Audinate’s new 4×4 channels Dante Ultimo silicon platform will enable more audio networking systems for A/V, conferencing, public address, and broadcast applications. The new Audionate Dante Ultimo (ULT-01-004) solution supports 4 channels in and 4 channels out of uncompressed audio, double the capacity of the Ultimo chip (ULT-01-002) introduced at the beginning of 2013. This family of complete, ready-to-use, single-chip Dante solutions for networked audio products will accelerate the implementation for powered speakers, microphones, AV wall plates, paging stations, intercoms, and analog/digital break-in/break out interfaces, etc. With this announcement, Audinate also confirmed that the complete Ultimo product family will be enhanced to support an increased range of sample rates (44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96KHz); pull up / pull down support; remote signal presence indication; latency monitoring; improved clock statistics reporting; and GPIO pin activation. Audinate also confirms that several OEMs are already developing products based on the new Ultimo features and options, which will be generally available in Q1, 2014.
Primax Acquires 70% Share of Tymphany
Primax Electronics, based in Taiwan and founded in 1984, will acquire a 70% share in Tymphany. Hong Kong, China-based Tymphany is an ODM and OEM speaker supplier for home, car, and pro audio brands. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the year following regulatory approvals. Terms weren’t disclosed.
Tymphany has a proven record of success with a healthy margin and balance sheet. The company has been growing at a pace of 40% a year for the past two years. Primax COO Brian Yang said he expects the acquisition to significantly contribute to Primax’s revenues and earnings next year.
Tymphany said it will continue to operate as an independent company but will benefit from the Primax’s technology offerings and manufacturing capabilities. Primax, which is said to be the world’s largest PC peripheral equipment manufacturer, sells products under its own brand name. It is also an ODM and OEM supplier.
Tymphany, with administrative offices in Sausalito, CA, will retain its existing 2,500-employee work force, partner relationships, and management, including Tom Jacoby, chairman and corporate development officer. Tymphany also owns Peerless, an OEM supplier of speaker transducers.
Primax said the acquisition will help expand its presence in the digital audio market, including Bluetooth speakers, digital music players, wireless audio systems, and so forth. “We believe the combined strength of the audio and acoustic technology of Tymphany and the wireless and electronics manufacturing expertise of Primax will put us in the leading position of serving the needs of the digital audio industry,” according to Primax chairman/CEO Raymond Liang.
With the acquisition, Primax also receives a majority stake in several factories and R&D centers in South China. Tymphany’s 2,500 employees are located throughout China, Europe, and the US.
AudioXperts Closes Due to Lack of Funding
Luxury-audio startup AudioXperts closed its operations October 11, 2013. However, some of its products may make their way into the consumer electronics (CE) market. Eli Harary, AudioXperts founder and industry veteran, explained that the company’s majority investor, a Taiwan-based company with factories in mainland China, stopped funding AudioXperts after reaching an agreed-upon investment level. The investor decided to discontinue funding even though most of AudioXperts’s delayed product line was coming to market almost a year later than planned.
Unfortunately, AudioXperts reached its investment cap due to design, engineering, and build delays. One product, a TV sound base, was recalled due to quality issues. Other products had to be reworked to meet quality levels. This is not uncommon. coNEXTion Systems, a former CEDIA HT and distributed audio startup, closed for similar reasons (although it did not experience quality control issues).
It seems some Chinese companies that invest in US CE startups don’t understand the way the US does business. This is unfortunate since the potential for success when combining US engineering and marketing with China’s manufacturing can be powerful.
Although Harary explained to the investor’s board that most products were just now coming to market, the board was not willing to continue funding the company. As for the brand’s future, Harary said it is possible, but unlikely, that he will find another investor to operate the company as it was. However, he noted that perhaps the product designs and tooling may be sold to another company that could bring the products to market. AudioXperts attended this year’s CEDIA Expo to promote its new products. Unfortunately, the majority of AudioXperts’ employees have been permanently laid off.
Leon Speakers Acquires Media Décor
Founded in 2003, Media Décor manufactures high-end concealment products, including art lifts, moving art, and flat screen TV mounts. Leon Speakers acquisition of Media Décor expands its portfolio of high-end, custom-tailored loudspeakers with TV enhancement solutions and provides new commercial and residential business opportunities.
Lenbrook Launches Bluesound Brand
Lenbrook Industries has launched a new brand called Bluesound. The Bluesound designs are the company’s first wireless multi-room audio products, specifically positioned to be a step up from the Sonos brand’s wireless-audio systems in performance and price. Lenbrook, which markets audio components and speakers under the NAD and PSB brands, is pursuing a more limited distribution strategy than Sonos, targeting about 100 A/V specialists. Lenbrook is also exploring an opportunity with Magnolia Home Theater and Magnolia Design Center stores.
Bluesound’s first five products have already been delivered to approximately 40 A/V specialists in the US, primarily current NAD or PSB dealers. After the International CES in January 2014, the company plans to expand distribution to about 100 specialists and possibly Best Buy’s Magnolia Home Theater, which sells NAD and PSB headphones but not NAD or PSB audio components.
An engineering team that included most of Lenbrook’s NAD and PSB engineers developed this new product line, and the company is promoting the new brand’s connection to the NAD and PSB brands’ hi-fi heritage. Bluesound is targeted to music enthusiasts who are unfamiliar with the types of audio components made by companies such as NAD/PSB but who are interested in high-performance audio.
Product development began a little more than three years ago with a mission to create an accurate and musical sounding brand that would attract a broad audience of music enthusiasts, not just audiophiles. The concept was to target music enthusiasts who like the convenience of wireless and are willing to pay more for serious hi-fi performance.
The Bluesound product line includes the $699 Power Node streamer/amplifier, the $449 Node streamer without an amplifier for connection to existing sound systems, the $699 Pulse active biamplified tabletop speaker/streamer, and the $999 Vault streamer/ripper, which also lacks an amplifier. The brand offers the $999 Duo 2.1 speaker system. It can be used with the Power Node, which features an EQ switch to optimize playback through the Duo.
The streaming products, which use Apple and Android mobile devices as system controllers, stream music over a home network via 802.11 b/g/n or via wired Ethernet from a networked PC, Mac, or NAS drive, none of which need to run Bluesound software or use Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) technology. The devices also stream music from the brand’s Vault, which combines a wired streamer with a CD ripper, and 1TB of storage for music files ripped in the MP3 and lossless FLAC formats.
All the products also incorporate the TuneIn app, which streams music from radio stations worldwide and from the radio music service. Additional music services will be added as the brand progresses. The Vault also streams from a networked computer, similar to the Sonos motif. When a USB-connected Bluetooth dongle is plugged into the Bluesound streamers, users will be able to stream music from a mobile device to the Bluetooth-connected component, which in turn will retransmit the music via Wi-Fi around the house to the other Bluesound streamers.
Triad Releases New Behind-Wall Speakers
Triad Speakers has released an upgrade to its behind-the-wall Invisible Designer Series Speakers. The new DS700se is Triad Speakers’s first two-way model behind-wall speaker (see Photo 1). It features wider frequency response from 50 Hz to 20 kHz, deeper bass, improved midrange and treble response, and 200-W peak per channel power handling.
The DS700se, which joins seven single-panel models, consists of two separately mounted flat vibrating honeycomb panels per channel, one panel for lows and one for highs.
The other Designer speakers use one full-range panel per channel. As with previous designs, the rigid aluminum-honeycomb panels are cut into the wall, and their paper skins are covered with plaster, drywall compound, or mud skims to completely hide the speakers by blending them into the wall. The DS700se panels fit between the wall studs in typical home construction and require a mounting depth of only 2”.
The flat-panel technology enhances off-axis response when compared with traditional speakers. This is true, in part, because the radiating panels are larger in size than a typical driver, according to Triad engineer David Nelson. Separate placement of low- and high-frequency panels also makes placement more flexible to deliver the best imaging, Nelson added. The high-frequency panel measures 17.7 ” × 13.6” × 1.6” and the low-frequency panel measures 17.7 × 7.9 × 1.6.”
The panel costs $2,250 per channel, which includes a HPF-2 limiter/filter protection unit. For more information, visit www.triadspeakers.com.
NTI America Celebrates 10th Anniversary
NTI Americas is marking its 10th anniversary serving North, Central, and South America with NTi Audio products and services. The formation of NTI Americas was announced 10 years ago at the 2003 New York AES convention.
The company provides factory support, sales, parts, service, and ISO calibration for all NTi Audio test equipment in the entire western hemisphere of North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean and other island locations.
Located in Tigard, a suburb of Portland, OR, NTI Americas represents NTi Audio at trade shows and technical conferences each year in the US and Canada. Its Oregon facility includes state-of-the-art calibration, electronic measurement equipment, and parts providing everything from a quick check up on an NTi Audio instrument to a complete overhaul and re-calibration.
During the past decade, NTI Americas has developed clients all over the hemisphere. In addition to the major pro audio, recording, and broadcast companies, other customers include major mobile device and telecommunication manufacturers and software companies, universities, colleges, research labs, production facilities, performance venues, aerospace, scientific, and military clients (e.g., NASA, NOAA, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Embraer, and the armed services).
In recent years, there has been major growth in the environmental, community noise, and life safety/security areas, leading to clients ranging from environmental agencies to the major transit systems. According to Thomas E. Mintner, president and owner of NTI Americas, “We’re grateful that over the last 10 years, NTi Audio has provided us with a continuous and growing portfolio of new high technology audio and acoustical measurement products to serve a wider and wider range of noise, audio and acoustics-oriented users.” For more information, visit www.ntiam.com.
CEA Study Shows 38% of Consumers Use Multiple Channels for Purchases
About 38% of brick-and-mortar shoppers end up making their consumer electronics (CE) purchases at retailers’ websites, according to a new CE study. The report, from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), also indicates that just under half (45%) of brick-and-mortar customers use their mobile devices to help them shop while in stores, and 4% will use them to make a purchase.
Still, brick-and-mortar stores retain the bulk of visitor business with 69% of purchases. What’s more, 86% of CE storefront shoppers said they use physical showrooms for product examination and returns, and 84% said they make purchases there.
The study also indicated that 89% of CE buyers use retailers’ websites to compare prices and read product reviews, while 84% compare product features online. Among those using mobile devices while shopping in stores, 54% access them to search for product information, 46% compare in-store prices with e-tailers, 42% compare the retailer’s in-store and online prices, and 42% price shop other physical retailers.
The study concluded that 38% of CE shoppers use a physical retailer’s online channels when looking to buy a CE product.
According to Rhonda Daniel, CEA’s senior manager for market research, it is imperative that physical CE retailers have a well-defined multi-channel strategy. Creating seamless and fluid relationships across channels (websites and showrooms) will enable physical retailers to play an integral and uninterrupted role along the entire path to purchase. The complete study, “Multi-Channel Alignment for CE Retailers with Physical Stores,” is available free to CEA member companies at Members.CE.org. Non-members may purchase the study for $999 at the CEA store.
Holiday Sales Predicted to Rise
Holiday sales are expected to increase 3.4% from last year, according to a new retail report by the trade group International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The ICSC report maintained that its November to December forecast is up slightly from the 2012 holiday season, even though retailers are anticipating more modest sales. Despite the mixed outlook, and the economy’s “mini-cycle slowdown” over the last three quarters, this year’s holiday sales environment is looking up, according the ICSC.
Along with reduced price discounting, ICSC is also projecting a 13% increase in online and other direct sales this holiday season. Additionally, holiday hiring, which directly correlates to holiday spending and can often help forecast a stronger sales performance, is set to grow 0.5% over last year’s holiday hiring.
The ICSC’s 3.4% forecast comes in right between two previous sales projections. Earlier this month, ShopperTrak, a global retail sales consultancy, projected a 2% increase in holiday sales for November and December, while Deloitte, a financial consulting company, forecasted a gain of as much as 4.5% for the November to January period.
NEAR Returns to Consumer Products
New England Audio Resource (NEAR) returned to the CEDIA Expo (September 25—28, 2013 in Denver, CO) for the first time in 14 years to launch a line of all-environment speakers and a companion amplifier for residential applications. Based in Gardiner, ME, NEAR has been focusing on the commercial speaker products following its acquisition by Bogen Communications in 1999. Based in Ramsey, N.J., Bogen Communications is a commercial audio products supplier. Since its acquisition, NEAR’s lineup had been aimed primarily at commercial applications, though NEAR products did sometimes cross over into residential channels when Bogen distributors sold to residential contractors.
Now, NEAR is reentering the residential market, according to NEAR founder and chief product engineer Bill Kieltyka. With consumers growing interest in outdoor audio, NEAR thought it was time to launch an entirely new line designed specifically for the residential contractor.
Although NEAR has essentially been out of the residential channel for more than a decade, the company has been continually advancing its knowledge of what it takes to produce audiophile-grade speakers that can withstand the most brutal conditions in all environments. Developing outdoor speakers for commercial applications enabled the company to take its spider-less, magnetic-suspension metal-cone drivers to new levels of reliability under the most brutal conditions.
The new NEAR residential products include four full-range bracket-mounted speakers—the LB 4, the LB 5, the LB 6, and the LB 8 (see Photo 2). The lineup also includes three full-range speakers designed to be partially buried in the ground—the IG 5, the IG 6, and the IG 8—and the 12” IGS 12 subwoofer.
The new speakers use NEAR-developed spiderless magnetic-fluid suspension woofers. The full-range models are two-way coaxial models with aluminum-dome drivers. The line also includes a 2 × 600-W 6XL amplifier designed for use with the NEAR speaker systems. It features onboard selectable high- and low-pass filters for use in outdoor systems that include a subwoofer. The 6XL drives both 70-V and 8-Ω speakers, thanks to a transformer-less output topography. The LB models are available in black or white. The IG and IGS models are available in a terra-cotta color.
Cosmetically, NEAR’s new speakers feature designs from Allen Boothroyd’s design studio. The LB models, for example, use an unusual lever-locking system and pre-terminated connection leads to make installation and positioning easier and safer.
The IG and IGS models feature a “bee-hive” shape that provides security when partially buried. However, the design also lends itself to freestanding applications.
KEF Releases THX Architectural Speakers
KEF officially added its name to the short list of loudspeaker manufacturers that are offering THX-certified architectural speakers (only two other companies—Klipsch and Atlantic Technology—offer THX architectural speakers). KEF’s new products consists of two THX Ultra2 in-wall left, center, or right (LCR) speakers due in January, an Ultra2 round in-ceiling speaker due in December, and an in-wall subwoofer due in January. Two subwoofers used together will qualify for Select2 certification, and four subwoofers will deliver Ultra2 THX performance.
The two three-way LCRs are somewhat unique and use an aluminum front baffle with a perforated-metal bezelless grille. Optional black and white fabric grilles leave a quarter-inch of aluminum exposed around the baffles’ perimeter as an aesthetic option. One of the LCRs, the Ci5160RL-THX, retails for $3,000 each, and the smaller Ci3160RL-THX retails for $1,700 each.
The Ci5160RL-THX contains four 6.5” woofers and a 6.5” midrange with a concentrically mounted tweeter based on KEF’s UniQ design (see Photo 3). The Ci3160RL-THX has two 6.5” woofers and a 6.5” midrange with a concentrically mounted tweeter. The required cutout is 8.2” × 26”. The round in-ceiling speaker is the two-way $800—each Ci1200RR-THX with 8” woofer and concentrically mounted 1.5” dome tweeter. The speaker features a narrow-bezel grille.
The in-wall subwoofer is the Ci3160RLb-THX with three vertically arrayed 6.5” woofers on an aluminum baffle. The $1,000-each subwoofer is matched to a $1,000-each 2 × 250-W KASA500 amplifier that can drive two subwoofers simultaneously. The rack-mountable Class-D amplifier incorporates DSP for active equalization. The amplifier and the subwoofer will be available in January.
Artison’s New In-Wall Subwoofers
Artison recently unveiled four new in-wall active subwoofers, all with dual drivers in a reactance-canceling configuration to prevent cabinet and wall vibrations. Non-mass concealing in-wall subwoofers produce cabinet and wall vibrations that reduce audio output and clarity, not to mention disturb people in adjoining rooms. The subwoofers fit flush in standard 2 × 4 walls.
The four models include the $900 RCC 320 PC (see Photo 4) and $1,500 RCC 640 PC, both for preconstruction installations, and the $900 RCC 320 R and $1,500 RCC 640 R for retrofit applications. Their companion subwoofer amplifier is the $800 RCC 620 SA. The amplifier and the 320 models ship in October, and the 640 models ship in November.
They all feature all-aluminum enclosures, IP 65 waterproof rating for high-moisture environments, high-efficiency drivers with extended throw to produce accurate extended bass, and low-profile decorator grilles. The amplifier can drive multiple subwoofers at a time. However, the enclosures are small to increase application options without sacrificing performance, according to the company, which is owned by Cary Christie, one of Infinity’s original founders.
To reduce the size to fit in a standard wall and to provide a reactance-canceling configuration, the RCC 320 PC and RCC 320 R use two pairs of 4” × 6” drivers, while the other two subwoofers use four pairs of 4” × 6” drivers. Each pair of drivers faces each other inside the cabinet, and sound is vented through a horizontal slot in the baffle.
In the preconstruction models, only a narrow grille that covers the vent is visible to homeowners. The retrofit models use larger grilles. The paired drivers are driven in phase so that cone motion is in unison, but physically out-of-phase, thus canceling each driver’s reactive forces, according to Christie. The configuration also enables the use of smaller, lighter, more accurate drivers that are collectively more efficient and have more power handling capacity than a single larger driver. An all-aluminum enclosure was chosen because of its stiffness and thinness, which maximizes interior volume.
The outboard rack-mount Class-D amplifier delivers 400 WRMS into one subwoofer and 600 WRMS into two subwoofers. It features DSP-based preamplifier, music, and movie modes selectable via amplifier IR codes, 0°-to-180° digital phase-shift adjustment, signal-sensing on/off, 12-V triggers, IR jack, balanced XLR input, and adjustable low-pass crossover from 40 to 160 with 12 and 24-dB/octave cutoff slopes.
Separately, Artison is showing a new custom-installed speaker designated for rear- or side-surround applications.
The Mezzanine 8 speaker is designed for in-wall or in-ceiling placement (see Photo 5). It is shipping at $600 per pair. It joins a LRSIW in-wall speaker designated for left, right, and surround applications.
The Mezzanine’s four drivers consist of two mid-woofers and two silk-dome tweeters in a sealed enclosure. The tweeters are mounted at a 60° angle to one another and are wired out of phase to create a nondirectional acoustic pattern above 3 kHz, enveloping listeners “in three-dimensional space,” the company said.
The dual mid-woofers are wired in-phase to generate a point source to provide precise locations for action and reality scenes. The enclosure is molded in ABS plastic with glass fiber for strength and durability. Mounting depth is only 3.5”. It ships with a round, paintable grille for in-ceiling use and an optional square grille for wall placement.
Solid State Logic (SSL) has been a dominant console designer and manufacturer for music, broadcast, and post production for more than 35 years. However, SSL had never produced a product specifically designed for live audio production, until now. SSL’s reputation and business was built on visionary operational design and benchmark-quality standards in audio reproduction and manufacturing so expectations were high.
The early response to the SSL Live from front of house (FOH) and monitor engineers has been extremely positive. The more operators who see it, the more the excitement surrounding the console grows. The console’s operational flexibility, sonic performance, and the sensation of “finger painting with audio” via the gestural touchscreen are among the highlights. The on-board effects and channel processing toolkit and the SSL Blacklight system, which simplifies running audio and control between console and stageboxes, delivers a surprising amount of power at a compelling price.
The first three consoles shipped to UK-based Britannia Row, a global tour production company, for use on Peter Gabriel’s European “Back to Front” tour. Another two shipped to SGroup in France. Console manufacturing production for 2013 has been sold out since July. Details of the new commercial partner network for SSL Live are available on the SSL website.
SSL’s CEO Antony David said, “The on-schedule completion of the new Live console is an important milestone for SSL. This has been one of the biggest developments we have undertaken for some time and marks the first application of our new Tempest digital platform. We have been very encouraged by the response from mix engineers, rental companies and our channel partners since we presented the console in April this year. Demand has substantially outstripped our initial production plans, but we will return to reasonable lead times by early 2014.”
Since April, SSL has expanded its Live product team with key hires that include Jason Kelly as Live Consoles Product Manager based in the UK office and Jay Easley as Vice President of Live Consoles to lead SSL’s live sector sales operation in North America. Certified training courses have also commenced, with a focus on commercial partners and initial purchasers. A training program for the wider operator community is scheduled to begin in January 2014.
The SSL Live will be exhibited at ISE in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) in February 2014 and at Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt (Germany) in March 2014. In June 2014, the company will also exhibit at InfoComm (Las Vegas, NV).
Solid State Logic
The new Drawmer MC2.1 Monitor Controller combines the complexity of several mix-checking features with the fidelity and transparency of the highest quality monitoring circuit. This versatile and intuitive unit offers multiple inputs and outputs, including a dedicated mono output, speaker-level matching, two headphone amplifiers, mix-checking controls, and talkback, resulting in a complete studio tool.
The MC2.1 uses an ultra-low noise and transparent circuit design with a linear power supply, low-hum toroidal transformer, and internal voltage selector switch with timed relay protection on all three stereo-balanced speaker outputs. It also offers a dedicated mono speaker/subwoofer output, to prevent power up/down bangs. The unit features comprehensive mix-checking facilities including Left/Right Cut, Phase Reverse, Mono, Dim, and Mute. The controller provides paralleled custom quad potentiometers on main and headphone level controls for excellent channel matching and a smooth feel.
The four inputs use balanced Neutrik XLR connectors, with a balanced Neutrik XLR/jack combination input and shared auxiliary phono or 3.5-mm jack. The unit is packaged in a rugged steel 2U chassis with a stylish brushed aluminum cover.
Drawmer is Yorkshire-UK-based company, founded in the 1980s by Ivor Drawmer, whose passion was designing audio circuits.
Drawmer Electronics, Ltd.
CEDIA 2013 Manufacturers’ Excellence Awards
The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) has announced the 2013 Manufacturers’ Excellence Awards finalists. Thirty-one product finalists were named in the Best New Product category and two product finalists were named in the Sustainable Lifestyle Product Innovation category. The award winners were announced at a press conference on Friday, September 27, at the 2013 CEDIA EXPO.
In addition, winners were also recognized at the annual Electronic Lifestyles Awards Celebration on Saturday, September 28. Both events occurred after this issue was printed. Winners will be announced in Voice Coil’s November issue. The loudspeaker-related finalists included:
- Core Brands (CEDIA founding member)—Niles Cynema Soundfield In-Wall Soundbar (see Photo 1)
- Sonance (CEDIA founding member)—Sonarray SR1 System outdoor speaker system (see Photo 2)
- Sonance—SLS High Output outdoor speaker system
- Sonance—Visual Performance VP66 In-Wall Speaker
CEDIA Benchmarking Surveys
If you manufacture loudspeaker products for the custom install market, it is important to stay informed with the installer network. CEDIA has released key findings from its 2013 Benchmarking Surveys, which evaluate the performance and the state of home technology professional companies for 2012 and reports on 2013 expectations.
The results conclude that home technology professional companies continue to experience moderate growth, focusing on operational efficiencies (historically, one of the largest prohibitors of profitability) and are ready to bring in additional staff to accommodate a growing workload.
The 2012 survey participants expected a revenue increase of 12% from 2011. The 2013 participants reported a 10% actual increase and an 18% expected increase in 2013.
The median number of employees stayed flat from 2010, 2011, and 2012 with six employees per company (full- and part-time), while revenue per employee rose from $135,000 in 2011 to $145,950 in 2012. However, participants indicated they will increase their staff by 14% in 2013.
In 2012, there was a stronger commitment to operational efficiencies with 80% of the participants reporting that they focused on standardizing operational practices in 2012 for increased profitability. This was the most applied tactic out of the 10 presented.
Of the participants offering recurring monthly revenue services, the percentage of companies offering remote network monitoring and diagnostic services continues on a strong positive trend (e.g., 16% in 2011, 32% in 2012, and 41% in 2013).
The survey report, compiled by Profit Planning Group, provides detailed benchmarks, best practices, and trend analysis based on data collected from home technology professional companies. All the survey participants received a customized report comparing their companies to similar-size companies, the industry median, and the most profitable industry companies. This custom report also included a suggested action plan for increasing profitability and trend analysis for participants of more than one year. The estimated value of this custom analysis is $2,500.
For the first time, CEDIA is also offering free condensed versions of the reports to all CEDIA members as a membership benefit. The full survey reports are available for purchase through the CEDIA Marketplace at the following rates:
- 2013 CEDIA Benchmarking Survey—Finance, Project Management, & Marketing: $700 for members/$1,200 for non-members
- 2013 CEDIA Benchmarking Survey—Staffing, Benefits, & Compensation: $300 for members/$800 for non-members
For more information about the CEDIA Benchmarking Surveys and member report access, visit www.cedia.net/benchmarking or e-mail email@example.com.
First Annual TWICE VIP Awards
The nominations were submitted, the voting took place, and the selections were made for TWICE magazine’s first-ever products awards—the TWICE VIP (Very Important Product) Awards.
Retailers and distributors voted online for the TWICE VIPs, honoring the products that have made the biggest differences in their businesses.
Retailers and distributors voted on products in specific categories based on product features, product design, and consumer value. The eligible products retailed in the US, or were scheduled to be sold at retail, from fall 2012 to spring 2013.
The categories included:
- Accessories: gaming peripherals, HDMI cables, headphones less than $300, headphones more than $300, health and fitness technology products, mounting accessories, power and charging devices, projector screens, smartphone accessories, and tablet accessories
- Camcorders: action video camcorders
- Cameras: DSLRs (interchangeable lens) and point-and-shoot cameras
- Car: connectivity to mobile device for in-dash head units, remote security/convenience system controlled from a smartphone, and car speakers
- Computers and Tablets: tablets and laptops
- Home Audio: A/V receivers $699 or less, A/V receivers more than $699, iPod/iPhone docking speakers, portable wireless speakers, soundbars at $499 or less, and soundbars more than $499
- Major Appliances: bottom-mount refrigerators and high-efficiency (HE) washers
- Video and TVs: big-screen flat-panel TVs (42” to 55”), big-screen flat-panel TVs (58” and larger), streaming IPTV set-top devices, and home-theater projectors
Loudspeaker-related winners were:
- Headphones More Than $300: Polk UltraFocus 8000
- Headphones Less Than $300: Skullcandy Crusher
- Soundbars $499 or Less: Harman International JBL Cinema SB200
- Car Speakers: Pioneer Electronics TS-A1605C 6.5” Component Speaker
- Soundbars at More Than $499: Samsung Electronics HW-F750 2.1-Channel (see Photo 3)
Loudspeaker engineer Jim Hunter wears many “hats” at Klipsch, among them is company historian. Keeping the historical records of Paul Klipsch is important for Klipsch, and to the rest of us. Paul Klipsch was an important pioneer in the loudspeaker industry and knowing the “rest of the story” is fascinating. To that end, Hunter (who gave a great presentation on Klipsch history at the 2013 ALMA Symposium) has recently updated Paul Klipsch’s historical information on the Klipsch website (www.klipsch.com/founder).
Advanced Audio Systems Engineer Joins MISCO
Richard Field has joined MISCO, a US-based global manufacturer of speakers and audio systems, as a design engineer (see Photo 4). Field has a BS from Southern Illinois University in audio electronics. His loudspeaker engineering career spans more than 25 years. He was an automotive transducer specialist for Harman. He also designed transducers, loudspeakers, and active systems for Klipsch. One of Field’s noteworthy designs was the award-winning Klipsch ProMedia series of personal audio systems. Field also spent three years at Loudspeaker Component designing cones, tools, and processes.
“Richard’s love of loudspeakers shows in his long list of successful and profitable designs,” said Dan Digre, MISCO’s general manager. “[This] makes him a perfect fit for our seasoned engineering team. Richard had the good fortune to work directly with audio engineering luminaries such as John Eargle and Richard Small. And he has vast experience interacting with manufacturing facilities around the world. We’re really looking forward to working with Richard and everything he brings to the MISCO engineering team.”
Onkyo’s Active Soundbar
Onkyo has launched its first active soundbar and TV-speaker base. The new products join a 2.1-speaker home theater system in the Envision Cinema product series, which are designed to deliver home-theater audio with simple setup (see Photo 5).
The LS-B50 soundbar and wireless subwoofer has a $699 suggested retail price. The LS-B50 also doubles as a music system and will “talk” to Bluetooth and USB ports, which play audio from smartphones, tablets, and mass-storage devices. This soundbar features Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding, one optical input, one coaxial input, and one analog input.
As with the Onkyo Envision series’ $499 LS3100 2.1-speaker system, the LS-B50 is preprogrammed with the IR codes of nine major TV brands so it can be controlled from a TV remote. However, it is also equipped with its own remote. The LS-B50 also features a six-channel amplifier and proprietary AuraSphere DSP, which according to Onkyo, expands the traditional audio sweet spot from directly in front of the TV to the entire room. The technology manages equalization and sound pressure levels (SPL) in real time to create a “realistic 3-D immersion field” from PCM stereo and Dolby Digital audio sources, the company added.
The LS-B50 soundbar features six 2.75” diameter full-range drivers, two 1.19” diameter ring-radiator tweeters, and wireless 6.5” subwoofer. Three sound modes optimize playback of different audio content. The News mode cleans up and projects dialog more intelligibly. The Movie mode enhances the movie soundtracks’ impact. The Music mode delivers more balanced sound across the frequency range. The output is 40 W into 4 Ω. It comes with a wall-mounting kit and IR flashers for flexible placement options.
Sony’s 7.1-Channel Soundbar
Sony has launched the HT-ST7, a new “high-end” $1,299 soundbar (see Photo 6). The 7.1-channel HT-ST7 soundbar, which does not carry the Sony ES high-performance series designation, is now sold at Sony Stores and electronics retailers nationwide (e.g., Best Buy).
The product, engineered in collaboration with sound engineers at Sony Pictures Studios, features an aluminum chassis that incorporates Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoders, nine independent speaker drivers, seven amplifier channels, three HDMI inputs, an HDMI output with audio return channel, three S/PDIF digital audio inputs, one analog-audio input, magnetic-fluid speakers, S-Master digital amplifiers, and S-Force Pro Front-Surround technology. The HT-ST7 also features built-in wireless Bluetooth and supports AAC and aptX streaming over Bluetooth. The soundbar’s nearfield communication (NFC) technology enables users to tap their mobile Bluetooth devices to establish Bluetooth connections and stream music.
Vizio Launches Three New Soundbars
Vizio has added three more soundbars, the S2929w, the S3820w, and the S3821w, with built-in Bluetooth to its 2013 lineup. The three new soundbars are in addition to the two models shipped earlier this year at suggested prices of $249 and $329. All the soundbars are wall mountable.
The $79 S2920w shipped in September and the $119 S3820w and the $179 S3821w were available in August. The $79 model is sized for 32” TVs. the other two soundbars are sized for 42” TVs. The two step-up models currently shipping are designed for 47” TVs.
Among the three new models, all but the S2920w feature Dolby Digital decoding. All three soundbars feature DTS TruVolume, DTS TruSurround technology, optical and coaxial digital inputs, and an analog RCA input. The S3821w model includes a wireless outboard 6” subwoofer. The S2920w delivers 95-dB SPL and 90-Hz bass response. The S3820w raises the output to 98 dB and deepens bass response to 65 Hz. The S3821w model delivers 100-dB SPL and 50-Hz bass response. All the soundbars share a design inspired by Vizio’s near-borderless M-Series Razor LED smart TVs.
Vizio’s top-end $329 S4251w is a 5.1 system that includes wireless surround speakers and a wireless subwoofer. Vizio uses its online social community, Vizio Fandemonium, to promote the products and give its fans exclusive access to a custom Pandora station and a chance to win a DTS-equipped soundbar.
CEA Consumer Confidence Study
Consumer confidence in the overall economy improved slightly, while sentiment toward technology spending remained flat in July, according to the latest figures from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The CEA’s Index of Consumer Expectations (ICE), which measures consumer expectations about the broader economy, increased 2.3 points in July to reach 167.8. The ICE remains 5.1 points lower than in July of 2012. The CEA Index of Consumer Technology Expectations (ICTE), which measures consumer expectations about technology spending, decreased 0.3 points in July to 86.2. However, the ICTE is 2.9 points higher than the July average over the last three years.
The CEA Indexes comprise the ICE and ICTE and are updated on a monthly basis through consumer surveys. New data is released on the fourth Tuesday of each month. CEA has been tracking index data since January 2007. To find current and past indexes, charts, methodology, and future release dates, visit CEAindexes.org.
Designed to help live sound professionals meet the most demanding and complex workflow challenges, the Dugan-VN16 card offers a modular, integrated solution that improves audio quality and simplifies mixing for multi-microphone applications.
Developed and manufactured by Dan Dugan Sound Design, the Dugan-VN16 option card provides Avid live system users with industry-leading dialog automixing functionality, improving audio quality in situations where multiple speech microphones are used, including broadcast events, conferences, house of worship services, theater performances, and more.
The card automatically adjusts microphone levels faster than what would be possible using manual workflows. Unlike a noise gate, which can introduce distracting sonic artifacts, the Dugan patented technology utilizes real-time voice activation to automatically lower the volume of unused live speech microphones and raise volume when presenters begin speaking, greatly reducing feedback, comb filtering, and background noise without having to manually adjust levels.
The Dugan-VN16 card is available for the Avid SC48, FOH Rack- or Mix Rack-based systems. It manages and mixes up to 16 open microphones with 16 channels of ADAT optical I/O, offering three operating modes to fit different application needs, via the Dugan Control Panel software (included) or the Dugan Control Panel for iPad (sold separately). For more information, visit www.avid.com.
B&K Precision announced the launch of its 4050 Series, a line of four dual-channel function/arbitrary waveform generators. These instruments can generate waveforms up to 50 MHz for use in education and applications requiring stable and precise sine, square, triangle, and pulse waveforms with modulation and arbitrary waveform capabilities.
All models are dual-channel and provide a main output voltage that can be varied from 0 to 10 VPP into 50 Ω. A secondary output can be varied from 0 to 3 VPP into 50 Ω. Large 3.5” color LCDs, rotary control knobs, and numeric keypads with dedicated waveform keys and output buttons make waveform adjustments quick and effortless.
Equipped with a 14-bit, 125 MSa/s, 16k point arbitrary waveform generator, the 4050 Series provides users 48 built-in arbitrary waveforms and the ability to create and load up to 10 custom 16 kpt waveforms using the included waveform editing software via a standard USB interface. An optional USB-to-GPIB adapter is available for GPIB connectivity.
The 4050 Series offers: amplitude and frequency modulation (AM/FM), double sideband amplitude modulation (DSB-AM), amplitude and frequency shift keying (ASK/FSK), phase modulation (PM), and pulse width modulation (PWM). Other standard features include linear and logarithmic sweep function, built-in counter, Sync output, trigger I/O terminal, and USB host port on the front panel to save and recall instrument settings and waveforms. A standard external 10- MHz reference clock input is provided for synchronization of the instrument to another generator, a feature not typically found in generators at this price point.
B&K Precision’s 4050 Series products are backed by a standard three-year warranty. The 4052 (5 MHz) costs $499. The 4053 (10 MHz) costs $599. The 4054 (25 MHz) costs $850. The 4055 (50 MHz) costs $1,050.
B&K Precision is offering a 10% discount until November 30, 2013. Visit www.bkprecision.com for details.