Bang & Olufsen (B&O) became the first company to launch products using the new Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) multi-channel open wireless audio standard from the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association (WiSA) with the recent introduction of its new Immaculate Wireless Sound products.
The Danish company revealed that its branded speakers and televisions will reproduce 24-bit, uncompressed music at native sampling rates wirelessly using the 5.0GHz to 5.8GHz DFS range to avoid interference from other signals. The new standard claims to overcome the latency and error problems associated with low-end wireless speaker solutions, such as pops, clicks and hisses. Lip synch issues due to compression-induced latency have also been eliminated by the new standard’s fixed latency of just 5ms. B&O will be using microchips from Summit Semiconductor to comply with the standard.
While many companies have purported to offer WiSA-certified products over the two years since the technology was announced, B&O claims to have the first shipping, certified product to comply with the wireless audio standard.
“We are proud to announce that the first brand to achieve the WiSA stamp of approval is also one of the world’s most iconic champions of amazing sound, says Jim Venable, WiSA president. “Bang & Olufsen is paving the way to a new generation of wireless speakers with uncompromising quality.”
“Before this, wireless speakers have been just bad because they are trying to squeeze into the crowded 2.4GHz frequency,” says Venable, pointing out how much different the WiSA standard is from Bluetooth aptX and Apple AirPlay.
There are 15 channels available in the DFS range, which is also used by weather satellites and military, “so if an AWACS jet flies overhead, the audio has to move to another frequency,” says Venable. The WiSA standard calls for the signals to hop frequencies when interference is encountered. By FCC rule, the signal must wait 30 minutes before it can hop back to the initial frequency. According to Venable, it’s that 30-minute waiting period that makes the DFS range so unsuited for other types of communications, such as data. But for audio purposes, the FCC doesn’t matter.
Venable says B&O “put the standard through the ringer” with rigorous testing and tough questions to the WiSA engineering team, spending about 18 months doing testing and investigation trying to “break” the standard. Meanwhile, WiSA has established a certification lab in Sunnyvale, Calif., to test products. All products that meet the WiSA certification will be interoperable from various manufacturers. Currently, WiSA has more than 25 members. In its Sound Room at the CEDIA Expo last month, it demo’ed equipment from Sharp, Paradigm and Klipsch.
“Our engineers have been testing the boundaries of wireless speaker technology for years,” says B&O CEO Tue Mantoni. “But not until today the transmission quality simply hasn’t been reliable and good enough. Now, our investment in this pioneering technology and out collaboration with WiSA pay off.”
Mantoni continues, “Immaculate Wireless Sound is the biggest innovation from Bang & Olufsen for several years and will form the backbone for a launch of several new speaker products later this year.” Those announcement are due in late October, according to the company.
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