Sound Bites

It’s time for a rant, time to dredge up those same old topics, same tired old arguments.  Why did they?  What where they thinking?  Who designed that?  You think I’m talking about software?  That would be too easy.  No, I’m back to my favorite pass-time, skewering the dysfunctional world of audio.

To be brutally honest, I don’t know much of anything about audio.  I’m not an audiophile or musician or sound-geek.  I doubt I could tell the difference in sound quality between a $30 boom box and a $3000 speaker.  Yet I do like the directional sound effects of my home theater system and I do enjoy the rumble of a good subwoofer.  However, I just don’t understand the need for all the complexity; A/V Receivers, amplifiers, etc.  It’s just all too much.  The back of my television system is some Lovecraftian nightmare of cables begetting cables, begetting cables.

I think kind of, sort of, out of the corner of my squinting eye, I see that the vision of convergence of media, a single set top box that does it all for you, helps get rid of much of that tangled mess.  And better than that, my dream is that it helps get rid of all the remote controls.  Please, oh, please, why can’t there just be one remote, with only one or two buttons.  If there’s going to be convergence into one box, be it media center or Tivo or what-have-you, use the screen, that’s what it is there for.  Give me menus.  Give me preferences.  If I still end up with multiple boxes, let the ‘one-box’ control them all.  Believe me; it won’t end in the destruction of middle-earth.

Yet, even with all this talk of convergence, all this grand-vision being bantered about, day and night, year after year with product offerings creeping closer and closer to the ultimate end game, no one is doing anything about audio.  Sure the boxes all understand audio as a digital media; they all play it or emit it.  However, they still either only emit stereo or require external boxes to decode the multi-channel signals, a separate system to control the speakers, one that is not integrated and with a user-interface only a mother could love.

As long as we are ‘fixing’ everything else, why can’t we fix speakers too?  Why can’t speakers be first class citizens in this new world order?  Imagine speakers that receive digital signals and decode those signals automatically; speakers that have a CPU and can be controlled from a central host to automatically adjust to play any particular channel from any particular stream.  Imagine them wireless.  Imagine them able to auto-sense their locality relative to other speakers in the home.

Imagine the possibilities.

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