Texas Instruments Acquires Danish Digital Amplifier Company

One of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers is making a move into digital audio. Texas Instruments announced March 16 that it has acquired Toccata Technology ApS, a small, privately held company based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Toccata is "one of the leading developers of digital audio amplifier technology and board solutions," according to a TI press release, and will become part of TI's Digital Speakers Business Unit, continuing to operate from Denmark.

With the acquisition, Texas Instruments will push into the market for "all types of audio equipment, including personal computer speakers, A/V receivers, car stereos, and home theater systems," according to the release. "This is a powerful combination," said Dr. Keh-Shew Lu, senior vice president for mixed-signal products at TI. "Toccata has developed a high-quality, high-efficiency digital audio amplifier solution. When combined with TI's programmable digital signal processors (DSPs) and other digital speaker components, customers will have an all-digital audio solution with performance that is unmatched by today's audio systems." Dr. Lu's enthusiasm is understandable, but he may not be familiar with the performance available from the high-end audio industry, especially the levels achieved by digital systems using conventional analog amplifiers such as Meridian's.

Toccata's amplifier is said to use "only digital technology, eliminating analog feedback and the need for analog signal processing or amplification at any stage." Lu said it "delivers clearer, crisper sound while allowing easy-to-use plug-and-play connections." His department's goal is to develop digital speaker technology that will "eventually bridge the gap between high-end and low-end audio systems."

"By joining forces with TI, the world leader in DSP and analog, we now have the manufacturing prowess and marketing reach to achieve our goals," said Toccata CEO Niels Anderskouv. Dr. Lars Risbo, the company's chief technical officer, founded Toccata in 1997 with the purpose of developing the ultimate in digital amplification. Research firm Forward Concepts predicts that 65% of PC and consumer speakers will have digital speaker technology by 2003.

With TI's new technology, computer users and PC gaming enthusiasts "will be able to enjoy a superior audio experience, like you are attending a live concert or sitting in a movie theater," according to Harry Davoody, manager of TI's mixed-signal and DSP solutions group.