with its MusicCast Wireless Multiroom Audio solution, now available in the new R-N402 integrated network receiver. This elegantly styled receiver combines Yamaha's craftsmanship with the freedom of multi-room music streaming from high-resolution audio sources, music services, and smart devices at an affordable price. The R-N402 features a range of analog and digital sources, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and AirPlay connectivity, USB, Ethernet and DLNA.  Read More

Audio Precision Introduces AGC, Octave Analysis, and Audio-Video Sync Measurement Plugins 
Audio Precision introduced a trio of new measurement plugins for its intuitive and versatile APx audio test software, now offering attack-and-release, fractional octave analysis, and audio-video sync measurements. Each plugin directly integrates with APx software (version 4.3 or later) and adds new capabilities while enabling users to take advantage of built-in APx features such as limits, sequencer control, derived results, and reporting.  Read More

New UK AV Company Lithe Audio Launches Innovative Bluetooth Ceiling Speakers
Bluetooth speakers are one of the leading product categories in consumer electronics and consumers certainly are starting to rely on the convenience of this wireless audio protocol to stream audio from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Now, Lithe Audio, a new UK-based AV brand, has decided to expand the scope of Bluetooth technology to include installation ceiling speakers, enabling an easy expansion of multi-zone audio in any room, from the bathroom to the kitchen or bedroom.  Read More

Parasound Debuts the First Four-Zone DAC and Crossover at CEDIA 2016
Parasound has introduced the ZoneMaster 4 DAX, the first four-zone DAC with crossovers for the custom installation industry. The 4 DAX was designed in response to custom installers who create multi-zone systems based around the Sonos Connect, Heos Link, BlueSound Node or Google Chromecast Audio, and are looking to upgrade their clients' digital sound quality, with unique connectivity for subwoofers, stereo or mono speakers, and system control options.  Read More


Editor's Desk

Hearing More:
First Impressions from Aalborg, DK

The 2016 Audio Engineering Society (AES) International Conference on Headphone Technology took place August 24-26, 2016, in Aalborg, Denmark, at the Nordkraft building - an old power station converted into a mix of community and events center near the city's new music center, Musikkens Hus. Approximately 160 registered participants had the opportunity to attend more than 40 paper and keynote presentations, while 20 companies promoted demonstrations. As Sean Olive, AES conference chair, stated, this was one of the most successful AES international conferences ever and the level of interest largely surpassed the organization's expectations, in terms of sponsorships, number and quality of papers submitted, and registrations. A clear indication of the industry momentum for headphones and in-ear applications, which will certainly continue to be reflected in future AES events, such as the forthcoming AES International Conference on Audio for Virtual and Augmented Reality, to be held on September 30 and October 1, 2016, co-located with the 141st AES Convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Common to all AES conferences is the prevalence of academic and scientific research while allowing very few presentations from the industry itself. Companies sponsoring the events are allowed to exhibit and promote demonstrations, as well submit papers and posters as long as those not contain blatant commercial references. Unfortunately, the strict presentation format doesn't encourage participation from manufacturers with interesting stories to tell. The obsession to avoid commercial-oriented or corporate-related presentations, in my opinion, undermines the main purpose for those who attend, in terms of getting an updated overview of the state of technology. An AES conference should be a space for sharing knowledge, absent from corporate messages and sales promotions - that's perfectly understandable - but because of this orientation, unfortunately the content doesn't reflect the situation in the field.
In the end, this was reflected in the conference, lacking in critical technology areas such as transducer design, materials, and consumer market research in general, which would be the perfect complement for the elevated scientific research that was presented. Of course, the interchange between academic researchers and the companies attending is extremely valuable and creates an excellent opportunity for recruiting new engineering talent - and I am certain this was one of the key aspects at this particular event.
Test and measurement companies, able to focus their marketing efforts on education, and a few companies large enough to "sponsor" the time for their dedicated research and development teams (and willing to actually encourage external engagement), are some of the notable exceptions. Not surprisingly, some of those companies - such as Harman, Dolby, Sennheiser, and GoerTek Audio Technologies - were among the event sponsors and were directly present with product demonstrations, apart from contributing with presentations.
The dichotomy becomes all too apparent when, following the presentation by G.R.A.S. Sound & Vibration, which detailed the advantages in terms of extended frequency response and dynamic range of the new G.R.A.S. 43BB acoustic coupler and benefits in test repeatability with in-ear products of the new G.R.A.S. KB5000 soft silicone pinna (see audioXpress review here), the reaction from most of the scientific research community in the audience was cold and in some cases even hostile. While companies from all over the world seem to be reacting to this solution by placing more orders than G.R.A.S. is able to fulfill, many research and academic institutions are reacting to the fact that this exposes the limitations of existing studies dependent on the current standard 711-couplers used for testing headphones, earphones, hearing protectors, hearing aids, etc.
A full room during three days, more than 40 presentations...
A disconnect was also apparent in the almost complete absence of high-resolution audio (HRA) references, which are the current focus in the audio industry. As Steve Temme, from Listen, Inc., mentioned in the poster, "Challenges of High Resolution Headphone Measurements," (the only reference to the topic), for better or for worse, the industry needs to understand how to simulate and measure above 8-10 kHz, as well as the implications of such signals, such as the fact that "loudspeakers and microphones that measure beyond 20 kHz can exhibit trade-offs in performance (e.g., audible intermodulation distortion)."
Other conference sponsors included Bragi, Comsol, Oxford Digital, Jabra or even the municipality of Struer, promoting is "City of Sound" project. Struer is where Bang & Olufsen is based, and its municipality has developed a project to maintain and renew that DNA in the region, in direct co-operation with Bang & Olufsen, IMG, and Aarhus2017, European Capital of Culture.
All in all, the conference program was wide-ranging and the organization promoted an exceptional event. The summer weather was beautiful in Aalborg during the three days (albeit unexpectedly warm and humid), and the attendance quality was extremely high, allowing for great networking opportunities.
The event also provided some great demonstrations, which clearly indicate that the industry is pushing innovation faster. While many of the papers focused on binaural audio systems and head-related transfer functions (HRTF), essential to realize an immersive listening experience over headphones unique for every individual, the demonstration by Smyth Research of its Realiser A16 3D audio headphone processor (Kickstarter campaign ongoing) was the best possible indication of what the future will hold. The Smyth Virtual Surround (SVS) 3D sound processing technology that drives the Realiser A16 allows for an absolutely perfect emulation of surround/immersive sound (Dolby Atmos content was used in my demo session) and virtually any loudspeaker system and sound room in headphones, combining also personalization and tracking of the user's movements.
Most of the conference sessions focused on perception, sound personalization, and augmented reality with headsets/headphones, but demonstrations from companies such as Harman's virtual headphone evaluation, Hefio's self-­calibrating headphones, or Bragi's demonstration of its wireless earbuds with built-in sensors allowing for head-tracking, confirm that those technologies are getting closer to becoming mainstream.
The pace of innovation in the study of hearing and perception, present in the majority of the papers, are another indicator that efforts currently focusing on headphones and binaural reproduction will also award major contributions toward loudspeakers design. All the current research being done in terms of new concepts, technologies, and possibilities for consumer headphones - sharing many aspects in common with audiology - could also translate to useful concepts, technologies, and possibilities in loudspeakers.

One of the frequent topics addressed in the papers points toward transposing much of the research being done in headphones/earphones to hearing aids and "hearing-enhancers." Still, participants at this international conference seemed to agree that medically prescribed audiology products would remain a separate segment, even if it will soon be possible for consumers to access hearing-enhancing solutions that, in practice, could become important aids for the large percentage of the population that doesn't acknowledge needing a hearing aid: a fascinating perspective for a truly "augmented reality" future.
Of course, the 2016 AES International Conference on Headphone Technology was also full of great presentations, which we intend to detail in a dedicated report and maybe in future editions of The Audio Voice. Just the papers proceedings, without the keynote presentations, are 233 pages. Too much to even list in this space. I am quite certain the AES will schedule a follow up to this Headphone Conference soon, this time allowing for a larger attendance and more product presentations.

Standards Review
Master Quality Authenticated (MQA): Redefining the Source for Music
By Joćo Martins
Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) is a revolutionary end-to-end technology that captures and delivers master quality audio in a file that's small enough to stream or download. And because its source is fully authenticated (by the use of embedded metadata), listeners can be sure they are hearing exactly what the artist recorded and approved in the studio - the same digital music source. After attending several presentations on MQA by Bob Stuart (Meridian Audio and MQA's founder), we knew we needed to dedicate one of our Standards Review articles to the technology and not wait for further developments - which are happening practically every week. In our June 2016 issue of audioXpress, we featured a complete article on "Master Quality Authenticated (MQA): Redefining the Source for Music." The article summarizes the scope of Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) technology - the Digital Origami - as Stuart calls it. More than describing the technical foundations, the key objective is to describe why MQA is important and what it can do for music, helping refocus the debate around quality in music distribution and the technology we currently have available.
Given that this is essential reading for anyone interested in following subsequent MQA-enabled product reviews that audioXpress intends to feature, we have decided to make the article, originally published in audioXpress June 2016, available in its entirety.
Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Test Bench
Scan-Speak D2908/714000 Revelator Beryllium
30-mm Dome Tweeter
By Vance Dickason
Scan-Speak, founded in 1970, remains at its original address in Videbaek, Denmark, and offers the same "no compromise" philosophy that has always been a part of the Scan-Speak mission. Perhaps that is one reason Scan-Speak is still the OEM driver darling of high-end loudspeaker manufacturers worldwide. Scan-Speak exports 95% of its production.) Scan-Speak sent me its D2908/714000, which is the company's second 30-mm beryllium dome tweeter. Scan-Speak's first beryllium dome tweeter was the R3004 Air-Circ Illuminator tweeter, featured in Voice Coil's January 2010 issue. Basically, the new D2098 utilizes the Revelator D29 dome's wide surround concept, but with a 99% pure beryllium dome (sourced from Truextent) coupled to the highly effective and patented Symmetrical Drive (SD-2) neodymium motor system. Scan-Speak's SD-2 motor is composed of a shaped gap area in conjunction with a copper shorting ring (i.e., copper pole cap). Other features include a black anodized aluminum faceplate with a protective grill, a titanium voice coil former, a non-resonant aluminum rear chamber, and gold-plated terminals.
This article was originally published in Voice Coil, February 2013.  
Read the Full Article Online

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