Home Audio

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Posted by kaori 03/14/2009 @ 20:07

Tags : home audio, audio and video, technology

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Home audio

Home audio, essentially, refers to any audio electronics intended for home use, such as home stereos and surround sound receivers, which are becoming the most popular piece of home audio equipment. Home audio generally does not include such standard equipment such as built-in television speakers, but rather accessory equipment, which may be intended to enhance or replace standard equipment, such as standard TV speakers. Since surround sound receivers, which are primarily intended to enhance the reproduction of a movie, are the most popular home audio device, the primary field of home audio is home cinema.

Home audio dates back before electricity, to Edison's phonograph, a monaural, low fidelity sound reproduction format. Early electrical phonographs as well as many other audio formats started out as monaural formats.

Quadraphonic sound was a four-channel reproduction system, which is considered to be the origin of surround sound. It was recorded on phonograph, tape, and a few CDs, and required a quadraphonic player for playback. The format was released in 1970 and never gained much popularity.

Surround sound formats were used in movie theatres dating back to Disney's Fantasia 2000, and became available to consumers in the late 80's. There are many formats of surround sound, differing based on the type of decoding processor they used. Dolby Pro Logic is one of the oldest processors, creating four lossy channels, and Dolby Pro Logic IIx is one of the newest, creating seven or eight discrete channels. Competing technologies have complicated the purchasing decisions of consumers.

Generally speaking, today home audio refers to some sort of multi-channel (more than two) sound playback.

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HAVi

Home Audio Video Interoperability (HAVi) is a connection to control Audio and Video hardware using FireWire.

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Cerwin-Vega

Cerwin-Vega is a manufacturing company that produces professional audio components, home audio speakers, and car audio components. It is part of the Stanton Group, along with Stanton Magnetics and KRK, (a professional audio division focused on quality studio/recording speakers). Cerwin-Vega serves North America from a location in Hollywood, FL, and Europe from a location in Brussels, Belgium, while manufacturing their products primarily in China.

The company was founded by aerospace engineer Gene Czerwinski in 1954, and became noted for producing an 18" speaker capable of producing 130dB in SPL at 30 Hz, an astonishing level during its time. Another breakthrough product, the world's first solid state amplifier, was released in 1957. In addition to these innovations, the company became well known for supplying speakers for electric musical instrument companies such as Fender, as well as for movie theatres all through the 1970s.

Cerwin-Vega participated in Sensurround technology which was developed in conjunction with Universal Studios in the 1970s. Sensurround was a movie theater special effects speaker system which used multiple Cerwin-Vega folded horn subwoofers triggered by an optical soundtrack system to create low frequency effects which simulated vibrations felt during an earthquake or a battle scene. Sensurround was premiered in the 1974 movie Earthquake, and was a great success, but most sensurround units were later dismantled due to structural damage caused by the vibrations.

In the early 1970s Cerwin Vega began marketing their "Residential" line of speakers with the Model 24 and Model 26. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Cerwin vega released models A-10, A-123 and S-1 bookshelf speakers. The S-1 speaker system was the crowning achievement for Cerwin-Vega. By utilizing a "Sixth Order Butterworth Vent Tuning" and integrating the system with Cerwin-Vega's DB-10B Bass Turbocharger (included with the S-1 speakers), the low frequency range of the S-1 was increased beyond the capabilities of larger enclosures. Cerwin-Vega also delivered various models of efficient semi horn (DHORM) speakers (including the A-10, A-123 and S-1). They featured 10" or 12" woofers and often twin midrange drivers in a ported enclosure. They were touted to deliver up to 126 decibels of sound pressure.

Today, Cerwin-Vega is mostly known for its woofers and subwoofers capable of delivering high sound level output with comparatively low power input. Their pro audio line is noted for affordable price levels. In addition to home audio and pro audio speakers, Cerwin-Vega has a full range of automobile component speakers and subwoofers; The Stroker series of subwoofer has been a favourite of high SPL DB Drag competition, winning awards as early as 1997.

Cerwin Vega continues to produce home audio speakers, mobile audio speakers, subwoofers, and amplifiers, and pro audio speakers & subwoofers for live performance reinforcement.

On July 2nd, 2007, Cerwin-Vega's parent company, The Stanton Group, announced the sale of Cerwin Vega’s Mobile Division to CVM Acquisition Services, a sister company to Diamond Audio Technologies, LLC.

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High fidelity

High fidelity or hi-fi reproduction is a term used by home stereo listeners and home audio enthusiasts (audiophiles) to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound or images that are very faithful to the original performance. Ideally, high-fidelity equipment has minimal amounts of noise and distortion and an accurate frequency response as set out in 1973 by the German Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) standard DIN 45500. This standard was well intentioned, but only mildly successful in defining 'high-fidelity'. DIN 45 500 approval provided audio equipment buyers with reassurance that their equipment was capable of good quality reproduction. In theory, only stereo equipment that met the standard could bear the words 'hi-fi', but in practice, the term was widely misapplied to audio products that did not remotely approach the DIN basis specifications. By the 1990s, the term hi-fi for expensive high-quality home-audio electronics was largely replaced with high-end audio.

The 1920s saw the introduction of electronic amplification, microphones, and the application of quantitative engineering principles to the reproduction of sound. Much of the pioneering work was done at Bell Laboratories and commercialized by Western Electric. Acoustically-recorded disc records with capriciously peaky frequency response were replaced with electrically recorded records. The Victor Orthophonic phonograph, although purely acoustic, was created by engineers who applied waveguide technology to the design of the interior folded horn to produce a smooth frequency response which complemented and equalled that of the electrically recorded Victor Orthophonic records.

Meanwhile, the rise of radio meant increased popularity for loudspeakers and tube amplifiers, so there was an anomaly of a period of time during which radio receivers commonly used loudspeakers and electronic amplifiers to produce sound, while phonographs were still commonly purely mechanical and acoustic. Later, electronic phonographs became available, as stand-alone units or designed to play through consumer's radios. The now ubiquitous RCA connector was first introduced by the Radio Corporation of America for this purpose.

The development of Sound film in the 1930s led motion picture companies to develop amplification and loudspeaker systems to fill movie theaters with good quality sound at a reasonable volume. To achieve this result, they employed loudspeakers with separate sections for low and high frequencies ("woofers" and "tweeters"), connected via an audio crossover network, and more carefully engineered enclosures. This development exposed the public to better fidelity than home equipment was capable of at the time. Some movie stars purchased movie theater sound equipment for use in their homes but the cost and size put them out of reach for anyone of modest means.

In the 1950s, the term high fidelity began to be used by audio manufacturers as a marketing term to describe records and equipment which were intended to provide faithful sound reproduction. While some consumers simply interpreted high fidelity as fancy and expensive equipment, many found the difference in quality between "hi-fi" and the then standard AM radios and 78 RPM records readily apparent and bought 33 LPs, such as RCA's New Orthophonics and London's ffrrs, and high-fidelity phonographs. Audiophiles paid attention to technical characteristics and bought individual components, such as separate turntables, radio tuners, preamplifiers, power amplifiers and loudspeakers. Some enthusiasts assembled their own loudspeaker systems. In the 1950s, hi-fi became a generic term, to some extent displacing phonograph and record player.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the development of the Westrex single-groove stereophonic record led to the next wave of home-audio improvement, and in common parlance, stereo displaced hi-fi. Records were now played on a stereo. In the world of the audiophile, however, high fidelity continued and continues to refer to the goal of highly-accurate sound reproduction and to the technological resources available for approaching that goal.

A very popular type of system for reproducing music from the 1970s onwards was the integrated music centre which combined phonograph, radio tuner, tape player, preamp and power amplifier in one package, often sold with its own separate, detachable or integrated speakers. These systems advertised their simplicity; the consumer did not have to select and assemble the individual components. Purists generally avoid referring to these systems as high fidelity, though some are capable of very good quality sound reproduction.

In a double-blind experiment, neither the individuals nor the researchers know who belongs to the control group and the experimental group. Only after all the data has been recorded (and in some cases, analyzed) do the researchers learn which individuals are which. A commonly-used variant of this test is the ABX test. This involves comparing two known audio sources (A and B) with either one of these when it has been randomly selected (X). Despite some objections from some audiophiles, double-blind testing is valid.

When high fidelity was limited to monophonic sound reproduction, a realistic approximation to what the listener would experience in a concert hall was limited. The general clarity of the sound, however, was not any less than with stereophonic sound reproduction. Researchers quickly realized that the ideal way to experience music played back on audio equipment was through multiple transmission channels, but the technology was not available at that time. It was, for example, discovered that a realistic representation of the separation between performers in an orchestra from an ideal listening position in the concert hall would require at least three loudspeakers for the front channels. For the reproduction of the reverberation, at least two loudspeakers placed behind or to the sides of the listener were required.

Stereophonic sound provided a partial solution to the problem of creating some semblance of the illusion of performers performing in an orchestra by creating a phantom middle channel when the listener sits exactly in the middle of the two front loudspeakers. When the listener moves slightly to the side, however, this phantom channel disappears or is greatly reduced. An attempt to provide for the reproduction of the reverberation was tried in the 1970s through quadraphonic sound but, again, the technology at that time was insufficient for the task. Consumers did not want to pay the additional costs required in money and space for the marginal improvements in realism. With the rise in popularity of home theatre, however, multi-channel playback systems became affordable, and many consumers were willing to tolerate the six to eight channels required in a home theatre. The advances made in signal processors to synthesize an approximation of a good concert hall can now provide a somewhat more realistic illusion of listening in a concert hall.

In addition to spatial realism, the playback of music must be subjectively free from noise to achieve realism. The compact disc (CD) provides at least 90 decibels of dynamic range, which is about as much as most people can tolerate in an average living room. This therefore requires the playback equipment to provide a signal-to-noise ratio of at least 90 decibels.

Audio equipment must be able to reproduce frequencies high enough and low enough to be realistic. Many adults over 25 or 30 can hear up to, at most, 15 kHz. A few younger people can hear up to 19 kHz. There is relatively little music below 50 Hz, loud bass below 30 Hz is rare, and music below 16 Hz is almost non-existent. CDs are capable of reproducing high frequencies up to 22.05 kHz and low frequencies down to 10 Hz.

The equipment must also provide no noticeable distortion of the signal or emphasis or de-emphasis of any frequency in this frequency range. Except for spatial realism, good modern equipment can easily satisfy all of these requirements at a relatively moderate cost.

Integrated, midi, or lifestyle systems contain one or more sources such as a CD player, a tuner, or a cassette deck together with a preamplifier and a power amplifier in one box. (Midi has no connection with MIDI technology in electronic instruments.) Such products are generally disparaged by audiophiles, although some high-end manufacturers do produce integrated systems. The traditional hi-fi enthusiast, however, will build a system from separates, often with each item from a different manufacturer specialising in a particular component. This provides the most flexibility for piece-by-piece upgrades.

For slightly less flexibility in upgrades, a preamplifier and a power amplifier in one box is called an integrated amplifier; with a tuner, it is a receiver. A monophonic power amplifier , which is called a monoblock, is often used for powering a subwoofer. Other modules in the system may include components like cartridges, tonearms, turntables, Digital Media Players, digital audio players, DVD players that play a wide variety of discs including CDs, CD recorders, MiniDisc recorders, hi-fi videocassette recorders (VCRs), reel-to-reel recorders, equalizers, signal processors, and subwoofers.

This modularity allows the enthusiast to spend as little or as much as he wants on a component that suits his specific needs. In a system built from separates, sometimes a failure on one component still allows partial use of the rest of the system. A repair of an integrated system, though, means complete lack of use of the system. Another advantage of modularity is the ability to spend one's money on only a few core components at first and then later add additional components to one's system. Because of all these advantages to the modular way of building a high-fidelity system instead of buying an integrated system, audiophiles almost always assemble their system from separates. Some of the obvious disadvantages of this approach are increased cost, complexity, and space required for the components, not to mention the possibility of introducing noise via the interconnects between components.

Modern hi-fi equipment usually includes digital audio signal sources such as CD players, Digital Audio Tape (DAT) and Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) or HD Radio tuners, an amplifier, a preamplifier, and loudspeakers. Some modern hi-fi equipment can be digitally connected using fibre optic TOSLINK cables, universal serial bus (USB) ports (including one to play digital audio files), or WiFi support.

One modern component that is making fast gains in acceptance is the music server consisting of one or more computer hard drives that hold music in the form of computer files. When the music is stored in an audio file format that is lossless (such as FLAC or Monkey Audio), unlike lossy file formats such as MP3, WMA, AAC and Vorbis (which all suffer from fidelity-degradation), the computer playback of recorded audio can indeed serve as an audiophile-quality source for a hi-fi system. However, it should be noted that lossy audio formats are not hi-fi in the stricter sense of the term. Resolutions which exceed CD quality are capable with lossless files and appropriate playback equipment (professional or semipro digital to analog converters).

If the hi-fi system includes components such as a projector, television, satellite decoder, DVD player, surround sound amplification and multi-channel loudspeakers, then it is often called home cinema or a home theatre system.

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Bose Corporation

Bose retail store in Century City

Bose Corporation (pronounced /boʊz/) is a privately-held, American company, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, that specializes in audio equipment. Bose products can be found in Olympics stadiums, The Broadway Theatre, the Sistine Chapel and the Space Shuttle. Bose operates 5 plants, 151 retail stores (as of October 20, 2006) and an automotive subsidiary at Stow, Massachusetts. Bose is known for the 901 speaker series.

In 2006 Bose ranked second in Home Audio retail, behind Sony (based on retail point-of-sale data for the period of January through October, 2006).

Bose Corporation develops and manufactures audio equipment (including speakers, amplifiers, headphones, automotive sound systems for luxury cars ), automotive suspension systems, and performs some general research (such as debunking cold fusion). The company was founded in 1964 by Amar G. Bose, a professor of electrical engineering (who retired in 2005) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bose has contracts with the US military (Navy, Air Force & Army) and NASA . Amar Bose is still the Chairman and primary stockholder, and also holds the title of Technical Director.

The company dedicates a 6,500 square meter (70,000 square feet) building in Framingham for research, development, and engineering (RD&E) purposes with a minimum annual RD&E budget of $100 million. In 2004, Bose purchased an additional site from HP in Stow, Massachusetts, to house growing automotive and marketing divisions.

In 1956, while a graduate student at MIT, Amar Bose purchased a high-end stereo system and was disappointed when it failed to meet his expectations. He later began extensive research aimed at fixing what he saw as fundamental weaknesses plaguing high-end audio systems. The principal weakness, in Bose's view, was that the overall design of the electronics and speaker failed to account for psychoacoustics, i.e. the listener is part of the system. Eight years later, he started the company, charging it with a mission to achieve Better Sound Through Research (which is also the company's slogan).

During the company's first year in business Bose Corporation engaged in sponsored research. Its first loudspeaker product, the model 2201, dispersed 22 small mid-range speakers over an eighth of a sphere. It was designed to fit in the corner of a room, reflecting the speaker's sound as a mirror would for light in a corner cube and giving rise to an acoustical image of a sphere in a vastly larger room. Amar Bose used an electronic equalizer to adjust the acoustical output for flat total radiated power.

Although these speaker systems accurately emulated the characteristics of a simulated, massless, ideal, spherical membrane, the results of listening tests were disappointing (some of the reasons for this are detailed in a later publication from Bose's research department). This led Bose to conduct further research into psychoacoustics that eventually clarified the importance of a dominance of reflected sound arriving at the head of the listener, a listening condition that is characteristic of live performances. This finding led to a revised speaker design in which eight of nine identical small mid-range drivers (with electronic equalization) were aimed at the wall behind the speaker while one driver was aimed forward, thus ensuring a dominance of reflected over direct sound in home listening spaces, replicating the dominant reflected sound fields listeners experience in live performances.

Before hearing his new design for the first time, although confident that his new design would produce a dominance of reflected sound arriving at the ear of the listener, faithfully replicating that aspect of a "live" listening experience, Amar Bose was unsure as to whether his new "direct/reflected" design would be a small audible improvement or a large one over his earlier design and the best commercially available loudspeakers. The new pentagonal design, named the Model 901, was a very unconventional design for speakers at the time (which were generally either full-size floorstanding units or bookshelf type speakers accompanied by a subwoofer that handled only the very lowest frequencies). The Model 901 premiered in 1968 and was an immediate commercial success, and the Bose Corporation grew rapidly during the 1970s.

Amar Bose believes that imperfect knowledge of psychoacoustics limits the ability to adequately characterize quantitatively any two arbitrary sounds that are perceived differently, and to adequately characterize and quantify all aspects of perceived quality. He believes, for example, that distortion is much over-rated as a factor in perceived quality in the complex sounds that comprise music, noting that a sine wave and a square wave (a hugely distorted sine wave) are audibly indistinguishable above 7 kHz. Similarly, he does not find measurable relevance to perceived quality in other easily measured parameters of loudspeakers and electronics, and therefore does not publish those specifications for Bose products. The ultimate test, Bose insists, is the listener's perception of audible quality (or lack of it) and his or her own preferences. Unlike other major speaker manufacturers, Bose does not publish specifications relating to the measured electrical and objective acoustic performance of its products. . This reluctance to publish information is due to Bose's rejection of these measurements in favour of "more meaningful measurement and evaluation procedures".

Additionally, the company researches portable audio within the fields of Circumaural and Supra-aural headphones, centering within the lines of Acoustic Noise Cancellation (see Bose Headphone Family).

In 1991 Bose Corporation began research into cold fusion. Company engineers built a precision calorimeter, began replicating prior experiments, and concluded that there was no net energy gain.

In 1993 Bose opened its first store in Kittery, Maine. Since then Bose has opened 160 stores in the United States and numerous locations worldwide. In Britain there are 8 Bose stores, including one on Regent Street. Bose stores feature a 15 to 25 seat theater which has a short film that demonstrates a Lifestyle Home Entertainment System using a high-definition front LCD projector. At one point in the show a three-sided box is placed in front of the center speaker, and the Lifestyle system automatically adjusts and corrects the sound in the room via AdaptIQ technology. Stores located in factory outlets discount prices on some products and sell both new and factory renewed (retested open-box) products.

Bose has a wide range of speakers for car audio and has even started to make consoles for car audio including the Bose Media System which can play CDs, DVD audio discs, DVD video discs, Super Audio CDs, MP3s, AAC, and features a music storage system. Different Bose audio systems are available as a standard or an option (depending of the vehicle level) in vehicles with most GM labels (including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac and SAAB), as well as in some European models from Alfa Romeo, Audi, Ferrari, Lancia, Maserati, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and also in some Japanese-production cars, like Nissan, Infiniti and Mazda. Bose currently does not offer its car audio products on an aftermarket basis in order to ensure proper integration and appropriate in-cabin acoustic adaptation.

At the 2007 auto show in Geneva, Switzerland Bose launched a new media system with the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. The new system combines stereo, navigation, and hands free calling into one component and interface. In 2007 the Bose media system won the International Telematics Award for the "Best Storage Solution for In-Car Environment" .

Another area of research and development at Bose Corporation is two-state, non-linear power processing and conditioning. Several early patents were awarded to Amar Bose and other Bose engineers and this technology is one of the key elements in an innovative project that the company disclosed in 2004 after more than 20 years of research, an automobile suspension system that uses electromagnetic principles instead of the hydraulics that are common today. This system uses electromagnetic linear motors to raise or lower the wheels of an automobile in response to un-even bumps or potholes on the road. The wheels are raised when approaching a bump, or extended into a pothole, within milliseconds, thus keeping the vehicle steady. This technology is another application of Bose's active noise reduction technology for speakers and earphones. The unevenness of the road is sensed, and processed much like a sound wave. A cancelling wave is generated, which is applied to the wheels through the linear motors. Amar Bose expects the system to be available commercially on high-end luxury cars by 2009. In a French interview Bose even shows off the car jumping over an obstacle. Bose says that the system is "high cost" and heavy, even after nearly three decades, and $100 million, of development.

Bose's Professional Systems Division designs and provides audio systems for use in commercial settings such as auditoriums, retail spaces, hotels, offices, restaurants, and stadiums.

Sound amplification for performing musicians has been an area of research and product development at Bose Corporation since the early 1970s. The attendant issues are complex: appropriate amplification of the instrument for the performer, companion musicians and the audience impose conflicting requiremets the discussion of which is beyond the scope of this article. The most recent Bose system is an individualized amplification product . This system, designated the "L1," is a vertical, portable, inline speaker array with broad forward-dispersion of the sound.

In 2004 Bose acquired company assets related to the development, manufacture and sales of materials testing equipment, founding the ElectroForce Systems Group The ElectroForce Systems Group provides materials testing and durability simulation instruments to research institutions, universities, medical device companies and engineering organizations worldwide.

Discussion of "Bose Quality" can sometimes elicit strong, and polarized opinions. There seem to be two major camps: those who see Bose as a maker of good high-end audio equipment, and others who see Bose as a company that uses marketing to make extravagant claims for otherwise ordinary products. The debates can be extended, and sometimes rancorous.

In some consumer-level publications outside of this debate, Bose is regarded as a producer of high-end audio systems. . A market study published in March 2006 by the independent market research firm Forrester Research reported that Bose's brand name was among the 3 most trusted brand names (by the US population) of consumer-electronics or computer brand names in the US.

In 1968, Amar Bose presented a classic paper to the Audio Engineering Society entitled: "On the Design, Measurement and Evaluation of Loudspeakers" available from the AES at a small charge. Following the logic in this paper, Bose Corporation has endeavored to strike an economic balance between cost and performance to provide high quality as judged by the average listener whose criteria of quality include faithful reproduction of the listener's experience in a live performance, which according to Bose requires a dominance of the reverberant sound field in the listening space (a typical home environment). (see audiophile beliefs).

Bose's systems were criticized by Stereophile in 1975 in a review of the 901 system, stating that in the magazine's opinion, the system was unexceptional and unlikely to appeal to perfectionists with a developed taste in precise imaging, detail, and timbre, and that these shortcomings were an excessive price to pay for the improvement in impact and ambiance generated by the large proportion of reflected sound . However, the author also stated that the system produced a more realistic resemblance of natural ambiance than any other speaker system.

Audio forums tend to talk about the non-linear frequency response of certain Bose systems. A reviewer in PC Magazine stated that he believes Bose is not a producer of high-end audio systems, because it didn't fulfill his expectations of what a high-end system should be. (Widely-accepted performance characteristics of 'high-end' audio systems typically include a flat frequency response curve throughout the audible spectrum, and precise impulse response.) Audio enthusiasts frequently criticize Bose in online forums, accusing it of overpricing its products and criticizing the sound produced by Bose products. In addition, Bose does not publish specific technical specifications; and as of November 21, 2008 none of Bose's products are THX certified. However, Bose does not send their products to be evaluated for THX certification and Bose claims technical specifications are meaningless, since what matters most is what the listener hears.

In 1981 Bose unsuccessfully sued the magazine Consumer Reports for libel. Consumer Reports reported in a review that the sound from the system that they reviewed "tended to wander about the room." Initially, the Federal District Court found that Consumer Reports "had published the false statement with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of its truth or falsity" when it changed what the original reviewer wrote about the speakers in his pre-publication draft. The Court of Appeals then reversed the trial court's ruling on liability, and the United States Supreme Court affirmed in a 6-3 vote in the case Bose Corp. v. Consumers Union of United States, Inc., finding that the statement was made without actual malice, and therefore there was no liability for libel.

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Bookshelf speaker

A bookshelf loudspeaker (or bookshelf speaker) is a compact loudspeaker, generally sold for consumer-grade home audio applications as part of a shelf stereo pair or home theater package, that is compact in size and intended to be placed on a raised surface, i.e. a bookshelf.

At one time, high quality speakers were exclusively large and floor-standing, whereas small speakers had an exclusive reputation of low price and low audio quality. However, beginning in the 1960s, some manufacturers began making more expensive, compact high fidelity speakers. Edgar Villchur, who along with partner Henry Kloss founded Acoustic Research, is generally credited with inventing bookshelf speakers. His key innovation was an acoustic suspension design, by which the woofer and other drivers were in separately enclosed chambers that could be made stiff and much smaller than the earlier ported designs. Advent, now defunct, was another early manufacturer.

Certain market and technical issues have contributed to the widespread adoption of bookshelf speakers in the 1990s and beyond. Technical improvements and less expensive mass-production technologies have made high-quality bookshelf speakers affordable for most audio enthusiasts. Rapid improvements in amplifiers, digital signal processors and other components has improved the sound quality of low to mid-level home audio systems, which creates a stronger need for adequate speakers. Home theater systems are increasingly popular, and their multi-channel audio requires five or more speakers rather than the two speakers of earlier stereo systems. For cost and practical reasons the most common setup is satellite speakers, typically bookshelf speakers for the side, back, and sometimes the front and center channels, rather than larger speakers for each channel. Finally, most home theater and many musical home audio applications, began in the late 1990s to incorporate separately-enclosed subwoofers to handle deep bass. Human perception of low-frequency sound is relatively non-directional, so a single subwoofer is usually sufficient and may be placed anywhere. This frees up the other speakers to omit the lower end of the frequency spectrum. Without the relatively heavy, bulky, and expensive low bass drivers, the speakers can be made smaller.

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Audio Analogue

Audio Analogue is a manufacturer of home audio equipment based in Monsummano Terme, PT, Italy. Established in 1995, they sell a wide range of CD players, amplifiers, and tuners. One of its most popular and well-reviewed products is its Puccini amplifier. In 1999, co-founder Federico Paoletti left the company and now maintains an "unofficial" Web site. He maintains some documentation about Audio Analogue original projects, as well as various other interesting Hi-Fi related design.

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Source : Wikipedia