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NHT To Enter Digital Domain With First DSP Speakers

NHT plans to join the short list of speaker suppliers offering active speaker systems that use digital crossovers, digital equalization and other digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to compensate for the inherent limitations of speaker design.

The system is due in late June or July.

By the end of the year, the Rockford-owned brand hopes to offer a software upgrade that will enable the speakers to compensate for frequency response peaks and dips caused by less-than-ideal speaker placement and by a particular room’s acoustic characteristics. “Before you do room correction, you must do loudspeaker correction,” said Chris Byrne, product development and marketing director.

Speaker-design improvements have “come as far as any mechanical technology can take them,” he continued. “DSP presents a path for correcting system behavior that will allow us to meet consumer demands for higher performance, smaller systems that are flexible in placement considerations and ultimately lead to significantly enhanced room correction.”

NHT’s system will be “one of the lowest-priced complete loudspeaker-correction systems,” retailing at about $5,000 for a subwoofer and satellite pair, Byrne said. Additional speakers will be available to create a 5.1-channel system at about $12,000 and a 6.2-channel system at about $14,000. Pricing on the room-correction upgrade was unavailable, but it will likely be sold as a dealer-installed upgrade because it requires the use of a microphone and laptop, Byrne said.

At least two speaker suppliers — Bang & Olufsen and Infinity — offer speakers that incorporate different levels of room-correction technology, and at least four companies offer such technology in receivers or component processors. The four are Pioneer, Yamaha, Denon and Meridian. The technology is also available in select Bose home theater systems.

NHT’s first DSP system includes a powered subwoofer with two 10-inch active drivers and 500-watt digital amp. The system is complemented by two, two-way satellites, each incorporating a 5.25-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter with 120Hz–20kHz response. A component DSP processor/amp contains 4×150-watt digital amplifier for the satellites and DSP for the satellites and subwoofer.

The component performs crossover functions in the digital domain, digital phase correction down to 150Hz, digital frequency-domain equalization for all speakers, and digital time-alignment of each satellite’s woofer and tweeter.

The room-correction upgrade will correct for standing waves up to 300Hz in the frequency and time domains.

The system will be packaged with a choice of wired or wireless connections to the subwoofer. NHT will combine 2.4GHz 802.11b wireless technology with adaptive frequency-hopping spread-spectrum technology to provide the wireless link. It would be one of the industry’s first wireless subwoofers.