Harman has announced proprietary software which automatically analyses and improves the audio quality of all types of compressed, digitised music sources at the CES show in Las Vegas.

The technology, called Signal Doctor, is claimed "to naturally restore the full, satisfying sound that is forfeited in the compression process". It is being launched in wireless home entertainment sound systems but the Tier One supplier plans to launch the technology in other home, multimedia and automotive products this year.

Digital audio compression technology renders digitised music files smaller to make them more portable but the process fundamentally alters the music source to something other than what the artist had initially intended, Harman said.

In a typical digitised audio file, up to 90% of the audio content captured during the original recording can be discarded during file compression. Signal Doctor was developed to address this deterioration of audio quality, restoring what has been lost "to deliver a rich, uncompromised listening experience from any compressed music source". 

“With compressed digitised files, listeners are often deprived of the full auditory satisfaction and enjoyment that music is meant to bring,” said Michael Mauser, president, lifestyle division, at Harman. “We know from our research that listeners - even millennials, who have grown up with compressed music as their reference - prefer the best possible sound quality from every audio source.  Building on our long-standing industry leadership and unrivaled expertise, Signal Doctor is a significant technological advancement that changes the listening experience in today’s mobile and streaming world, bringing life and emotion back to the music whether at home, in the car or on the go.”

The technology improves digitised audio file quality in a number of audible areas amd removes unwanted added effects like echo and distortion. It is claimed also to restore the crisp detail and clarity of high frequency sounds like cymbals, which can be muddied in compressed sources, sharpens dynamic sounds like percussion instruments, which can be smeared or dulled by compression, takes a flat, compressed vocal and brings back the intimacy of the original performance, rebuilds the stereo image that is often compromised by compression, creating a natural, wide soundstage, and restores the musical depth that is lost when instruments and vocals are compressed to the same volume.

"In contrast to competitor offerings," Harman claimed, "Signal Doctor does not blindly add equalisation, bass boost, or other effects that alter the intended listening experience." The proprietary predictive model intelligently and accurately recreates the lost information based on the existing compressed content, "unlike any similar offering".

Signal Doctor works seamlessly and automatically and is always on, designed to run in the background without any user intervention. It adjusts the amount of correction it applies based on the quality of the input signal. For example, while it will add no correction to a CD-quality signal, it will add a heavy dose of correction to the most compressed signals, such as satellite radio.

The technology can be integrated into any Harman in-car audio system, via the amplifier or head unit, and will be in production vehicles this year.

Show the press release

HARMAN Announces Signal Doctor™ Technology; Restores Audio Quality Lost in Today’s Mobile, Digitized Listening Environments

Proprietary Technology Available in New HARMAN Home and Multimedia Products and for HARMAN Vehicle Audio Systems

CES 2014, LAS VEGAS – JANUARY 6, 2014 – HARMAN, the premium global audio and infotainment group (NYSE:HAR), announced today a proprietary software solution that automatically analyzes and improves the audio quality of all types of compressed, digitized music sources.  The technology, called Signal Doctor, leverages HARMAN’s decades of unmatched experience in music recording, signal processing and psychoacoustics to naturally restore the full, satisfying sound that is forfeited in the compression process.  Signal Doctor is available now in HARMAN’s new JBL Authentics Series wireless home entertainment sound systems (a CES 2014 Innovation Award winner), and HARMAN plans to launch Signal Doctor technology across a range of Home, Multimedia, and Automotive products in the coming year.

In today’s increasingly mobile world, music has essentially become data. Audio formats have morphed from vinyl LP’s, cassette tapes, and CD’s to today’s digitized files on iPods, USB sticks and smartphones.  Streaming music (services like Pandora® and Spotify™) and Satellite Radio continue this digitized takeover, and consumers today expect their favorite music to be with them wherever they go.

This maximum mobility is made possible by compression processes that render digitized music files smaller and, therefore, make them more portable.  While compression technology is critical to ensure easy and seamless access to audio content via the cloud and on connected devices, this process fundamentally alters the music source to something other than what the artist had initially intended.

In a typical digitized audio file, up to 90 percent of the audio content captured during the original recording can be discarded during the file compression process. Signal Doctor was developed to address this deterioration of audio quality, restoring what has been lost to deliver a rich, uncompromised listening experience from any compressed music source. 

“With compressed digitized files, listeners are often deprived of the full auditory satisfaction and enjoyment that music is meant to bring,” said Michael Mauser, president, Lifestyle Division, HARMAN. “We know from our research that listeners - even Millennials, who have grown up with compressed music as their reference - prefer the best possible sound quality from every audio source.  Building on our long-standing industry leadership and unrivaled expertise, Signal Doctor is a significant technological advancement that changes the listening experience in today’s mobile and streaming world, bringing life and emotion back to the music whether at home, in the car or on the go.”

Signal Doctor improves digitized audio file quality in a number of audible areas, returning all of the authenticity, ambience, warmth, and clarity that compression takes away: it removes unwanted added effects like echo and distortion; it restores the crisp detail and clarity of high frequency sounds like cymbals, which can be muddied in compressed sources; it sharpens dynamic sounds like percussion instruments, which can be smeared or dulled by compression; it takes a flat, compressed vocal and brings back the intimacy of the original performance; it rebuilds the stereo image that is often compromised by compression, creating a natural, wide soundstage; and it restores the musical depth that is lost when instruments and vocals are compressed to the same volume.

In contrast to competitor offerings, Signal Doctor does not blindly add equalization, bass boost, or other effects that alter the intended listening experience.  HARMAN has developed a proprietary predictive model that intelligently and accurately recreates the lost information based on the existing compressed content, unlike any similar offering.

Signal Doctor works seamlessly and automatically.  The technology is always on, and designed to run in the background without any user intervention.  In addition, Signal Doctor adjusts the amount of correction it applies based on the quality of the input signal.  For example, while it will add no correction to a CD-quality signal, Signal Doctor will add a heavy dose of correction to the most compressed signals, such as Satellite Radio.

Signal Doctor can be integrated into any HARMAN in-car audio system via the amplifier or head unit, providing automakers limitless possibilities to further enhance in-car listening experiences.  It is available now to all automakers and will begin launching in vehicles this year.

Original source: Harman