Software.

Latest production release 1.4.57

As of the 27th of July 2020 we released the new 8c firmware of the 1.4.xx family.

The biggest improvements are: 

1) the all new Release Management System (RMS) which gives you control over firmware installations and back-ups.

2) Active Room Matching made better by integration with Room EQ Wizard. This will make it easier to acoustically integrate the 8c’s into any room, in less time. Now all of you can set up the 8c’s properly and make the room disappear. 

For in-depth information about the new features and how to update, read below:

 

We’ll discuss the following subjects:

Lanspeaker video and REW manual:

New firmware

Dutch & Dutch 1.4.xx firmware family.  This was the first time that we’re actually announced the release of a new firmware update. It is our aim to in the future properly announce every update to a new firmware family, the next being the 1.5.xx firmware family. We will keep sporadically releasing within-family firmware updates – which will have minor bug fixes and possibly add small new features – without sending out newsletters per se. 

When we release a new firmware family, that means that under the hood there are some very big changes. It means the underlying infrastructure has had a significant update. The user may or may not notice any significant changes though. What users will primarily notice is the addition of new features or a new user interface, which will not necessarily go hand in hand with a significant upgrade to the underlying infrastructure. What you as a user see is the building, not its foundation.

For quite some time the official release versions were 1.3.12 and 1.3.18. Recently we started shipping 8c’s with firmware version 1.4.44. The new 1.4.55 release has a few additional features which were not included in 1.4.44. From a technological point of view, the most important addition in the 1.4.xx family of firmware relative to earlier versions, is the completely new underlying updating framework, called Release Management System (RMS).

We put an incredible amount of effort into the development of RMS and how it interacts with the rest of our infrastructure. This is time we could not spend on developing the features people have been asking us about. It was sometimes difficult to stay the course, but we feel RMS is a vital step in the development and maturation of the Dutch & Dutch infrastructure. We’ve now laid the foundation onto which in the future we’ll be able to build lots of interesting features that are already in the pipeline.

What’s new?

 

Release Management System

The all new Release Management System (RMS) gives you control over firmware installations and back-ups. With RMS you have more insight into the firmware that runs on your 8c, you have access to release-notes, you yourself can choose which firmware-update to install and you can roll back to a previous version if for whatever reason you don’t like the latest update. RMS is a very big and important building block in the Dutch & Dutch IT infrastructure.

The RMS allows creating and restoring of up to three snapshots, which are back-ups of the current firmware and user settings. Automatic snapshots are created as well, every time a new firmware release is installed. And finally, we added an option to reset the 8c to factory defaults, which removes the user settings, but retains the current firmware version.

A part of the RMS that is not directly visible to you, are the improvements made on the firmware development and release processes. Every 8c is now a member of one of many firmware groups, with names such as Development, Test, Acceptance and Production. We control to which group an 8c is assigned from an online environment. We call this environment the Clerk Manager. Depending on the group it is in, an 8c now has access to a certain set of firmware releases. Users can inspect these releases from the app and then download and install them.

Before a new release is made available to the production group (where over 99% of the 8c’s are), it first has to go through some other phases and their respective groups. Firstly Development – where our engineers build the new release. Secondly Test – where our engineers are testing the software on our premises. Thirdly Internal-Acceptance – non-developer employees test the release at home for at least three days. Fourthly External-Acceptance – experienced individuals and professional audio engineers who will not likely miss significant issues, test the release in their homes and studios. And then, finally: Production.

Is it now impossible for bugs to still slip through? No. Bugs will keep occurring. However, the number of bugs will get smaller and smaller and if unexpectedly a bug does slip through, the new RMS has your back. You are now in the driver seat. You can decide whether you wish to stick with the new firmware, or roll back to an earlier version. With RMS you can rest assured that a software bug is not going to get in the way between you and your music.

After installing the latest firmware-update and switching to the 1.4.xx firmware family, the RMS control interface will be hosted on your 8c’s. You can find it by browsing to http://8c-xxxx:10000/, thereby replacing the x’s for the serial number of the respective 8c on your Local Area Network.

Room EQ Wizard

You’ve told us you love having parametric EQ as part of the Active Room Matching in the 8c. It’s a very useful feature that helps you make the room disappear. But setting it up is a lot of work and you have to be quite an expert to do it well. We heard you and we’ve listened. This new firmware includes another major improvement, which we think you’ll really like: Room EQ Wizard (REW) integration. Active Room Matching made easier. Properly setting up the 8c is still isn’t quite as easy as making a cup of tea, but you’ll find it is a massive improvement nonetheless.

REW is freeware / donationware. It is software for measuring and analysing room and loudspeaker responses. The audio measurement and analysis features of REW help you optimise the acoustics of your listening room, studio or home theater and find the best locations for your speakers, subwoofers and listening position. It includes tools for measuring SPL, measuring frequency and impulse responses, waterfalls, calculating reverberation times. It also has features for displaying equaliser responses and automatically adjusting the settings of parametric equalisers to counter the effects of room modes and adjust responses to match a target curve.

The value offered by REW is amazing. It’s possibly the best software of its kind, and it’s free to boot! Incredible. We are very happy that REW now interfaces with the 8c’s.

All you need are a pair of 8c’s with firmware 1.4.50 or newer on the local network, a computer which runs the REW V5.20 Beta 56 or newer and a USB microphone such as the miniDSP UMIK-1. With REW integration matching your 8c’s to your room becomes easier, can be done much quicker and there will be less chance of error. Anyone can now do it, just follow this step-by-step manual.

To download the latest beta version of REW, click on the link below:

https://www.roomeqwizard.com/beta.html

Lanspeaker facelift

When we had to first develop a User Interface (UI) for he 8c’s we decided on a browser-based application. The reason we went for browser-based is that it meant having only a single app to develop, maintain and support. It would be cross platform by principle. This meant we could give our full attention to developing the underlying technology and features. The User-Experience (UX) at that moment was less important, we decided to save that for later.

At some point in the future lanspeaker will be replaced by something new. However, for this official 1.4.xx release we decided to improve the UX of Lanspeaker a little bit anyway. We hope you like the new look.

What’s not in this update ?

Let’s address the elephant in the Roon. No, It’s not ready. Most of our hifi customers have been waiting for the 8c’s to be Roon-Ready for a long time now and the waiting is not over yet. How can this be possible, you might think? Although other companies sometimes also take longer to become Roon-Ready than they first thought, this seems excessive. What could be the reason Dutch & Dutch take so much longer than most other companies? Do the people at Dutch & Dutch even know what they’re doing?

These are all very reasonable questions. Fortunately we are blessed with a very capable software development team. These guys are not to blame. There are two main reasons why Roon is taking so much longer than first communicated. Firstly, when the first steps of implementing the Roon Software Development Kit (SDK) went very smoothly, we decided to announce the 8c’s would soon be Roon-Ready. That was very shortsighted and this announcement turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made as a company so far.

The second reason is, that our Roon implementation is very different from how other companies do it. In most situations Roon is streamed to a streamer box. The streamer box receives the Roon stream and decodes it into the left and right channels, which are then sent to a DAC, amps and the respective speakers. In some situations a Roon streams to an active loudspeaker, which serves as a main speaker and sends one of the two channels to the second speaker in a primary/replica system.

The 8c’s are not a primary/replica system, both 8c’s are identical primary speakers. That offers some advantages, but also some disadvantages. Roon can stream to both speakers as separate zones, but Roon does not ensure perfect synchronization of the audio. Now, when you start a stream, there are two issues. Firstly, say a vocal that is supposed to be spot in the middle, will sound from slightly off center. That is because one of the two speakers starts playback slightly before the other one. Secondly, as you listen for a while the voice gradually shifts in the direction of either of the two speakers. This is the result of both speakers not sharing the same audio clock and one of them consumes bits slightly faster than the other. No two clocks have the exact same frequency. The difference may be tiny, but over time this will become audible.

Roon is a very big project for us. We may refer to this project as Roon, but in reality Roon itself is only a tiny piece of the puzzle. The challenge is in developing the technologies needed to 1) synchronise the audio-clocks between Dutch & Dutch devices on a Local Area Network; and 2) synchronise the logic, to make sure that things such as play/pause and change in volume level happen at the exact same moment. These challenges are not trivial. Much bigger companies have tried it and failed. When we started the project there was no clear path and we couldn’t see the destination. We had to make our own path It has taken us much longer than we first anticipated, but we will not fail.

When the Roon-project is done, that means we’ve realized much more than just Roon. We have the technological foundation to offer more streaming services.

You may think, that’s all fine and dandy, but when actually will the 8c’s be Roon-Ready then? We’d love to give you an exact date. However, we will not make the same mistake we’ve made before. That means we won’t give you a date, simply because we can’t guarantee it. What we can tell you is that we are getting close. Roon can not work to its full spec under the Dutch & Dutch 1.4.xx firmware family. The next big firmware release will be on the 1.5.xx family platform, which as far as we know now will enable Roon to work at its full potential.

How to update

In order to update the firmware to the 1.4.xx family with RMS, please connect the 8c’s to the internet and turn them on, then leave them on for 24 hours. During that time they will automatically download the new RMS software. After the 8c’s have downloaded the update, you can install it. 

To activate the update, go to http://lanspeaker.com/. Go to the “App Config” by clicking the cog-icon in the upper right corner of the Overview screen. Click “Speaker firmware” to view the current firmware version of your 8c’s – you should be seeing a button labeled “Start system update” for every 8c on the network. Click that button for every 8c you want to update and wait about two minutes for the update to finish. 

If after 24 hours you don’t see the “Start system update” button, turn the speakers off and turn them on again after ten seconds. Check again if the button is now there. If not, wait another 24 hours and again check if the button is there. If this doesn’t work, please get in touch with us at support@dutchdutch.com. In your message please tell us which firmware you currently have and what the serial numbers are. 

After installing the update, scroll all the way down on an individual 8c’s settings page and click on “System”. There you’ll be able to update their firmware to the latest version.