In this posting I wanted to do something different. I was thinking of cars and how we learn about them, before they actually come out. I am a car guy so my mind does wander from time to time to cars and trucks and not just speakers and home theatre. So in this dreamy state of mind I remembered something and then realized that the same idea could be used for this post for Premium Audio.
When a new vehicle is being marketed long before its ever available for sale they use artists to sketch out what a vehicle might perhaps look like. If it gets past the drafting table as I like to refer to it as it will then make it to the clay stage. In the clay stage they make a mold of how it would physically look and from their make structural and design changes from that 3d mold. If they choose to keep going they will paint the mold and perhaps even make a working model of it. If the leaked photos of it get a good overall approval rating by potential customers then go to making a concept vehicle to be driven and tested. From their they make needed adjustments and either produce that vehicle or use some of its design in some other vehicle. All of this is done under what is referred to as a “concept vehicle.” I am sure you are wondering how in the world could this have anything at all to do with home theater or even just audio. Please be patient and read on for I will explain this to you.
So one of my personal aspirations is to someday own a production company that designs and manufacturers its own speakers, receivers, speaker stands and various audio and video components. It is a lofty dream that is currently far, far from my grasp. Being that I may never get to to do this I think it is time for me to share with the world some ideas of mine. By sharing these ideas, perhaps someone with the means will either A) contact me and perhaps hire me or make a partnership with me to make this become a reality. B) they will use my ideas and try to figure out how to do them, but will not understand the why behind them or how to make them connect the way I want them to. So there is the risk factor involved in me sharing this, but life is full of risks and I think it is time I take this one.
In the book: “Customize Your Home Theater: 5.1 to 15.2 channel and everything in between” I discuss many revolutionary ideas and some that have been around, but most simply are unaware of. I wanted to include these concepts in that book, back then but never did. So here they are:
At one time speakers were only built to be really big (8’s, 10’s, 12’s, 15’s, 18’s and 21” woofers). They even had in some of the higher models built in crossovers. What is a crossover?
“A crossover is an electronics device that takes a single input signal and creates two or three output signals consisting of separated bands of high-, mid-, and low-range frequencies. The different bands of frequencies feed the different speakers, or “drivers,” in a sound system: tweeters, woofers, and subwoofers.” – This definition was taken from Crutchfield.
I could not have said this better myself! In layman’s terms it makes improvements to the sound you hear out of each individual parts of a speaker cabinet (tweeter, mid, and woofer).Today these are still used for car audio for optimal sound. I have owned a pair of 12’s with this technology in them and it was really cool. You had a separate knob built into the cabinet to turn up or down the crossover for the tweeter and another for the mid. Basically they acted as volume controls. By boosting or turning up the volume to the tweeter for instance you could further enhance the higher range of sound emitting from the speaker. This type of tone adjustment takes sound to a whole new level.
Instead today, we have receivers that no longer use “old school” technology as I like to refer to it and now uses computer chips to automatically calibrate how to best reproduce the sound. This takes into effect almost nothing about the speakers themselves other than the size (small or large). Also it should be noted that it in determining the best sound based on room size and accoustics. Most of today’s receivers (the less expensive ones) are not really designed for music, but for movies and are expected to be used with much smaller speakers (satellites) which cannot reproduce the full range of sound of a much larger speaker. They do this because they can reduce the cost of manufacturing the receivers and speakers and give you “surround sound” by simply moving the sound rapidly around you. If you look at the specs of these smaller speakers you will see that the frequency response does not come anywhere near what the human ear is capable of hearing (20-20,000 hz which equals 20 hz to 20khz). Obviously with small speakers there would not be room for crossovers. Why not bring them back for the larger ones?
It is hard to find equalizers (EQ’s) and graphic equalizers (graphic EQ’s) these days. Again with the sound diminished in favor of smaller speakers the receivers do not have adjustable cross overs built into them anymore nor do very many companies make them as separate components. We know because we are struggling to find them to offer in our own store to you. Receivers today if they have surround sound in them essentially have preset EQ settings. When you press the live, stadium, rock, jazz or whatever they choose to call it the sound will be different. This is because each setting is an EQ setting already made for you. Personally I cannot stand any of these such predetermined settings and choose to run my music simply in stereo.
Other receivers made today do not even have a bass and treble setting. Instead they have replaced them both with tone control. When I see this I am reminded of a boom box (portable radio with speakers and a cassette deck). Yes I am that old. I am a child from the 70’s who grew up remembering mostly the 80’s. Back then boom boxes were all the range – you could take the stereo sound with you and turn it up a lot hence the term “boom box”. The boom box I had did not have bass and treble it had tone. Tone sucked! Turn it to the left and it was all muddy bass, turn it to the right and it was tin-e sounding. So the tone control knob was useless. The only setting to keep it on was in the middle, but it was easily bumped constantly. In the middle setting created a flat (natural sound). The sound that the recording was originally made at and intended to be listened to at.
For those receivers fortunate to still offer bass and treble settings they have favored aesthetics over functionality and instead of having those bass and treble knobs stick out in front of the receiver they have put them in a maze of settings. Before going to this extreme some higher end models had a panel that hinged down when pressed upon to reveal bass and treble knobs and some front inputs as well for easy connection of some components. With most receivers having you go thru a menu to alter sound, it will in some cases require the manual in order to find your way thru this maze they have created just to make these adjustments. Because the receivers are usually not that powerful the bass and treble can only be adjusted in some cases by as little as + or – 6 DB’s. Needless to say I personally have a collection of older receivers for my music, but not for movies. My receivers have bass and treble knobs on them and richer more powerful amps to make for cleaner sound reproduction at any volume level. The bass and treble settings can be adjusted + or – 10 DB’s (I used to have one that adjusted by + or – 12 DB’s which is double what they offer on some models today). I also have a loudness or enhanced bass setting to better reproduce the sub woofer range of deep bass. I have this setting because the receivers are designed for big speakers that do not require a sub woofer to reproduce the bass. In fact there is no sub woofer connection option on these older receivers because sub woofers were not invented yet. For movies I go with the flow and have a top of the line surround sound receiver.
So why not get rid of tone at least on receivers without surround sound and go back to having bass and treble with a real range to adjust or better yet an EQ? Speaking of bass and treble and EQ’s, why not take it one step further? Why not build these settings into the speakers themselves? Now you could truly alter the sound to create the ideal sound setting based upon your rooms acoustics.
One final suggestion:
Any adjustment you make to the sound coming from the receiver in either a movie or music setting in regards to tone or bass and treble only effects the front left and right speakers. This means that you cannot turn up or down or cut or enhance the high or low sounds coming from the center channel speaker; the speaker that is the most important when watching TV or movie. Yes you can choose small or large size for the speaker but that doesn’t quite cut it in my opinion.
So what can be done? Nothing right now, but perhaps in the future (just saying) why not allow an adjustment to how the sound will be interpreted to be sent to the center channel speaker thru a setting somehow in the receiver? Or perhaps a special EQ could be made to connect from the receiver to the center channel to make that improvement in sound. This could be another device to sell that would offer customers a way to improve the sound they already have. From a sales point of view what an up-sell this could be! Or maybe an EQ or bass and treble setting could be built into the center channel itself? Obviously this last option would not work on a small center channel, but it could on a larger one. I have actually seen a crossover on a few higher end older model center channels so I know this is possible so why not bring this idea back?
My favorite option would be a separate EQ to connect from the receiver to the center channel speaker. If this could be done, why not take that to the very next level and make these available for every speaker you want to connect to the receiver thereby making your sound truly custom and awe-inspiring?!
These are my concepts for better sound. As always Premium Audio goes “Way Beyond Home Theatre” in coming up with improvements to how things can sound. Granted we have not invented any of these such concepts, but I have at least come up with the concept behind them. If you are in fact a manufacturer of any such components and would like to go in on making this a reality please reach out to me directly as I would love to hear from you and I am quite certain that my readers would love to have these concepts available to use in their homes too! Please email me at [email protected]