For the past few years, audio quality in mobile devices has become an increasingly higher priority. There was a time when audio quality was valued only by a few smartphone vendors, but that trend is slowly changing. We have seen the arrival of smartphones which specifically promote great audio quality as a feature, such as HTC’s smartphones since the One M7 as well as LG’s V series flagships. We have also seen the rise of stereo speakers in mobile, better DACs (such as Qualcomm’s Aqstic DAC), and in general, a better audio experience. However, there still remains quite a way to go for smartphones to improve in audio quality. This is why AAC Technologies and Dirac Research have partnered to build first-of-their-kind audio systems that integrate Dirac’s audio processing technology with AAC Technologies’ micro-speaker technology.
Dirac Research is an audio technology company which focuses on delivering optimized sound solutions for mobile. AAC Technologies, on the other hand, is a total solution provider with experience in components across acoustic, haptic, and optical segments. The company is a notable manufacturer of micro speakers.
At CES 2018, the companies will announce the first results of their collaboration. The results will be a series of product prototypes that are said to be “ground-breaking” as they will deliver a “new caliber of listening experience” through a range of audio devices.
The specific AAC-Dirac product prototypes that will be available for demo at CES include a smart speaker, smartphones, an augmented reality headset, and an “ultra-thin” automotive speaker. These prototypes are said to be custom-configured with AAC-Dirac’s audio subsystems. (It’s worth noting that the press release didn’t mention any details of specific smartphones.)
Details about the smart speaker and smartphone demos were not provided in the press release. It did note that comparison of audio performance will showcase an “impressive performance upgrade” over market-available alternatives, though.
The press release did provide some detail about the augmented reality headset. (While they are still a niche category, some analysts state that AR headsets will increase in popularity over the next few years as AR in general starts becoming mainstream.) The AAC-Dirac AR headset demo will position speakers just above the ears, thus producing immersive audio that is said to be “effectively overlaying the natural sound environment.” The press release notes that the headset will use a combination of “advanced audio processing” and “high-performance micro-speaker arrays” to beam sound to users’ ears while simultaneously minimizing sound leakage to the surroundings.
Finally, the augmented speaker demo is said to feature AAC’s new high-performance Super Linear Speaker. The ultra-thin speakers can be embedded in headrests, headliners, and other areas to create individual sound stages within a vehicle, according to the companies.
“Milestone technology breakthroughs are often the result of collaboration between industry leaders, and our two-year relationship with AAC Technologies is an example of this,” Erik Rudolphi, Dirac’s GM of Mobile, stated. “Rather than continue to design our audio processing algorithms and micro-speaker technologies in isolation, we set out to design our technologies collaboratively. The performance upgrade achieved is revelatory, and we look forward to showcasing to the world a new caliber of listening experience at CES 2018.”
“While the markets have prioritized visual experience over the aural experience, an industry-wide shift is now underway. Audio is no longer a secondary feature — but rather the feature that differentiates an exceptional user experience from one that’s underwhelming,” Jack Duan, COO of AAC Technologies, stated. “Together with Dirac Research we look forward to providing the world’s leading consumer technology brands with the audio subsystems they require to create products that will revolutionize our world.”
The AAC-Dirac product prototypes will be available for demo at CES 2018, from January 9-12. If they have the potential to enhance audio quality on mobile, that’s something we can all look forward to.