In addition, omni-directional sensitivity ensures excellent overall performance and versatility in mobile applications. STMicroelectronics MP23AB02B is one such high-quality microphone.

Enhanced headphones. In advanced headphones, a new chipset has been launched that draws low power and high-quality codec for portable and general-purpose audio applications. Traditionally, to 24-bit stereo ADCs and DACs, this new device integrates a broad range of additional functions to simplify implementation of complete audio system solutions. The device reduces external component requirement by integrating drivers for speakers, headphones and differential or stereo-line outputs, and integrates preamps for stereo differential microphones. Its application gets extended to personal media players, smartphones, personal navigation devices, stereo Bluetooth headsets and more.

Advanced headphone solutions are offered by companies like Analog Digital (ADAU1373) and Nuvoton (NAU8822).

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The IoT rears its head
With the Internet of Things (IoT) penetrating almost every aspect of electronic design, whether in the name of the IoT or cyber physical systems, traditional manufacturers seem to be getting the proverbial short end of the stick. “Traditional audio/video device manufacturers, who are experts in their fields, may have difficulty mastering incorporating wireless connectivity and IoT elements in their end products,” says Esmond Wong, vice president – business development and supplier marketing, Arrow Electronics.

So, how are vendors tackling this? Advanced Wi-Fi and streaming solutions deliver CD-quality music to anywhere in the premise without the need of connecting wires. Such technologies reproduce the fullness, clarity and depth of music way beyond Bluetooth A2DP.

In addition to longer ranges; higher bandwidth and stronger immunity to interferences, Wi-Fi technologies coupled with UPnP/DLNA, industry standards for music discovery and sharing enable speakers to stream music from libraries that are typically spreaded across all compatible devices in the local network, such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and network storage devices.

For instance, you have TI’s CC3200 board, which is a microcontroller unit that comes Wi-Fi-certified out of the box. TI has made available audio-booster chips for this board that contain a class D power amplifier to drive the speakers and an ultra-low-power audio codec, TLV320AIC3254, which supports programmable audio processing.

Microchip Technology recently announced, at Hong Kong Electronics Fair, the release of its second-generation Multizone audio technology and a mobile app for use in whole-home-audio and multi-room applications. JB Multizone 2.0 utilises advanced technology to reduce audio drops found in traditional Wi-Fi-streaming applications.

Wi-Fi Direct eliminates the need for each speaker in a zone to connect with the access point, thereby eliminating common problems associated with overloading access points. Bypassing the access point also reduces the radio frequency (RF) bandwidth consumed by half, resulting in increased streaming quality and/or the ability to add more speakers in a zone. The addition of Wi-Fi multimedia (WMM) to Wi-Fi Direct reduces source-to-zone speaker latency and packet loss, resulting in tightly-synchronised audio playback with minimal audio drops.

It is a Wrap
The show goes on, and we will probably see the usual enhancements in audio performance and efficiency next year. There is also a great deal of focus on improving the power efficiency of the chip, while eliminating potential issues with electromagnetic interference, RF interference and audio artefact such as clicks and pops. This year’s single-chip solutions as well as comparatively smaller silicon-handling noise-cancellation techniques have also been interesting.

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