Notebooks and other PCs with integrated speakers have a reputation for poor audio quality, leading Analog Devices to team up with Sonic Focus to create a SoundMAX System Tuning tool that should help OEMs alleviate the problem. In addition to a range of EQ filters, the tuning tool gives users control over Sonic Focus' Adaptive Dynamics scheme and the ability to tweak both low and high pass band filters. Manipulating the latter can be particularly helpful for speakers integrated into smaller form factors that limit cone travel.
We sat in on a SoundMAX tuning tool demo at CES and came away impressed with the results it can achieve. Integrated speakers that sounded tinny in their standard configurations gained warmth and depth after just a few variables were tweaked. Improved bass was achieved without distorting or otherwise muffling vocals or the upper range of the spectrum, as well. The tuning tool can't work miracles—there's only so much one can squeeze from tiny integrated speakers—but the improvement in overall sound quality was striking.
The SoundMAX tuning tool is only being released to OEMs, so end users won't be able to fiddle with it on their own. That's unfortunate, but Sonic Focus explains that the level of control available makes it possible to really screw up your system's audio. If enough OEMs using Analog Devices codec chips take advantage of the tool, we could see a marked improvement in laptop and integrated speaker audio quality.
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