Mobile devices catch up on sound

Geat audio doesn't mean the loudest of the lot. Here is a look at the best sound reproduction across various segments of mobile devices.

Till a couple of years ago, anyone buying a notebook had tospend extra on external speakers. The sound in laptops were so bad that manydealers had started bundling these small speakers with all laptop and netbookpurchases. The only exception was the MacBook series which somehow seemed tohave audio which you could hear over the noise of the air conditioner or thetelevision. But then things changed, and changed drastically. One of thepioneers of good sound in regular laptops was the HP Pavilion series which hadsound good enough to sell as an entertainment device.

"We monitor consumer trends and changes in usage patterns toconstantly improve our products," says Ketan Patel, HP India's Director-Product Marketing. "We understood that young customers needed top quality audioand a better overall experience. So we integrated the technology into ourdevice." To ensure top notch sound, HP now has Beats Audio, Dolby and AltecLansing depending on the product range.

Adds Patel: "Once we have this kind of audio quality theoverall experience goes up; be it listening to music or playing games or doingpresentations." The new HP Pavilion DV6, for instance, has quad speakers-two infront, two behind and a sub-woofer. HP has been able to integrate more speakersin the same space due to technological advancements. "But the Beats Audiobranding means we have integrated the hardware that is compatible with thetechnology making the experience much more superior to other hardware. So inmachines like the dm4 we have the same audio experience with and without theheadset."

Acer, meanwhile, has tied up with Dolby to enhance the audioquality in most of its devices. In fact, the Iconia range of tablets from thecompany has arguably the best sound in the segment. Says Saji Kumar,Director-Product Management, Acer India: "To ensure that consumers receive awholesome experience while watching videos on their notebooks/ tablets, we haveequipped our consumer product range with the latest Dolby features. There is nocompromise being made on audio quality."

Across companies and devices, Dolby has been working toimprove sound quality. "We want to ensure that the sound reproduction is suchthat the artiste's intent is not lost what ever screen you might be listeningthe work on," says Ashim Mathur, Marketing Head at Dolby Laboratories India. Hesays that Dolby has a five-screen strategy, ensuring that the sound qualityremains consistent across screens-from a cinema theatre to a mobile phone.However, Dolby enhances sound at the software level, tuning each device toensure it has "cinematic sound quality". The proverbial 'Dolby Effect' can beexperience on a range of Nokia phones starting with the N8 launched last year.

Mobile phones have had great sound for a few years, eversince Sony-Ericsson launched its Walkman series followed by Nokia XpressMusic.But now these devices have sound quality good enough to rock a party withoutany external help. Plugged into a home theatre or speaker system, phones likethe N8 and new Nokia 808 Pureview will leave you wondering if the sound isactually coming from something that can be held in your palm. "But," says Ashim Mathur of Dolby, "this sound quality does not come easy. A lot of time andenergy has to be spent to get the sound quality right." Meanwhile, HTC has alsoannounced that Beats Audio will be a feature in some of its topend phones.

In mobile phones, good sound is also about the microphonesused. While Motorola phones have made their mark with great audio, especiallythe Rokr series, the company has also improved the voice clarity of itsdevices. "Our range of smartphones have a reputation for excellent voiceclarity," says William Moss, Director of Communications, Asia-Pacific, MotorolaMobility. "We've also made it convenient for people to converse on ourBluetooth headsets by using combinations of up to three microphones in theheadsets, along with our Crystaltalk technology." This, he says, dramaticallyreduces background noise and provides amazing audio on both sides of the call.

Sound Out These Devices

Geat audio doesn't mean the loudest of the lot. Here is alook at the best sound reproduction across various segments of mobile devices.

Rs 24,500 onward
Apple is the best with whatever it does. Although, we don'thave big names like Dolby Mobile or Beats Audio to build-up a winning case forthe iPad, it actually doesn't need one. The sound quality on the iPad isequally good and loud as on the iPhone 4.

Rs 19,990 onward
Netbooks are usually forgiven if they dish out lousy sound.But the Mini 210 needs no such allowances. Though just 10 inches big, this onefeatures Beats Audio and can really pump up the music.

Rs 14,550
For ages, the Walkman brand represented the benchmark ingood sound. This smartphone is no exception as the phone is as focused on itsmusic as its smart functionalities. The company has used xLoud loudnessenhancement engine paired with the Walkman (music player) to give clear, loudand distortion-free sound. The dedicated Walkman key on the top allows instantaccess to music, the icing on the cake.

Rs 99,999
While this premium Ultrabook is a stunner thanks to theintegration of glass in its body, it will be the Beats Audio branding that willmake this a favourite of audiophiles. To ensure that the sound is just the wayyou want it, the 14-inch Spectre features a aluminum analog volume dial forprecision volume control. It will also be among the first devices to featurebuilt-in HP Wireless Audio that lets you stream audio to any compatiblewireless speaker.

Rs 36,000
The new smartphone in town is not just about a quadcoreprocessor and the latest Android operating system. It also has Beats Audioonboard that claims to offer excellent audio. With this technology, users getto hear authentic, deep sound with true, finely-tuned details while listening tomusic or watching videos. HTC has allowed developers to access Beats Audio APIusing which even applications could take advantage of this sound technology.

Rs 35,900
Not many tablets are bothered about offering superb music,so Acer's Iconia Tab A501 is an exception. Thanks to the Dolby Mobile onboard,the tablet offers great sound output. Dolby Mobile creates cinematic surroundsound experience while extending bass response for adding more depth and feelto the music. It also enhances high frequencies for clear detailed sound.

Rs 54,190 onward
Despite its ultra-thin form factor, the MacBook Air is oneof the best sounding devices around. The MacBook Air delivers full stereo soundwith the left and right speakers placed in such a way that the sound projectsthrough the keyboard. No wonder it is a preferred device for many creativeartistes.

Courtesy: Gadgets and Gizmos