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Dirac Research wants to boost the bass levels of your next smartphone’s speakers without increasing their heft. The Swedish company today took the wraps off of Dirac Bass, a solution it claims enables handsets and portable speakers to reproduce “deeper” and more “transparent” low tones than previously possible.

“In speakers, bass performance is all about moving as much air as possible. However, micro-speakers, like those used in smartphones or portable speakers, cannot move the amount of air required to reproduce deep bass content,” Nilo Casimiro Ericsson, Dirac’s head of product management, said. “Dirac Bass solves this problem … with new breakthroughs in digital signal processing to equip mobile devices with a new caliber of bass performance.”

Dirac contends that its secret sauce is a psychoacoustic approach — psychoacoustics being the scientific study of how humans perceive various sounds. According to Ericsson, “bass” sounds in music, which often seem as though they contain a lower fundamental tone, in truth are merely a combination of artificially generated overtones several octaves higher. Taking advantage of this quirk of physics, Dirac Bass maps deep tones to high frequencies more easily reproducible by smartphones’ small loudspeakers.

Dirac claims its tech drives “cleaner” and “more natural” bass as low as 30Hz, and says that, because Dirac Bass effectively inhibits speakers from attempting to reproduce pure tones, it both increases their longevity — they’re no longer at risk of being overdriven — and provides headroom that can be used to increase their overall loudness.

They’re lofty claims, to be sure, but it’s not Dirac’s first rodeo. The firm has worked with BMW, Datasat, Harman, NAD, OnePlus, OPPO, Rolls Royce, Volvo, and Xiaomi to integrate its audio solutions into cars, phones, home theater systems, and more. A sampling of its existing solutions includes Dirac Panorama Sound, which produces an extra-wide sound field from speakers positioned only a few inches apart, and Dirac Power Sound, an audio-enhancing suite that ships in the OnePlus 6T.

Just don’t expect Dirac Bass to come to a device near you anytime soon. Dirac says it will demo the platform at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2019, after which it’ll work to implement the tech with manufacturers who have already committed to supporting Direct Panorama Sound and Dirac Power Sound.

“[Our] suite of digital audio optimization solutions for small speakers has long redefined the mobile listening experience,” Erik Rudolphi, Dirac’s general manager of mobile, said. “Dirac Bass perfectly complements our existing solutions and equips smartphones and small portable speakers with a degree of bass reproduction previously only associated with much larger devices.”


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