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Altec Lansing To Show New Speaker Technology

LAS VEGAS -Altec Lansing in mid-2001 will start shipping a new multimedia speaker line featuring newly developed technology that packs more power and better fidelity into a speaker dramatically smaller than what is available.

The as yet unnamed direct digital amplification technology allows a digital signal to pass directly from the source to the speaker, eliminating the need to convert it to an analog signal and reducing an amplifier’s size while increasing its power, said Craig Capece, Altec’s director of business development.

This will allow the creation of small but powerful speakers for use with PCs, home audio, car and portable audio products, Capece said. “These products will have a very small footprint but still produce the same big sound found in conventional speakers.”

Capece said the new technology will improve a speaker’s efficiency threefold.

By directing the audio signal from the source to the speaker, the digital-to-analog conversion process is eliminated, thus cutting out the step where most extraneous noise is generated, the Altec executive said.

The digital sound-processing step, which normally takes place right after the DAC inside the amplifier, is now done on the speaker. Placing the hardware there means the speaker is not tied to a larger device for its power and processing, so the speakers can be used with even simple devices such as MP3 players.

The new technology also greatly reduces the power needed to run the speakers, which will eventually lead to the development of battery-powered speakers for use with portable devices.

The first PC-oriented products incorporating the technology will start shipping in the second quarter with 2.1- and 4.1-channel sound. Eventually, the technology will be incorporated in all Altec speakers.