The headphone kit from Audition Products, which is reportedly based on "Liberty Link" technology developed by Aura Communication, is expected to offer quality wireless freedom for iPod nano users at a price point well below similar offerings that use Bluetooth wireless technology.
To date, tens of millions of dollars have reportedly been spent developing the Liberty Link wireless chipset that will be featured in the accessory from Audition. It uses magnetic induction to establish a digital radio link between an iPod nano base transmitter and the headphone. The technology is reportedly similar to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), but is capable of creating a communications bubble with a range of 4-5 feet that completely surrounds the user. This limited transmission range should directly translate into longer battery life and lower accessory costs, AppleInsider has been told.
Additionally, the Liberty Link frequency spectrum is "better utilized" than competitive technologies due to the tightly controlled communications bubble. Like Bluetooth, privacy is ensured by pairing each headphone and base with an automatically generated code. However, the audio quality of Liberty Link is said to outmatch Bluetooth in most situations, as it does not suffer from pops or fades like traditional RF signals.
Liberty Link compresses the audio stream using 4:1 ADPCM (Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation) before it is transmitted to the headphone. The stream is then decompressed in the headphone and broadcast to the listener. Some people who have experienced the pre-production Liberty Link systems state that they are offer "some of the best wireless experiences" so far for portable music.
Larger Images: Audition Wireless Transmitter; Audition Wireless Headphone
In pre-production tests, the wireless Liberty Link headsets "experienced almost no interference," one of these people said. The devices reportedly boast 10x better bit error rate performance than similar Bluetooth products, and will likely cost substantially less while also drawing less power. Retail pricing for the initial Audition wireless offering is expected to fall between $79 and $99, which will include the base transmitter, headphone and charger.
On the user end, functionality is quite simple. The iPod nano easily slips into the transmitter base, where the audio connection is made via the nanos headphone jack. Both the headphone and the base are reportedly powered by rechargeable Lithium Ion Polymer cells that will offer approximately 10 hours of uninterrupted playback.
Liberty Link enabled devices, such as the Audition products, can also leverage a unique "sharing" feature, where a single transmitter can be configured to broadcast to several listeners who reside in an 8-foot diameter. Once the primary transmitter has been set to sharing mode, listeners wishing to join in on the audio stream will be able to hold their headset close to the base and press a link button -- a feature well suited to two runners wanting to share a single transmitter.
Rumored iPod nano "sled" prototype
According to industry contacts, additional Liberty Link products for Apple's iPod nano and the Sony PSP may be on the way from Aura and its partners like Audition Products. Until recently, there has been little to no market for wireless headphones because consumers have not found the listening experience to be worth the price.
Aura Communications Liberty Link technology hopes to push the envelope by offering new price points for "cutting the wire" on portable audio players like the iPod, AppleInsider has been told. Another yet-to-be-announced product that may pack the technology has been described as an "iPod nano sled" (pictured above). However, further details of this device are unknown.