I recently spent a day at the AES Convention at the Javits Center in New York. The show was focused on pro audio, and was filled with companies that produced products for that industry. Microphones - from companies like Shure - were everywhere, as were mixing consoles, effects gear and software, loudspeakers, and of course musical instruments - and plenty of sound!
A shot of the show floor.
It wasn't just end-user equipment at the show. Many major semiconductor, component and test equipment manufacturers that produce parts used in the design of pro and high-end gear were there as well. In fact, some of the best sound I heard at the show - not an ideal environment to be sure - was at a couple of these booths.
I began the day with supercapacitor maker Cap-XX, where I saw (and heard) a demonstration of how using supercapacitors to stiffen the power supply rails in mobile phones can improve the audio performance. The company also presented a paper at the show comparing the audio performance between a typical circuit in a mobile phone with one using a supercapacitor. For more details, see "Supercapacitors enhance audio quality and power in mobile phones," which appeared in Audio DesignLine earlier this year.
Cap-XX supercapacitor demo board.
I also stopped by a few other non-semiconductor component makers at the show including transformer manufacturers Triad Magnetics and Lundahl Transformers, connector maker SwitchCraft, cable vendor Belden Cable, and control product vendors Bourns and Penny+Giles.
A close-up of some PGFM3000 motorized faders from Penny+Giles.
Many IC vendors were at AES in one capacity or another, including Analog Devices, National Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Freescale Semiconductor, Cirrus Logic, AKM Semiconductor, THAT Corp., and Wolfson Microelectronics. National Semiconductor had recently introduced some new parts in its high-fidelity product family, which I was anxious to see, and was demonstrating them with a headphone amplifier at their booth.
This headphone amp at National Semiconductor's booth using some of the company's new (and some yet-to-be-announced) amplifier products sounded very open and clean (using high-end headphones from Grado Labs).
Also shown at the booth were complete amplifier and DAC units - also based on the company's amplifier parts - that were designed and built by audio engineer Mark Brasfield, principal audio engineer at National. Mark was one of the founders of high-end audio company MSB Technology and is no stranger to audio design. I had a great time talking with him and am looking forward to more of the company's upcoming audio product announcements.
The amplifier stages of this complete audio DAC unit designed by National's Mark Brasfield are based on the company's high-fidelity amplifier parts.
Another IC company with an actual sound demonstration in their booth was Wolfson Microelectronics. Wolfson recently announced their very interesting WM8741 DAC, which offers designers the choice of a variety of advanced digital filtering options. The WM8741 was chosen by high-end audio equipment maker Linn for use in their Klimax DS digital music player, which was being demonstrated in the Wolfson booth, to good effect.
High-end audio equipment maker Linn chose Wolfson Microelectronics' new WM8741 DAC chip for the Klimax DS - offered as the highest performance digital music player in the world.
I also stopped by Freescale Semiconductor's booth for a demonstration of the ToneCore DSP Developer Kit, a kit that lets software developers easily create custom guitar effects for ToneCore guitar pedals from music gear manufacturer Line 6. The kit includes a Developer ToneCore dock, which uses a Freescale Symphony audio DSP, which is then used to program a Freescale microcontroller-based ToneCore programmable module.
This Freescale microcontroller-based ToneCore Programmable Module from Line 6 can be easily programmed with custom guitar effects and then used in a ToneCore guitar pedal at any time.
Elsewhere at the show, THAT Corp. was showing its family of dual balanced line-receiver ICs for audio applications. These devices maintain a high common-mode rejection ratio - typically 90 dB at 60 Hz - even under real-world pro sound environment conditions.
A demo of THAT Corp.'s 1200 series high-CMRR dual balanced line-receivers.
Finally, here are a few more interesting sights and products from AES 2007. (Note: Most of the photos included here were taken by Frank Notarbartolo, a musician/photographer friend (and associate in the publishing industry) who also happened to be attending the show.
Audio test equipment maker Audio Precision was demonstrating their 2700 Series dual domain audio analyzer, which is now available with USB connectivity.
Rohde & Shwarz had some of their audio analyzers on display as well.
An interesting shot of a mixing console (I think).
Some audio bling from Telefunken|USA, a company that restores and reproduces vintage microphones.
Telefunken|USA's microphone reproductions weren't the only vintage products at the show.
Some very large electrostatic loudspeakers from RezCom Systems, who in association with SoundLab, are looking to bring this technology to commercial applications.
At the end of a long day.
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