MWC 2013: Audience unveils earSmart eS325 voice processor

Advanced voice processor specialist Audience is one of Silicon Valley's quiet giants, a post-dotcom bubble success story whose recent milestones include featuring in its first ultraportable laptop - the Dell Vostro 5460, since you ask - and topping 250 million processor shipments in Q4 2012.

Enter 2013 and Audience's ambition shows no sign of abating, with the company using its platform at Mobile World Congress this week to unveil its latest intelligent voice processor, the earSmart eS325.

ITProPortal was privy to a pre-MWC demonstration session with Audience, and the earSmart eS325 looked like it offered a number of capabilities that would make it a welcome addition to smartphone configurations.

Its principal function is noise suppression, and it performed admirably at cutting out the heavy bass and multi-faceted vocal arrangements of Jay-Z's 'Empire State of Mind' - toggling the processor between active and standby modes was like switching the volume on and off, it was that impressive.

We also got to see the eS325's ASR Assist technology in action, and can confirm that it accurately picked up user dictations against considerable background noise - roughly equivalent to that which you might encounter in a busy coffee shop or pub. But what seemed really useful about this feature was the effortless way it functioned: there was no need to raise your voice in an unseemly manner, or physically strain in the direction of your device in order to be heard.

Elsewhere, Audio Zoom is a selective audio capture mode with a huge potential upside for professionals whose duties include interviewing subjects or recording conversations - vocations like journalism spring to mind, as a matter of fact. The eS325 also supports the new Super Wideband (24KHz) VoIP standard, and Audience was keen to stress its leadership position in the mobile industry's development of an HD Voice baseline.

The earSmart eS325 is set to feature in commercial handsets shipping from April 2013, according to Audience. Dare we say that timescale makes it a good shout to come under the hood of the just-confirmed Samsung Galaxy S4?

"The Audience earSmart eS325 raises the bar for mobile voice quality, delivering a host of exciting features and technologies that transform a consumer's experience of using speech to communicate, interact and connect through their mobile device," said Robert Schoenfield, vice president of marketing and business development at Audience.

"With many leading manufacturers already engaged with us, we expect to see the earSmart eS325 Advanced Voice processor play an important role in this year's most exciting mobile devices."

From a technical standpoint, the eS325 is built on a 40nm process to optimise power efficiency and has a 3x3mm footprint as well as supporting I2C, UART, and SLIMbus host interfaces. Audience has dubbed the eS325 a "True 3-Mic" solution, and other useful features stemming from this setup include De-Reverb, which suppresses annoying echo effects from large, hollow spaces like conference rooms.