Seven unique features on Panasonic’s IFE audio system

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Panasonic has unveiled HD-AUDIO, an IFE audio technology developed in collaboration with Soundchip SA, a supplier of headsets. Panasonic says that the system will immerse passengers into a fully digital sonic experience with seven features “never seen before on an aircraft”.

Panasonic says that the system offers a sound quality that is free of clicks, pops and interference; digital surround sound; a passenger-controlled equaliser; noise cancellation; Bluetooth integration with mobile phones and other devices; seat to seat, seat to ground and multi-passenger voice calls; and the ability to converse naturally with a flight attendant or other passengers without having to remove their headphones.

Paul Margis, president and CEO of Panasonic Avionics, said, “We joined forces with Soundchip to rethink all aspects of our sound experience and deliver yet another leap forward for our airline customers and their passengers. Our X Series systems are renowned for their unmatched picture quality and today we are bringing that same level of innovation to sound by reinventing the audio experience.”

Mark Donaldson, CEO of Soundchip added, “In 2011, Soundchip and Panasonic recognised the need to modernise in-flight audio, and we are launching Panasonic HD-AUDIO. Today we are pleased to have brought together a remarkable solution that delivers the same sonic thrills in the air as passengers are used to on the ground.”

HD-AUDIO employs digital Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling (H-ANC), which is able to suppress more background noise than ever before. By combining this capability with an new feature called “open-ear”, a passenger can converse naturally with a headset still in place.

The digital design supports the implementation of digital surround sound processing and a parametric audio equaliser, which renders an immersive sound stage to provide a “theatre-like” listening experience.

The headset is connected to the IFEC system via a standard USB port. Custom software installed at the seat manages the audio streaming between the headset and the IFEC system’s media and telecommunications services. Passengers may adjust the way in which sound is presented through intuitive controls that are unobtrusively embedded within the touch panel’s graphical-user-interface.

HD-AUDIO supports Wide Band (WB) voice telephony for seat-to-seat, seat-to-ground and multi-passenger VoIP conference calling, and audio levels can be intelligently configured to encourage callers to speak softly.

To assist airline operators, the system employs advanced algorithms to actively monitor the connected headset’s status, reporting fault conditions to the IFEC system via BITE. Updates to the system may also be implemented in software rather than requiring expensive changes to IFEC hardware.

To support the rollout of this exclusive software-headset solution, Panasonic and Soundchip will provide airline headphone manufacturers with the technology and tools needed to develop and produce their own HD-AUDIO compatible headsets.

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