Last week at International CES in Las Vegas, after I spent a day soaking up the ultra Hi-Fi sounds wandering between Venetian suites, I wrote about the trend of high-resolution audio files finally marrying quality with convenience. Through various conversations and product demos, I believe we’re finally going to see many more consumers embrace better sounding audio again due in part to more products available that accommodate high-res audio files and new audio processing technologies.
Then the next afternoon I was introduced to Harman’s Signal Doctor technology, and I knew that my earlier blog was incomplete.
Signal Doctor is a new proprietary software solution that analyzes and improves audio quality of all compressed and digitized music sources (MP3, AAC, radio, playback, and streaming).
According to Harman, up to 90 percent of original audio content is shed by some lossy audio formats—I knew it was bad, but not THAT bad. During audio playback, Signal Doctor rebuilds this data. The technology is based on Harman’s deep history in signal processing and psychoacoustics, resulting in a predictive model, most closely related to Harman’s QLS (QuantumLogic Surround) DSP. So the rebuilding is not achieved through any kind of signal boosting or extra equalization. The algorithm scales the amount of restoration based on the value of the source bitrate.
To demo the technology for CES attendees venturing to Harman’s expansive setup at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, a real-time analyzer was used to display signal patterns, with the original signal pattern and the rebuilt version of it above for comparison. There was a huge difference demonstrated across various file types.
Signal Doctor is already available in JBL Authentics tabletop audio systems, but—more exciting for Residential Systems readers—the technology will be included in the updated Mark Levinson No.585 integrated amplifier scheduled to ship this summer. New Harman car audio systems will come with Signal Doctor included, as well. Expect to see the application integrated across Harman’s brands.