Greetings Second Sound Fans, Customers, Demo Artists, Lurkers!
Some of you already know that I’ve been working on a new incarnation of the audio-to-synth technology which will improve performance and reliability compared to the ACO160EVK prototypes that are out there already. I wanted to wait until these new prototypes look promising before making an official announcement about them. Well, the preliminary results are looking great and I’m confident that before the end of this month we’ll have a much better solution than the ACO160EVK that came out in June of this year.
The surprising piece of news will be that the new DACO160EVK (notice that “D” there) prototypes do not contain an ACO160 chip at all! Instead, they digitize the audio using the embedded 12-bit ADC in a low-cost micro-controller (the STM32F303C) and perform an emulation of the ACO160 chip using a fixed-sample-rate algorithm that is currently patent pending. The performance is actually better than using the ACO160 chips — Specifically, the tracking dynamic range is 10-15dB better (around 65dB), the high-frequency glitching problem has disappeared, the same analog outputs (sine, sawtooth and square) are available using a low-cost DAC chip (the CS4334) and the performance will be 100% repeatable with very close to 100% yield.
You may be asking yourselves, why did I invest so much time and money into developing a custom ASIC, only to migrate the project to an off-the-shelf component like an STM uC? There are a few reasons why I feel this is a better solution than the one you’ve seen so far using my ACO160 chip:
1) I only very recently became convinced that it was possible to achieve the same or better performance with a digital solution. And since it’s definitely possible to do it, I wanted to be the one to provide you with this solution and not leave it to somebody else!
2) I wanted to save all of you the risk of depending on my custom mixed-signal silicon, for which you might have had to wait six months or even up to a year from now until it would have been in volume production.
3) I wanted a solution which offered the possibility of improvement, special feature requests, etc. via firmware updates rather than telling you all “I’m sorry, the chip doesn’t support that and it can’t be changed.”
I hope this news does not alienate any of you; on the contrary, I hope you are all optimistic (as I am) that this change will help you get a more reliable, higher-performance product to market even quicker and at a lower overall cost (even with patent licensing fees taken into account). In either case, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know about how you feel.
Of course, the new DACO160EVK prototypes will be available within the next few weeks. I already have a few allocated to customers for whom the earlier prototypes presented problems, but I will make an announcement about availability, pricing, etc. as soon as the firmware is working to my satisfaction.
Thank you all for your understanding and continued support!