Communications and Residential Installation in audioXpress October 2020

September 11 2020, 11:10

The October 2020 edition of audioXpress is now available online and in print. We are extremely proud of what our team was able to put together for our readers under the current difficult circumstances where many companies globally remain affected by the pandemic restrictions. These challenges continue to inspire our author community to contribute with valuable articles that we are certain will be appreciated by all our readers. And, this is one of the most diverse and feature-rich issues we have ever published.

In direct response to those challenges, audioXpress decided to focus its scheduled Installation Market Update feature on residential installation, more specifically focusing on home entertainment and workspaces for the home. In 2019, in our first Installation Market Update, audioXpress focused on commercial applications and highlighting key technical trends for that specific segment. This year, we decided to focus on new products for the residential installation market, as many companies are refocusing on this segment. And it's not only about home-theater or whole home audio. For this article, we explore solutions that cover audio networking and Wi-Fi for the home, the latest smart home control systems, inspiring acoustic solutions, and even outdoor and garden speakers. Just in time for the CEDIA Expo Virtual 2020 week!

In this edition, we also begin a new article series about Analog Devices A2B or Automotive Audio Bus, a digital audio bus technology originally developed for automotive requirements that is now finding interesting design possibilities in other audio applications. "Getting Started with Automotive Audio Bus (A2B)" is the title for a series prepared by signal processing audio expert Brewster LaMacchia. After having discovered A2B technology in its inception, and Analog Devices announcing that the A2B parts and tools would become a regularly available part through distribution, LaMacchia started looking at applications where A2B solves problems that don’t have good alternatives. This month, he details A2B's features, and use with I2S and PDM interfaces, before exploring the technical underpinnings of the A2B bus design and creating systems with the development tools available. An exciting roadmap for all audioXpress readers to enjoy.

audioXpress October 2020 also expands on a new and important topic, particularly for all those people who continue to work from home or have to remotely collaborate with teams and industry partners. The topic is communications and specifically audio quality of those communications in current work-from-home scenarios. First, J. Martins addresses the communication challenges, the lack of a communication protocol, and the problems of audio quality in existing forms of communications and conferencing tools we use. And we are proud to expand that topic in direct collaboration with Manfred Lutzky, Head of Audio for Communications at Fraunhofer IIS, Audio and Media Technologies division, who writes about the technologies and audio codecs that we depend on to make audio and video conferencing calls.

Also for this edition, Gary Galo reviews the GeerFab Audio D.BOB Digital Breakout Box, a valuable new solution for all the music enthusiasts who would like to listen to their Super-Audio CD (SACD) music collection by feeding the DSD datastream via HDMI from the player to an outboard digital-to-analog converter (DAC) in high-resolution audio. And GeerFab Audio created the first device that delivers!

In his Sound Control column, Richard Honeycutt writes about Testing Electroacoustic Systems, providing a primer on how to measure the frequency response of sound reinforcement systems, using a calibrated microphone and an appropriate metering system. As an experienced acoustic consultant, Honeycutt knows only too-well how crucial it is to consider acoustics when specifying or setting up sound systems.

And Michael Steffes discusses "Extracting Input Referred Op-Amp Noise Models" in this month's Audio Scope column. Using the noise preamp described in the September 2020 audioXpress issue, Steffes proceeds to take the different swept frequency spot noise measurements using a spectrum analyzer. In this article, he uses three different amplifier setups to emphasize the different noise terms, sweep those measurements across frequency, then solve for what the input noise terms need to be to match the measured data.

This month's edition also features a great DIY article from Jens Tybo Jensen, explaining projects we could do with Infineon's latest Arduino board KIT_ARDMKR_AMP_40W, which is compatible with the Arduino MKRZERO and MKR1000 Wi-Fi platforms. Arduino boards are extremely popular among DIY enthusiasts and a number of add-ons or “shields” exist, particularly for audio players. This new kit adds a MERUS MA12070P multi-level Class-D amplifier board, enabling the creation of advanced wireless audio projects — including full-fledged Alexa-powered DIY smart speakers.

Our expert speaker builder Ken Bird, submitted a unique project for a 2.1 desktop speaker system, using recycled coffee cans. His Bluetooth-enabled system ticks all boxes for both multimedia and desktop use with a computer, but also as a potential conversation piece for anyone wanting to demonstrate DIY and eco-friendly credentials.

And, Michel Nieuwenhuizen sent audioXpress an amazing project for an ultra-low distortion microphone buffer amplifier to go along a pair of Bruel & Kjaer microphone capsules type 4165. Knowing the capsules' excellent qualities for both measurements and audio recording, the author decided to make them into complete microphones by adding a buffer amplifier and housing. This is a very high-level project that we are certain will be a valuable reference for anyone working with microphone circuits.

And there's also our Hollow-State Electronics column, where Richard Honeycutt writes about the early tube mixing consoles and the reasons why those circuits continue to be among the most sought-after by producers and studio engineers.

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