Championed by Late Night (now Late Show) with David Letterman Musical Director Paul Shaffer, Dolby is releasing a product that is more than just an emulation or virtual field but is in fact the real thing. Shaffer, who has been David Letterman's Musical Director since Letterman's show went on the air in the 1980s has always contended that all music is best reproduced in mono. He's not kidding about it.
Because of his substantial industry influence, he and Dolby have collaborated on a technology that to many, may seem like it's right out of Friday Morning Auditorium in Sixth grade. If you recall, during those glorious days, the Dukane movie projector was positioned down the center isle between the two sides of students. An extension cord allowed the detachable speaker (which was conveniently built into the projector's case) to be positioned forward of the students, near the stage. Thus the students, while watching the 16mm film screen, would be able to hear all of the subtle dynamics provided by a single enclosure-less, unequalized speaker in the front of an acoustically ultra-live gymnasium. This echoey, distorted, sound reproduction technique has been biding it's time, waiting for a day when it could once again be appreciated by audiences.
The beauty of this setup is that no equalization, compression/expansion, audio signal delays, and all of those other modern day phenomena that just get in the way to Shaffer are required or even in evidence. It's just the audience, a click-clacking projector, and a 1AX-16 vacuum tube, and an open, flapping in the air, speaker cone at work.
Dolby and Shaffer's new product will be called Dolby Analog Mono. Receiver manufacturers including Yamaha, Sony, Denon, Onkyo, and Harmon Kardon have already ordered chip sets (or should I say set) in production quantities. Look for receivers with this capability appearing by early 2013. The feature is not expected to add more than $300 to the price of each unit. (Note: At the time of this writing, Dolby reported some difficulty in sourcing the required electrical components - all seven of them. As a contingency, they have purchased a large inventory of AM/FM eight track stereos from 1970 Oldsmobiles from which they can alternatively source parts.)
In a related story, Thorens, the fabled Swedish turntable maker, has just introduced a technology called "Don't throw away that worthless Penny. Put it on your needle." Electronics to process this new sound should be appearing at about the same time as Dolby True-HD 1930.
Audio engineers nationwide are ecstatic that we are finally re-embracing that once glorious analog sound, complete with it's clicks, pops, distortions, wow and flutter and all of the other qualities that made music listening so sublime before we were forced to succumb to the harshness of digital.
Wayne Reses (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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