MMW-80 -- Yamaha's New MA-7 'AudioEngine' Chipset

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
Commentary on Japan's music technology news

Issue No. 80
Tuesday, June 21, 2005



++ FEATURE: Yamaha's New MA-7 'AudioEngine' Chipset

** 'Developing Sound Content for Palm OS' by Hayden Porter

** 10 Million Downloads for Chaku-uta Full
** Avex Launches New Mobile Music Service
** AVC Technology To Sell Digital Audio Players Under
SiGneo Brand
** Label Mobile to Open New Site for TV and Movie Chaku-uta
** D&M Holdings To Buy Boston Acoustics
** Sony Upgrades Walkman Mobile Site

=== Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - July 5th Seminar ===

This coming July, EA-Tokyo is lucky to have well-known
entrepreneur, Fujiyo Ishiguro, President and CEO of Netyear
Group Corporation. For more information please visit the
EA-Tokyo website listed below.

Date/Time: Tuesday, July 5th 7:00 pm
Location: City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room
(Canadian Embassy Complex)
Language: English
++ FEATURE: Yamaha's New MA-7 'AudioEngine' Chipset

Last month, Yamaha began shipping its latest sound chip for mobile
phones, the MA-7. Since the introduction of Yamaha's 'MA-1' 4-voice
chip in 1999, the MA line of sound processors has sold over 600 million
units worldwide. Yamaha currently holds more than a 50% share of the
Japanese domestic market for these chips, due largely to partnerships
with major phone manufacturers such as NEC. With the introduction of
the MA-7 chipset, Yamaha has added a new brand name - 'AudioEngine' -
for this series of chips formerly known only as the 'MA series'.

The main features of the MA-7 AudioEngine are:

1. 128-voice polyphonic 'hybrid' synthesizer
2. 3D-surround-sound capability
3. Power-saving Class-D amplifier
4. Supports SMAF and Mobile-XMF formats (but not MP3 or AAC)

In addition to Yamaha's proprietary FM generator, the AudioEngine's
synthesizer also includes capability for WaveTable, StreamPCM and AL
generation, making it a full-featured hybrid synth. The chip can produce
128 simultaneous voices of polyphony, twice as many as its predecessor
chip the MA-5 (we don't know why there was no MA-6 release). The 3D-
surround-sound capability is quickly becoming a standard audio feature
for phones here, and this feature can also be manipulated in software
applications via the various mobile 3D programming APIs.

As stereo speakers are also becoming standard for new phones,
manufacturers have been looking for ways to make higher volume
speakers that don't consume inordinate amounts of power. In response
to this demand, Yamaha has added a class-D amplifier to the MA-7,
which has the benefit of reducing power consumption to about half the
amount used by traditional analog amps.

Perhaps the most interesting features (or lack thereof) are the
supported file formats. There had been speculation that with the
MA-7, Yamaha would include support for the popular MP3 and AAC audio
formats that have become standard for portable music players. However,
as we have pointed out before, Yamaha has a vested interest in
prolonging the lifespan of MIDI-based polyphonic ringtones in general,
and SMAF ringtones in particular. By leaving out MP3 and AAC support,
phone manufacturers are forced to look elsewhere and spend extra if
they want real 'digital music player' features.

Samples of the MA-7 AudioEngine are already shipping. Currently there
are two chips in the series (the MA-7 and MA-7D), with a third chip
(MA-7i) set to start shipping in August. The chips are priced at
1,050 yen (US$9.72) per unit, and Yamaha aims to produce a total
of around 8 million MA-7 chips per month.

Yamaha AudioEngine Press Release:


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** 'Developing Sound Content for Palm OS' by Hayden Porter
In brief: In his most recent article, Hayden Porter from explores the process of authoring audio content for
Palm devices. His article covers Palm OS 5 native sound capabilities,
Palm devices using proprietary sound components, how to install
audio content on Palm devices, and content distribution strategies.
Full Article:


** 10 Million Downloads for Chaku-uta Full
In brief: KDDI announced this week that on June 15, the chaku-uta full
(full-song master ringtone) service recorded its 10 millionth download.
The service began a little over six months ago, and an estimated 2.2
million chaku-uta full handsets have been sold (as of May 31). There
are now 36 chaku-uta full sites on KDDI's EZWeb portal offering a total
of 37,000 songs.

** Avex Launches New Mobile Music Service
In brief: On June 15, Avex Group started a new mobile music service on
all three Japanese wireless carriers. In addition to ringtones and
realtones, the new service also offers promotional clips of new and
upcoming CDs and DVDs by Avex artists. Subscribers to the service
can also buy artist goods and concert tickets through the service,
which costs about US$3.00 per month.

** AVC Technology To Sell Digital Audio Players Under SiGneo Brand
In brief: AVC Technology Japan, the digital audio subsidiary of Hong
Kong-based AVC Concept Group, on June 16 announced its entrance
into the Japanese market for portable music players. AVC Technology
has been selling its flash memory-based players through Rio Japan, but
will now begin marketing these under its own brand name of SiGneo. In
addition to its current line of digital audio players, AVC Technology
will release a new SiGneo player in September that comes in three
different sizes: 512MB, 1GB and 2GB.

** Label Mobile to Open New Site for TV and Movie Chaku-uta
In brief: On July 1, Label Mobile will launch a new chaku-uta service
specializing in songs from popular TV shows, movies and commercials.
The new service, called 'Reco-choku TV/CM/Cinema', is actually an
expansion of its 'Hot CM' service, which is currently offered on EZWeb.
Label Mobile will re-launch the new service EZWeb, while simultaneously
opening the same sites on i-mode and Vodafone Live. The site will offer
a total catalog of 6,000 songs.

** D&M Holdings To Buy Boston Acoustics
In brief: Tokyo-based D&M Holdings announced last week that it will
acquire audio manufacturer Boston Acoustics for about US$76 million in
cash. The acquisition provides D&M Holdings with a premium speaker
line to add to its already impressive list of brands, which includes
Denon, Rio, McIntosh Laboratory, Escient and Marantz.

** Sony Upgrades Walkman Mobile Site
In brief: Sony announced last week that it had upgraded its
'W.walkman Mobile' site, which provides information about the various
Walkman products and related accessories. The upgraded service
includes a series of Flash-type screensavers that users can download
free of charge.
Subscribers: 4,057 as of June 20, 2005

Written by: Steve Myers

Steve Myers is president and chief enthusiast of Theta
Music Technologies, which specializes in the development
of music-related software applications.

Edited by J@pan Inc editor: (


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