Seattle, WA (February 8, 2006)–The FireWire dynamic duo of Wavefront Semiconductor and TC Applied Technologies (TCAT) offered several surprises at the 2006 Winter NAMM Show last month. Four new DICE II-based products were rolled out by Alesis, Eventide, and PreSonus. And Wavefront/TCAT announced three new chips that reduce the cost of FireWire implementations and enable FireWire to operate over long distances.
“We definitely had a big blast at NAMM this year,” gushed Bob Moses, vice president and director of engineering at Wavefront. “As developers put the finishing touches on their first generation DICE II products, we’re beginning to see them hit the market and enjoy instant success. There are all kinds of cool DICE powered FireWire products in the pipeline, from dozens of industry leaders. And we’re ready to start talking about the next members of the DICE chip family–DICE Jr and DICE Mini, and the incredible LongFire technology from Eqcologic that extends FireWire beyond the desktop.”
LongFire is an adaptive equalizer chip that enables FireWire to travel at 400Mbps over 100 meter lengths of inexpensive CAT5 or CAT6 cables. Morten Lave, CEO of TCAT explained: “We’ve been watching the growth of proprietary, non-compatible Ethernet-based audio networks and digital snakes for performing, installation and recording. 1394 FireWire isn’t one company’s network; it’s a standard that lets customers choose which products they want to use, and it connects them simply while providing better performance, low latency and, most importantly, with 1394 FireWire, customers get freedom of choice and performance at the same time. Remember, too, that FireWire allows transfer of audio, video and TCP/IP with guaranteed delivery and latency. This means that your FireWire network is also a computer network, and that is connects with consumer electronic products.”
The LongFire chip is joined by two new versions of the popular DICE II chip. Respectively, DICE Jr. and Dice Mini offer 32 and 16 channel connectivity–at 192 KHz. Both chips inherit the high performance DICE II architecture: an audio streaming engine optimized in silicon to ensure low latency and high stability, the ultra-low jitter JET PLL, ARM7 RISC processor, integrated 1394 link layer controller, and generous audio I/O ports. In order to reduce cost, the DICE Jr and DICE Mini chips are squeezed into smaller packages.
TCAT’s Lave stated, “DICE II customers have helped us to understand their exact needs for connectivity and performance today and in the future. We have designed these cost-optimized, no-compromise solutions to meet their needs. Designers are telling us that they need more than simply multichannel 1394 chips; they demand interoperability, the highest audio quality, the lowest latency, and innovative reference designs, and the highest levels of support. In all of our DICE line you will find support for stacking, our famed JetPLL, and hardware rather than firmware streaming.”
Engineering samples of DICE Jr and DICE Mini will be available in spring 2006, but developers are beginning to design products around these new chips today. “Developers can get started with the DICE II now and rest assured that their product designs will easily migrate to the DICE Jr and DICE Mini because all three chips share the same software suite,” stated Moses. “Now, more than ever, there is no reason to settle for a compromised FireWire audio solution.”
Four new DICE-based pro audio products were introduced at the Winter NAMM Show last month. PreSonus unveiled its first DICE II product–the FireStudio, a 26 input 26 output FireWire recording interface with 8 microphone preamps, MIDI I/O, SPDIF I/O, word clock, 8 channels of 96K ADAT (dual SMUX) in/out, 16 channels of 48K ADAT, and a 36×18 DSP matrix routing mixer. The FireStudio is the big brother to the FIREPOD, adding more inputs and outputs as well as the MSR (Monitor Station Remote)–a surround capable desktop remote control delivering the ability to switch between Track, Mix and Surround modes, as well as talkback, dim, mute, mono and dual headphone amplifiers.
“DICE II is the only connectivity solution that enabled us to meet our goals for high channel count, high performance, flexibility, and affordability. FireStudio is just the beginning of our DICE II product line. We look forward to rolling out a variety of products that leverage DICE II’s capabilities,” stated Jim Odom, president of PreSonus.
“We are thrilled that PreSonus has chosen DICE II for its future FireWire products,” stated Wavefront’s Moses. “PreSonus has distinguished itself as an innovator of high quality products that take everything to a new level. Keep an eye on these guys–by leveraging DICE II, they are going to show the industry what FireWire can really do.”
Alesis unveiled two new DICE-based FireWire audio/MIDI interfaces–the I/O14 and I/O26. Taking full advantage of DICE connectivity to a PC or Macintosh, these devices support upwards of 14 or 26 (respectively) channels of audio, S/PDIF and ADAT digital inputs, plus a built-in 16-channel MIDI interface. Sporting a compact tabletop form factor, each unit offers 4 (IO14) or 8 (IO26) analog mic/line inputs on “Combo” connectors with Phantom power and insert jacks, supports a wide array of sample rates, and a switchable high impedance input for integrating guitars and basses.
“DICE II is an incredible chip, and we are working furiously to bring products to market that capitalize on its unique features and performance,” stated Jim Norman, Alesis product manager. “We are also happy to see other companies in the pro audio/MI industry jump on the DICE II FireWire bandwagon and roll out products that will work with ours on the FireWire network. As we see it, DICE II puts professional audio capability in the hands of the average user. Just like the ADAT did 15 years ago.”
“Alesis has a history of rolling out disruptive products in the pro/MI industry–from the MIDIverb and ADAT in the early days, to the Multimix FireWire mixers last year,” stated Randy Yorston, Wavefront’s sales manager. “We at Wavefront are constantly amazed by the creativity of the Alesis engineers, and we look forward to watching them roll out a variety of FireWire products in the future that help us realize the benefits of a DICE II FireWire studio.”
Also at Winter NAMM, Eventide announced that, effective immediately, the H8000FW Ultra-Harmonizer effects processor is now shipping and available through authorized Eventide dealers worldwide. The H8000FW marries the H8000A with the H8000 and adds DICE II FireWire connectivity.
“Eventide has always viewed its role as a provider of powerful tools that artists and engineers could play like an instrument to craft a wholly unique sound,” said Ray Maxwell, Eventide vice president of sales and marketing. “The H8000FW is the culmination of this philosophy, combining the analog I/O of the H8000A with digital I/O of the H8000 plus FireWire. Now users can easily connect the H8000FW to a Mac or PC using a single FireWire connection for up to eight channels of 24-bit/96kHz audio in and out with very low latency.”
“We surveyed our connectivity options, and chose DICE II,” added Nicholas Rose, Eventide director of audio engineering. “We were able to integrate DICE II into our product quickly and we are very pleased with its performance. We look forward to adding DICE II to other products in the future.”
“The Eventide H8000FW is quite impressive,” Yorston agreed, “and we are pleased that Eventide chose DICE II for its FireWire connectivity. Eventide managed to get this product to market without us even knowing about it, which proves that the DICE II Software Development Kit is very powerful and easy to use. We’re looking forward to the next DICE II surprise from them and everyone else.”
TC Applied Technologies Ltd. (TCAT) is wholly owned by TC Group A/S of Denmark (www.tcgroup.tc). TCAT’s DICEII FireWire connectivity chip is distributed worldwide exclusively by Wavefront Semiconductor (www.wavefrontsemi.com).