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

Sony PHA-2 Named Best of Innovations at the CES 2014

Sony PHA-2

Sony PHA-2

Sony’s PHA-2 headphone amplifier was named Best of Innovations at the International CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Awards event for its effectiveness and great listening experience when used with portable audio players or smartphones.

The PHA-2 headphone DAC/amplifier is part of Sony’s new line of High Resolution Audio products introduced in October 2013, along with the TA-A1ES integrated stereo amplifier. Both products offer superior sound reproduction and have been specifically designed to support the latest high-resolution music sources.

The new PHA-2 portable headphone amplifier is the first portable DAC/amplifier to be compatible with virtually every high-resolution digital file format, including up to 192 kHz/24-bit PCM and both DSD (2.8 MHz) and double DSD (5.6 MHz). It features a variety of advanced technologies, including refinements such as an Asynchronous Transport Mode using a dedicated signal generator to reduce timing errors for more accurate, jitter-free converter performance. It also incorporates a high-precision D/A converter, along with devices such as a custom headphone amplifier IC with high slew rate and ultra-low distortion operation; output capacitor-less (OCL) current feedback architecture; and a dual power supply operation for more stable and accurate reproduction.

All of these select components are enclosed in a durable aluminum chassis, fully protected from external interference. The PHA-2 headphone amplifier also has a variable gain headphone input that supports a wide range of impedances. It also has  Zinc die-cast bumpers to protect the volume control and headphone connector from external shock and vibration.

The PHA-2 can be easily connected to PC and Macintosh computers via its USB 2.0 interface, and also includes a dedicated digital input for iPod, iPhone and iPad products. Other portable audio sources such as Android smartphones and digital music players can be connected via the analog audio input. The PHA-2 comes with a built-in Lithium-ion battery, which runs up to 6.5 hours with a digital connection and up to 17 hours with an analog connection on a single charge.

The PHA-2 portable headphones amplifier will be available beginning March 2014 for $599 at Sony stores and other national electronics retailers.

www.sony.com

Industry Watch: February 2014

New President Heads MartinLogan, Paradigm, and Anthem

Rocco Melchione recently accepted the position of president/CEO for the Paradigm, MartinLogan, and Anthem brands. He replaces Tim Valters, who held that title for the last four years. Melchione has more than 20 years of experience at the senior executive level in global manufacturing and sales, the company said. His experience includes global supply-chain management, process improvement, and quality practices,

Melchione also had a leadership role in the expansion of a global division of Panasonic and helped integrate Baldwin Piano into Gibson Guitar Corp. as a Gibson subsidiary, the company added. Senior management teams for all three brands report directly to him.

ShoreView Industries, the parent company for the three brands, ShoreView Industries, owns 100% of MartinLogan and more than 50% of Paradigm Electronics, which includes the Paradigm and Anthem brands. The remaining percentage of Paradigm Electronics is owned by Scott Bagby, one of the company’s founding partners. Despite the change, the company said it will continue to focus on its specialty audio retailing.

 

 


 

Fujitsu Ten’s Eclipse Brand Returns to CE

Fujitsu Ten’s Eclipse brand, which left the car audio aftermarket in 2010 after 21 years, is making a US comeback in the home-audio market (see Photo 1). The Japanese company displayed its current range of stand-mounted, tapered, sphere-shaped home speakers ($490/pair to $11,200/pair) at the 2014 International CES (January 7–10 in Las Vegas, NV).

Fujitsu Ten Eclipse

Fujitsu Ten’s Eclipse brand now offers the TD-M1 speakers
($1,300/pair) with Wi-Fi, AirPlay, AirPlay Direct, DLNA, USB B to connect to a PC/Mac, USB A to connect to an iPhone/iPod touch, and a 192-kHz/24-bit DAC.

Fujitsu Ten also introduced a pair of high-end powered subwoofers—the TD725SW MK2 ($7,000) and the TD520SW ($4,500)—and a wireless Airplay speaker. The AirPlay speaker, shaped like the company’s other tapered spherical speakers, is called the TD-M1 ($1,300/pair). The new products ship in February 2014. The company’s current speakers became available in January 2014.

The new audio Eclipse brand entered the home speaker market in Japan in 2001 and has expanded its line to Asia and Europe. Although the brand was briefly in the US some years ago, the Eclipse home audio brand is ready to “properly” enter the US home market in February 2014. Both subwoofers are said to combine power and speed. They use two small-diameter drivers in a back-to-back configuration linked by an aluminum bar. The configuration combines small-diameter driver speed with large-diameter driver power.

Both subwoofers feature Class-D amplifiers, a low-pass filter bypass, an IR remote, and a selector to switch between 5.1- or 2.1-channel inputs. They deliver 500 W and 250 W, respectively, of nominal output with 1% total harmonic distortion (THD). The playback range is 20–150 Hz and 25–150 Hz, respectively. The larger model measures 21.5” × 19.7” × 20.6”.

The AirPlay speaker, which also features time-domain technology, comes with Wi-Fi, AirPlay, AirPlay Direct, DLNA, USB B to connect to a PC/Mac, USB A to connect to an iPhone/iPod touch, and a 192-kHz/24-bit DAC. An iPhone app is available for remote control of power, volume, and input switching.

The DAC provides users the option to remove the oversampling filter during the playback process. Oversampling filters remove noise that occurs when digital sound is converted into analog. The speaker’s oversampling-free mode removes the oversampling filter for enhanced clarity, the company noted.

The speaker features a Class-D amplifier, touch-sensor controls, and a speaker-angle adjustment, which enables users to choose different angles (0°–20°) with a single touch to optimize imaging for a given listening location.

A 3.5-mm input enables connection to TVs and other devices. The speaker measures 6.1” × 8.6” × 9.5” and features ring 3” drivers, a 70-Hz-to-30-kHz frequency response, and 20-W nominal output at 1% THD.

 


 

Atlantic Technology Adds Bluetooth to Its Powered H-PAS Soundbar

While Atlantic Technology (AT) has lowered the price of its PowerBar from $799 to $699, the big news is that the PowerBar now includes Bluetooth capability. The included Bluetooth receiver features nearfield communications (NFC) for tap-to-connect functionality and streams the aptX codec over Bluetooth. The Bluetooth 4.0 receiver connects to the soundbar via the bar’s analog audio input.
The AT product stands out because of its unique H-PAS technology that delivers bass to 47 Hz at “theater-level sound pressure levels (SPLs).” Typical soundbars usually have 150-to-200-Hz capabilities. The H-PAS also improves dialog clarity because of the low woofer excursion that produces less bass distortion. The AT PowerBar also incorporates DSP with Dolby Digital and DTS to deliver a two-to-five-channel experience.

Aphex Releases Audio Xciter App Update

Aphex, a leader in audio enhancement technology for more than 35 years, has updated its popular Audio Xciter app for the Android smartphone and tablet platform. The updated version provides a more responsive user interface and greater stability, fixing previous problems with in-app upgrades.

Audio Xciter has been popular with iPhone and iPad owners. This update brings Android users a new listening experience with Aphex’s patented audio processor technology—the same technology pros have been using for years in the studio and on stage. The Audio Xciter app’s familiar interface provides instant access to the user’s library, playlists, and Bluetooth playback support, with studio-quality enhanced playback.

An update for the Audio Xciter app on the iOS platform (iPhones, iPods, and iPads) is currently in the works. Try Audio Xciter for Android platforms for free on GooglePlay (http://bit.ly/17Rt6Z7).

April New Products and News

AmpliVox Wireless PA Supports many Media Devices

Amplivox SW720 Wireless PA system

The updated SW720 Wireless PA system includes several practical accessories.

AmpliVox Sound Systems has unveiled its newly updated SW720 Wireless PA system, a versatile PA package that supports all types of external media. The SW720 PA enables audio or video to be played from MP3s, CDs, DVDs, or any iDevice from Apple (e.g., iPhones, iPads, or iPods), complemented by a wireless handheld mic for voice amplification. For audiences of up to 500 people and rooms as large as 2,500 ft2, the SW720 is an all-in-one solution for multimedia presentations.

The revamped SW720 Wireless PA system with a remote-controlled DVD player now includes AmpliVox’s S1732 cable and adapter, enabling iPads and other Apple devices to be simultaneously played and charged. The unit also contains an integrated DVD/CD/MP3 disc player with a USB/SD card reader and video output that enables DVDs to be viewed with a projector or other video display. For voice amplification, the SW720 features a built-in UHF selectable 16-channel wireless receiver with a 300’ range wireless handheld microphone.

The SW720’s straightforward controls customize presentations. A voice priority switch mutes music when the mic is in use, and separate bass/treble controls enable easy sound adjustments. Weighing 11.5 lb, the molded plastic enclosure is durable and portable. A protective cover offers many pockets for accessory storage. The SW720 can run for up to 6 h on its built-in rechargeable battery, or it can be powered with the included AC power cord.

For more information, visit www.ampli.com/ipod-pa-system.


Dayton Audio’s DVC Subwoofer

Dayton Audio Ultimax DVC

Dayton Audio’s DVC subwoofers are designed to improve power handling and reduce power compression.

Dayton Audio’s Ultimax Series DVC subwoofers are purpose-built to move air and create clean, articulate, and fast bass. To improve power handling, increase thermal management, and reduce power compression, Dayton Audio designed the Ultimax Series with large black anodized formers and vented pole pieces, under-spider ventilation, and two-layer copper voice coils.

The Ultimax’s “Tall-Boy” rubber surround is intended for extra-long linear excursion without reducing the Nomex honeycomb/woven glass-fiber laminated cone’s surface area. Copper shorting rings and a pole piece cap reduce inductance and distortion, while the Ultimax’s dual spiders maintain linearity at high drive levels.

Dayton Audio’s Ultimax Series dual voice coil subwoofers are engineered and built using the latest in subwoofer technology. They are now available in 10”, 12”, and 15” sizes. Dayton Audio products can be purchased in the US through Parts Express (www.parts-express.com).

For more information, visit www.daytonaudio.com.


DANLEY Improves SYNERGY HORNS SH Series

Danley Sound Labs SH-96 HO

Danley raises the sound pressure level (SPL) on its Synergy Horns SH Series

Danley Sound Labs recently announced improvements to many of its already highly-regarded SH Series full-range loudspeakers. The new versions are identified by the suffix “HO,” which stands for “high output.” For example, if someone wants to get the most performance out of the Danley SH-96, order the Danley SH-96 HO.

The new designs use a more powerful two-way high frequency. As a result, the low- and mid-frequency drivers can be used to their full potential yet maintain Danley’s characteristic frequency response, phase response, and fidelity. In conjunction, the HO designs use a new crossover and have additional options for bi-amping and for changing the low-frequency impedance. Because the cabinets themselves haven’t changed, the new versions retain the coverage and frequency loss patterns of the originals. The new models include the SH-95 HO, the SH-96 HO, and the SH-64 HO.

Because the new switch panel cannot operate reliably if left exposed to the elements, weatherized versions of the new high-output loudspeakers must be pre-ordered with specified biamping and impedance settings.

For more information, visit www.danleysoundlabs.com.


B&K Precision Launches “pwrApp” for Apple Products

B&K Precision pwrApp

B&K Precision’s new “pwrApp” can be used on an iPad, an iPhone, and an iPod touch.

B&K Precision launched its new “pwrApp” for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Adding greater value to its DC power solutions, B&K Precision’s pwrApp enables full monitoring and control of a network-connected (via WLAN) XLN-GL series of power supplies over local wireless networks.

The pwrApp’s primary function is remote operation of all XLN-GL power supplies’ functions. The pwrApp’s features include live visual monitoring and interactive power supply control, visual data graphing, audible trigger alarms within the app, and data export.

Fully functional in-app demos of devices, monitoring, and programs are available with or without a connected XLN power supply. B&K Precision’s pwrApp for iPad and iPhone offers full interface control in English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and traditional Chinese via a simple selection menu. Future versions of pwrApp will offer control of additional select WLAN-enabled B&K Precision power supplies. Available for immediate download via iTunes, pwrApp is free of charge to all users.

For pwrApp and XLN information, as well as hardware/software requirements, visit www.bkprecision.com/pwrapp.


NUGEN Audio offers Stand-Alone LM-Correct Loudness Tool

NUGEN Audio LM Correct

NuGen Audio now offers a new stand-alone version of its LM-Correct loudness analysis and correction tool.

NUGEN Audio, a creator of intuitive tools for audio professionals, has released a new stand-alone version of its LM-Correct loudness analysis and correction tool, which was originally only available as an AudioSuite plug-in. For the first time, LM-Correct is available as a file-based program, taking its speed and simplicity beyond the Avid digital audio workstation (DAW) environment. LM-Correct provides EBU R128|ATSC A/85 (CALM Act)-compliant loudness correction with unmatched simplicity, providing users with a rapid two-click solution for loudness normalization and conformance.

Part of NUGEN Audio’s range of innovative and easy-to-use loudness correction tools, LM-Correct is a faster-than-real-time tool that calculates and corrects for integrated program loudness and short-term maximum loudness. LM-Correct includes an internal true-peak limiter that transparently handles any intersample peaks.

LM-Correct’s settings include presets for current loudness standards, short-term loudness, overall integrated program loudness measurement and correction, maximum true-peak level targeting, and “EBU Mode.” The software also supports mono through 5.1 audio.

LM-Correct is available immediately for OS X and Windows operating systems. For more information about LM-Correct and other NUGEN Audio products, visit www.nugenaudio.com.


Saelig Introduces Handheld RF Spectrum Analyzer

Saelig PSA2702

Saelig’s PSA Series II RF spectrum analyzers feature long, rechargeable battery life.

Saelig Company has introduced the PSA Series II RF spectrum analyzers. Available in 1.3- and 2.7-GHz versions, these new instruments are smaller, lighter, and have a longer battery life than other more expensive handheld RF products. PSA Series II analyzers incorporate a 4.3” (11 cm) backlit thin-film transistor (TFT) color touchscreen display, with a high-capacity rechargeable Lithium-ion battery to produce more than 8-h operation per charge. The PSA Series II PSA1302 has a 1-to-1,300-MHz frequency range, while the PSA Series II PSA2702 operates up to 2,700 MHz. Dynamic range is 80 dB with a noise floor at –100 dBm. Resolution bandwidth is selectable down to 15 kHz.

The PSA Series II’s features include sweep modes (e.g., continuous, single, peak hold, and sweep average), AM/FM audio demodulation with built-in speaker, and data logging for traces, data points, or screen images (with storage for 10,000 entries per file triggered from a key press, internal timer, external trigger, or the limits comparator). Traces or complete screen images can be saved to file and compensation tables for antennae or other external transducers can be created and loaded. USB host and device connectors enable the use of USB flash drives or direct connection to a PC.

PSA Series II analyzers are controlled via finger-operated touchscreen soft keys in a hierarchical menu system that provides rapid access to menu functions. All functions can also be operated using just the hard keys.

The ruggedized casing incorporates a rubber protection buffer, a bench stand, and screen protection. For bench-top use, the instrument can be operated from its AC charger. For portable use, its 8-h battery life can be further extended by selecting auto-off, which turns the instrument off (retaining all data) after a selectable delay of 5 to 60 min. from the last key press. The compact, handheld PSA Series II RF Spectrum analyzers weigh 20 oz, making them suitable for any portable RF service kit. For more information, visit www.saelig.com.