Audio News for April 15, 2008

by | Apr 15, 2008 | Audio News | 0 comments

B&W Adapts – The longtime British loudspeaker maker Bowers & Wilkins – whose high end monitors are used by many of the classical recording producers around the world – is now seeing its biggest sales in a product that ties in with the new MP3 computer audio craze rather than $60,000 a pair speakers. They found that speaker docks for MP3 players is the thing nowadays rather than traditional home audio products, so they designed their Zeppelin iPod dock – so called because it’s shaped like a little Zeppelin. Selling for $600, they hope it will gain a portion of the $1 billion market for speaker docks today. The unit is a two-way stereo speaker with a 5-inch woofer which can’t really be called a subwoofer. A special D2audio circuit filters out all tones below 100 Hz but generate harmonics associated with those tones to trick you into thinking the lowest tones are there as well.  Other psychoacoustic tricks built into the Zeppelin give you a wider stereo image.  Of course it doesn’t sound like $23,000 B&W 800D speakers driven by equally expensive electronics, but it pleases most of the iPod crowd.

MP3 Sound Refinement Device
– Intunition is an audio manufacturer in Silicon Valley who has introduced the Clari-Fi portable passive compressor to attach to any MP3 player to improve the sound reproduction of data-reduced digital audio files.  The sound waves, after processing to reduce their storage and transmission requirement, become spiky, muddled and flat-sounding, and they gain digital artifacts. Ear fatigue sits in, even at low volume levels. The Clari-Fi is said to address all these problems, refining MP3 listening by smoothing out the sound waves as they exit the MP3 player in realtime, while retaining the original acoustic tonal quality of the music and improving its clarity and richness. (Why didn’t they record at 44.1K? Because their mobile hard drives are too small to hold many tunes at that rate.) The Clari-Fi uses a newly-developed proprietary semiconductor technology which is powered by the audio signal, requiring no batteries.  The unit is available in a version for music files at about $60 and another for speech podcasts at about $50.  It is rather bulky and may put a cramp in the convenience of tiny iPods. Intunition is said to be the first audio manufacturer to use passive compression to address the shortcomings of compressed digital audio files. (It seems to me that compressed audio should be expanded – not compressed, but never mind, logic is not something held in great repute nowadays…)

Cutting Home Theater Clutter with HT2.0 – Another downsizing ploy is promoted by audio writer Steve Guttenberg.  He calls it HT2.0 and it means that both people who cringe at the mess of speakers and wires required for 5.1 or 7.1 home theater as well as those looking for a smaller HT system for the bedroom, den or office, may find a solution in a simpler and cheaper two-channel HT system.  His suggestion is one of the inexpensive (under $400) AV receivers and a pair of under-$500 stereo two-channel speakers.  If the room is larger, he suggests adding an entry-level subwoofer to make a 2.1 system. In the setup menu you turn off the center and surrounds and reroute those signals to the left and right front speakers.  Many film soundtracks and music recordings use psychoacoustic tricks to project a pseudo-surround effect into the room from just two speakers, and many receivers have a circuit option such as SRS which can create some virtual surround effects from just a pair of speakers.  For details, check this out.

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure