Thursday, June 4, 2009
Nordic Transceivers Enable Wireless Guitar System To Stream Uncompressed Audio
The WaveAngle Radian Gold Series wireless guitar system streams uncompressed audio from an electric guitar to an amplifier to free performers from traditional trailing wires when on stage. This is achieved without loss of audio quality or reliability compared to a traditional wired link and at a pricing level that makes the solution accessible to both amateur and professional performers
Ultra low power (ULP) 2.4GHz RF specialist, Nordic Semiconductor, today announces that WaveAngle has specified a pair of its nRF24Z1 transceivers to provide the wireless audio link at both ends of its US$299 Radian Gold Series wireless guitar system.
Targeted at amateur and professional guitar and bass guitarists performing live on stage at small venues, clubs and houses of worship, the Radian Gold Series operates using a small form factor attachment that plugs directly into the output jack of any electric guitar and then transmits audio wirelessly back to a partner attachment plugged into the input jack on any guitar amp. This completely eliminates the underfoot clutter of trailing cables common to on-stage performers, and makes it simpler for multiple acts to get on and off stage quickly.
"Wireless guitar audio is nothing new, but it has yet to take off in a big way in the mid-range market," says Sean Michaud, president of WaveAngle. "Low end analog solutions based on UHF and VHF radio have existed since the late 1970s, but there has not until now been a mid-range, digital audio solution priced at an affordable level that does not noticeably sacrifice audio quality and reliability (i.e. immunity to dropouts and fuzz-outs) for wireless convenience. This has hindered the widescale adoption of wireless among performing guitarists."
While other mid-range wireless guitar products do exist, Michaud says these invariably employ some form of compression which degrades sound quality compared to a wired link. In comparison, the Nordic nRF24Z1 2.4GHz transceiver-based WaveAngle products are capable of streaming crystal clear uncompressed stereo audio at up to 4Mbit/s with native ‘CD-quality' 16-bit, 48kHz resolution.
"Using the Nordic nRF24Z1, we were able to develop a product that delivers completely uncompressed audio with enough bandwidth headroom to allow us to engineer out latency to an imperceptible level to the human ear," continues Michaud. "All digital audio wireless solutions are susceptible to latency issues – particularly standards-bases solutions that have to be able to operate with the ‘rest of the world'. But the Nordic nRF24Z1 is designed specifically for digital audio and as such supports a degree and precision of latency tuning that simply does not exist on generic [i.e. non-audio specialized] chips."
In addition, the nRF24Z1 is designed ‘out-of-the-box' to cope with other 2.4GHz interferers [such as Bluetooth® wireless technology and Wi-Fi® ] that may be operating in the vicinity. It does this via a proprietary frequency agility protocol that automatically looks for an adjacent clear channel to swap to before interference becomes so severe that too many packets are being lost for audio quality to remain unaffected.
"The Radian system also pairs automatically which means the end user doesn't have to worry about choosing channels, making the product quite literally ‘plug and play'," adds Michaud. "And up to 10 Radian Gold Series attachments can be used alongside each other in the same room. All of these achievements are directly attributable to the Nordic nRF24Z1, and help to distinguish the WaveAngle products from those of competitors." (See ‘About the nRF24Z1' below.)
As a result, Michaud claims the Radian Gold Series achieves a sound quality and connection solidity as good as wired. This includes: a class-leading battery life (20 hours continuous usage from a single AAA cell); a small form factor (competing systems are much bulkier); excellent range (up to 30m); and the ability to succeed in a direct audio quality (wireless to wired) comparison.
"We did actually start our product development using a generic 2.4GHz transceiver from a Nordic competitor," admits Michaud. "But when we evaluated the nRF24Z1 we concluded it was worth going back and doing a redesign because of the integrated protocol and other features. The Nordic solution and the excellent support they have provided to WaveAngle saved us an awful lot of work on the software debug and validation side and helped us deliver an excellent product."
"The Nordic nRF24Z1 is helping to make high quality wireless audio products that can genuinely serve as cable replacement technologies affordable and viable," concludes Geir Langeland, Director of Sales & Marketing at Nordic Semiconductor. "The Radian Gold Series is an excellent application example in the musical instrument segment."
Source: Nordic Semiconductor
Senior Marketing Manager