Strong Momentum and Awards for MQA at RMAF 2016
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016 in Denver, CO, held on October 7-9, marked the largest-ever public showcase of Master Quality Authenticated (MQA)-ready products, supported by hundreds of MQA albums available to download. The MQA team was recently recognized at the British Engineering Excellence Awards (BEEA), held on October 6 in London, England. And, at RMAF 2016, MQA founder Bob Stuart was awarded the Rocky Mountain International Hi-Fi Press Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award, while the company won the Innovation category for the second year running.  Read More

COMSOL Announces Latest Developments in Multiphysics Modeling, Simulation, and Application Design
Attendees at the recent COMSOL Conference 2016 in Boston, MA, were introduced to the latest developments for multiphysics modeling, simulation, app design and deployment, with COMSOL software version 5.2a, and the latest updates of COMSOL Multiphysics software, COMSOL Server, and COMSOL Client. The latest updates feature major performance increases and provide up to a 10 times speedup for the handling of large models and mesh creation.  Read More

beyerdynamic Introduces Amiron Home Open-Back Headphones at Tokyo Headphone Festival 2016
New at the Tokyo Headphone Festival this October, beyerdynamic unveils the Amiron Home open headphones. The successor to the legendary T 90 features the brand's coveted Tesla technology, with improved tonal precision. The German brand describes the sound of its new Amiron as "warm" and "with a live atmosphere." Apparent in the new design and choice of quality materials is an effort to improve wearing comfort and provide an overall sense of workmanship "Handmade in Germany." Read More

ALC NetworX Extends Audio Networking Interoperability with Free RAVENNA-2-SAP Converter Tool
As the AES67 interoperability standard continues to gain traction, the need for tools to facilitate interoperability increases. ALC NetworX, developers of the high-performance RAVENNA audio networking technology, is, therefore, pleased to announce the release of RAV2SAP, an extremely useful RAVENNA-to-SAP freeware conversion tool designed to help connect RAVENNA devices to other AES67 devices.  Read More

Audio-Technica Introduces Flagship AT-ART1000 Phono Cartridge
Audio-Technica announced the introduction of its new flagship phono cartridge, the AT-ART1000 Direct Power Stereo Moving Coil Cartridge. The AT-ART1000 is an innovative design that has been refined over the years to culminate in an exceptional handcrafted high-end cartridge. The ART1000's Direct Power System places its dual moving coils directly on top of the stylus tip, enabling the cartridge to deliver extraordinary fidelity, musical detail, and transient response.  Read More

THX Sold to Leading Gaming Lifestyle Brand Razer
THX announced that Razer, a global lifestyle brand for gamers, has acquired the majority of the assets of THX, Ltd., and brought onboard the company's management and employees. THX will continue to operate as an independent entity under its own management and apart from the ongoing business of its parent company. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.  Read More

Frontier Silicon and Marvell Showcase New Wi-Fi Multi-Room Speaker Network Optimization Technology
Frontier Silicon, a leading software and development solutions provider for consumer audio devices, and Marvell, which specializes in storage, cloud infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT), connectivity, and multimedia semiconductor solutions, have extended their collaboration to develop a new generation of smart audio technologies. Frontier is including Marvell's Dynamic Multi-Hop Relay (DMHR) technology in its new Google Cast-enabled smart audio module, Minuet.  Read More

Pascal Introduces U-PRO Series Amplifier Modules Optimized for Self-Powered Portable PA and Fixed Install Applications
Danish amplifier module specialists Pascal A/S, announced the release of the new Pascal U-PRO Series. This significant expansion of Pascal's product line features extremely high voltage rails providing unique dynamic power ratings, at a competitive price to dynamic power ratio. The design meets the specific commercial requirements for self-powered, lightweight, portable PA and ultra-compact high output fixed install cabinets.  Read More

Stuart Yaniger

Guest Editorial

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016: Notes From Denver

The Rocky Mountain Audio Festival (RMAF) is one of the top audio-related events in the US. Held over three days in Denver, CO, its major focus is the so-called High End market. As usual for events like this, price and quality don't correlate well, but I'll leave those evaluations to Oliver Masciarotte who will cover that aspect in his show report for audioXpress magazine. I'll only mention two things: turn down the damn woofer and play interesting and non-clichéd music!

Jan Didden discusses his new power supply project, the Silent Switcher module with Bob Cordell at the Linear Audio and audioXpress/Voice Coil table.
My interests lay more in the technical area than marketing, and I was somewhat alarmed by what I experienced. On the positive side, it was delightful to spend time with some of the really creative minds in audio design- people such as Bob Cordell, Bill Dudleston of Legacy, Dimitri Danyuk from Harman, John Broskie of TubeCad, and audioXpress' Jan Didden and Bill Waslo.
Jan was showing off his new power supply project, the Silent Switcher module (which by now has reached four times its funding goal on Kickstarter!), and Dimitri had an astoundingly clever headphone amp design, featuring the new generation of JFETs from one of the last holdout companies producing them, Linear Integrated Systems.
But this was a small niche. Very small. Most people there wanted to hear stories, not be dosed with actual technology. I was amazed - and not a little distressed - to hear absolute nonsense being fed to a sea of nodding heads in room after room. How something sounded wasn't good enough, there had to be invocations of "phase anomalies," "smearing" (that was a popular one!), "time distortion" (I think I saw that on Star Trek), "dielectric effects," and of course "quantum." "Nanotechnology" and "graphene" were also popular buzzwords in the speaker suites. It is impolite, of course, to ask how much of the cone filler is actually graphene...
Much of the entertainment was provided by the wire peddlers. You don't hear much about the sorts of audible effects shown by Dick Greiner and Fred Davis three decades ago - what you hear about is wire performance defects involving physics unknown to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory designers, the kind of defects that would cause Ethernet to not work.
At one exhibitor booth, after listening to a 10-minute spiel about their advanced knowledge of wire and cable design and manufacturing, I asked if the Teflon-silver combination they were showing me ever had any issues with triboelectric noise. Blank looks. Never heard of this. They were quite proud, though, of the non-magnetic properties of their wire and connecters. That's fine except... the next exhibitor was showing wires with all sorts of strong magnets deliberately added to their wires. They also had an accessory that plugs into a wall socket and has a set of sockets into which the audiophile can insert different numbers of magnets in different patterns to "tune" the sound. The striking thing is that both the magnet and non-magnet crews described the improvements in the same way: "Bigger soundstage, a greater sense of resolution, and quieter backgrounds, free of any hashy quality." The assembled crowd was enraptured in both cases.
In another room, there was a fellow demonstrating an entire line of gadgets meant to radiate very low frequency waves into the room, altering your listening experience. No explanation was forthcoming about how a one-half meter or so antenna can radiate a 7 Hz signal. But there were at least a dozen people crammed in the room nodding vigorously when the salesman asked, "OK, hear that difference? Isn't that amazing?"
It was a relief to escape to the rooms where Audio Precision and Prism Sound were showing off their state-of-the-art audio test gear. The amount of measurement power in the hands of engineers these days is incredible, and I intend to review offerings from both of these companies. The engineers were smart, enthusiastic, and proud to show off the fruit of their work. These were real achievements in engineering and design. And, of course, those rooms were nearly empty.

Linear Integrated Systems was showcasing its headphone amp evaluation board designed by Dimitri Danyuk.

The demonstration seen in the picture above is a complete, low-power stereo amp for line level and headphone applications. All active devices are LIS JFETs. Minimum load is 100 Ω, and they will drive that to 400 mW. Power supply is an external 9 to 16 V "brick." The circuit has complementary differential input stages with LSK498 and LSJ689 devices, followed by a gain stage with LSJ74/LSK170 devices, and an output stage consisting of triple parallel pairs of LSK170/LSJ74. A very ingenious servo takes care of offset voltage.
LIS thoughtfully provided a pair of beyerdynamic DT880 PRO headphones for auditioning. People taking the time to listen to a few tracks were invariably favorably impressed. Said one listener: "I just came from the CanJam area and I haven't heard anything there as good as this."
When asked about their plans for this design, LIS representative Paul Norton said that they were thinking about making the PCB and/or partial kit available for builders. More will be revealed at next months' Burning Amp show in San Francisco, CA.

Audio Precision demonstrates the APx515 and APx1701 acoustic test system.

As Bob Cordell remarked, "Things turned out well at RMAF 2016, in spite of the ongoing Marriott renovations. The reduced exhibitor space available required that CanJam be moved to a large tent in the parking lot, but it appeared to be the largest CanJam I've seen and there appeared to be good traffic in the tent. Marjorie Baumert (RMAF director and co-founder) did a magnificent job in the face of the hotel problems. There may have been even more exhibitors playing vinyl this year than last. In at least one room, the exhibitor was only equipped to play vinyl, even though he was not selling vinyl or related equipment. Bad idea. Some people want to hear their system with digital sources."

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From the Vault
HD-2: A Single-Ended Class-A Headphone Amp
By Jim Dungan
This tube headphone amplifier project, which the author created for Vintage Audio, includes a 6SL7GT for the input stage and a 6AS7G for the driver, and is able to drive headphones with impedance at or above 64 Ω. "I decided on a Class-A, single-ended output for several reasons. A headphone amp can operate with very low wattage. A Class-AB amp would be too powerful and, anyway, would linger in the class-A portion nearly all the time with such a low output," Jim Dungan writes. The article provides a full description of design fundamentals and some useful guidance on the construction process. The result, as the author describes, should be "a satisfying headphone amp that will provide years of enjoyment." "Unless you've suffered major hearing loss, you'll never drive this amp into audible distortion. The disadvantages of Class A are the wasted heat and poor power supply rejection. The latter is significant but can be overcome. Headphones can be unforgiving with hum or noise, so you need good power supply filtering." This article was originally published in audioXpress, June 2008.  Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Spotlight
Micro Suspension Part Measurements 
By Daniel Knobloch and Dr. Wolfgang Klippel
This Voice Coil Spotlight reference article details a simple and fast procedure for testing the diaphragm used in microspeakers, headphones, tweeters, and microphones. Component level testing is essential in the transducer industry. Checking stiffness and damping parameters of the spider, surround, and other suspension parts is common practice in the design and manufacture of large woofers. A simple and fast test procedure would be beneficial for testing the diaphragm used in microspeakers, headphones, tweeters, and microphones. Meaningful information comparable to Stiffness KMS and Mechanical Resistance RMS of the Thiele-Small (T-S) parameters is the basis for tuning the production process and for communication between transducer manufacturers and soft parts suppliers. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, January 2016.  Read the Full Article Online

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