Headphone CD players that play MP3- and WMA-encoded CDs will be available in the fourth quarter at less than $50 because of a new Cirrus Logic chip that integrates more audio functions than competing designs, the chip maker said.
The device will position the company and its OEM accounts to gain share in an expanding Internet audio portable market (see chart).
Today, only a handful of MP3/ WMA/CD headphone portables are on the market, and their prices range from $79 to $179, said senior marketing manager Mark Ireton. MP3/CD headphone portables start as low as $49.
The processor, the CS7410, is affordable and flexible enough to be used in CD clock radios, CD boomboxes and shelf systems.
Because it integrates so many functions, the processor also reduces the size of the finished product and contributes to a minimum 10 percent to 15 percent boost in battery life, he said. That translates into more than 14 hours of play time on two AA alkalines. "It could be more as we optimize the processor," he added.
The company declined to name the two branded companies that plan fourth-quarter deliveries of headphone portables incorporating the processor.
Cirrus' processor will also support the development of higher-end portables that could support additional codecs, be codec-upgradable by the consumer, and offer an antishock memory buffer holding as much as 900 seconds of 64Mbps-WMA music in memory, Ireton said. The design supports a 40-second buffer at less than $50, he noted.
"No one has integrated all this," Ireton said of his competitors' processors. The integrated functions include decoding, DACs, system microcontroller, and servo controls in a 32-bit RISC microprocessor operating at 90MHz, he said. The microprocessor also incorporates 16-bit audio DSP for adding post-processing effects such as imaging enhancement.