April 2023 Editorial

General Motors new patent improves audio listening based on physical changes of the listening environment

[General Motors audio patent]

Author: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Published: April, 2023

It's no mystery that good room acoustics is THE key for enjoyable listening at home. Still, too many audiophiles plan to spend huge amounts of money on new components, without paying enough attention to the way their listening room sounds and interacts with the loudspeakers. Modern DSP-aided systems (such as Dirac Live and DSpeaker) are coming into play and, for sure, give a hand in curing poor room acoustics, but there's still room for research and improvement.

One of the limits of these digitallly-assisted systems is that they are not dynamic, in the sense that they correct room acoustics after a static analysis of the situation. Digital correction comes into play after the acoustics of the room has been analyzed. What happens if the acoustics of the room changes, for example, when one opens a door or when there's more than one listener in the room?

I'm sure you're familiar with the fact that your system sounds different when you are alone and when some of your audiophiile buddies visit your room. The response of the room and the sound of your system changes. Three/four audiophiles in the room might dramatically change the way you perceive the sound of your system (N.B. their size matters!). And no, I'm not referring to their (bad) attitude to criticize your set up. I know, they all to do that. Your system is crap and theirs is better. I know audiophiles who try to revolutionize their system after a friend has found all of its weaknesses. You don't need room acoustics correction software to cure that, just a good shrink ;-)

Anyway, perhaps we're in for good news. General Motors has recently filed a patent titled “Vehicle Audio Control Based on Sensed Physical Changes in Vehicle Configuration” (Patent nr. 11588459 B1 - Feb 21., 2023) that introduces a dynamic procedure to adapt sound correction when conditions of the listening environment vary. Of course, the system has been designed for automotive applications, where the listening environment changes wildly depending on how many windows are open, if the roof is up or down, if there's just one person inside or more etc.

I know, modern DSP-based car audio systems can adapt the sound to road and wind noise or adjust volume and bass output when the roof is up or down (the original Bose system in my 911 does exactly that). Morever, we've become familiar with noise cancelling headphones. But! This patent does something better: via a series of sensors it can automatically adapt the sound in a certain environment to any change of situation.

At the moment, this is just a patent and I do not know if and when it will become a commercially available reality, but this is really good news for us, since it means research in audio via sensors and DSP will, sooner or later, improve the way our room sounds. For this reason, let me publicly thanks the minds behind this idea, namely Frank C. Valeri, Connor Schuman and Richard A. Close, three visionaries who can change the way we listen to music, anytime, anywhere.

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Copyright © 2023 Lucio Cadeddu - editor@tnt-audio.com - www.tnt-audio.com