Stalking the Bobcat

In my report on Red Rose Music's HE2005 debut of the Burwen Bobcat, I complained about the lack of before and after demonstrations of the technology, as well as the difficulty of extracting information about what the product actually did. In the last week, I have received correspondence that sheds light on both cavils.

Mark Levinson writes, "I didn’t want to get into comparative listening in a show environment. Maybe it wasn’t the right decision, and am sorry you were turned off. This industry needs a solution to the PCM problem and BB really works. Maybe you’d like to stop by to do some comparative listening."

I'll be sure to stop by Red Rose Music and take him up on the offer, which I assume is open to anyone interested in this new technology.

I also received a note from Richard S. Burwen that addressed many of my questions concerning the Bobcat. I pass it along verbatim.

"Burwen Bobcat is a plug-in for the Windows Media Player that processes audio by adding equalization and unique, patent-pending, high-frequency reverberation. Unlike any previous technology, Burwen Bobcat makes CDs, MP3s, and DVDs sound comparable or superior to analog or SACD. The result is the most seductive, emotionally involving, and entertaining experience possible with contemporary and vintage recorded media. Burwen Bobcat also dramatically reduces listening fatigue and includes a very simple user interface.

"Burwen Bobcat has two windows: Basic Bobcat for the wider audience, and Big Bobcat which offers 18 different combinations of the most useful outputs from Burwen Technology’s SPLENDOR & AMBIANCE™ software. Basic Bobcat improves all PCM material with minimal processing, while Big Bobcat settings enable the listener to select smooth high frequencies, reduced screech, fuller mid range, lower bass, a wider acoustic image, clearer speech, and eliminate high-frequency irritants. Burwen Bobcat’s patent-pending high-frequency reverberation process cannot be replicated by any existing technology. Dick Burwen optimized each setting with careful listening and a lifetime of live recording experience, rather than digital calculations, to produce natural, musical, enjoyable sound from recordings of musical instruments, voices, and film sound tracks.

"Burwen Bobcat processes audio at 44.1kHz or 48kHz, which it sends to the USB DAC manufactured by Daniel Hertz Advanced Audio Designs. The Windows Media Player converts every source it plays to one of those frequencies delivered to Burwen Bobcat. It plays CDs, movies, and MP3 and WMA compressed music through Burwen Bobcat, but does not record through Burwen Bobcat.

"You cannot achieve Burwen Technology’s high-frequency improvement using ordinary or sampled reverberation with boosted high frequencies. It just does not work.

"Most available program material has moments when the high frequencies are irritating enough to cause the listener to turn the volume down below the point of maximum enjoyment for the rest of the program—and sometimes to just turn it off. Burwen Bobcat processing greatly reduces high-frequency irritants via its combination of high-frequency reverberation and tone balancing. You can listen longer. High-frequency irritants can originate from the recording or transmission process, bit reduction, studio mixing, the musical instruments, and dry acoustics at recording and playback.

"Burwen Bobcat software is a C++, C#, Direct Show program the same as the processing part of my SPLENDOR & AMBIANCE program but with 18 fixed settings and a few things removed. The basic parts, AUDIO SPLENDOR™ and OPTIMUM AMBIANCE™ are described at There is also a Burwen Bobcat page."

Even if you can't make it by Red Rose for your own Bobcat demo, you owe it to yourself to check out Burwen's website, which includes a great biography page describing the engineer's many career accomplishments (and some great photos of Burwen and audio gear.) As for me, I'll be taking Mr. Levinson up on his offer of a demonstration just as soon as deadlines and summer travel plans (including an expedition to watch John Atkinson record the next Cantus project) allow. Watch this space.