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Analog Angle Article

Sound-expanding IC yields audio analog of 3D for smartphones, tablets

Dallas, Texas—Small, portable sound sources such as smartphones and tablets provide a limited and constrained in-depth audio sensation. The LM48903 from Texas Instruments strives to change that, by providing a more immersive audio sensation even from the headphones or closely spaced speakers often used in conjunction with these devices.

LM48903 from Texas Instruments spatial processor

expands audio, creates larger sonic sense

The IC manipulates the existing audio tracks to provide a spatially expanded 3D-like sound impression, with user-programmable parameters and configuration. In addition to the audio-channel processing, the IC integrates a pair of 18-bit stereo ADCs, and matching Class D amplifiers which can drive up to 2W per channel (continuous) into 4O loads (THD+N<1%), for a more-complete audio subsystem, along with I2 S and I2 C digital interfaces.

I had the experience of seeing and hearing this unit at a demonstration recently and it was impressive. When watching a selection of movies being shown on a tablet computer —whether action, scenic, talking head, or others—and listening to the audio on small external speakers spaced less than a few inches apart, the impact and effect was dramatic, yet not overwhelming or “false” as the LM48903 was switched in and out. (Note: for the demo, the speakers were external; the intention is to have this IC packaged within the tablet or smartphone as part of the internal audio-output path.)

The vendor provides software tools so the OEM who is designing it into their product can adapt it without need to develop or tune algorithms. A web-based Speaker Array Designer tool generator creates the spatial audio coefficients for desired effects. An Android driver and evaluation board is also available.

Packaging, pricing, and availability : The LM48903 is available now in a 30-bump, 2.7×3.2 mm micro SMD package, and is priced at $1.75 (1000 pieces).

For more information : You can see a video explaining how spatial audio works at http://www.ti.com/spatialvid-pr or go to the Texas Instruments Spatial Audio landing page at http://www.ti.com/spatial2-pr.

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