This Story Posted:
January 19th
11:22 AM/CST

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[11: 22 AM]
Apple Thinks Different About Sound
Apple announced today that it had licensed a new sound technology from Spatializer Audio Laboratories. The new technologies are 3-D Stereo, N-2-2, enCompass and Vi.B.E. audio software technology. Apple plans to use the sound technologies to enhance the audio of PowerBooks, the iMac, and PowerMac G3 series. According to Apple:

The licensed technologies include:

  • 3-D Stereo, a stereo expansion technology that accepts stereo input and provides the customer with the intensity and drama of an enhanced sound field from only two speakers;
  • N-2-2, Spatializer's flagship HRTF-based virtualization technology that provides realistic multi-channel surround sound playback from just two conventional speakers or headphones, instead of the standard five or more speakers normally required;
  • enCompass, an interactive 3-D audio positioning technology that precisely localizes multiple sound source over wide three-dimensional spaces, enhancing the customer experience for games and multimedia software;
  • Vi.B.E., Spatializer's latest virtual bass enhancement technology, designed to significantly improve the perception of low frequency audio from all types of multimedia and consumer speakers.

There is no word yet when Apple will be introducing these technologies in shipping products.

The Mac Observer Spin: One of the best aspects of being a Mac user is the marvelous plug and play capabilities we have. This is because the MacOS relies heavily on the knowledge that certain hardware will always be present when it goes about its business. The flip side of this is that we Mac users have fewer options when it comes to peripherals and add-ons (for the record, it is our opinion that the plug and play abilities make this worth it). Sound cards would be a great example of this.

PowerMacs have had great 16-bit sound built onto the motherboard from the beginning. This is great because we don't have to mess with sound cards and all the accompanying hassles PC users deal with, but at the same time there are now high-end consumer sound cards on the PC that blow away the standard Mac 16-bit sound. (This was driven home when we heard the THX Theme on a PC with an AWE 64 sound card and a PowerCenter Pro 240, both systems with the exact same type of speakers, and the PC sounded much better. A very true story). In other words what started off as the crème de lá crème has since been passed up by succeeding technologies. There has never been much of a market for sound cards on the Mac and thus we don't have them.

To most Mac users this is absolutely no big deal (hence the lack of a market), but to Mac gamers and other Mac techno-junkies this is one of the only areas where we wish there were more options on the Mac.

With all this in mind, it is fantastic to see Apple finally upgrade the sound technologies used in Macs and we look forward to seeing the results.

One last thing: Apple and Steve Jobs have once again shown that they are not afraid to find a solution developed outside the company. As we have said before, this shows a high degree of thinking different (or different thinking) from the past when Apple ignored technologies unless they had developed them. Good job Apple!

Apple - Spatializer Audio Laboratories



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