Funny as it may sound, what I see as the future for most home audio systems started out in the car! How is that possible, you ask? Well, it’s pretty straightforward. Ask any sound engineer what impacts the sound the most and you will always get the same answer — the room.
Many years ago when Lexus introduced the Mark Levinson factory installed audio system, they had a huge leg up on making it perform great. Why, you ask? The engineers knew exactly how the room would perform. This enabled them to apply equalization (EQ) to make the sound curve much closer to ideal, wiping out peaks and valleys in the response. Since each car had an identical physical interior, it did not have to be different for every person.
EQ is All Grown Up
EQ has been around forever in the home audio front, but up until recently, it often created more headaches than it was worth, due to phase issues caused by the EQ circuits. Now with much better digital processing, this is no longer the case. Heck, the Datasat RS20i rivals many of the best preamps on the planet due to the way it fixes the room problems with EQ.
The new line of DSP based amps from Sonance is a perfect example of what will be coming. These new digital amps far surpass the bandwidth of digital amps in the past, delivering a bit rate up to 4608Kbps. As a point of reference, standard CD’s are 1411Kbps. But the best part about these new amps is their Sonarc technology. This allows us to walk around your home with an iPad and make adjustments to the sound of each room. You would not believe how much better those in ceiling speakers will sound when this is properly done. Sonance has both two channel and multi-channel amps with this technology.
Another of my favorites, JBL Synthesis, has Arcos — an incredible room correction circuit that can take a mediocre sounding room and make it sound like a perfect concert hall. The better JL Audio subs also have room EQ that works by plugging a microphone into the sub and letting it run a bunch of sweeps.
The really neat part will be when processing lets us put speakers in less than ideal spots. Linn has a new, but very high-end system out called Exakt. It will allows you to place speakers against the wall and still get great performance.
I think we will see a lot more of this in the future as processing power gets less expensive. The winner in all this is the listener, and not just the audiophile. The improvements that can be achieved through fixing room problems or speaker placement are dramatic!
So if you’ve got a room that might have some problems, ask us about the new Sonance amps, and look for more room EQ technology to be coming out in the future, which right now looks very bright for even better sound!