We went over to go and see the masters of integrated audio, C-Media, today.
C-Media, of course, are one of the major providers of HD audio 'Azalia' chipsets for Intel boards, and are one of the leading manufacturers of integrated audio for motherboards, whatever the specification. Considering they are 20% owned by Realtek, between the pair, they have onboard audio rather sewn up.
Looking to diversify its products, we've seen a couple of cool new offerings from the firm today. The first is this reference design for a wireless audio box, dubbed 'WiSonic'. At first, it looks fairly similar to something like a Roku Soundbridge, streaming MP3s wirelessly across the house. However, unlike the Roku, it is rather more of a dumb terminal. The WiSonic uses the host machine to decode audio, then uses a proprietary protocol to stream it to the wireless device, which is then cabled into an audio receiver or directly into speakers.
The advantage of this 'dumb client' approach is that the playback of audio isn't limited to MP3 - if the PC can decode it, it can be streamed across. It also means that the WiSonic is completely DRM agnostic.
We also saw a cool new Skype-compliant USB phone, which comes with some fantastic middleware. By using the Skype API, you can use the hardware controls on the phone to scroll through your Skype contact list and to place and receive calls. C-Media also showed us a cool piece of software in alpha that acts as an aggregator for all your voice chat. It allows you to add in your Skype, MSN, AIM and GoogleTalk buddies and then manage your voice interaction with them all from a single programme. It looked pretty neat, much along the lines of Trillian for voice.
With HD Audio standard in the Viiv specification, C-Media are bound to be having a good year. They also told us that they plan to have the WiSonic Viiv certified for seamless use with that platform.
Interested in streaming your audio to wherever you want it? Drop us a line and let us know in the forums.