Sonic Emotion 3D Sound
Swiss developer Sonic Emotion was demonstrating its 3D Sound technology in a smallish booth at the Convention Center using soundbars from Haier and Coby. Granted, these are hardly the type of "ultimate" products I normally feature on UAV, but the underlying technology is surprisingly advanced and worthy of coverage here.
3D Sound is based on the concept of wave-field synthesis (WFS), in which many small drivers create a very large soundfield—in this case, a soundbar with at least six drivers is required. There's no beam-steering involved, and it doesn't rely on reflections, though having side walls does help enhance the effect. The soundfield is analyzed by detecting the direct and diffuse elements of a 2- or 5.1-channel input and then re-created using Sonic Emotion's WFS algorithms.
The demo I heard consisted of a concert video played on a Haier soundbar in a semi-enclosed space; pushing a big red button in the middle of the space bypassed the processing so listeners could compare the sound with and without. As Leo Laporte (pictured above) and I discovered, the effect was quite striking with no discernable sweet spot—the sound was pretty much the same anywhere in the area. It's not full-blown surround sound by any means, but it is far more enveloping and engaging than without the processing.
This technology is available now in the Coby CSMP88 soundbar ($119), and it will also be found in the Haier Evoke Series soundbar ($350) when it ships this spring. I have to say that I was impressed.