By Bruce Hofer, Chairman & Co-Founder, Audio Precision
Earlier this month, Tektronix announced it has been acquired by the mega-conglomerate Danaher Corp. of Washington D.C. As many of you know, the founders of AP came out of Tektronix over 23 years ago. Indeed, I spent the first 15 years of my engineering and management career there, so I've been watching this buy-out with more than just casual interest.
There's been a lot of consolidation in the T&M industry recently. This can be a good thing for the companies involved – more stability, greater economies of scale, etc. But it can also hurt in the innovation, sales, and support departments. It almost certainly makes focus more difficult when a single management team and sales force are responsible for a diverse range of products. I know it really frosts me to sit through a demonstration by a sales engineer who is unfamiliar with his own product.
AP, however, has remained resolutely independent and dedicated to only one business: audio test & measurement. Although we have also undergone ownership changes earlier in this decade, AP is still a privately held, 80% employee-owned company. We are in total control of our future, and we have the freedom to make major investments without answering to the whims of the stock market or dominating outside interests. It's a formula that's worked well, especially in recent years as we have set a number of all-time high sales records while continuing to lead our industry. Witness our innovative APx technology, representing a totally new approach to audio test. Now, 16 months after its introduction, a number of major production lines across the world are happily enjoying the significant speed and ease-of-use benefits of our APx585 and APx586 multichannel testers. This month we are also announcing the beta release of v2.1 of our APx control software containing even more new features and capabilities (see separate article below).
As a major shareholder of AP and its chief analog design engineer, I come to work every day with only one goal: make better audio test gear. It is both a dedication and a commitment shared by all of us here at AP. We hope it shows.
APx500 v2.1 Beta download available
APx500 Measurement Software v2.1 is scheduled for release January 15, 2008. A beta download is now available for customers to get familiar with the new features. Customers who do not own an APx can still download the software and play with it in demo mode.
Concurrent with the release, all new APx units will ship with AES/EBU as a standard digitial I/O connector in addition to the previously available coaxial (IEC60958/SPDIF) and Toslink options. An upgrade kit will also be available.
APx500 Measurement Software v2.1 has several new and improved features:
Improved Measurement Navigator Allows users to create & edit any number of signal paths comprised of any number of measurements, including multiple instances of the same measurement, each with customized settings.
Input and output switcher support Adds support for AP SWR-2755 audio switchers. For customers who have devices with more than 16 channels, such as mixing consoles, the APx585 and APx586 offer as much as an 8-fold speed advantage over a two channel analyzer.
Improved automation functionality Allows users to add operator prompts and calls to external programs before and after measurements. Also improved reporting & real-time generator control options.
Dedicated Noise measurement
6-Digit frequency counter
DC Level over time
New user interface refinements
Auto set generator level based on worst measured distortion or specific channel
Individual generator on/off controls
Start and stop controls for the signal monitors to improve performance
AC/DC coupling global control
Show or hide Measurement Navigator to maximize results pane
Improved API Added more calls, full documentation & samples. Includes a sample simplified app for production testing created in Visual Basic .NET with the API.
New Labview 8.2/8.5 sample Virtual Instruments Sample VIs demonstrating how to access and control the APx585 /586 from LabVIEW. Includes loading project files, returning measurement results, and controlling various measurement parameters.
Download beta application and "What's New" PDF here: ap.com/beta
Applications Engineer Eric Schultheis examines how to test for glitches with a 2700 Series audio analyzer.
\'glich\ (noun) - derived from the German glitschig, or Yiddish glitsh, meaning ‘slippery'. (1) A short-lived fault in a system. (2) A false or spurious electronic signal caused by a brief, unwanted surge of electric power.
Although not a standard audio measurement, glitch detection can be beneficial to anyone designing an audio device or trouble shooting an audio system.
Examples might include checking a PC sound card to make sure audio response is flat as CPU usage varies, or measuring an amplifier where power up and/or down conditions may send an audible surge to connected loudspeakers.
Note: Some glitches are to be expected when state is changing, however, the degree of what is acceptable can certainly be measured and given a limit.
In this example we'll set up a test to detect a glitch using a SYS-2722 audio analyzer. You can also perform this test with an ATS-2.
Setting up the test
1. Set the Analog Generator for a sine wave at 1 kHz. with the amplitude at 1 Vrms.
2. Turn on the outputs and select the output configuration for your DUT (Device Under Test.) In our example we'll use the balanced float (Bal-Float) configuration.
3. Set the Analog Analyzer inputs to match the outputs of your DUT. Select THD+N as the Function Reading. Set the Detector rate to 128/sec.
4. Open up the bandwidth all the way (<10 Hz. to > 500 kHz.) Set the band reject filter to Fixed at 1 kHz. This will enable us to make 128 full bandwidth noise readings per second while notching out the 1 kHz stimulus signal from the generator.
5. Set up the Sweep Panel so that Data 1 is analyzer THD+N amplitude (Anlr. THD+ N Ampl ) and Source 1 is external sweep time (Time. External Sweep Time).
6. Set the Start to 0 sec., the Stop to 60 sec., and the Steps to 500.
7. Enable Auto Scale.
8. In the Settling Panel, change the Analog Analyzer THD+N Amplitude Settling Algorithm to None and its delay to 0.00 sec. This will post readings to the graph instantly (without waiting for settled readings).
9. Finally, click the Sweep Start button in the tool bar or on the Sweep Panel. While the sweep is running (60 seconds duration) apply the condition to your DUT under which you expect the glitch to occur.
In this example I toggled the Analog Generator off and on at the 30 second mark and the resulting glitch is visible on the graph.
Graph of detected glitch.
You may download this example test file “glitch_detection.at27” here http://ap.com/ap/download/glitch_detection.at27
AP recognized by the City of Beaverton's Recycle at Work program AP is grateful to Roberta Grosch who has led AP's recycling program since she started at the company ten years go. Thank you Roberta!
AP Holiday Schedule AP will be closed from Monday December, 24 through Tuesday, January 1, 2008. This applies only to the AP Factory in Beaverton; Sales Partners will have their own schedules. Please check with them individually for more information.
AP Seminar: Digital audio test Seoul, South Korea | December 4, 2007 Best Western Kangnam Hotel AP's Director of Engineering, Dr. Thomas Kite discusses IEC 60958 and IEC 61937, testing audio over HDMI and digital converter testing techniques. Hosted by B&P International. Please reserve the seats if you want to join (TEL:02-546-1457) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAB Show 2008 | Las Vegas April 14-17 Visit the show website
AP in the news
Audio Design Line has serialized AP's recent Technote on the Basic Audio Measurements.