Radsone have absolutely smashed the EarStudio Kickstarter, more than doubling their $20,000 goal. The company are producing the first Bluetooth audio receiver that offers 48kHZ/24-bit sound that also enables playback of lossless music.
EarStudio will be popular with smartphone users without headphone jacks and audiophiles seeking to replicate wired quality while using wireless devices. You can control the device via the smartphone app or embedded microphone. Users can enjoy 14 hours of playback from the compact device, which measures 20mm x 40mm.
EarStudio Kickstarter not far off tripling target
Backers have so far pledged $54,891 to the Kickstarter project. There’s plenty of time for the total to go even higher, as the project doesn’t end until July 13.
The world has gone a bit mad for wireless audio in recent years, and with the convenience factor it’s not hard to see why. There’s always that drop in quality to contend with, but Radsone are determined to put a stop to that compromise with the EarStudio. We spoke with Radsone marketing manager John Kang to get the drop on the new product.
Radsone walk new territory with EarStudio Bluetooth audio receiver
Can you speak about how the upgrade to 24-bit quality gives a better user experience?
“There’s no doubt the 24-bit high-resolution music will provide us the better sound with higher dynamic range and more details when proper D/A conversion is guaranteed.
Any digital audio system shall have D/A converter. At the early stage of the digital audio era, D/A converter IC technology was limited to 16-bit resolution, which determined 16-bit of CD specification.
Since the mass production of high-resolution D/A converter IC has become available, users are craving much more than CD-quality sound. As a result, the high-resolution audio market has been expanded significantly due to high-demand on the 24-bit quality sound. With 24-bit sound, you can hear sounds much closer to analog than 16-bit sound.
Back to our main business, the primary issue for the current Bluetooth Codecs (SBC, AAC, aptX) is the 16-bit limited resolution, supporting just CD-like quality. The new aptX-HD is the 24-bit codec, but there’s not yet many aptX-HD mobile phones released in the market. At this moment, we are experiencing almost every Bluetooth audio streaming with 16-bit resolution.
EarStudio reproduces sound over Bluetooth into 88.2KHz/24Bit, leveraging Radsone patented DCT technology, which reduces subtle digital noise and cleans the jitter from Bluetooth streaming. Meaning, EarStudio has the capability of delivering high-quality sound that is much closer to analog sound.”
Why haven’t we seen this kind of hi-fi wireless technology on the market to-date in this format?
“At first, the digital artefact and the sound quality degradation caused by the Bluetooth audio streaming limited development of hi-fi analog circuit for any Bluetooth audio system. Previously the wireless hi-fi market was more focused on the Wi-Fi sector. However, Wi-Fi has the downside with its inconvenience, high cost, and high power consumption.
EarStudio was created after years of extensive researching and engineering effort on Bluetooth audio. Our engineering team has in-depth knowledge and capability on DSP (Digital Signal Processing) and they invented optimal system design, circuit design as well as patented DCT algorithm.
EarStudio reached its Kickstarter funding goal of $20,000 in less than three days as consumers snatched up early-bird pricing at $49. When the EarStudio ships in September, it will sell at $79. How did Radsone manage to offer such a groundbreaking product at such an affordable price?
We want to point out that with its competitive pricing, EarStudio never compromises on its quality of parts with the lower cost.
The Qualcomm CSR8675 on EarStudio is the highest priced Bluetooth platform in the market. Instead of alternatives for less cost, we have made EarStudio utilize every resource of CSR8675, to optimize the entire system architecture. Moreover, it was all possible due to our patented DualDrive HW architecture, which enables to integrate two external DAC IC, AK 4375a on this small unit.”
For readers who haven’t come across it, why is EarStudio a big deal for audiophiles?
“EarStudio is the first Bluetooth audio receiver delivering 24bit studio-quality sound that also enables playback of lossless music. We’ll break it down for iPhone and Android specifically:
Apple’s aim for iPhone to be the best audio source device has led others to make more and more good receivers for its purpose.
EarStudio is designed and optimized for iOS with those intentions of Apple. EarStudio is made with two major unique and proprietary designs:
– Special back-end DSP algorithm and firmware
– Special front-end output HW architecture
The back-end DSP system of EarStudio, which processes incoming PCM sample over Bluetooth, runs with our proprietary DCT (Distinctive Clear Technology) algorithm to reproduce the 16-bit source into studio-quality 24-bit sound comprehending every LSB (Least Significant Bit) details. To deliver jitter-free sound, it also has a unique DSP firmware architecture to control the rate and manage the I/O buffers, which is fully compatible with iOS rate control mechanism.
The front-end output devices of EarStudio, such as Dual DACs, Dual headphone amplifiers, and analog volume controller deliver the best sound to the output which can be hardly achievable with mobile phone’s built-in audio system.
The full-balanced 2.5mm output and analog volume controller, usually supported by many high-end DAP (Digital Audio Player), are no more exceptional features. EarStudio DualDrive technology with PGA (Programmable Gain Amplifier) delivers optimal sound performance.
In the case of playing CD-quality or compressed music, EarStudio provides the best sound as much as high-end DAPs could do.
aptX has been playing as a good replacement for the inferior audio performance of SBC codec. Almost every Android device in the market has been adapting aptX codec as a de facto standard.
EarStudio, as a Bluetooth sink device (i.e. receiver), supports aptX-HD as well as aptX.
EarStudio’s full precision audio processing chain for the both codecs, along with the precise jitter control algorithm, will deliver distinguishing audio performance in any case.
Digital jitter, inevitably caused by the inter-device clock mismatch between source and sink (i.e., transmitter and receiver), is critical to the final audio performance. Unlike iOS, Android Bluetooth streaming requires a Rate Matching subsystem at sink device (i.e. receiver).
Otherwise, the slight difference between incoming PCM rate and outgoing PCM rate would result in overflow or underflow of the limited audio buffer at a sink. Hence, precise Rate Matching subsystem is one of the most important keys which make Bluetooth audio much better.
The ultra-precise Rate Matching subsystem, designed and implemented by Radsone, has been already integrated into EarStudio.
Our performance evaluation result showed us a considerable improvement especially on long-term phase drift across time, which definitely gives you better sound than other Bluetooth receivers.
To sum it up, regardless of iOs, Android, or codec, EarStudio delivers high-quality sound with less noise and less jitter in all Bluetooth cases.
USB Audio Class 1.0
EarStudio supports USB Audio Class 1.0. You can use it as a USB DAC. The limited sample rate and resolution of EarStudio, 48KHz/16Bit, may not fit enough for playing 24-bit high-resolution source files on your PC. However, same as Bluetooth streaming operation, DCT on EarStudio will reproduce any incoming 16-bit source into studio-quality 24-bit sound. And the distinguished front-end output device on analog stage would provide the performance best fit to your headphone.”
Why did you go the Kickstarter route?
“Radsone has been a key IP solution provider for major industry players including Audio-Technica, LG and Astell&Kern. Simply put Radsone has decided to expand into the direct-to-consumer electronics leveraging our IP to launch EarStudio on Kickstarter. We believe that Kickstarter is the best route for start-ups to introduce new products and increase awareness of the brand as well as our proprietary technology.”