Now that everyone is familiar with downloading music from the Internet, the next logical step is using technology to enhance the fidelity of those tunes. We’re already moving in that direction, says Bob McConnell, vice president of North American sales at Anthem/Paradigm, but it will be at least a few more years until streaming audio reaches the fidelity level of, say, a Blu-ray disc.
Paving the way for higher-grade listening experiences are advances such as high-res music from websites like HDtracks.com, more affordable audiophile-grade components, technology that tailors the audio reproduction to the room environment, and Bluetooth connectivity between mobile devices and whole-house audio systems.
All of these developments are making high-fidelity more mainstream, says McConnell. “No longer is it just for audiophiles, but for regular folks as well.” For example, Anthem’s Automatic Room Correction (ARC) technology, which tweaks the audio output of a receiver based on the room environment and location of the speakers, used to place a hefty premium on the company’s line of A/V receivers. A few years ago an Anthem pre-pro with ARC sold for around $7,500; today a receiver with that technology costs $999.
For a few years Wi-Fi has been spreading tunes around the house; now Bluetooth is entering the fray. Here’s what’s in store: From any Bluetooth enabled smartphone, tablet or PC you’ll be able to transmit your music directly—in lossless high-def—to a whole-house audio system (Bluetooth-enabled, of course), which can then send that music to every speaker in your house. Sure, we’ve been doing the same thing with Wi-Fi, but as David Rodarte, CEO of whole-house audio manufacturer NuVo Technologies, points out, in most homes Wi-Fi communication can be finicky and spotty. The Bluetooth solution, which you can already find in some products, promises flawless transmission of the audio signal from the mobile device to the whole-house audio system. As long as you and your tablet or phone are in the same room as a Bluetooth receiver, you’ll be able to wirelessly transmit your music files.
Follow Electronic House
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.