Drawmer Now Shipping MC3.1 Monitor Controller
The new MC3.1 Monitor Controller is now shipping. This is the latest product in the brand's Monitor Controller family bringing an expanded feature set over the MC2.1. Full cue mix facilities, a secondary preset volume control to give repeatable calibrated output, a digital input, Low/Mid/High band solo, individual Mono/Sub select, and external talkback mic input with footswitch control are all new additions. Housed in a stylish aluminum desktop wedge-shaped chassis, with external power supply.  Read More

Media Networking Alliance AES67 Live Demonstrations at IBC 2016
With the broadcast and digital production communities focused on reaching an agreement on a new IP standard for video, the audio equation is well advanced, even if dependent upon an interoperability standard to connect different protocols, such as Dante, RAVENNA, Livewire, and others. During the 2016 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC), the Media Networking Alliance live demos will serve to show how AES67 is the neutral ground upon which dozens of live demos depend.  Read More

Bragi Introduces New Wireless Earbuds Targeting Headphone-Jack Free iPhone 7
German company Bragi anticipated the announcement of Apple's (meanwhile confirmed) headphone-jack free iPhone 7 with an announcement of its own. While some audio companies are directly targeting Lightning connectivity and the benefits of direct digital connection, Bragi decided to make the best use of its technology already developed for The Dash true wireless earbuds to create a new simpler model - The Headphone - focusing on compatibility with any Bluetooth device... including the iPhone.  Read More

Voice Heralds Next-Generation Features in Wireless Speakers and Smart Home Applications 
While IFA 2016 was in full swing in Berlin, Germany, technology market research specialists Futuresource Consulting highlighted the importance that voice will play in next-generation consumer electronics products. Following earlier announcements from Amazon, Google, and Harman, the Berlin consumer electronics show was rich in product previews and demonstrations about the future of personal assistants and voice recognition applications.  Read More

StreamUnlimited Debuts Stream805 and Stream810 Development Modules at IFA Global Markets and CEDIA 2016
StreamUnlimited announced its new Stream805 module, developed in collaboration with Broadcom and Wistron, combining StreamSDK software and Google Cast to create faster turnaround time for audio manufacturers. StreamUnlimited also introduced the new Stream810 module, developed in collaboration with NXP Semiconductors as a high-end streaming device for flagship audio products, including low power portable units. This module is designed to meet THX performance standards.  Read More

Audeze Announces iSINE Series In-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones
Audeze launched its first in-ear headphones with planar magnetic technology, leveraging all the technology of its LCD series, including patented Fluxor magnets and Fazor waveguides. The new iSINE Series models range in price from only $399 to $599, including Audeze's Lightning cable. For the new in-ear headphones, Audeze worked closely with BMW's DesignworksUSA, designing housings that minimize reflections and diffractions and ensure a comfortable, secure fit, in a smaller, lighter package. At 20 grams, these are the lightest planar headphones so far.  Read More

Jabra Unveils Elite Sport Advanced True Wireless Sports Earbuds
True wireless earbuds or hearables seem to be the focus for most of the audio brands in the consumer electronics industry. Given the technology convergence with audiology and communication solutions in this area, we shouldn't be surprised to see announcements from company leaders in those segments as well. At IFA 2016, Jabra launched its first true wireless earbuds under its new Elite franchise with the promise of superior sound, strong battery life, and advanced personalized fitness analysis.  Read More

Sony Announces MDR-1000X Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones and Ultimate "Signature Series" Audio Range at IFA 2016
Sony continued the high-resolution audio focus at IFA 2016, as shown at CES 2016 earlier this year. At the Berlin show, Sony introduced the new MDR-1000X Wireless Headphones with improved noise-cancellation performance, while at the same time releasing its Ultimate "Signature Series" Audio Range, combining reference MDR-Z1R headphones, NW-WM1Z and NW-WM1A Walkman players, and the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier. Unveiled for later release was Sony's first hearable, the Xperia Ear.  Read More


Editor's Desk

Audio Evolution and Design Choices

In the last few days, the consumer electronics community had its eyes on Europe for the IFA 2016 show in Berlin, Germany. The International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) 2016 immediately follows in Amsterdam. The contrast couldn't be higher between the two shows, but both are significant in terms of momentum for key technology transitions.

IFA 2016 was a strong trade show for the latest technology trends, including smart home, wearables, wireless, and mobile.
IFA closed on Wednesday, September 7, and the general sentiment was extremely positive, more exhibitors (1,823 exhibitors, +13 %) and more innovations. Surpassing 240,000 visitors, the trade show for consumer and home electronics was exciting in terms of product introductions, most of which will be available soon. The connected car, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) were clear trends and Smart Home proved to be a very strong segment with many interesting concepts for home automation, lighting, and wireless transmission technologies.
There were less smartphone announcements - probably because brands were aware that Apple was promoting the new iPhone launch event, immediately following IFA's closing - which is always a good thing, allowing more space for other product categories. Many of the announcements at IFA 2016 were basically focused on wearables and wireless technologies, with audio companies trying to update their range of products in time for the holidays, promoting the latest specifications and high-resolution audio.
As expected, voice assistants and voice recognition was a focus topic among audio companies, eager to follow the marketing momentum created with the Amazon Echo and its Alexa SDK. Following portable Bluetooth speakers, the industry is now looking at all variants of "smart speakers," featuring some sort of voice interaction and creating bridges for Internet services. That's a topic I will address in a separate article, since I believe the Voice Personal Assistant trend is bound to expand to other product categories, such as TVs and set-top boxes, something I intend to explore at IBC 2016.
Audeze's Cipher Lightning cable takes digital audio directly from the iOS device and features a built-in DAC, amplifier, and DSP.
Also, the trend toward hearables - that we have been addressing in this space - continues with practically all headphone and speaker brands announcing news products, integrating the latest noise cancelling, digital signal processing, the latest advancements in micro transducers, but, above all, trying to anticipate the arrival of Apple's iPhone 7 and the (now confirmed) removal of the 3.5 mm headphone jack (which, remember, wasn't Apple's decision).
The problem seems to be that, while Apple demands a connection via the Lightning connector, every other mobile device manufacturer is using USB-C connectors. Basically one can be converted into the other using adapters, and companies are responding with removable cables so that users can have the freedom to go for one or the other. This is a good thing. A new challenge then becomes the decision to incorporate the D/A and required amplification and DSP in the cable itself - as Audeze is choosing to do - or create a separate removable device that users can combine with different cables/connectors, as well. That would seem to be the ideal approach, providing space for consumers to acquire separate DAC/headphone amps, which will be one of the fastest growing segments in the next two to three years. It also helps avoid the Apple MFI certification process required when the Lightning connector is directly integrated.
Danish audio design brand Libratone understood the opportunities created by the replacement of the traditional 3.5 mm headphone jack.
The trade-off lies in the need to power/charge another device with an internal battery, while the integrated cable - again, like Audeze designed - could draw the power from the Lightning/USB-C connector on the smartphone or mobile device. In the next few months, we expect to see a variety of approaches and form-factors, naturally depending on Apple's reference designs, in its own brand and also with Beats.
Other manufacturers are taking the opportunity to sell wireless solutions to those consumers less concerned with quality and the superior characteristics of a digital connection from the source, and more interested in the freedom and convenience of wireless. But the wireless audio for mobile is expected to dramatically evolve in the next two years, with the promise of updated technologies and maybe a few surprises from smartphone manufacturers. And now, with the unveiling of Apple's truly wireless AirPods, there's a new raised bar to compete with - even if probably not so much on the design side.
What was also remarkable at IFA 2016 was the number of product announcements in the wireless audio space, starting with Sonos', prior to the opening of the Berlin show and immediately followed by several product introductions, focused on Google Cast integration, high-resolution streaming, and even wireless surround/home theater. Preparing for CEDIA 2016, which will take place next week in Dallas, TX, many audio companies made announcements in the whole-home and multizone audio segment, updating their proposals to offer the latest protocols, more robust configuration, interoperability, etc.
Sonos' announcements safeguard its market position, including opening its ecosystem to key partnerships. But the trend toward wireless streaming for whole-home is also catching up in a strong way among the companies addressing the custom install and home-theater segments. In the past few days, there were significant announcements regarding new installation products addressing this trends: from the possibility of distributing DAC conversion in multiple zones to the direct integration of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth into ceiling and surround speakers.

Apple's innovative new wireless earbuds are the most intriguing thing to come out of the September 7 event. They are extremely advanced, and the design is totally unexpected.
The news which we have been posting online in the last days tell much of that story and we recommend you explore those stories ... and by the way, we now have comments below each post. Of course we couldn't send you this newsletter without a reference to Apple's event, which was unbearably predictable. For the moment, there's not much more to say than what I wrote here. In a few days we might have an engineering update on the W1 chip which powers Apple's AirPods and Beats new wireless products and which, I suspect, also combines Bluetooth with NFC... That should interesting.

From the Vault
A 50W/Channel Composite Amplifier
By Kenneth P. Miller
In this often mentioned project published in audioXpress, April 2001, the author explores the advantages of composite amplifiers and provides a detailed description on how he built his 50 W per channel unit. As Kenneth P. Miller describes: "A composite amplifier consists of two or more operational amplifiers cascaded together with a negative-feedback loop around the entire network. Composites (also called nested-feedback amplifiers), used in electronics for a number of years, widen the bandwidth at high gain, boost slew rates, and lower distortion. In this project, I relied heavily on information in the 1994 Burr-Brown Applications Handbook to design my amplifier, and the circuit thoroughly discussed in bulletin AB-028. This seems to offer higher loop gain, a desirable feature here, since my goal is ultra-low distortion. The composite offers other advantages. For example, you can combine the best qualities of both amps used in the compound, and DC performance of the composite is excellent. Another advantage in my amp is the slew-rate boost.".  Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Test Bench
Tang Band T1-1942S Full-Range Passive Radiator Module 
By Vance Dickason
Tang Band's transducers have been featured in Voice Coil for many years. The company was founded in 1996 in Taiwan with the goal of manufacturing innovative, high-quality drivers. The transducer Tang Band sent to Voice Coil to review certainly lives up to that goal. The T1-1942S is a seriously creative new transducer, and it immediately caught my eye when I saw it on Tang Band's website. I mean, when was the last time you saw a 1" dome in its own cabinet with a passive radiator? Me neither.
The T1-1942S is an augmented full-range system based on Tang Band's W1-1942S 1" full-range dome device. Basically, the W1-1942S is a wide santoprene surround 1" polypropylene dome with a cloverleaf elastomeric damping material that overlays the dome. Other features include a 28-mm voice coil diameter with an operating range specified at 120 Hz to 20 kHz. The T1-1942S is the same driver designed into its own composite enclosure with a built in surround passive radiator, such that the system range is now specified at 78 Hz to 20 kHz. Suggested applications include portable audio, soundbars, and multimedia. Both devices have patented technology, although exactly what is patented is not specified in the literature on either product. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, March 2013.  
Read the Full Article Online

AX September 2016: Digital Login
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VC September 2016: Digital Login
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