Industry Watch: June

It is with regret that Voice Coil announces the passing of two of our highly esteemed colleagues, Denis Ouellet and Howard Doctor.


Denis Ouellet

Denis Ouellet (1949–2013)

Denis Ouellet, owner of Solen Electronique and a long-standing Audio Engineering Society member, was a man of many talents. He led a full life, nurturing his many interests. His hobby as an aviator and years as a commercial pilot enabled Denis to visit many interesting places and experience adventures, both in the air and on the ground.

Denis provided many colorful anecdotes of his experiences and he had a thirst for knowledge. Solen, a leading producer of “high-end” crossover components based in Quebec, Canada, remains a testament to Denis’s lifelong commitment to his endeavors and pursuits. Denis influenced and inspired many people during his life and he will be missed by his family and many friends.


Howard Doctor

Howard Doctor (1954–2013)

Howard Doctor described himself as an aspiring boulevardier. In his formative years, he participated in pirate radio, became a skilled concert sound engineer, and taught at Grant MacEwan University, in Alberta, Canada. Howard spent many years designing and refining transducers for professional, hi-fi, and automotive applications. As a founder of AVI Sound International, he created a family of exceptional drivers that utilized advanced composites and low-distortion magnetics. His designs can be identified by their performance and remarkable market acceptance.

Howard provided guidance to dozens of manufacturers regarding advanced materials, a task that required auditing 390 different manufacturing operations, worldwide. These audits provided a wealth of information on their strengths and limitations, resulting in a database of 4,600 sources, encompassing every facet of product design, development, production, and quality control. Howard’s skill set included industrial design elements, materials science, structural, mechanical, magnetic, electrical, thermal, and acoustic engineering. He published 170 articles and contributed to textbooks about loudspeaker adhesives and voice coils. He will be missed.

Photo 2: Howard Doctor


Soundcast Systems’s Sale Stalls

The Soundcast Systems’s high-profile sale to former SpeakerCraft CEO and industry icon Jeremy Burkhardt has been canceled. However, Soundcast’s original owners are moving forward with new financing, additional staff, and aggressive product plans. The agreement to sell Soundcast to Burkhardt, announced in late February 2013, included an aggressive and multifaceted 90-day fast-track sale with a short window of exclusivity. Unfortunately, Burkhardt did not close the transaction within the timeline. Soundcast’s owners and leadership team had the option to extend the deadline. Instead, they decided to raise the capital necessary for expansion internally. These new resources will accelerate the 2013 new products-to-market, future product development, increased staff, multimarket expansion, infrastructure enhancements, and the support necessary to execute the aggressive business plan currently underway.

The company’s first new employee is former SpeakerCraft employee Nick Berry (brought in by Burkhardt), who will head up Soundcast’s in-house sales team as director of sales. The company also unveiled two new products in April and will continue its accelerated development of new wireless products, with a number of new models slated for 2013 and 2014. Soundcast, a wireless loudspeaker manufacturer, has one of the most comprehensive patent portfolios for wireless audio. The owners plan to aggressively protect the company’s intellectual property of its wireless audio, digital amplification, and proprietary high-performance battery technologies.


Alpine’s new TuneIt app is compatible with its CDE-147BT CD receiver.

Alpine Launches New App

Alpine Electronics recently launched the Alpine TuneIt app. This unique app is compatible with Alpine’s new CDE-147BT CD receiver with advanced Bluetooth wireless technology. Sound tuning has always been available in aftermarket products, but it is usually used by enthusiasts willing to invest the time to tweak their systems. The Alpine TuneIt app takes traditional sound-tuning functions and makes them accessible via a smartphone app. The new app has full Pandora Internet radio control, enabling users to create new Pandora stations, rate songs, and bookmark songs for later purchase. The rear USB port provides high-speed USB connections to music libraries stored on an iPod, an iPhone, or a USB drive. TuneIt users can add their vehicle’s make, model, and speaker locations to their smartphones. Sound-system settings can then be downloaded to the vehicle. For more information, visit www.alpine-usa.com.


Audio Education Conference

AES 50th International Conference: Audio Education is the Audio Engineering Society’s (AES) first conference dedicated specifically to audio education. The conference—which is set for July 25–27, 2013, at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Murfreesboro, TN—will focus on teaching methods, instructional resources, learning outcomes, technical operations, areas for research, and topics relevant to organizations and individuals that provide theoretical and practical training in audio engineering.

Audio education has expanded significantly worldwide, with many colleges and universities, career schools, high schools, and manufacturers now offering a range of audio courses. However, administrators and faculty face practical questions managing audio as a discipline within educational institutions. The conference’s aim is to address these questions and related topics through a series of presentations, papers, workshops, case studies, and discussions among professional audio educators, trainers, and administrators. The conference will be peer driven and its outcomes will include a collection of formal papers, historical documents, survey instruments, and potential recommendations for resource management and development.

More than 30 peer-reviewed papers and posters have been accepted for presentation along with eight workshops and tutorials focusing on the following topics:

  • Pedagogy, curricular design, and instructional resources
  • Internships, partnerships, employment, and career counseling
  • Industry and professional organizations partnerships
  • Outcomes for secondary, tertiary, and graduate level programs

Murfreesboro is approximately 30 miles southeast of Nashville, TN, an internationally recognized center for music and recording. MTSU’s recording industry program was founded in 1973, making it one of this country’s oldest programs of its kind. For more information, visit www.aes.org. VC

2013 Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook Now Available

Whether you’re an audio executive or simply an audio fan, you’ll find everything thing you need to make informed purchasing decisions in the 2013 Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook,our annual publication that lists speaker-related companies and their products and services.

It’s the most comprehensive loudspeaker industry guide available.

The Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook introduces you to the Bowers & Wilkins CI 800 Series speakers, featured in a custom theater display at a recent ISE 2013 exhibit.

The sourcebook is an excellent reference to keep on hand at your office or lab. You can also research its broad array of audio resources online. Click here to purchase a hard copy of the 114-page guide (at a discount) or view it for free online.

Roughy 230 companies and their products and services are included in the user-friendly

charts of this year’s sourcebook. And it’s easy to contact a manufacturer, consultant, or

This Monitor Audio system is one of several explored in the article “Trends in Loudspeaker Integration,” featured in the 2013 Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook.

distributor directly by referring to the sourcebook’s extensive list of company executives, addresses, websites, and phone and fax numbers.

Also, this year’s sourcebook is much more than an extensive resource for everything from design software and manufacturing equipment, to test equipment, drivers, micro speakers, microphones, and enclosures. We are featuring more articles from experts on where the industry is headed in 2013 and beyond.

For example, one manufacturer examines the popularity of soundbars and how its engineers designed a soundbar-component-system intended to achieve surround-sound quality. Another article discusses the development of speakers that aesthetically integrate into your home’s architecture without sacrificing audio quality.

Another example of an integrated loudspeaker discussed in this year’s Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook.

Those of you who like to test, measure, and simulate the performance of audio devices will find some interesting reading in this year’s sourcebook. Since today’s loudspeakers are small, portable, and widely used with smartphones, the sourcebook offers advice on how to use simulation software to optimize the output and tuning of microspeaker systems. And while you may know that impedance is a standard test measurement for loudspeakers, do you know how to construct and use an impedance test circuit? The sourcebook includes an article explaining how.

There is even more helpful information inside. So jump right in.

 

Member Profile: Pierre Touzelet

Location: Vélizy-Villacoublay, a neighborhood in Paris, France

Education: Aerothermal Mechanical Engineering

Occupation: Pierre worked as a technical director in an engineering company that designs and sets up large vibration systems and acoustic rooms for environmental tests. He retired in 2008.

Member Status: He first subscribed to Glass Audio in 1998 and then subscribed to audioXpress. He is a contributor to audioXpress.

Audio Interests: Pierre likes to concentrate on audio problems that he feels are not satisfactorily explained from a scientific viewpoint.

Current Audio Projects: Pierre is pursuing two areas of research. The first one studies the use of negative feedback on amplifiers and its influence on their sound. The second project focuses on audio transformer behavior and its audio specifications.

Dream System: Pierre said the solutions currently proposed by the audio industry fall short of his concept for a dream system. Until improvements are made, he said he is content to listen “with great pleasure” to his 42-year-old system, which comprises an ESART IS200 tuner-amplifer (with 40 W per channel), a vintage Thorens TD160 LP player equipped with an ADC XLM MKII cartridge, and two KEF 104 Reference Series loudspeakers.

Pierre said the system is perfect for classical music lovers. He added that he never listens to CDs because of their “cold sound and their questionable recording techniques.” Pierre only listens to 33-1/3 vinyl LPs recorded using an artificial head equipped with two microphones because he finds it is still the closest to hi-fi stereo reproduction.

June New Products and News

Photo 1: Audinate enhanced its Dante Virtual Soundcard software.

Virtual Soundcard Gets An Update

Audinate recently improved its Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS) software for Windows. The DVS software enables your PC or Mac to connect your favorite audio application directly to a Dante audio network. DVS uses your computer’s standard Ethernet port on your computer to communicate with a network of other Dante-enabled devices—no special hardware is required.

With the new Windows Driver Model (WDM) mode in V3.2.0, DVS for Windows now adds support for applications including iTunes, Windows Media Player, Skype, and more. PC users can play or record audio from these applications with professional sound quality.

Additional features include: a choice of 64 × 64 ASIO or 8 × 8 WDM mode (it presents as four stereo Windows WDM soundcards), a choice of 44.1- or 48-kHz sample rate in WDM mode, Windows 8 32- and 64-bit support, integrated online help, and clock performance improvements. DVS V.3.2.0 is a free upgrade for current licensees.

Download the Dante Virtual Soundcard V3.2.0 for Windows at www.audinate.com/DanteVirtualSoundcard.


E-Series A/V Receivers Make Entertainment More Accessible

Denon Electronics, a manufacturer of premium home and personal audio products, has launched its E-Series A/V receivers, including the AVR-E400 7.1 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver (SRP: $599), the AVR-E300 5.1 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver (SRP: $399), and the AVR-E200 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver (SRP: $249). All three A/V receivers provide new levels of user friendliness, cutting-edge performance benefits, and home entertainment solutions. The AVR-E400 and the AVR-E300 feature Apple’s AirPlay, enabling users to stream their iTunes music from a Mac or a PC, and stream music stored on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Photo 2: The Denon Remote App enables users to control their multimedia experience.

The AVR-E400 and the AVR-E300 add even more network functionality, enabling users to enjoy music from sources such as Pandora, SiriusXM, vTuner, and Spotify, and view photos via Flickr. The AVR-E400 and the AVR-E300 are also compatible with the Denon Remote App, so users can control almost every aspect of their multimedia experience, including browsing Internet radio and files on a media server, playlist creation, volume, input selection, surround-sound modes, and menu navigation

The new AVR-E400 7.1 receiver provides a surround-sound performance with advanced networking technology and total user flexibility. For example, users can configure the AVR-E400 for a full 7.1-channel system or have a 5.1-channel system in their main room and connect a pair of stereo speakers located in another room. For total system connectivity, the AVR-E400 is equipped with six high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) inputs including five on the rear panel along with one on the front panel, which enables users to connect an HDMI-equipped camcorder, game console, or other portable multimedia device.

Denon’s new AVR-E300 receiver is rated at a maximum of 175 W for each of its five channels and it is equipped with five HDMI inputs including four on the rear panel along with one on the front panel.

The Denon AVR-E200 has a maximum 165-W rating for each of its five channels. The affordable, entry-level AVR-E200 A/V receiver delivers 5.1-channel surround, featuring the latest Dolby and DTS high-definition surround-sound decoding. The HDMI 5.1 receiver also features Denon’s Quick Select function, which provides four buttons on the front panel and on the remote control.

Users can also customize the audio parameters for each source with their preferred sound setting. The AVR-E200 is equipped with four HDMI inputs, including three on the rear panel and one on the front panel. For more information, visit Denon’s website, http://usa.denon.com.


Digi-Key Signs Agreement With GeneSiC

Digi-Key, a global electronic components distributor recognized by design engineers as having the industry’s largest selection of electronic components available for immediate shipment, announced an agreement to distribute GeneSiC Semiconductor’s silicon-carbide technologies.

Founded in 2004, GeneSiC Semiconductor is a leader in silicon-carbide (SiC) technology. Its products play a key role in conserving energy in numerous high-power systems, running faster, cooler, and more efficiently. This efficiency makes the SiC products ideal for increasing efficiency in energy-harvesting applications.

GeneSiC has the largest commercial SiC diodes portfolio, offering a SiC switch. The super junction transistor (SJT) is expected to revolutionize insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) and field-effect transistor (FET) designs for engineers who want higher performance. While others have abandoned the silicon, high-voltage rectifier product market, GeneSiC Semiconductor has been investing in new products. GeneSiC Semiconductor’s products are available for purchase at Digi-Key’s website, www.digikey.com. aX

Q&A: Ray Kimber

Ray Kimber

Photo 1: Ray Kimber is the founder of Kimber Kables.

Innovator Continues to Test the Limits of Kable

SHANNON BECKER: Tell us a little about your background and where you live.

RAY KIMBER: I live in Roy, UT, a suburb of Ogden, UT.  I have always been interested in electronics and audio. In 1955, as a 5 year old, I built a crystal radio kit with help from my father.  Then, without any help or permission from my father, I “borrowed” his pair of army surplus communication headphones. Next, I “borrowed” uninsulated craft wire from my mother’s hobby box—and for insulation, adhesive bandage tape from the medicine cabinet—and wired it into the crystal set. My father worked as an appliance and electronics repairman, so the kitchen table was always filled with projects and test equipment. I was always right there “helping.” The crystal radio kit is long gone now—the victim of too many modifications—but I wanted to be like my dad. So, my interest in audio and electronics, along with my childhood “technical phase,” carried into elementary school, scouting, church,  junior high, and high school.

SHANNON: How and when did you start experimenting with audio electronics?

RAY: Thank goodness for a rich(er) uncle who had a tape recorder in the 1950s. I was enamored with it. And while I was still in grade school, my father would give me unfixable electronics to tinker with (he supervised the application of power). I literally used baling wire (my grandparents were farmers) to graft a tone arm from one phonograph to another one that had a working motor. During high school I became acquainted with the owner of The Hi-Fi Shop in Ogden. The store carried McIntosh, JBL, Fisher, Dynaco, Thorens, Revox, Shure, Rabco, Ortofon, Sony, and TEAC equipment, among others. He also owned KBOC, a stereo FM radio station—I was in heaven. I worked as a DJ, and I built dozens of kits for his customers.

Photo 2: The 12TC cable has two 8-AWG conductors. The cable’s tonal balance is full, rich, and powerful while the musical impact and dynamics reveal three-dimensionality and imaging.

SHANNON: How did your company Kimber Kable come about?

RAY: In the mid-1970s, I was working as an engineer with a professional audio company in Los Angeles, CA.  We had started to design and install equipment in large dance clubs, along with existing studio and commercial projects, and there was a problem with noise. With the advent of disco, the speaker cable was in close proximity to the flashing lights, strobe lights, and neon. Placing the speaker cable in a conduit or other shielding created other problems. I was stumped until I visualized a solution that had the conductors twisting in opposite directions, but with two conductors that wasn’t possible. Then, I remembered a Scout craft called Boondoggle. I promptly went to Yale Radio in Hollywood, purchased hook-up wire, and days later had some hand-braided speaker cable. I fully expected it to reject noise, what I wasn’t prepared for was the obvious difference in sound. Events brought me back to Utah where I pursued the idea.

Photo 3: The PBJ interconnect exhibits simple construction incorporating tri-braid field geometry, VariStrand, Hyper-pure copper conductors, and extruded fluorocarbon dielectric.

SHANNON: What types of products/services does Kimber Kable provide?

RAY: We offer a complete line of speaker cables, analog and digital interconnects, video cables, and power cords. All our products share a familial design structure, but each was designed as a unique “problem solver.” Our goals of great products, performance, and value would not be nearly as compelling without the great service and knowledge of the individuals who’ve made the company possible. Wattgate, WBT USA, IsoMike, and Heatshrink.com are companies under the Kimber Kable umbrella.

SHANNON: In the past 33 years, how has Kimber Kable evolved? What has been your greatest achievement thus far?

RAY: It might be the nontechnical achievement of providing a stable gratifying business for our employees, vendors, and customers.

Photo 4: Ray Kimber’s IsoMike is an experimental recording apparatus and method used to recreate an original performance in direct-stream digital (DSD) high-definition audio.

SHANNON: Can you tell us about your IsoMike demonstrations? How did you start doing them? What do the demonstrations entail? What type of equipment do you use?

RAY: The IsoMike sprang from some curiosity I had regarding series crossovers for loudspeakers. I was curious about how large a space between two microphones would be required before “flanging” would drop to inaudibility if the two microphones were mixed together at the same gain. I then repeated the same experiment but I used gain differential as the factor. Using a sine wave, it turned out to be about a 10’ separation or about 10 dB of differential. However, when using a complex tone, that spacing requirement jumped to about 20’ or about 20 dB. I then concluded that unless a single-point microphone scheme was used, that 20’ plus of separation lowered the flanging effect. But microphones spaced so widely apart would never sound right on a speaker playback (actually they would sound very right and very left, with no center image). Hmmm, I wondered how to make the microphones “think” they were spaced wider than they actually were. I hit on the notion of spacing the microphones at what I considered to be a good width for speaker playback, about 5’ or 6’, and then developing an absorptive asymmetrical baffle to isolate them.

SHANNON: What do you think is the key to sound done right?

RAY: Attention to every detail. You must understand the cost and benefit to each choice in a system. The ability to use both perceived and measured evaluations is also important.

Photo 5: A group of musicians rehearse on stage and use an IsoMike to record their audio sound.

SHANNON: What do you see as some of the greatest audio innovations of your time?

RAY: Radio frequency bending of cabinet materials, cast cabinet materials, astonishingly insightful test and measurement equipment, and direct-stream digital (DSD) have made audio great. Let me use two companies as examples, one relatively under-the-radar and one very well known. Merging Technologies provided the ability to record, edit, and master in DSD and digital eXtreme Definition (DXD). And, Sony for regaining the passion of design and manufacturing in its new SS-AR series of speakers. Audio innovations are great, in part, because of small companies like Merging Technologies with truly great products and Sony, a gigantic company that still has the ability to show soul.

SHANNON: Can you recommend any useful new parts or promising technologies? Is there anything you’re currently using that you think readers should know about?

RAY: The newest generation of DACs are delivering greater fidelity for the dollar, and I am delighted that some of them work in DSD. DSD downloads are gaining ground, we have plans to use the service from Blue Coast Records for our IsoMike downloads. And it warms my heart to see new entries in the turntable, cartridge, and phono preamp lineup. Headphones and the associated headphone amplifiers and portable DACs are also enjoying increasing popularity. aX

Audio Crossword Answers (June 2013)

The answers to audioXpress’  June audio crossword puzzle are now available.

Across

1.    CONSONANCE—Repetitive
3.    TRIGGERDIODE—A DIAC [two words]
4.    RADECHON—Barrier-grid storage tube
8.    WATERFALLPLOT—Cumulative spectral delay [two words]
9.    WINDING—Coiled material
12.    PHASEINVERTER—Two outputs created from a single input, one is identical to the original and the other is a mirror image [two words]
14.    TFTDISPLAY—Uses little electricity and provides a clear flat-screen display [two words]
15.    BIFILAR—Used in bipolar power-supply transformers to improve output voltage symmetry
17.    WALSHDRIVER—Inherently omnidirectional [two words]
18.    DARLINGTON—Resistor type that uses a shared collector
19.    FORWARDBIAS—Voltage applied to a semiconductor’s controlling element [two words]

Down

1.    CODEC—Converts analog signal to digital and the digital signals back to analog
2.    BRANDENBURG—Audio engineer who has contributed to the MPEG Audio Layer 3audio compression format
5.    HARRIESVALVE—Eliminates a tetrode’s kink [two words]
6.    POWERPENTODES—The EL34, the 6CL6, and the 6K6GT are examples of these tube types [two words]
7.    PINCH—It was the early tube’s central part. Lead-in wires were fed through and it mechanically supported the electrode system.
10.    LINESOURCE—A true one extends from floor to ceiling [two words]
11.    SEISMIC—Floor-shaking bass reproduction
13.    SURFACENOISE—aka, needle scratch [two words]
16.    GLITCH—Brief transient spike

 

AX June: Art and Craft

This month audioXpress showcases art and craft in audio design. You’ll find both as you read about handcrafted power cables, updated bookshelf speakers, high-performance ultra-compact drivers, and more.

A few good things came out of the disco era—including a custom-made speaker cable that addressed sound-quality issues arising from cables running near discotheque strobe lights. Ray Kimber devised that handbraided cable, inspiring Kimber Kable company and its handcrafted audio and video cables (p. 27).

Ron Tipton explains how he updated a pair of MTX Audio Monitor 5i 5.25″ bookshelf speakers to use with a new computer (p. 15).

You can best test a newly designed loudspeaker by comparing its sound to what you hear through high-quality headphones. Top-notch amplifiers drive such headphones. George Ntanavaras describes how he built a high-power headphone amplifier (p. 20).

Nine years ago RCF, a global player in pro audio loudspeakers, renewed its commitment to product research, development, and manufacturing in Italy. It has launched many new products since. Vance Dickason tested one—the ultra-compact ND950 1.4 neodymium compression driver and its complementary HF950 injection molded composite horn (p. 34).

If you’re a hobbyist who is considering swapping out rectifier tubes in your audio equipment, you should take a few precautions. Find out what they are in Richard Honeycutt’s article comparing solid- and hollow-state rectifier tubes (p. 30).

Which is better for heating tube amplifiers? Alternating or direct current? It’s an ongoing debate. Gerhard Haas examines the data and concludes that despite the prevalence of AC, DC offers clear advantages for indirectly heating vacuum tubes (p. 12).

Regards,
Mary Wilson
editor@audioxpress.com