A new wireless audio technology launched by New Zealand company Virscient enables live performance and gaming applications with ultra low latency audio over low power wireless connectivity.
Designed to meet the needs of professional live performance, the ‘LiveOnAir’ module integrates Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF5340 high-end multiprotocol SoC, and supports various use cases including digital wireless microphones, in-ear monitors, gaming headsets, and other scenarios where latency and audio quality are critical to the user’s performance or competitive advantage. The LiveOnAir module allows OEMs to rapidly develop high performance wireless audio solutions supporting ultra-low latency transport of 24-bit/48 kHz audio while keeping the Bill of Material (BoM) low.
“LiveOnAir supports any ‘real time’ audio applications where traditionally wireless connectivity would have created too much delay when compared to wired alternatives,” explains Jonny McClintock, Commercial Director, Virscient. “In live performance scenarios, latency can result in a disconnect between performer and performance, with audio poorly synchronised with real-time events. Similarly, in gaming applications, latency and audio quality are critical to the competitive advantage – undue delays can limit the ability of the gamer to react to their environment.”
The solution includes a software transport that can support a range of topologies, codecs (compression/decompression algorithm), and RF options that allow optimization for the specific requirements of any given use case. When used with the nRF5340 SoC, the software runs over Bluetooth® LE connectivity to deliver mono or stereo audio with less than 5 milliseconds end-to-end latency. The nRF5340 integrates dual Arm® Cortex®-M33 processors providing a high-performance application processor alongside a fully programmable, ultra low power network processor – making the SoC an ideal choice for LE Audio applications.
For low power digital microphone applications, Virscient provides a complete hardware/software reference design, also based on the nRF5340 SoC.
“One advantage of the nRF5340 for LiveOnAir is the capability of the Nordic SoC’s powerful dual processors to host a low latency audio codec such as Skylark,” explains McClintock. “Aside from the technical performance of the nRF5340 SoC, Nordic provides accessible code and support that greatly reduced the time to market for a non-Tier 1 company.”