New Soundcraft Vi3000 Console with Onboard Dante

Soundcraft Vi3000 Console

Soundcraft Vi3000 Console

At Prolight+Sound 2014, Harman’s Soundcraft introduced its brand new Vi3000 ‘all-in-one’ digital live sound console, offering a host of state-of-the-art features including the groundbreaking internal DSP Soundcraft SpiderCore, a new industrial design, 96 channels to mix, onboard Dante network compatibility and much more in a very compact footprint. The Vi3000 uses the new internal DSP SpiderCore with Soundcraft’s Vi Version 4.8 operating software, offering the new 3D Vistonics user interface while adding a fourth 24-channel fader layer to improve access to the console’s 96 input channels. The surface operation and layout is similar to other Vi Series consoles, providing a familiar feel while offering expanded functionality. The Vi3000 also features upgraded microphone preamps and 40-bit Floating Point DSP processing for superlative sound quality.

Using a more efficiently designed control surface, with 36 faders, 24 mono/stereo busses and four Vistonics II touch screen interfaces with updated 3D graphics, it can be used by two engineers at the same time.

In addition to a full complement of analogue and digital inputs and outputs, the console provides Dante/MADI record feed outputs and is the first Soundcraft console to incorporate a built-in Dante interface as standard, for seamless digital audio networking with Dante-enabled devices.

http://www.soundcraft.com

The March 2014 Issue of audioXpress is Now Online

This month’s audioXpress brings a great article from our regular contributor Thomas Perazella, in which he revisits the art of studio reamping and the different approaches and implications of that two-stage studio process. During the process, we first record a dry or clean track and then re-record the track by sending the clean track back through amplifiers and effects. Naturally, he looks at different Reamp circuits and some implications for the different impedance audio signals and balance to unbalance challenges.

audioXpress March 2014Another highlight is our review of the Rockruepel comp.two tube stereo compressor, hand built by Oliver Gregor in Germany. As Miguel Marques discovers, this is one of the most versatile audio processors on the market, packaged in a simple but impressive design.

Following the first of a two-part article dedicated to Dante audio networks, our Standards Review revisits Audinate from the perspective of those companies who have licensed the technology.

And for our readers who have are interested in the recently introduced loudness standards, Jon Schorah returns with another great article about Loudness Meters and Measurements.

Don’t miss another take from Mike Klasco and Steve Tatarunis on the “Weird Science Woofers,” in which they discuss some market innovations and pure research on unique speaker mechanisms, from huge to ultra-shallow speaker configurations.

In this month’s Sound Control column, Richard Honeycutt explores predictive acoustics and how the results of such evaluations can be highly rewarding.

Certainly an entertaining read is Shannon Becker’s interview this month with Morten Sissener, founder of Tortuga Audio, a DIY-oriented audio company dedicated and committed to audio enjoyment.

On the subject of DIY projects, this month contributor George Ntanavaras explains how to build his MC100 high-quality moving coil RIAA preamplifier. It is a great read for anyone who would like to know more about the phono signal chain.

And for Audio Electronics enthusiasts, Ron Tipton shares a fascinating project on testing a Class-T or Tripath power amplifier. We also discuss the story of Tripath Technology, which was later acquired by Cirrus Logic who discontinued the company operations. We also speculate on reasons why the Tripath ICs are still popular among the DIY audio community.

And for those with a passion for tubes, columnist Richard Honeycutt looks at Tube Guitar Amplifiers and why distortion evolved from an undesirable effect to part of the established guitar amplification industry practice.

Your new issue of audioXpress is now available at www.gotomyxpress.com

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

Q&A: Ken Heng Gin Loo – DIY Audio Appeals to Applications Engineer

Ken Heng Gin Loo

Ken created the diy-audio-guide.com website because of his interest in DIY audio, in particular tube amplifiers, Class-T amplifiers, NOS DAC, high-efficiency loudspeakers, and high-quality audio reproduction.

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

KEN HENG GIN LOO: I’m a Malaysian Chinese. I spent a wonderful childhood in a small and peaceful town called Taiping, Perak, up North in Peninsular Malaysia.
I’m fortunate that my father could afford to send me overseas to the United Kingdom to pursue a bachelor’s degree after locally earning my diploma in Electrical and Electronics. Now, I’m a graduate in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (Honors) from the University of Manchester, UK.

I currently live on a beautiful tropical island named Pulau Pinang (aka Penang) in Malaysia. It is an urbanized and industrialized state that houses several the multinational corporations (e.g., Intel, Agilent, Motorola, Altera, National Instruments, etc.). Yet, it retains its historical heritage and it is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Downtown is filled with historical sites, excellent local delicacies and seafood, and many beachside resorts.

I live in a terrace house with my lovely wife Brenda and 3-month-old baby girl Ember. In the past, I worked as an engineer for several multinational corporations. Now I work at Intel (for more than eight years) as an applications engineer. I focus on customer-enabling team program management, working with high-speed electronics applied in tablets, notebooks, and PCs.

SHANNON: How did you become interested in audio electronics?

KEN: I was “trained” in hi-fi very early, way back in my primary school years. I’m fortunate to have a hi-fi enthusiast as a father. He plays vinyl, and previously used cassettes before moving to CDs in the 1990s. I was brought up (or spoiled?) with high-quality stereos since I was a youngster.

I started to like tube equipment when I heard the combination of a Unison Research Simply 2 and a B&W 601S2 speaker in a shop in Hsinchu, Taiwan. I seriously started to create DIY audio projects when
I was working in Taiwan in early 2000. A friend, who was also a tube dealer, introduced me to his DIY 300B tube amplifier that was driving a pair of vintage Tannoy 15” dual-concentric speakers. It was the Tannoy GFR, if memory serves me right. The sound they produced was made in heaven and no setup that I’d encountered at that time was close to producing what I heard that day.

I was hooked on the glowing tubes. I started reading about vacuum tubes online, in books, and in magazines (e.g., Sound Practices, Audio Amateur, audioXpress, etc.). I wanted to learn more about vacuum tubes so that I could build a sound system of my own. I also started “wasting” money collecting NOS tubes for my future projects. Now, I have more tubes than I will ever need in my entire lifetime. Maybe if my daughter inherits my interest in audio technology, she will find a use for them. Who knows?

Among his many projects, Ken built a 2A3 amplifier. However, instead of a 2A3 tube, he used the double plate NOS 6B4G because it has the same electrical characteristics as a 2A3 tube. The main difference is that the filament uses 6.3 instead of 2.5 V.

Among his many projects, Ken built a 2A3 amplifier. However, instead of a 2A3 tube, he used the double plate NOS 6B4G because it has the same electrical characteristics as a 2A3 tube. The main difference is that the filament uses 6.3 instead of 2.5 V.

SHANNON: Describe your first personal project. Why did you build it? Is it still in use?

KEN: Tube amplifiers were still uncommon in those days and purchasing one was costly. It was definitely out of my budget when I was a young engineer. Back then, an ordinary tube amplifier alone was two or three times my monthly pay. Since I have knowledge in electrical engineering and electronics (well, sort of, since I studied all solid-state electronics), I thought I would attempt to build a tube amplifier. I thought making a tube amplifier from scratch certainly would not be difficult for me. So, I started building tube amplifiers because the DIY methods made them accessible to me.

A Taiwanese friend assisted me with my first build. He did most of the design work and I did all the soldering since I was still very new to DIY tube amplifier construction. It was a two-stage all triode amplifier with a 300-B direct heat triode driven by a 5842 miniature triode. The sound was sweet and warm even though it was (un?)matched with a small B&W 601S2 bookshelf speaker. (I still have this pair of speakers today!) They are definitely 10 times (exaggerated!) better than all the entry solid states I owned or bought when I was in the UK.

My true first 100% built-by-myself project was an all Russian Reflektor 6C45PI with a 6C33CB triode mono-block tube amplifier. I read an article about a 15-W SE 6C33C-B amplifier that Erno Borbely published in Glass Audio magazine. His article sparked the idea for my own project. I used his design to build my own 6C33C-B amplifier circuit.

“I’m a mischievous youngster! I’m an engineer! I can do much better than him!” So I thought. Well, it didn’t go that well.

SHANNON: What kinds of audio projects do you build? Can you share some of the challenges involved with the designs?

KEN: I build speakers, pre- and power amplifiers, DACs, subwoofers, mains filters, and almost any kind of audio-related gadget. Some of the projects I have built over the years include: Class-D amplifiers with Philips and Tripath integrated circuits, Gain Clone clones (LM3886 and LM1875), Fostex FE167E bass reflex bookshelf speakers out of real wood, a Fostex FE167E in TQWT enclosure, an Altec 640D in Altec 620D cabinet, several 300B SE amplifier variations, 45 SE amplifiers, 6B4G amplifiers, an 1H4G preamplifier, a 6SN7 preamplifier, a 5687 preamplifier, a 6C45PI SPUD, a 5842 SPUD, an EL34 single-ended amplifier, a Tannoy HPD385A active crossover, and many more that I can no longer remember.

I still have some of the completed projects. I’ve also posted a few of them on my website (www.diy-audio-guide.com). DIY audio is challenging in many aspects, especially if you want your designs to sound really good and be reliable. To get something to work is easy. To master it is rather difficult.

Ken used this chassis for a hybrid amplifier design. The front plate and heatsinks are made of aluminum. All the holes are pre-drilled and the chassis accessories are supplied as a package.

Ken used this chassis for a hybrid amplifier design. The front plate and heatsinks are made of aluminum. All the holes are pre-drilled and the chassis accessories are supplied as a package.

Some of the most challenging areas include:

  • Aesthetics—I admit this is one of the challenges I always face. I do see that there are a lot of DIY designs online that look fantastic, almost as good as commercial designs. But for the projects to look good, you need to spend significant time, effort, and money from the design’s start until the end. However, my bias would lean more toward sound than looks. For my projects, I definitely spend more time on the design and the components rather than the finished look.
  • Test and Measurement—This is something I find really challenging on financial and knowledge terms. My daily job includes testing and measuring computer motherboards for power, signal integrity, compliance, eye diagram, and so forth. I use a lot of test and measurement equipment (e.g., multimeters, LCR meters, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and various other meters). This equipment is expensive and not something an ordinary DIY guy can afford to purchase for personal use. An oscilloscope can cost more than a house in Penang.
  • Measurement Methodology—This is a topic on its own. A different methodology or setup yields different results and that is sometimes misused because end users occasionally deviate from the figures/specifications that matters the most. Audio design is an art. Or perhaps it is better to say audio design is a black art? When I was a young graduate, I thought that if I got the circuit right, good sound would follow. It is not that easy! Everything matters, from component selection to the layout.
    I’m often amazed that some people think tidy wiring equals good sound. This will not guarantee good sound, but it does help future troubleshooting.
  • Separating Truth from Fiction—One thing I personally do not like is trying to differentiate among the hype or claims with hidden/personal agendas. I was, and sometimes I still am, tricked into buying something (DIY parts/components) that does not perform as claimed. There are many out there. So, beware!
  • Last but not least, the biggest challenge for all DIY audio hobbyists is that DIY audio projects often involve carpentry and electrical/electronic, which can sometimes be dangerous. You must work with sharp objects, live electrical connections, and tools. Take precautions and be safe.
Siegfried (Sigi) Maiwald of Wuppertal, Germany, shared his multi-cellular horn project on Ken’s DIY website.

Siegfried (Sigi) Maiwald of Wuppertal, Germany, shared his multi-cellular horn project on Ken’s DIY website.

SHANNON: What has been the most creative project you’ve received on your website?

KEN: I received these two amazing DIY speaker and DIY tube amplifier projects from Siegfried (Sigi) Maiwald of Wuppertal, Germany. One day, I met Sigi via the website’s feedback form and we became good friends due to our DIY audio hobby.

Sigi’s approach to DIY audio, his attention to detail and workmanship, not to mention his energy (and strength to manage such a humongous speaker), and spirit are simply outstanding.
In terms of creativity, he used a broom as the support/stand for a multi-cellular horn! In addition, he used the “УO186” as an inexpensive substitute for the ultra-rare and ultra-expensive RE604, which is definitely cool. I would not have known you could do that. Too bad the project suffered at the end due to a mishap.

You can check out his projects (write-up and photos) at www.diy-audio-guide.com/sigi-audio-setup.html and at www.diy-audio-guide.com/RE604-tube-amplifier.html.

The DIY 300B amplifier circuit design and components use a Tung-Sol 5687WA military tube as the pre-amplifier and driver stage. The power tube is JJ 300B and the power supply uses a RCA 5U4GB full wave rectifier tube.

The DIY 300B amplifier circuit design and components use a Tung-Sol 5687WA military tube as the pre-amplifier and driver stage. The power tube is JJ 300B and the power supply uses a RCA 5U4GB full wave rectifier tube.

SHANNON: With all the products that are available, why do you think audiophiles continue to experiment and build their own equipment?

KEN: DIY audio is one of those continuing trends. Fanned by the increasing price of audio equipment, it remains popular among the DIY-audiophiles. Everyone wants a piece of high-end equipment but the disproportionate price vs. performance and the return of investment places many high-end products out of reach for the general community.

Cost aside (DIY is not inexpensive either!), I’m sure DIY audiophiles will continue to design and build because of the satisfaction and enjoyment they receive when listening to their own creations and masterpieces! I am proud to say that I made most of my home audio gear!

Member Profile: Bruce Heran

Bruce Heran

Bruce Heran

Member Name: Bruce Heran

Location: Sierra Vista, AZ

Education: Bruce has a BS in Biology and he has taken some master’s levels courses.

Member Status: He has been reading audioXpress for a number of years.

Occupation: Bruce co-owns and is vice president of design for Oddwatt Audio. The company specializes in high-quality audio kits (mostly valve designs). Prior to that, he was a project manager for a government defense contractor.

Audio Interests: Bruce is a fan of anything analog. He enjoys designing high-end valve equipment and listening to music on vinyl.

Most Recent Purchase: Because he is willing to design and build almost anything, Bruce never knows what he might buy. However, his most recent purchase was an Audio Technica AT-33PTG/II phonographic cartridge.

Bruce Heran's workshop

Bruce Heran’s workshop

Current Audio Projects: Bruce is working on a digital remote control integrated valve preamplifier with a valve phono stage. It also has a solid-state phono preamplifier and an economy integrated valve stereo amplifier.

Dream System: Bruce’s dream system contains Martin Logan Montis speakers (he currently owns the Vistas); a pair of Martin Logan Grotto or Depth subwoofers; KT120 mono block power amplifiers of his own design (he already has them); a remote-control preamplifier of his own design with phono stage (he already has this, too); an OPPO BDP105 Blu-ray player (to replace his OPPO 83SE); a Sota Millennium Turntable (to replace the Sota Moonbeam he currently owns); and several phonograph cartridges.

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

Industry Watch: October

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)

    Photo 1: Niles Cynema’s Soundfield in-wall soundbar received the CEDIA Manufacturers’ Excellence Award

    Photo 1: Niles Cynema’s Soundfield in-wall soundbar received the CEDIA Manufacturers’ Excellence Award

  • Sonance (CEDIA founding member)—Sonarray SR1 System outdoor speaker system (see Photo 2)

    Photo 2: Sonance’s Sonarray outdoor system also received the CEDIA Manufacturers’ Excellence Award.

    Photo 2: Sonance’s Sonarray outdoor system also received the CEDIA Manufacturers’ Excellence Award.

  • 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 research@cedia.org.

 


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)

    Photo 3: Samsung’s  HW-F870 soundbar received a Twice VIP award.

    Photo 3: Samsung’s HW-F870 soundbar received a Twice VIP award.

 


Klipsch History

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

Photo 4: Engineer Richard Field joins MISCO.

Photo 4: Engineer Richard Field 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).

Photo 5: Onkyo received the TWICE VIP award for its LS-B50 soundbar.

Photo 5: Onkyo received the TWICE VIP award for its LS-B50 soundbar.

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.

AX July: Audio Showmanship

When you’re finished reading this issue of audioXpress, you might want to make a note: Tune in next month. In August, we’ll be featuring an extensive report on the HIGH END Munich 2013 audio trade show, which draws manufacturers and retailers from around the world.

Ward Maas, owner of Pilgham Audio in The Netherlands, will be your guide through the event, which features many innovative audio products, some of which are not yet for sale. Examples of the broad range of products displayed include:

  • The Pivetta Opera Only amplifier designed by Italian Andrea Pivetta. At a maximum 160,000-W output, this is a huge cylindrical amplifier that opens up into sections once the power is turned on. Listeners can literally step inside this high-end amplifier, which has a sci-fi look that suggests it could beam you down to the surface from the starship Enterprise.
  • The PureAudioProject open baffle (OB) stereo system. At the polar opposite of the Pivetta in complexity, this item is a DIY kit of matched components for quickly building your own stereo system (including screws, rubber washers, loudspeakers, and high-quality German oak). “PureAudioProject Baffles were designed for simple and easy self assembly, while having OB acoustical guidelines in mind,” according to the project website.

Be sure to pick up the August issue to read about these and many other HIGH END exhibitors.

Regards,
Mary Wilson
editor@audioxpress.com

Editor’s note: An incorrect biography for audioXpress contributor Ron Tipton was published on p. 44 of the June 2013 issue. To see his correct biography online, please visit http://audioamateur.com/errata-corrections-updates.

January Products: HiWave Wireless Speaker, Power Amp Kit, Wolfson DAC

HiWave develops new wireless speaker platform

HiWave offers a Bluetooth wireless speaker demonstrator that runs for 100 hours at normal levels from a single charge cycle.

HiWave Technologies, a provider of innovative audio amplifier ICs, full-frequency range speaker drivers, and next-generation haptic-touch devices, has developed a new product called Endfire. Endfire is an efficient wireless stereo speaker reference platform that delivers 100 hours of high-quality audio playback at typical listening levels.

Endfire uses Bluetooth to pair with tablet PCs, smartphones, and laptops and outputs 30-W audio from its two full-frequency range, wide-dispersion HiBM36S12-8 BMR speakers. These are combined with HiWave’s DyadBA3 module, which supports both AVRCP and A2DP Bluetooth audio profiles and uses the HiAS2002 stereo amplifier. The system is powered by three 2,200-mAh Li-ion batteries and charged via a micro-USB connection.

The reference platform consumes less than 300 mW during typical playback and its onboard HiWave HiAS2002 (Audium) amplifier can switch voltage rails to reproduce peaks without any detectable artefacts. The system automatically enters standby when not in use and waking. Device pairing and battery check are controlled via Endfire’s volume control dial.

The HiAS2002 amplifier IC and BMR speaker drivers are available from HiWave. Visit www.hiwave.com for more information.

 

Akitika’s complete stereo power amplifier kit

Akitika’s GT-101 contains everything you need to build a stereo power amplifier.

Akitika’s GT-101 is a complete stereo power amplifier kit that supplies everything but the solder. It produces greater than 50-W RMS per channel into 8 Ω with low distortion and low noise. The kit includes a toroidal power transformer, film, COG capacitors, metal film resistors, heavy-duty extruded aluminum heatsinks, isolated input jacks, double sided FR-4 PC boards, five-way speaker binding posts, and a fully regulated power supply. It’s contained in a black custom chassis. The component quality is characteristic of high-end equipment, at a cost of a little more than $300. Akitika’s GT-101 stereo power amplifier sounds better because you build it. Visit www.akitika.com for more information.

Caption: Akitika’s GT-101 contains everything you need to build a stereo power amplifier.

 

Wolfson’s newest DAC delivers great sound

Wolfson Microelectronics has introduced its latest stereo digital-to-analog converter (DAC), the WM8533, which provides audio performance in a small package for a wide range of consumer electronic applications.

The WM8533 delivers 106-dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and features an integral charge pump, a software control interface, and offers 2 Vrms line driver outputs where a 3.3-V power supply rail is used. The WM8533 is suitable for a wide range of consumer digital audio applications including set top boxes, digital televisions, DVD players, and games consoles.

The WM8533 also features ground-referenced outputs and a DC servo to eliminate the need for line driving coupling capacitors and effectively eliminate pops and clicks at power on. The device also supports all common audio sampling rates between 8 and 192 kHz. For more information, visit www.wolfsonmicro.com.