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Wolfson ships billionth chip, has ANC technology incorporated into new Audio-Technica headphones

test 4 March 2008

UK: Audio-Technica’s new ATH-ANC3 QuietPoint active headphones – due to be made available in the UK in April – reportedly constitute the first consumer product to incorporate new ANC (active noise cancellation) technology developed by Wolfson Microelectronics. Headquartered in Edinburgh, Wolfson Microelectronics recently announced that it had shipped its billionth chip, writes David Davies.

According to Wolfson, the ANC technology “effectively reduces ambient noise, allowing users to enjoy their music in noisy environments without the need to have the volume at excessive levels.” The Wolfson technology is also said to provide more noise cancellation over a wider frequency range, thereby improving the performance of compact in-ear headphones.

Moreover, a ‘feed forward’ technique utilised by Wolfson’s ANC means that the microphone is fitted on the outside of the ear-piece and the ambient noise is inverted and then mixed with the original audio. The result of this, says Wolfson, is a much better overall performance and a reduction in the need to resort to excessive volumes when listening in noisy environments.

The ATH-ANC3 includes a compact control unit with a monitor switch that mutes all functions to let users hear important outside announcements and conversations; the headphones can also operate normally in a passive mode when the noise-cancelling function is off so they can be used without batteries. The headphones – available in either black or white – are supplied in a hard, durable carrying case with an adjustable cable and an additional extension cable, a clothing clip, an AAA battery and an airline adapter.

“Many existing feedback-based ANC products rely on forming a physical block between the external noise and the user’s ears, such as bulky foam casings or deep in-ear plugs, to help improve performance,” comments Wolfson’s CTO, Peter Frith. “Thanks to our unique feed forward technology, Wolfson’s ANC products effectively lower the ambient noise around a user, allowing them a safer and more enjoyable audio experience. Removing the need for bulky sound insulation also empowers designers to use Wolfson’s ANC to improve the user experience of the latest compact products created for today’s mobile lifestyle.”

“Since entering this growing sector of the headphone market last year, we are already enjoying tremendous success with the ANC7 noise-cancelling headphones which offer consumers incredible performance at a very competitive price-point,” Harvey Roberts, Audio-Technica’s senior UK marketing manager, tells PSN-e. “The ANC7 has won numerous awards including being voted ‘Best Headphone 2007’ by Computer Shopper magazine, whilst GQ magazine gave it ‘Pole Position’ against its peers. Adding a highly portable in-ear model to our noise-cancelling line-up was an obvious next step for us and we are expecting the new ANC3 headphones to be equally as popular with our customers.”

In other recent news for Wolfson, the company has revealed that it has now shipped its billionth chip. The announcement was made as part of Wolfson’s Q4 results, said to be the strongest quarterly results the company has seen in its 14-year history. Wolfson CEO Dave Shrigley says that he “anticipates the next billion to be sold within the next three years.


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