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Room Correction Opening Doors To Multiroom Audio

6/19/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Some audio suppliers see potential in applying room-acoustics compensation technology to multiroom audio systems. Some don't.

Two that do are TacT Audio and Polk, but Meridian isn't so sure.

About a year ago, Little Ferry, N.J.-based TacT began offering 2×150-watt (into 8 ohm) amplifiers with optional room-correction boards that measure distortions and compensate in the time and frequency domains, said TacT owner Boz Bozovic. Multiple amps can be installed to deliver up to 16 channels of room correction for up to eight rooms. The amp retails for $3,190 without board and $3,690 with board.

TacT also offers a 7.3-channel surround processor with its room-correction technology built-in at $9,999.

Also in recent months, Polk began shipping two active in-wall speakers with built-in digital signal processing (DSP). Polk's technology is intended mainly to compensate for inherent speaker-design limitations, for the acoustic drawbacks of speaker placement in a wall, and the arrival times of sounds from each speaker, but it also incorporates a simpler acoustic-compensation technology. The speakers don't use microphones to measure the distortions created by a particular room. Instead, the speakers rely on installers to input easily observed room and speaker placement characteristics, such as room dimensions and whether the room's acoustical signature is neutral, somewhat lively, or lively. The speaker's DSP then selects the best frequency-domain EQ curve and time delays to optimize the sound of the speaker for the room's conditions, Polk said.

The two Polk speakers are the round in-ceiling two-way, bi-amped LC80i and the tri-amped rectangular three-way in-wall LC265i at suggested retails of $1,200 and $1,500 each, respectively. The price excludes an $800 48-volt power supply installed at the main system-equipment rack. A single power supply can power up to one pair of LC265i speakers or two pair of LC80i speakers.

The audio and control signals received by the speakers are IP-based for use with the Netstreams IP-based multiroom audio system.

For custom and non-custom home theaters, Meridian sees sales opportunities for products that compensate for a room's acoustics, but the company sees less potential for multiroom audio applications. "Our dealers say multiroom audio is typically wallpaper and not quality-driven," said sales trainer Ken Forsythe.

For home theater use, Meridian offers a pair of eight-channel preamp processors with room-correction DSP and microphone inputs to measure the distortions introduced by the specific room in which the theater resides.

Meridian also offers a pair of active in-wall speakers incorporating DSP, but the DSP doesn't correct for room acoustics. Instead, the $5,000/pair DSP420 uses digital processing to compensate for the inherent drawbacks of in-wall speaker designs and in-wall placement and to perform crossover functions and time alignment in the digital domain.

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