CES has a few surprises and lots of vaporware that never hits Best Buy. The Signal Doctor technology has the promise of better sound on smartphones, tablets and in your car.
Harman announced new proprietary technology available only in Harman Home and Multimedia Products and for Harman Vehicle Audio Systems that will restore the 90% of music lost when songs are digitized.
If the technology works as they say in the press release, it will be awesome. However, proprietary technology rarely succeeds in gaining market share unless it is licensed to other companies and becomes the defacto standard like Dolby.
The technology, called Signal Doctor, leverages Harman's decades of experience in music recording, signal processing and psychoacoustics to naturally restore the full sound that is lost in the compression process.
In today's mobile world, music has essentially become data. Audio formats have morphed from vinyl LP's, cassette tapes, and CD's to today's digitized files on iPods, USB sticks and smartphones. Streaming music (services like Pandora® and Spotify™) and Satellite Radio continue this digitized takeover, and consumers today expect their favorite music to be with them wherever they go.
This maximum mobility is made possible by compression processes that make digitized music files smaller and, therefore, make them more portable. While compression technology is critical to make sure easy and seamless access to audio content via the cloud and on connected devices, this process fundamentally alters the music source to something other than what the artist had initially intended.
In a typical digitized audio file, up to 90 percent of the audio content captured during the original recording can be discarded during the file compression process. Signal Doctor was developed to address this deterioration of audio quality, restoring what has been lost to deliver a rich, uncompromised listening experience from any compressed music source.
"With compressed digitized files, listeners are often deprived of the full auditory satisfaction and enjoyment that music is meant to bring," said Michael Mauser, president, Lifestyle Division, Harman. "We know from our research that listeners – even Millennials, who have grown up with compressed music as their reference – prefer the best possible sound quality from every audio source. Building on our long-standing industry leadership and unrivaled expertise, Signal Doctor is a significant technological advancement that changes the listening experience in today's mobile and streaming world, bringing life and emotion back to the music whether at home, in the car or on the go."
In contrast to competitor offerings, Signal Doctor does not blindly add equalization, bass boost, or other effects that alter the intended listening experience. Harman has developed a proprietary predictive model that intelligently and accurately recreates the lost information based on the existing compressed content, unlike any similar offering.
Signal Doctor works seamlessly and automatically. The technology is always on, and designed to run in the background without any user intervention. In addition, Signal Doctor adjusts the amount of correction it applies based on the quality of the input signal. For example, while it will add no correction to a CD-quality signal, Signal Doctor will add a heavy dose of correction to the most compressed signals, such as Satellite Radio.
Signal Doctor can be integrated into any Harman in-car audio system via the amplifier or head unit, providing automakers limitless possibilities to further enhance in-car listening experiences. It is available now to all automakers and will begin launching in vehicles this year.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network