As a Marvel Comics action movie enthusiast, watching The Avengers or Iron Man on a flat screen TV brings with it a constant thumb battle with the remote to adjust the volume up and down in between explosions and dialogue.
Aftermaster Audio Labs provides revolutionary technology and sound to the digital audio processing world, has developed Aftermaster TV, a portable audio gadget designed to smooth out and “master” the fluctuations, frequencies and tin can sounds from music, streaming, live TV and DVDs that consumers experience through their electronics and mobile devices in real-time; the result is a comfortable, rich and full audio experience.
As streaming becomes the new norm to digest entertainment, consumers are forced to accept lower audio quality with each experience. “When streaming, the first thing to go is audio,” Aaron Ryckman Senior Executive Vice President, Aftermaster Audio Labs said. “When they are squeezing bandwidth, unless you have this turned off in Netflix, there is a reduction in audio, then video. With Aftermaster TV, we are correcting all the issues with streaming and audio quality in general.”
Aftermaster started out with Paul Wolff (who built audio consoles), Shelly Yakus (who did all the major recordings) and CEO and engineer Larry Ryckman. For the last six years these three came together to develop a way to automate the mastering process.
Recently the company partnered with local ON Semiconductor, who spent a year in R&D and turned the mastering process into an algorithm then placed it onto a BelaSigna 300AM digital signal processing (DSP) chip, which is about the diameter of a ladybug.
The device will master any source material that passes through their technology and proprietary Adaptive Intuitive Response™ mechanisms and produce high-quality sound without adjusting the frequency on electronic components or volume control on a remote, Rykman said.
“We had the console and mixing equipment and ON turned it into an algorithm, put it onto the DSP, and now we co-market it to device makers and offer a software injection,” Ryckman said.
With more electronics companies pushing out their latest flat screen TVs, components and sound bars, Ryckman said that no one has really addressed the root issue of sound quality and frequency control. “…nobody was brave enough or had the ability to instantly remaster digital audio in real-time and cover the wide variety of tv, music and film that [we experience]-it is a very daunting process. Aftermaster technology is a ground-breaking audio solution that will dramatically enhance the listening experience on any consumer device,” Ryckman said.
The art of audio mastering started with AM radio, Ryckman said. The waveforms were large and some that were small and the mastering’s job was to even it out. “Fast forwarding today, the master decides what the consumer hears, it happens after you get the final mix. The engineer gives it fullness, its radio readiness, and is the final judge of what the source should sound like. The catch 22 is that the engineer needs to reflect the artist’s original emotion and intent, and the ability to do this in real-time has never been done before Aftermaster,” he continued.
The AfterMaster TV is in prototype and consists of an HDMI remastering box that incorporates the chip with two circuit boards, two inputs, one output and the ability to smooth and purify the sound quality even out of two flat screen speakers. The company is projecting the cost of the device to be under $120 and plan to reduce the size down to a smartphone for an on-the-go experience and eventually make it Bluetooth compatible.
“With AfterMaster you can put the remote down and stop doing the quick draw of the Wild Wild West to turn down the volume,” Ryckman said.
The company launched their Kickstarter campaign today with a $200,000 goal to fund development and production and deliver the product in February 2016.
“[Mastering is] one of the most important parts of the music creation or any audio creation process but often times gets overlooked or done poorly,” Ryckman said.
In 2014, Justin Timberlake came on board as a co-owner of the company.
The AZTB received a private demo of AfterMaster TV, watch and listen to the difference here.
Initial thoughts from DEMO:
Kicking off the demo with a flat screen Vizio TV with two speakers pointing down and no adjustment to the EQ, Ryckman put on a scene from Guardians of the Galaxy that had a blend of dialogue and action. With the Aftermaster engaged, the first noticeable difference was that I didn’t have to talk louder to communicate with Aaron. I could hear more sound effects, the audio was crisp instead of tin can-ish, the dialogue was smoothed out and the actor’s voices sounded richer. Most importantly, I didn’t have to touch the remote or shush the room.