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IEEE 1394 Moves Center Stage in Pro Audio

Dallas, TX / Frankfurt, Germany (March 27, 2006)--Leaders of the professional audio equipment market are introducing a broad range of new 1394-equipped systems this year, meeting growing demand for fast, reliable digital audio transport in professional and consumer music systems, according to the 1394 Trade Association and global music industry leaders.

Dallas, TX / Frankfurt, Germany (March 27, 2006)–Leaders of the professional audio equipment market are introducing a broad range of new 1394-equipped systems this year, meeting growing demand for fast, reliable digital audio transport in professional and consumer music systems, according to the 1394 Trade Association and global music industry leaders.

Yamaha Corporation, Mackie/Loud, Alesis, TC Electronic, Presonus, M-Audio and other suppliers are incorporating the 1394 interface into recording and live sound products, taking advantage of FireWire’s quality of service, low latency, and high bandwidth to move multiple audio sources into a computer-based recording system, then back out to amplifiers and speakers.

New 1394-equipped products were announced at the January, 2006 NAMM Conference in Anaheim, CA. More than two dozen 1394-enabled speakers, audio amplifiers, digital effects processing systems, and mixing consoles are now in development and set for introduction in 2006.

“Worldwide, the professional audio market currently totals more than $13 billion annually, and the volume of 1394-equipped products is accelerating rapidly,” said James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association. “Early audio adopters of the 1394 technology are now selling mainstream products for the professional market and cross-over consumer applications, creating many new capabilities using 1394.”

Snider added the 1394 Trade Association will establish a Professional Audio Working Group to develop and enhance 1394 specifications relevant to audio applications and new generations of audio systems. The group will hold its first session during the Trade Association’s second quarter meeting in Dresden, Germany, April 24-27.

The potential for 1394 also is expanding in the ‘pro-sumer’ sector, with technologies such as Apple’s GarageBand enabling entry-level musicians and recording artists to work with sophisticated systems that were previously too expensive to be found outside of a professional studio. The 1394b (FireWire 800) standard, which delivers 800 Megabit/second bandwidth and connections up to 100 meters, has extended FireWire’s popularity in the music industry. Quality of service challenges have been met by innovative suppliers of 1394 technology, such as TC Applied Technologies/Wavefront Semiconductor and Oxford Semiconductor, using sophisticated hardware and software that eliminate jitter, latency and potential synchronization challenges.

“FireWire delivers an assured digital path that replaces multiple analog connections, affording interoperability without expensive redundancies or the need for proprietary, non-standardized systems,” according to Fred Speckeen, director of business development for TC Group. “1394 provides the channels, the low latency and the TCP/IP layer–all as part of the package,” he said. “The audio market has become a very vital and exciting sector for FireWire’s benefits. We are responding by announcing two new 1394 chips at Frankfurt as well as introducing the EqcoLogic longhaul 1394 chips for CAT5+ connectivity. We’re showcasing Pro Audio implementations ranging from FireWire speakers to large area recording, touring and installation systems.”

Added Jalil Oraee, CTO at Oxford Semiconductor, a leader in 1394 audio, “This is a flourishing application for FireWire. Audio is an important element of A/V networking use case scenarios under development at the High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance. As well as guaranteed quality of services, all 1394 nodes synchronize their internal clocks to a nominated device within the A/V network, thus providing the facility to separate audio and video yet avoid lip sync issues. Users can buy their favorite 1394 audio devices and connect them to their HANA TVs. Audio also may be distributed to several rooms in a house and played simultaneously with no audible intra-room delays.”

Yamaha, Mackie/Loud, Alesis, TC Electronic, Presonus, M-Audio are all delivering new 1394-equipped products. “Yamaha helped to develop and has supported 1394 audio and MIDI standards for more than 10 years. We believe FireWire is one of the best methods for transporting audio,” said Athan Billias, marketing director for technology products at Yamaha Corporation of America. “We have seen the first wave of simple FireWire audio I/O products, but there is the potential for different devices targeted to specific market needs. For example, we see the need for simple peer-to-peer devices, network-capable devices such as Yamaha’s mLAN products, and for devices that take advantage of aggregation in the OS.” He added that at the Frankfurt Music Messe, Yamaha will introduce the GO46, the company’s first peer-to-peer mobile FireWire audio/MIDI interface, which can be powered via the 6-pin FireWire cable.

“FireWire is the top audio interface for computer recording, since it combines the best compatibility and performance with the lowest latency and CPU overhead,” said Tony Rodrigues, director of business development for Mackie/Loud Corporation. “Mackie’s products include dedicated desktop and studio FireWire recording products like the Onyx 400f and 1200f. Mackie’s Onyx mixers have FireWire expansion capabilities using patent-pending technology that integrates an analog mixer with 1394.”

Allen Goldstein, principal at Island Digital Media Group, which worked with Alesis Corporation and Wavefront Technology, noted: “Our customers require portability, easy connectivity, and large channel counts of high-resolution, high-sample-rate audio. 1394 delivers on these requirements, providing an excellent foundation for a variety of products tailored to the methods of recording engineers. Wavefront and Alesis are using 1394 to transfer data to and from our industry-leading HD24 and HD24XR standalone hard disk recorders. We’ve implemented 1394 in a series of desktop mixers, providing users with a one-piece solution to both sound reinforcement and multichannel audio recording; and we’re excited about rolling out next-generation audio interfaces and networked audio devices using the 1394 protocol.”

M-Audio Corporation also has adopted FireWire for new products. “The 1394 protocol has enabled M-Audio to develop music creation products that are more powerful yet easier to use than ever,” said John Bastienelli, director of product management. “For example, the new ProjectMix I/O facilitates professional multi-channel recording-18 x 14 audio I/O plus MIDI I/O-via a single FireWire cable for streamlined set-up. In addition to providing high fidelity and low latency, the FireWire protocol transmits enough electricity to power multi-channel audio interfaces, allowing us to support the mobile music community with our line of bus-powered peripherals.”

Jim Odom, president of PreSonus Audio said, “FireWire has been the catalyst for PreSonus to provide professional-quality, affordable and easy-to-use computer recording systems to professional and hobbyist-musicians world wide. Stability and reliability is critical for music recording and FireWire gives our customers the performance and confidence that they need in the music creation and recording process.”

Uffe Kjems Hansen, VP of product development at TC Electronic A/S said, “TC was an early FireWire adopter, and has implemented it in tens of thousands of our Powercore audio accelerator products. We chose FireWire because of its high channel count and true network structure that allows customers to grow their systems incrementally rather than having to retool completely every year or two.”

At this year’s Frankfurt show TC is releasing two high quality DSP based I/O products, building on the vision of optimizing the entire signal chain with mic-pre’s, realtime integrated DSP processing, a DICE II FireWire interface and on to the target DAW application.

The 1394 Trade Association is a global organization dedicated to the advancement and proliferation of the IEEE 1394 standard in the consumer electronics, computer, peripherals, automotive, industrial, and other markets. For more information, please visit