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High Def Microphone for Mobile Computing 72

morpheus83 writes "Akustica today introduced the first High Definition Microphone that enables HD voice quality in laptop PCs and other broadband mobile devices. The AKU2103 is a digital-output microphone with a guaranteed wideband frequency response. It is the first digital microphone to guarantee compliance with the TIA-920 audio performance requirement for wideband transmission in applications such as Voiceover-Internet Protocol (VoIP)."
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High Def Microphone for Mobile Computing

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  • High Def Audio? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kybred ( 795293 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @11:58AM (#19371727)
    Is it 720p or 1080i?

    The term High Def should not be applied to audio.

    Oh, the article is already /.ed.

    • Re:High Def Audio? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Daniel Rutter ( 126873 ) <dan@dansdata.com> on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:06PM (#19371783) Homepage

      The term High Def should not be applied to audio.
      It does mean something, but it doesn't seem to mean much. Instead of the 3kHz-ish bandwidth of your normal voice phone link, this standard [wikipedia.org] provides 150Hz to 6.8kHz audio bandwidth.

      That, of course, is very well within the abilities of all kinds of crappy five-dollar microphones. This gadget is an integrated device with mic module, A/D converter and other jazz, but there doesn't seem to be anything else special about it.

      There's nothing stopping software VOIP systems from providing DC-to-daylight audio bandwidth if you've got the link bandwidth to support it. I would be very surprised if you couldn't get a zero-dollar VOIP connection today that sounds better than this new "improved" standard, if you use even half-decent mics at either end.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
        Exactly, my cheapie makie mixer, sure highball and a soundblaster audigy USB adapter kicks the ever living crap out of any of the "high definition" microphones out there.

        and I spent $40.00 to buy the lot at a flea market!

        Another fun fact, Most laptops have decent audio cards already, a decent microphone plugged in there will more than likely kick the tar out of any "high definition" microphone sold. I know my new D620 record almost as good any my audigy USB does. And if you do a nioew profile and remove
        • by PayPaI ( 733999 )

          Now excuse me, I need to go and buy a high definition and vivid color digital certified stereo Tv antenna at my local electronic shop, I only have an analog antenna.
          Well, if you have a VHF only antenna, then you certainly need a new antenna because digital OTA broadcast is UHF-only.
          • Well, if you have a VHF only antenna, then you certainly need a new antenna because digital OTA broadcast is UHF-only.
            WBBM-DT/Chicago [fcc.gov] would care to differ (VHF channel 3)
    • Intel seems to think High-definition audio exists.
      http://www.intel.com/design/chipsets/hdaudio.htm [intel.com]
      But who is Intel, anyway?
    • Re:High Def Audio? (Score:4, Informative)

      by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @04:02PM (#19373649)

      Hello, I am a Sound Designer for motion pictures.

      In my context, "high-definition" is mostly a marketing term, so that people who procure our gear and only know about video are enticed to buy "high-definition" audio equipment as well. OTOH, we usually apply the term "high-definition" to audio recordings that exceed 48 kHz sampling rate or 24 bit sample size. Many sound effects (and much film music nowadays) is originated at 96 kHz or 192 kHz so that we have more bandwidth to play with when we do pitch shifting, and in anticipation of the 96 kHz presentation formats (if and when they are ever introduced.) We don't do any audio professionally at 32 bit, unfortunately, but wider sample sizes allow much more dynamic work with recordings (basically, it can make mixes louder, and quiet mixes sound better).

    • by Runefox ( 905204 )
      You forgot 1080p. Anyway, "high definition" as a term has no distinct connection to video alone; It can also refer to how the video is presented, such as the lighting conditions of the room, as well as the audio and any other "immersive" features. For example, a 5.1 speaker setup would likely have more "definition" than a standard stereo setup, and a 96kHz sample rate would have a higher "definition" than 22kHz. Similarly, 24-bit audio has a higher dynamic range than 16-bit or 8-bit audio, which also could
  • by mikkelm ( 1000451 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @11:58AM (#19371731)
    So who's the narrator?
  • What the hell? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:02PM (#19371751)
    > High Definition Microphone?

    What is this supposed to mean?

    > that enables HD voice quality in laptop PCs and other broadband mobile devices.

    Meaningless, I use mics from cheap Chinese dynamics to rare vintage U47's. The acoustic environment and relative position of mic to sound source has more effect on the sound than the design.

    > a digital-output microphone

    It may have a digital output but it is not a digital output microphone! No more than there is any such a thing as digital headphones.
    • "High definition microphone". Right. For low bit rate voice over IP?

      There are interesting things to do in the microphone space for VoIP, like using multiple microphones for noise cancellation and beam steering, but this is just hype.

    • Cutting on the analog hole.

      Same HD crapware with sole goal of rebranding DRM.
    • Especially in a mobile computing environment. I can't see much use for a high quality Microphone if you're just going to be in a noise environment anyway. Although, it may be useful if you are recording in a noise setting, and then trying to pick out specific sounds later on. Might be good for surveillance applications. However like you said, The quality of the microphone makes little difference when you factor in the position and acoustic environment. Surveillance would probably need something a littl
    • by RattFink ( 93631 )
      "It may have a digital output but it is not a digital output microphone! No more than there is any such a thing as digital headphones."

      It has a MEMS based sensor on die. It's closer to digital then you think. At least about as close as a CCD in a digital cameras and camcorders is digital under the philosophy that because no analog leaves the die it's digital school of thought. This may sound like a lot of bullshit, but they are marketing these to system designers which as one, not having to deal with ana
    • by cnvogel ( 3905 )

      Meaningless, I use mics from cheap Chinese dynamics to rare vintage U47's.
      It's about time that notebooks and PDAs come with XLR connectors and phantom power
      for our serious VoIP-needs. Maybe they can make a special tube version that supplies
      filament and bias voltages, too? ;-)
      • Well, why the fuck not? Mini XLR connecters are small enough to fit into any laptop, and still 10 times as robust as 3.5mm jack sockets. Virtually all modern preamps are just an opamp in a design copied from the manufacturers datasheet, no matter what claims for XDR this and SUPERPRE that. They don't cost nuthin. There is no reason that we cannot have decent audio quality with XLR ins on laptops, other than that the universe hates me.
    • I'm curious as to why this HD microphone only works on "broadband mobile devices"? Any logic behind this statement?
    • by BryanL ( 93656 )
      Exactly. I saw the title and I thought, how is this going to be any different than the new Samson USB mics that have been out for the last year or so? How is it going to be more hi def than a Shure SM57, which are pretty accurate mics? Or is it going to be like a Neumann with a digital output? This read like a press release.
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )
      Well, except in the case of the headphones they can receiver analog or digital data but in any case you will end up with analog data = analog headphones. Or atleast that's how I see that argument.

      But this mic takes analog data and you end up with digital data, it doesn't output a modulated amount of voltage or anything so why not call it digital?
    • It may have a digital output but it is not a digital output microphone! No more than there is any such a thing as digital headphones.

      It's called S/PDIF. Look it up.

      If you care at all about sound quality, you use S/PDIF over either coax or toslink (optical) cable from your audio source to as close to your speakers as possible.

      The advantage is that there is NO chance for interference or noise to get into the signal, and it can use very high bandwidth with flawless reproduction.

      If your HTPC or DVD or HDDVD or

      • by makohund ( 10086 )
        >It's called S/PDIF. Look it up.

        You mean the very common consumer version of AES/EBU? Duh.

        You're missing part of the concept here... it's called a microphone. Look it up.

        It's used for recording compression waves (caused by vibrating objects) present in a medium, usually air or water. It has a part that can be vibrated or moved by those waves, and converts them into an analog electrical signal... typically via magnetic induction or a voltage differential.

        Slapping some converters on the tail end of that
  • <distorted thrang=11>burble</distorted>

    +5 insightful, c'mon :o)
  • HD voice quality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    HD voice quality is an oxymoron. Anyway, there are lots of microphones that are capable of Music quality. Maybe I'm missing the point but this doesn't seem like a big deal.

    In any audio application, more is not always better. Past a certain point, more frequency response and dynamic range does not increase clarity. Clarity is what we're after with voice transmission. Plain old telephone service gives more than adequate clarity for most applications and it's quite band limited.
    • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
      Maybe the next generation VoIP phones can be used to call your dog with high frequency tones anywhere in the world!
      Boy technology is amazing!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      There are a number of languages that use clicks, ejectives, and other less common consonants for which the POTS 4 kHz bandwidth is insufficient. Linguists routinely analyse spectrograms of consonants in the 5 to 15 kHz range to determine specific features of articulation. For languages which differentiate consonants in the > 4 kHz spectrum, POTS is unusable. I have had this very experience in discussions over the telephone with speakers of Na-Dené languages, for example, where neither I nor the cons
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NoMaster ( 142776 )

      In any audio application, more is not always better. Past a certain point, more frequency response and dynamic range does not increase clarity.

      And for other reasons than you might suspect too.

      One of the exercises we did when I was a 'prentice telco tech involved bandpass filtering at 300Hz-6kHz. Turns out it's worse for speech comprehension than filtering to 300Hz-3.4kHz because not only does it let lots of sibilants through, it also cuts lots out - specifically, ones that help your brain interpret the on

  • I think this could help me record all my classes.. Although I'm afraid it will record all classes in a 5 mile radius..

    Maybe now people can hear their neighbors having sex..

    BTW: High definition sound?
  • So... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RattFink ( 93631 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:11PM (#19371817) Journal
    Judging by goggling other announcements they combine the microphone element into the CODEC claiming to have less interference from RF sources. This certainly isn't as big a deal as they are making it out to be, any decent designers already aim to keep the CODEC as close to the MIC as possible where quality and will couple and filter the output to minimize this. On consumer devices MIC interference just isn't such a big deal and in professional applications I don't see this getting the dynamic range that microphones have with 1" or larger elements and properly balanced connections that are used today. Really the only use I see for this is to help space save on cell phones, which is a killer feature in itself to cell phone manufacturers if the price is right.
  • Now when I'm browsing the Intartubes in my car, you'll be able to hear me ROFL.
    Although I try to not ROFL because it leads to roll-over-car.
  • Forgot to post this in my last one but here is a site with a bit more technical details on the mic.
    http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2007/05/31/2679217.h tm [tmcnet.com]
  • I do agree that starting out with the best quality audio before compressing is necessary. With voip, nobody really complains about the sound quality when they talk to me on it. What they do complain about is codecs that make it sound robotic, underwater, jittery, etc.. I'm sure if they market it with words like "HD" and "improved voip call quality" it'll be a hit.

    As far as it being mobile, would any audio technician ever take a top quality, precision microphone and shove it in their pocket with their car

    • by A5un ( 586681 )
      Sounding underwater, robotic etc is result of concealment. The cause of this, you guessed it, packet loss or huge latency that forces the jitter buffer to treat it as packet loss.

      There are already wideband and ultra-wideband codecs that sample at 16Khz and 32Khz respectively. The only limitation with VoIP is the receiver (your handset) that is limited to 4Khz audio reproduction. If you use VoIP on computer (with headset) and calling another computer, assuming both of you use wideband codecs, you already hav
  • Buzzword bingo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:45PM (#19372001)
    How many buzzwords can you fit into an unrelated product press release?

    [ ] Digital
    [ ] High Definition
    [ ] VOIP
    [ ] Broadband
    [ ] Mobile
    [ ] Network
    [ ] Internet
    [ ] High speed
    [ ] i

    Anyone got any more?

    At any rate it doesn't even say what type of microphone it is (condenser, dynamic?) and what's all that rubbish about being the first to have "L/R-user select function", because using 2 microphones to capture left and right separately has obviously /never/ been done before

    Who posted this? Honestly!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Giloo ( 1008735 )
      If it was only about buzzwords... I had to watch carefully through the ads to see the no-content on this device... Why not link http://www.akustica.com/products/digitalmic.asp [akustica.com] instead ?
    • by RattFink ( 93631 )
      "At any rate it doesn't even say what type of microphone it is (condenser, dynamic?)"

      It's on-die MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System).
    • Anyone got any more?

      How about "World's first"?

      Also, this thing is so bleeding edge that it has a button to select if the mono mic is the left or right channel.

      WTF?

      I'm an audio geek, and when I think of a high def microphone for mobile computing, I think of something like: http://www.core-sound.com/TetraMic/1.php [core-sound.com]

      No, I'm not affiliated with those guys at all, I just stumbled across that mic a week ago or so and thought it was cool. More of an interesting worlds first than this POS mic.
    • Prepare yourself for Digital High Definition VOIP-enabled Broadband for your Mobile. Network with the Internet at High Speeds with your iPhone.
  • "mechanical transducer, output amplifier and sigma-delta converter all integrated on a single chip"

    Maybe a piezoelectric transducer?

    The transducer would not need to be powered, just the amp and converter!

  • Voiceover-Internet Protocol (VoIP)


    So you mean that protocol where I can automagically download Voiceover personnel for use in my newest video?
    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )
      Yet another lesson why just because you can join two words together to form another word doesn't mean that you should in all contexts.
  • I really love that:

    1) We're slapping 'HD' on so many old technologies to get people to buy them all over again.
    2) With 'HD' audio (such as can be heard on NPR), I can hear the lips and gums of the person on the other end sliding and smacking with such clarity! Just think: Maybe with an HD cellphone you'll actually enjoy the queue music that EVERYONE has these days.

    I, for one, would like to simply skip this 'upgrade' altogether. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

  • "Akustica today introduced the first High Definition Microphone

    definition
    f. The clarity of detail in an optically produced image, such as a photograph, effected by a combination of resolution and contrast.


    An HD microphone, huh? Where does it fit the screen? Kinda big to attach to a tiny microphone isn't it?
    • The word "definition" does not apply only to images!!!! Has the HD marketing crazy really rotted so many brains?

      If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe Webster?

      definition
      b (2) : clarity especially of musical sound in reproduction

      Even this less audio-centric definition of definition should be directly applicable to audio:

      definition
      4 a : the action or the power of describing, explaining, or making definite and clear

      Next you'll be telling me I can't call my Certifices of Deposit at my

  • care to sound accurate, or would you rather sound great? accuracy though important in certain scientific situations is probably not the foremost aspect of effective voip communicating. like those warmly illuminating vanity lights that make people look wonderful, there's more to interpersonal relations than a flat freq. response.

    i haven't heard these little mics but if they are as flat as advertised you're going to end up sounding more than a little dry, perhaps even cold and irritatingly harsh. on the oth

  • Notebooks? Whatever.

    Are these new mics low-power enough with good response to make 1g Bluetooth earbuds run for days on a charge, but pick up just voice from over by the ear?
  • Nice, HD Audio Mics! Now we can hear N00b's complain about lag in High Definition audio!

    Serious what's the point in these apps? I mean VOIP isn't exactly the prime candidate for high definition audio... current mic's seem to do perfectly fine, heck, the audio gets the heck compressed out of it anyway, or is this another way we can get VoIP to take more bandwidth? Now if this story was about high definition audio mics being built into high end camcorders or something, that'd be interesting,

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