British company AirSound has announced the creation of new audio technology that, it claims, "re-engineers the basic principles of stereo reproduction".
Unlike traditional left-right stereo speaker combination, AirSound employs a single speaker unit that converts an audio signal into realistic spatial images that can fill a room with stereo sound, irrespective of where the listener is positioned.
Constant stereo image
It does this by using a single cabinet housing three speakers. One positioned in the front of generates what AirSound describes as a 'main' signal. This field of sound diffuses into the air and 'mixes' with spatial information generated by two separate speakers on either side of the unit.
One of the main advantages of the AirSound system, according to the company, is that the stereo image remains constant throughout a room. In other words, the listener isn't forced to sit in a traditional two-speaker 'sweet-spot' to gain a perfect stereo image.
The inventors also claim that their system offers better depth and height of sound than traditional two-speaker systems, while avoiding the usual frequency cancellations associated with dual (left and right) signal sources.
Of course, on paper it all sounds great. And not really all that technically complicated either. However, if that's the case, then one might be tempted to wonder why any of the big speaker manufacturers haven't already tried it?
Walls of Sound
According to Alan Johnson, general manager of parent company Airsound LLP, there have been attempts at producing similar technology in the past, but such projects have come up short.
"Lots of attempts have already been made to produce stereo sound from a single-point source. However, these have generally failed to produce something that is pleasing to the human ear. We approached the problem from a different angle."
"Essentially, what we are doing is stripping stereo sound of its left and right channels and re-matrixing them into main and spatial components. The AirSound speaker array re-combines this into a stereo image that is pleasing to the ear."
Airsound LLB will shortly be releasing a new 'Walls of Sound' manifestation of its AirSound technology. This single unit (pictured) can be enclosed within a wall or ceiling to provide a room-filling spatial stereo sound.