Doing It Differently

Time moves quickly. We are already feeling the aftermath of 2014’s first two major industry shows. This is also a year when audioXpress is completing its transition to an expanded publication that addresses the needs of the audio engineering community—not only for those who have fun listening to music (there are plenty of magazines doing that) but mainly for those who imagine, create, and work with audio technology.

This year began with the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV, introducing innovations on all fronts. It was also the largest CES in show history. While some companies introduced products based on users’ needs, it appears many consumer electronics companies still prefer to throw hundreds of new ideas at the wall to see what sticks. I guess a major electronics show like the CES is the ideal place to test those ideas, but sometimes we have to wonder why the successful companies that only introduce market-ready products don’t even need to attend the CES.

Yes, we miss seeing Apple at trade shows and we miss the inspiring clear vision of the late Steve Jobs. Apple is one those companies with products that are the perfect combination of state-of-the-art technology and innovation that are available for purchase exactly as advertised. And while the company was not in attendance, Apple’s products still dominated the 2014 International CES. It is no surprise that many great ideas and reference designs were designed to complement the iPad, the iPhone, and even the new Apple Mac Pro workstation.

IK Multimedia promoted its iRing wireless sensors to control music apps (or any other apps) using only gestures. We’ve also seen great photography peripherals for the iPhone and many new charging and home-automation solutions. There are even iOS-device-controlled robots and drones. And of course, no audio company could ignore the huge market created for wireless speakers and headphones. Many were especially designed for Apple’s mobile devices, leveraging Apple’s push for Bluetooth Smart 4.0 and AirPlay technologies. Apple also effectively revitalized the worldwide home audio market.

Wireless speakers, headphones, soundbars, integrated A/V receivers and audio systems are experiencing impressive growth rates, according to recently published market reports. Bluetooth products, in particular, continue to bolster the wireless speaker market, offering the convenience of portability, while multi-room audio based on Wi-Fi is also on the rise. Among the 20,000-some products introduced at the 2014 International CES, there were a significant number of new headphones and earphones.

After every CES, we should also acknowledge those sparks of inspiration from obscure companies and the truly exciting technology announcements. For example, cars connected to mobile networks—actually talking and seamlessly interfacing with our mobile devices.

It’s always difficult to understand why, but clearly, in the middle of all the Internet-connected toothbrushes and forks, speech-recognition watches, and curved television screens, some innovations make complete sense and leave us asking ourselves “why did it take so long?”

João Martins
Editor-in-Chief

Sennheiser’s New DJ Headphones Redefine Professional Performance

Sennheiser HD8-DJ

Sennheiser HD8-DJ

German audio specialist Sennheiser has led the professional audio market for more than two decades with its HD 25 headphones used by the world’s leading music producers and DJs. Sennheiser recently introduced at the CES 2014 in Las Vegas its new range of professional DJ and mixing headphones. Designed for the most demanding users and punishing pro environments, the HD8 DJ, the HD7 DJ, and the HD6 MIX have been developed in conjunction with some of the world’s top DJs—among them Bob Sinclar, Luciano, Andy Baxter, Missill, and Davina.

The three new headphones deliver excellent, dynamic sound reproduction with the highest levels of external noise attenuation, using durable materials and with exceptional build-quality.

The new headphones are inspired by the dynamic sound reproduction of the HD 25.

“Drawing on our success based around the HD 25 and extensive experience in high-end audio, the DJ range applies Sennheiser’s proprietary acoustic system to answer the needs of different performing and production applications,” says Ivan Kuan, head of Product Management, Sennheiser Consumer Electronics.

The HD8 DJ is dedicated to the needs of professional DJs with excellent sound reproduction, while the HD7 DJ offers an engaging, dynamic sound that’s perfect for playing live. Both delivering a mid-low end emphasis, the sound remains tight and never overwhelms, with clarity retained in the high frequencies. Meanwhile, the HD6 MIX, a model aimed primarily at studio-based music creation, delivers a balanced, accurate sound for mixing and monitoring work. “To hear every detail, the elliptical, circumaural ear cups were specially designed to ensure a perfect fit for more users. This provides excellent external noise attenuation that can cope with very high sound pressure levels for safer listening without turning up the volume excessively,” Kuan says.

The DJ headphone range is built for user comfort for hours at the decks, in the studio, or performing. The elliptical shape of the ear cups also avoids pinching the ears and is enhanced by interchangeable ear pads for comfortable listening during long periods of use. For hassle-free one-ear monitoring, both DJ models feature swiveling ear cups with up to 210° of movement and three different wearing positions. With both coiled and straight 3-m high-performance cables included that can connect to either ear cup, these headphones can adapt to suit any individual preference. A bayonet twist lock makes for secure connection to the headphones.

All three models are built to withstand the rigors of daily studio work and a life on the road. Sennheiser has engineered the range from durable, high-quality materials to take even the roughest everyday professional use, proven through rigorous and extended quality tests. And when the life on the road pushes the limits too far, Sennheiser’s new headphones offer replaceable parts and a commitment to customer service offering at least a five-year parts availability guarantee, even after end-of-life, and global support for quick replacements.

Key features:

  • Excellent sound reproduction with Sennheiser’s proprietary acoustics system
  • Capable of very high SPLs, suitable for DJ performance environments
  • DJ models: impedance of 95 Ω for optimum compatibility with DJ equipment
  • Monitoring model: impedance of 150 Ω for optimum compatibility with studio and mixing equipment
  • Elliptical, circumaural design for maximum comfort and excellent noise isolation; both DJ models feature swiveling ear cups (up to 210°) with three wearing positions
  • Top-of-the-range HD8 DJ model features metal-crafted reinforcement parts with an metal pivot ring
  • Single-sided coiled cable attachable to either ear cup; additional straight cable included (both up to 3m); oxygen-free copper cable with gold-plated connectors; bayonet twist lock for secure connection
  • All models come with interchangeable sets of ear pads to choose from; one in soft velour, the other in leatherette material

 

www.sennheiser.com

One More Take

“One more take.”

Remember that joke? The producer in the recording studio says to the band: “Not bad, fellas. Let’s do one more take, this time with more emphasis on tone, harmony, melody, rhythm, composition, lyrics, musicianship, tempo, and originality.”

Maybe it’s time for the audio industry to try “one more take.”

During last year’s 135th Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in New York, it was apparent that the audio engineering community unites several generations. Also, the younger but much more technically perceptive generation is fascinated by the achievements of those who had the “privilege” of working in the big studios and doing audio production for live concerts, or during great broadcast moments from the 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s.

The younger generations have learned to value the tools and what they can do with them. They even value the “good old analog” electronics, essentially by using plug-in emulations of the real things inside Pro Tools or Logic. Yet, this generation also encodes studio recordings to MP3s.

From one content format to another, the music industry continually re-released its content in physical media until the Super Audio CD (SACD) and the Blu-ray disc (on video) formats appeared. And that was it. Suddenly, the Internet, mobile devices, and digital files changed everything. With that change came the MP3, the iPod, iTunes, and mobile networks. This accelerated the demise of physical media, on which the entire music industry had become over-dependent.

Meanwhile, technology continues to evolve. Even though SACD is dead and gone, the key developments remain valid and high-resolution audio is still a logical proposition. But is it well understood by the “plug-in” generation? A very faint sign of hope emits from the enthusiasm detected at events such as the AES conventions and the NAMM shows.

With new 64-bit processors and OSes becoming the norm, large bandwith networks available everywhere, and memory and storage increasing faster than consumers’ actual needs, it seems the industry is ripe for another go at quality.

As our contributing author Gary Galo noted in his impressions of the 135th AES Convention, it seems consumers are rediscovering the virtues of high-resolution sound and finding compressed formats such as MP3 unacceptable. But at the same time, mobile platforms and wireless networks have created new consumer behaviors. People are increasingly listening to music via headphones, soundbars, and portable wireless loudspeakers. Therefore, we need a new approach to address that changing landscape, and it’s not going to be with $20,000 home stereo (or multichannel) systems.

If downloading high-resolution audio files is practical and inspires a new group of record companies to reinvest in high-quality content production, it is clear that 1-bit DSD recordings could also breathe new life into studios, the pro audio industry in general, and even many high-end audio brands.

And it is at forums such as the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA—where those same generations again meet with producers and musicians—that the conscience needs to be raised. Not at the Venetian Hotel demo rooms in Las Vegas, NV. The signs are still fragile, the economic environment remains unstable, and the market trends are uncertain, but it all seems to be aligning for a “new take” in the audio industry.

João Martins
Editor-in-Chief

Q&A: OrigAudio Founders Jason Lucash and Mike Szymczak

OrigAudio founders

Jason Lucash (left) and Mike Szymczak (right) constantly traveled early in their careers and wanted an easy way to listen to their music on the road. During their travels, they came up with the idea for OrigAudio.

SHANNON BECKER: Describe your background (e.g., where you grew up and your education).

JASON LUCASH: I’ve always been an “entrepreneur at heart.” I’ve always had a knack for being a self-starter. I started my own candy stand when I was in the second grade. My family would buy candy in bulk from stores such as Vons and Safeway, and then I would race home from school to put my candy stand out in the path of students as soon as school was over. My buddies and I would hang out, eat candy, and sell it, making about $30 dollars a day.

MIKE SZYMCZAK: I’ve always had a wondering mind. I liked to tinker and be different from the crowd. From a young age my father, Jimbo, would bring me to the science store to explore and learn how things worked scientifically and mechanically. He also encouraged me to try and experience as much in my life and career as possible. I took this advice to heart. I held more than 20 jobs, all before I turned  25, and I visited more than 20 countries and 48/50 states. Always one for a new adventure and a new challenge, I decided to start my own business. This entrepreneurial spirit, a passion for music, and zest for travel helped to forge OrigAudio.

Jason and Mike recognized a need for an eco-friendly, portable solution for listening to music while on the go. Inspired by a Chinese take-out box—foldable, easily compactable, and recyclable—the “origami of audio” was born.

Jason and Mike recognized a need for an eco-friendly, portable solution for listening to music while on the go. Inspired by a Chinese take-out box—foldable, easily compactable, and recyclable—the “origami of audio” was born.

SHANNON: What sparked your interest in audio?

JASON/MIKE: Both of us are marketing guys who recognized the need for a light, ultra-portable speaker.

SHANNON: How did the two of you meet? And what made you decide to go into business together?

JASON/MIKE: We met on the job, which required a lot of travel. This is how we came up with our “million dollar idea” for cool, portable speakers.

SHANNON: Tell us about OrigAudio (www.origaudio.com). Where did you get the idea for the company?

JASON: Our first product, the Fold and Play speakers, uses the principles of origami to come flat and fold up into a speaker. This inspired the name OrigAudio—the Origami of Audio.

MIKE: It was out of need from our travel heavy jobs. We just wanted to create a better way that saved space, didn’t require batteries, and was ECO Friendly.

Fold and Play 2

The Fold and Play speakers are the product that started it all. These speakers are made from 70% post-consumer recycled material, require no external power, and fold and unfold like origami.

SHANNON: Tell us more about the Fold and Play portable paper speaker. What was the inspiration behind it?

JASON: Tired of lugging bulky audio players around on business trips while working for JanSport, Mike and I started futzing with the idea of putting speakers into Chinese-food takeout boxes. The box starts flat, and whenever you want to use it, you pop it up. Our idea sounded good. The product? Not so much. We moved on to putting a very old idea—origami—to work. In 2009, with $10,000 in seed money from my mom, we launched OrigAudio (origami + audio) with one product: speakers, which are made entirely from recycled materials that start out flat and fold together. The Chinese takeout box concept inspired us, but origami is what powered us.

MIKE: We were still working our “day jobs” and selling 15 pairs of speakers a day through our website when the US Marines placed a whopping order for 50,000 (launching OrigAudio’s corporate gift division). Shortly after, Time magazine waved its magic “best” wand. [OrigAudio was named to Time magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2009” list and appeared on ABC’s hit start-up business show, Shark Tank.] With the holidays coming on fast, the company quickly sold out of its 25,000-unit stock. That’s when we gave our two-week notice to JanSport.

SHANNON: Can you share some of the challenges involved with the designs?

JASON: The first version of our Fold and Play speakers were kind of a huge flop. I couldn’t even get my mother to take them seriously. They were literally just a Chinese take-out box with a speaker attached and could barely even stand on their own. So we went back to the drawing board, ditched the take-out box, and adopted the principles of origami to create our first successful product.

Rock-It Cup

The Rock-It 3.0 portable vibration speaker system takes music from your device and turns it into vibration sequences. It sends those vibrations through the Rock-It pod which sticks to any object and turns that object into a speaker!

SHANNON: What other products have you developed?

JASON: OrigAudio’s top-selling product is the Rock-It, which makes a speaker out of pretty much any hollow object you stick it to. It’s another example of the old-made-new strategy. The really cool technology had been around for 60 years, but we always saw these big applications. So we thought, “This thing would be sweet if you could make it portable.”

MIKE: We also came out with the world’s first ever fully customizable speakers. These products give consumers the opportunity design and personalize their very own speakers. More images of the Doodle, Cubicool, Epishock, and Headphones are available on our website.

SHANNON: To what do you attribute your company’s continuing success?

JASON: I think people love being able to customize their gear. I personally don’t want headphones that only have a brand name on the side of them. I want headphones that reflect my personal taste. For instance, I love robots and have them all around my office. Therefore, I want headphones that have robots on them, too. I prefer to buy products that are an extension of my personal taste and preferences.

MIKE: We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we do take our business seriously. People like working with us and they love our unique products.

SHANNON: What’s next for your company?

JASON/MIKE: On demand customized products are not only the future of our company, but the future of business. Not only is customization great for our customers, it’s also incredibly effective for businesses. Twenty years from now, retailers won’t need to stock physical products in distribution centers (with the exception of food and canned goods). A customer will be able to order a watch from Amazon and have it made exactly how they want it to look and feel on demand. Even though customization has been around for a long time, more and more business owners are focusing their businesses on this fast-growing trend.

Epishock

New to the OrigAudio family is Epishock, a device that turns any flat surface into a bass pumping loud speaker. Place Epishock on a hard surface (e.g., a desk or table) and witness vibration technology at its best.

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

JASON: Noise-cancelling technology. It completely changes your listening experience.

MIKE: The iPod/MP3 player. The ability to transport an entire library and hundreds of CDs/records/cassettes in the palm of your hand is unreal.

SHANNON: Do you have any advice for our audioXpress readers who may want to build their own sound systems?

JASON: You should always be a step ahead, especially in technology. In technology, you should probably be two steps ahead because the technology is always changing.

MIKE: Explore the unexplored…meaning basically create something entirely new do not reinvent the old.

Industry Watch: January 2014

2013 CEA Technology Winners

Charlie Hughes

Photo 1: Charlie Hughes earned the 2013 Consumer Electronics
Association’s (CEA) Technology & Standards Award for his work on CEA-2034.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently announced the winners of the sixth annual Technology & Standards Awards. Nominees were judged on their commitment to excellence as evidenced by the extent and consistency of their overall ongoing contributions to the CEA’s Technology & Standards program.

“This year’s award recipients have demonstrated industry leadership through active participation in the CEA’s Technology & Standards program both over the long term and with recent projects,” according to Brian Markwalter, the CEA’s senior vice president for research and standards. “All of our honorees have dedicated countless hours to creating standards that launch new product categories and make existing products easier to use.”

Charlie Hughes received one of this year’s awards for standards pertaining to loudspeaker development (see Photo 1). Hughes is president of Excelsior Audio Design & Services (www.excelsior-audio.com) and the co-chairman of CEA’s Sound Measurement Working Group. He received this prestigious award for spearheading the publication of CEA-2034, Standard Method of Measurement for In-Home Loudspeakers. Hughes is also a contributing Voice Coil author. Congratulations Charlie!

 


2014 CES Best of Innovations Awardees

The CEA also announced its list of 2014 International Consumer Economic Show (CES) Best of Innovations Design and Engineering award honorees. The CES Innovations Awards honor outstanding design and engineering advancements across 28 consumer electronics product categories, including two new categories this year: 3-D Printing and Additive Manufacturing and Wearable Technologies.

The Best of Innovations designation is awarded to products with the highest judges’ scores and will be honored during the 2014 International CES, January 7–10, 2014, in Las Vegas, NV. The award winners will be featured in the Innovations Design and Engineering Awards Showcase in the Venetian Hotel. Award winners with products related to the loudspeaker industry include:

  • Headphones: Plantronics, the BackBeat Go 2 + Charging Case
  • High-Performance Home Audio: Bang & Olufsen, BeoLab 18
  • Home Theater Speakers: Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Philips Fidelio E5 Wireless Surround Cinema Speakers

 

 


HTSA 2013 Awards

The Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA) presented its 2013 HTSA Vendor Awards to those who have demonstrated commitment to member growth through the development of cutting-edge products and technologies, exemplary business practices, and unyielding service and support for HTSA members. Each year the HTSA Vendor Awards go to industry professionals who have had an overwhelming impact on the success and business growth of HTSA members.

For 2013, HTSA announced the return of its Lifetime Achievement Award, one of its most coveted honors. Sandy Gross, founder and president of GoldenEar Technology, received the 2013 award. Gross’s previous company was Definitive Technology.

Other loudspeaker companies that received awards include:

  • Technology Innovation: Lenbrook Industries, the BlueSound line of wireless loudspeakers
  • Best Audio Product: Paradigm Electronics, Soundtrack home theater system

 

 


Harman Opens First US Store

HARMAN International opened its first US store on November 21, 2013, to demonstrate the company’s home, car, and pro audio products and to sell select home audio gear to consumers. The two-level, 8,500-ft2 store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, NY, also serves as a key showroom and experience center for the company’s channel and technology partners. It will also serve as a space for its automotive OEM customers to receive a full-brand experience. Harman also plans to use the venue to host music performances and DJ sets and offer seminars to educate consumers. HARMAN will leverage its “brand ambassadors” and celebrity friends to help bring unique and memorable events to the store for Manhattan consumers.

This new HARMAN store is only the world’s second.  The first HARMAN store opened in Shanghai in 2010. A third showroom is set to open in Moscow in 2014. HARMAN has tentative plans for future stores in Los Angeles, CA, or Detroit, MI, to be close to its entertainment and auto partners.

The Manhattan store features home-theater and two-channel audio rooms, which the company’s luxury-audio dealers and channel partners can use to demonstrate equipment. The store also contains a professional DJ mixing board and interactive kiosk-style displays customers can use to learn about the company’s OEM car audio and infotainment technologies.

Multiple interactive experience areas include an interactive table display and headphone rack so shoppers can test Harman headphones by listening to provided music or by plugging in their own music players. A soundproof chamber enables customers to compare their existing headphones or select products from competing brands with HARMAN products.

The stage area features HARMAN’s professional concert and music studio equipment and will host musical performances and special events. Customers can experience large-venue premium sound in a store environment.

The store sells products for home audio enthusiasts and audiophiles. However, it does not sell products for professional sound engineers or musicians. Pro products (e.g., studio and stage microphones, headphones, and musician accessories) will occasionally be showcased, but the store won’t be a full-line showroom for pro gear.

The full line of Harman Kardon, JBL, AKG, and Infinity products is available for sale. High-performance products from the Revel and Mark Levinson brands are also displayed, but the store refers consumers to those brands’ retailers for sales. The store also offers shoppers exclusive products available only through the Madison Avenue location.

 


Bang & Olufsen Launches Industry’s First WiSA-Certified Wireless Speakers

Bang & Olufsen (B&O) has launched the loudspeaker industry’s first wireless speakers that were certified by the Wireless Speaker and Audio (WiSA) Association. Additional companies are expected to launch their first WiSA-certified products at the 2014 International CES in January. WiSA technology certification includes the delivery of interference-free, wired-quality wireless audio in the 5.2–5.8 GHz U-NII band to stereo and home-theater speakers within a room up to 29.5’ × 29.5’.

B&O’s three active WiSA-certified speakers include the compact two-way aluminum BeoLab 17 ($3,990 per pair), the 12-sided BeoLab 19 subwoofer ($3,395 per pair), and the BeoLab 18 ($6,590 per pair). The BeoLab 18 speaker features a narrow, cylindrical extruded-aluminum enclosure with a spike-shaped pedestal that appears to balance the speaker on a flat, square base. This speaker can also be wall mounted. (The BeoLab 18 is actually an update of the BeoLab 8000 speaker’s iconic design, which features a tall narrow floor-standing speaker with a spike-type pedestal resting on a flat base. It was first introduced in 1992.)

In addition to the new style base, the BeoLab 18 also adds a top-mounted acoustic lens tweeter, which delivers 180° high-frequency sound to widen the stereo sweet spot. The speaker also has a front grille consisting of narrow horizontal slats arrayed in a way that maintains the speaker’s cylindrical shape. The composite-material slats are available in black or white, and an optional natural-color solid-oak grille is available ($1,350 per pair).

The BeoLab18 delivers up to 7.1 channels of 24-bit/96-kHz uncompressed audio. Using WiSA technology to eliminate cable clutter, it enables a more flexible speaker placement and overcomes sound-quality interference, latency, and cost challenges associated with other wireless technologies designed for multichannel home theaters. B&O’s implementation delivers 24-bit, 48-kHz audio over wireless and it is less prone to interference with the lower throughputs. The company maintains the sound quality is better than CD. Other B&O news includes its recent expansion of the “Play” sub brand into 32 Magnolia Design Centers inside Best Buy stores.

Drawmer Ships Its MC2.1 Monitor Controller

Drawmer MC2.1 Monitor Controller

Drawmer MC2.1 Monitor Controller

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.
www.drawmer.com

Radial Engineering USB-Pro High-Resolution, 24-Bit, 96-kHz Stereo Direct Box

The USB-Pro ($220 retail) is a high-resolution stereo direct box designed to convert sound files from a laptop computer and transfer them to a pair of balanced audio outputs to feed a PA, recording, or broadcast mixing console.

According to Radial President Peter Janis, “For years, Radial customers have been asking us to get into the digital world. We have hesitated due to lack of clear standards and challenges with respect to interfacing with computers. But with the recent advent of self-configuring USB ports, we feel the time is right to finally get involved and the USB-Pro is the first Radial product to sport digital connectivity.”

The Radial USB-Pro, a high-performance stereo direct box, integrates a built-in headphone amplifier and balanced Lo-Z outputs with switchable isolation.

The Radial USB-Pro, a high-performance stereo direct box, integrates a built-in headphone amplifier and balanced Lo-Z outputs with switchable isolation.

Made to be Plug & Play, easy to use, the USB-Pro automatically configures itself for use with all popular operating systems including Mac OSX, Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, eliminating the need to load special drivers. And unlike devices that are limited with 16-bit, 44.1-kHz conversion rates, the USB-Pro elevates the performance with 24-bit, 96-kHz stereo converters to deliver more headroom and greater detail. This eliminates the need for additional sound cards or separate converters when transferring files, further streamlining production in busy work environments.

Connection from the laptop is done via the pro-audio standard USB type-B port. D/A conversion is monitored with the built-in headphone amplifier to ensure the signal is properly downloaded and converted. A monosum switch may be engaged to check for phasing or facilitate signal distribution to two outputs should this be preferred. Just set the output volume control.

Should hum or buzz caused by ground loops be encountered, two set-and-forget side-access switches enable you to insert isolation transformers into the signal path to block stray DC voltage offsets. To further reduce susceptibility to noise, this is augmented with a ground lift switch that lifts pin 1 on the two XLRs.

The Radial USB-Pro is designed to handle the rigors of professional touring with protective zones around the switches, connectors, and controls to keep them out of harm’s way. Inside construction ensures the internal PC board will not torque, which could cause premature part failure. Finally, a full-bottom no-slip pad provides mechanical isolation and electrical insulation.

Radial Engineering, Ltd.
www.radialeng.com

TASCAM Supplies Professional-Grade Headphones

Tascam-TH2000

TASCAM’s TH-2000 professional-grade headphones are designed for serious audiophiles.

TASCAM, the Pro Audio Division of TEAC America, has been supplying and revolutionizing the market with professional-grade products for decades. Its most recent contribution is the TH-2000 headphones.

The TH-2000 headphones offer a powerful bass response, midranges that round out the mix, crystalline high-frequency ranges for a strong presence and clarity, comfort for hours of listening and use, durability, and TASCAM quality.

TASCAM, creator of the original TH-02 headphones is taking its professional-grade headphones a step further with the TH-2000. The TH-2000’s main features include: a foldable design for easy compact transport, circumaural ear cuffs with an industrial strength flexible headband, and a closed-back isolating design.

The headphone specifications include a 53-mm driver diameter, 60-Ω impedance, 101-dB ±3 sensitivity, 22-kHz-to-18-Hz frequency response, and 1,800-mW maximum power.

For more information, visit http://tascam.com.

July New Products and News

Photo 1: The D-fend SA300 protects passive loudspeakers from excessive power conditions.

Eminence Speaker recently introduced the D-fend SA300, a fully programmable stand-alone unit designed to protect passive loudspeakers from excessive power conditions. With patent-pending technology, D-fend enables maximum driver performance while ensuring damage-free operation.

D-fend eliminates worries about blown speakers, HF drivers, or crossovers; or even worse, fire caused by excessive heat. D-fend keeps your system safe as well as your venue and audience. You simply set the thresholds and D-fend monitors and limits the amount of input power it passes through to the loudspeaker. It’s USB compatible and can be programmed to your specifications from a desktop or laptop.

Operating from a standard speaker-level signal, the D-fend SA300 requires no auxiliary power unless it is used in low-power applications. D-fend loudspeaker protection is ideal for system installers, PA gear rental companies, OEM manufacturers, and end-users who own passive loudspeakers.

The D-fend SA300 is available to resellers through Eminence’s dealers and distributor networks, and direct to consumers through www.D-fend.net. For more information, visit www.D-fend.net and www.Eminence.com/d-fend.


Photo 2: KICKER Cush Talk headphones now provide a lightweight microphone and single multi-function button.

Cush Headphones Receive an Upgrade

KICKER has added more features and conveniences to its Cush Talk headphones. KICKER Cush Talk headphones now provide a lightweight microphone and single multifunction button for listening convenience and to easily transfer sound during phone calls. Cush Talk headphones also come with a protective storage pouch.

Featuring an ultra-lightweight design and thick over-the-ear cushions, Cush headphones provide comfort, detailed acoustics, a lavish fit, and now a microphone. With 54-mm speakers and a 118-dB maximum output, these headphones provide the bass response and tonal accuracy for which KICKER is known.

Cush Talk utilizes a 53”, Kevlar-reinforced, flat cable to provide more freedom for movement. The flat cable is smooth and less prone to tangles. Kevlar, the same material used in military and law enforcement bulletproof vests, enables the KICKER Ultra-Gauge cable to perform under the most strenuous factory testing. The angled “L” plug (0.125”, corrosion-resistant) provides strain relief and connects to any iPod, iPhone, MP3 player, or KICKER Docking System. For more information, visit www.kicker.com.


Photo 3: The SlimSub 10” aluminum driver is encased in a narrow enclosure with a flat flush-mount grill.

Triad Speakers Offers A Space-Saving Subwoofer

Triad Speakers, a leading custom manufacturer of home reference-quality loudspeakers, now offers the InWall Bronze/4 SlimSub. Measuring 3.938” deep to fit into a standard 4” deep wall cutout, the SlimSub’s flat grill, flush-mount design represents an aesthetic   improvement over the InWall Bronze/4 Sub, which protruded several inches from the wall.

The SlimSub delivers deep bass at high volumes, achieving a 109-dB maximum output from 40–80 Hz with –6-dB bass extension at 25 Hz. This performance rivals the company’s larger, 6” deep InWall Bronze/6 model.

The SlimSub fits into the same cut-out (size “V”) as the company’s other in-wall subwoofers, making it ideal for retrofit opportunities. To blend with a home’s décor, the SlimSub incorporates all three types of Triad’s Acoustimesh grill (wide, narrow, and frameless), which the company can custom paint-match at the factory.

The InWall Bronze/4 SlimSub is paired with Triad’s 350-W rack amplifier and costs $1,400. Dealers can contact Triad Speakers for more information at 800-666-6316 or visit www.triadspeakers.com.


Photo 4: Updatemydynaco now makes a regulated power supply upgrade kit for the PAT-4 preamplifier.

Kit Updates Classic Dynaco Preamp

DIY and vintage audio upgrades received a boost with Updatemydynaco’s regulated power supply upgrade kit for Dynaco’s PAT-4 Preamplifier.

According to Dan Joffe, of Updatemy dynaco, the regulated power supply circuit board replaces the old silver capacitor can while reusing the same mounting holes.

Updatemydynaco, a product line of Akitika, makes upgrade kits for Dynaco’s classic solid-state audio equipment. A range of enhancements are available for the Stereo 120 power amp and PAT-4 preamplifier. For more information, visit www.updatemydynaco.com.


Photo 5: The Audion Super Sterling 120 is a single-ended KT120 amplifier.

Single-Ended KT120 Amplifier

True Audiophile, an exclusive US importer for Audion Tube Audio, introduced what it describes as the world’s first single-ended KT120 amplifier at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach, CA (May 31–June 2, 2013). The Audion Super Sterling 120 uses Tungsol KT120 pentode tubes. The amplifier delivers approximately 24 W into an 8-Ω load. The amplifier has been designed to work with lower-efficiency loudspeakers from approximately 86 dB and up. This product marks Audion’s move to less efficient speaker dependency for its amplifiers. Audion designs and manufacturers the transformers and chokes. Even the capacitors are made to Audion’s exact specifications. To ensure quality, the chassis are finished in-house, including the powder coating and electroplating. Every component is hand built, usually point to point. The Super Sterling 120 will also be available in a parallel single-ended 40-W amplifier and a 60-W push-pull amplifier. Both are mono blocks. For more information, visit www.trueaudiophile.com


Photo 6: B&C’s new DE980TN high-frequency driver shown here is just one of the new models B&C officially launched at the 2013 ProLight + Sound show.

B&C Adds New High-Frequency Drivers

B&C Speakers officially released several new and interesting products at the ProLight + Sound show, held in Frankfurt, Germany (April 10–13, 2013).

The updated range of 75-mm (3”) voice coil high-frequency drivers are particularly noteworthy. These drivers feature a robust titanium diaphragm that incorporates next-generation surround geometry with a new, optimized phase plug. Significant research has yielded a new coil former that solidifies the diaphragm with negligible increase in mass. The result is improved high-frequency linearity and reduced distortion. The 1.4” exit DE90TN (ferrite) and the DE980TN (neodymium) provide a solution for two-way point source enclosures, as well as for mounting a waveguide horn in multi-driver line array systems. The 2” exit DE985TN (neodymium) is also available.

The DE14 and the DE14TN are considered to be the next evolution of the industry standard DE12, a 1” exit ferrite magnet high-frequency driver. The 44-mm (1.7”) diaphragm driver features an optimized phase plug and rear cap that improve frequency response with lower distortion. Finally, the new DE254TN, 44-mm (1.7”) voice coil, titanium diaphragm high-frequency driver offers an excellent value in a 1.4” exit driver.

All new high-frequency driver models are now in production. For more information, visit www.bcspeakers.com


Photo 7: The MIGHTY G is a pocket-size D.I. box that plugs directly into most acoustic and electric guitars, basses, and keyboards.

sage ELECTRONICS Introduces a D.I. Box

sage ELECTRONICS now offers a direct input (D.I.) box called the SE-D.I.3 Mighty G. Designed by Quentin Meek of QZIC Engineering, in partnership with sage ELECTRONICS’s founder, Phillip Victor Bova, the MIGHTY G is a palm-size D.I. box featuring new old stock (N.O.S.) vintage germanium transistors.

The MIGHTY G is 3.5” long and 1.5” wide. It is housed in a showroom-finish die-cast enclosure. It fits in your pocket and plugs directly into most acoustic and electric guitars, basses, and keyboards. It has been designed to sound great, look important, and perform flawlessly in live and in-studio settings.

The unit is phantom powered. The input connector is a Switchcraft 0.25” male-switching jack. There is also a female input model (the SE-DI3 F MIGHTY G) for use with instruments with hard-to-get-to output connectors. The truly (not quasi) balanced output jack is an all-metal Switchcraft gold-plated three-pin XLR connector.

The MIGHTY G’s germanium transistors contribute a sonic presence not heard in passive transformer and integrated circuit (IC) direct-box designs.

The MIGHTY G features Class-A active electronics (no ICs) and hand-tested and matched vintage (N.O.S.) germanium transistors. The direct insertion (i.e., plugs directly into your instrument), eliminates signal loss, which lowers hum and interference in both single-coil and humbucking pickups. It is phantom powered (no batteries required), with symmetrically balanced outputs (not quasi balanced). A silent plug built into a 0.25” jack stops hums, squeals, and pops when the plug is removed from jack.

The SE-D.I.3 MIGHTY G costs approximately $300. It is available from the manufacturer. For more information, visit www.sageelectronics.com. aX