INTERIORS: Panasonic promises revolution in IFE sound quality

Hamburg
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Panasonic is promising a revolution in onboard audio quality with a world-first all-digital headset system, offering what the in-flight entertainment systems giant claims is a breakthrough in noise cancellation and cinema-quality sound.

The HD-Audio system, fully integrated with the IFE system, is intended to bring the sound quality of an “open ear” headset to a “closed ear” system that prevents sound from disturbing other passengers.

Neil James, executive director of sales, stresses the HD’s ability to switch between open and closed modes and exploit the microphone built into each earpiece – a capability which allows the wearer to hold a comfortable conversation with, say, a cabin attendant while being encouraged to speak at a “normal” level; no more shouting headset-wearers, promises James.

HD also supports wide-band voice telephony for seat-to-seat, seat-to-ground and multi-passenger voice-over-internet-protocol conference calling.

Panasonic and partner Soundchip are aiming to provide airline headphone makers with the chips needed to develop headphones at many price points. The noise cancellation and switching technology is in the IFE system rather than the headphone, meaning headphones need not be as expensive as many of the standalone models currently on the market.

Full integration has allowed Panasonic to build a set of intuitive touchscreen sound controls into the IFE system panel, adds James. Algorithms monitor headset status, reporting faults to the IFE system.