NHT Gets EQCalibrated

One of the more compelling live demonstrations at last year's 2001 Consumer Electronics Show was in the room at the Alexis Park hosted by Australia's ClarityEQ. As reported last year, using a $350 pair of NHT Super One speakers driven by mass-market consumer gear, the company's PDC-6.6 DSP correction system noticeably improved the midrange tonality and imaging we were hearing each time it was switched into the circuit. This prompted us to give the company the "proof of concept in a hotel room" award for that year.

ClarityEQ was back in the Alexis Park at the recent 2002 CES, and announced that progress had been made over the last year, resulting in an alliance with loudspeaker manufacturer NHT. ClarityEQ says it will be developing exclusive processing circuitry and software specifically designed for an as-yet-unnamed NHT reference speaker system that is planned for a fall introduction.

NHT says that the new system, which is still in the development stage, will be based around a two-way active speaker configuration, plus a three-way center channel and subwoofer. According to NHT, the new set of speakers will be "EQCalibrated" using a DSP engine designed by ClarityEQ to "maximize driver performance dynamically, significantly reducing linear and non-linear distortion, while maintaining sonic neutrality at all power levels."

"Looking to the future, we see that loudspeakers will grow in numbers in the home and will necessarily need to be smaller," says NHT's Chris Byrne. "DSP is one important technology that will offer substantial improvements in loudspeaker performance going forward. As our core competency is loudspeaker design, we turned to ClarityEQ for the right expertise in the digital arena."

The idea is to use custom-tailored digital processing to compensate for difficult-to-design-around performance problems common with real-world speaker drivers, crossovers, and enclosures. ClarityEQ says it uses digital measurement, analysis, and playback equalization algorithms that enable loudspeakers to "perform far better than specified by the manufacturer." The ClarityEQ DSP processing hardware will likely be located inside each speaker, between its input connection and the internal power amp of the self-powered NHT enclosures.

ClarityEQ has also developed the PDC-2.6, recently demonstrated at the 2002 CES, intended as a "reference" unit for use by loudspeaker designers, audio professionals, system installers and dedicated high-end consumers. The company adds that in addition to correcting for loudspeaker anomalies, the outboard PDC-2.6 can be used to compensate for room acoustic problems to achieve "near-perfect" frequency response and phase accuracy for improved dispersion and soundstaging. ClarityEQ's co-founder Kim Ryrie explains, "We've spent a lot of time developing a simple solution for very complex problems."