My work as a recording and mixing engineer has given me the desire to tweak music and sound to my liking.
In years past, listener control in this area was limited usually to bass and treble controls, along with "balance," which is the adjustment of the sound left or right between your two speakers.
There's no major problem with this approach, but it was always reliant upon mechanical elements that failed over time. Pick up an old receiver from the thrift store and listen to the crackle in the speakers when you adjust some knob and you'll see what I mean.
Ultimately, it looks like advancement of technology in the music playback field is focused more on presenting a better original sound and less on supplying the user with the possibility of adjustment. Beats headphones bumped the bass up for those desiring, and sales of the headphones showed the market was grateful.
Readers as long in the tooth as I might remember the "BASSXPLOSION" buttons briefly included with CD players and boomboxes, but Beats showed that if you just do it correctly and make it default, listeners enjoy not having to mess with their audio.
Not this listener, however, and I think the new age of Digital Signal Processing is only growing. One foot in the bass/treble control camp and one in the Beats camp, many of these DSP corrections of sound can be either automatic or completely under user control.
Placing speakers or a subwoofer in the perfect position for optimal sound is quite tricky, and that position 9 times out of 10 won't jibe with the design ideas you or your significant other already had for the listening room. DSP has come up huge in this area, fixing so many frequency and timing issues before the music is amplified to the speakers that it is growing quickly as a serious audio solution.
Last week, I mentioned the company MiniDSP as one that is pushing the boundaries for this kind of sonic sweetening. While it's hardly alone, it offers perhaps the cheapest approach to DSP speaker correction. As with other deep fields like audio, there are many companies chasing this goal, and some are approaching it with higher audio standards in mind.
DSPeaker is another company with an all-in-one solution for fixing the sound in your listening room, and at about $1,000 for its base model, its products are a sonic step up from the previously mentioned. The Australian company DEQX is pushing the limits further with its correction devices, some of which cost $4,000. I heard the DEQX room at this year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and it was hard not to be impressed by the sonic perfection.
While we're talking bass, I'll point out that subwoofer placement can be even trickier than placing speakers. German company ELAC's new subwoofers, the S10EQ and the S12EQ, do it all for you via DSP controlled by your phone. It's mostly automatic, and with a couple of swipes and clicks you've got smooth, deep bass even though you've shoved the sub into the back corner.
DSP correction is promising indeed. More next week. Happy holidays!
Read more Taylor: coloradodaily.com/columnists. Stalk him: instagram.com/duncanxmusic.