Soundchip invests in next generation headphones

Soundchip SA (Soundchip) has teamed up with design firm Designit in a multimillion dollar investment, which will see the creation of next generation headphones for commercial aviation.
“Our strategic goal in commercial aviation is to provide airlines with an ability to offer passengers an in-flight audio experience that is second-to-none,” stated Soundchip’s CEO, Mark Donaldson. “In doing so, we aim to increase the importance of installed in-flight entertainment equipment in improving passenger satisfaction, whilst also creating new opportunities for differentiation in a highly competitive marketplace.”
The headphones will connect to the in-flight entertainment system via a USB-ended soft-flex cable with integrated push button control. Soundchip is designing the headphones with improved servicability, encouraging airlines to repair any faults, which could reduce cost-of-ownership by up to 30%.
The new headphones, which Soundchip want to showcase later this year, will offer high definition audio playback combined with first-in-market Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling (H-ANC).
Mark Donaldson explains how H-ANC works: “Hybrid active noise cancelling works by processing the noise signals measured by two microphones positioned around each ear cup by applying both feedback and feed-forward methods of active noise cancellation. One of two microphones in each ear cup is positioned inside the cup and measures noise proximate to the ear drum. The other is positioned on the outside of the cup and measures the noise conditions around the headset.”
Donaldson continues, “By capturing and processing noise signals inside and outside of the ear cup, a hybrid active noise cancelling approach is able to develop a more accurate ‘anti-noise’ signal, which delivers a deeper level of noise cancellation than traditional feedback-only techniques. Ultimately, this provides passengers with a far more comfortable, noise-free listening experience on-board.”
Open-Ear and Hot-Swap technology will also be integrated. Open-Ear gives passengers the ability to talk comfortably with other passengers or flight crew whilst still wearing their headset. “Open-Ear is enabled via a passenger's touch panel display. Upon activation, selected media is paused and the headset is automatically reconfigured to allow conversation with the headset still in place with enhanced clarity and comfort,” Donaldson elucidates. “Once a conversation has ended a passenger may deactivate Open-Ear by simply touching their screen for a second time, upon which their media is restarted and their hybrid active noise cancelling is fully re-established.”
Soundchip’s CEO also told how Hot-Swap works, saying it “allows a passenger to change seats, in the event of a busy cabin or faulty IFE system, and have their selected media and programmed playlist follow seamlessly. The passenger simply disconnects their headset from their first seat's USB port and then reconnect the same headset to a USB port at a second seat within the cabin. Once reconnected, the passenger's selected media and playlist are immediately transferred, removing the need to reselect media and rebuild their playlist from scratch.”
Other features of the headphones include Voice Telephony, Digital Surround Sound and Headset Diagnostics via BITE. They will also be compatible with Panasonic HD-Audio, an all-digital in-flight audio solution Soundchip partnered with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to introduce earlier in 2014.

Stephanie Taylor, editorial assistant, Inflight /

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