I wouldn’t normally write about something like this, a fire in a factory in Japan. But this particular factory was one of the worlds main sources of professional analog to digital converter chips used in all sorts of pro and high end audio gear as well as TCXO (temperature controlled crystal oscillators) used to control micro processors, timing circuits and many other devices. The audio chips, many of which were unique AKM designs convert things like the analog audio from a microphone into the digital signal that a modern camcorder or audio recorder then records.
The massive fire at the AKM factory burned for 84 hours and destroyed the factory at the end of October. It’s anticipated that it will take at least 6 months to get the factory running again. So far everyone is staying fairly tight lipped about the fire and it’s knock on effects and it’s not known who exactly depends on the AKM chips. But they are world leaders in this field and if you do use their audio chips it’s not simply a case of buying another chip from somewhere else as this would require the redesign of many circuit boards or other components.
Only time will tell whether this is really significant or not, but there are a lot of murmurs suggesting it could be a big problem for a lot of manufacturers of pro audio and video equipment.