AIX 2014: Panasonic and Soundchip introduce new IFE audio solution

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) has partnered with Soundchip SA, a specialist in wearable sound solutions, to develop Panasonic HD-AUDIOa new audio technology for in-flight entertainment (IFE).

The new technology will immerse passengers into a fully digital sonic experience with seven unique features, such as sound quality that is free of clicks, pops and interference; digital surround sound; a passenger-controlled equalizer; noise cancellation; Bluetooth integration with mobile phones and other devices; seat to seat, seat to ground and multi-passenger voice calls; and the ability to converse with a flight attendant or other passengers without having to remove their headphones.
“We joined forces with Soundchip to rethink all aspects of our sound experience,” said Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics. “Our X Series systems are renowned for their unmatched picture quality and today we are bringing that same level of innovation to sound by reinventing the audio experience.”
“In 2011, Soundchip and Panasonic recognised the need to modernise in-flight audio, and in launching Panasonic HD-AUDIO, we are pleased to have brought together a remarkable solution that delivers the same sonic thrills in the air as passengers are used to on the ground,” commented Mark Donaldson, CEO of Soundchip.
Panasonic HD-AUDIO is designed to improve listening comfort by employing digital Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling (H-ANC), which is able to suppress more background noise. By combining this capability with a new feature called “open-ear”, a passenger can converse with a headset still in place. The digital design also supports the implementation of digital surround sound processing and parametric audio equalizer, which renders an immersive sound stage to provide a theatre-like listening experience.
Panasonic HD-AUDIO comprises a compatible headset that connects to the in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC)system via a standard USB port. Custom software installed at the seat manages the audio streaming between the headset and the IFEC system’s media and telecommunications services. Passengers may adjust the way in which sound is presented through intuitive controls that are embedded within the touch panel’s graphical-user-interface.
The audio technology supports Wide Band (WB) voice telephony for seat-to-seat, seat-to-ground and multi-passenger VoIP conference calling. Call quality and speaking comfort can be modified to encourage callers to speak softly.
To assist the airline operator directly, Panasonic HD-AUDIO employs advanced algorithms to actively monitor the connected headset’s status, reporting fault conditions to the IFEC system via BITE. Updates to the system may also be implemented in software rather than requiring expensive changes to IFEC hardware.
To support the rollout of this software-headset solution, Panasonic and Soundchip will provide airline headphone manufacturers with the technology and tools needed to develop and produce their own HD-AUDIO compatible headsets.

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