Compressed audio sounds fine on headphones, as CE sales will attest, but what about if you take that same MP3 or iPod audio and play it back on a premium home or car stereo system? It sounds worse.
Why? Because the stereo masker gets “unmasked” and the sound “image” is expanded. That’s according to Neural Audio’s CEO, Geir Skaaden, who says the company has a way of compensating for that in a post-processing mode that makes adjustments in the playback system. The Neural-THX Surround Digital Music Mode is designed for any compressed audio.
At AES in San Francisco this week, Neural Audio’s talking up survey results of about 60 participants from the CEDIA show last month; a show focusing on staff at CE stores and custom installers.
Geir told me that Neural was surprised to find that 50% of survey participants — think those who spend more than $2,000 on their stereo system — preferred iTunes and iPods (forms of compressed audio) as sources of music for their customers over CDs or DVDs. Eight percent said radio, which can also be compressed audio, was the most important source of music.
The challenge for those who build systems and don’t control the content, he said, is “people are ripping their own CDs and not necessarily paying attention to the levels.”