September 18, 2009
Gadget Guy

You may not have heard of SRS Labs, but odds are that you have a device in your home which uses its technology. SRS stands for Sound Retrieval System, and what the company does is work to improve the audio on products like TVs, computers, MP3 players, portable and bookshelf audio systems, receivers, mobile phones and car audio. Amongst the brands they work with are LG, Pioneer, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba.

SRS have released an audio innovation which will eliminate a bugbear many have when watching TV - the unevenness of the volume, in particular, ads being noticeably louder than everything else broadcast. Broadcasters swear that ads are not any louder, but to many ears this simply is not true.

SRS Labs is close to releasing a new audio technology called TruVolume, which it claims will put an end to the up and down nature of volume. According to SRS, the typical solution to the problem has been to implement an automatic gain control, which controls handling of volume changes by "cutting the audio signal at high amplitude and then boosting it at low amplitude - no matter where in the frequency range the loudness spike occurs." You'll have experienced this solution if you have an iPod or MP3 player - many enable you to equalise the volume of all the songs in your library.

SRS engineers looked the issue not only as it pertains to the source of the sound, they have also assessed the other end of the problem, our perception of sound. The human ear is not as sensitive to volume changes in upper and lower amplitude range, but is particularly sensitive in the middle range. TruVolume monitors and measures 20 unique frequency bands, and in real-time adjusts the audio in the high, low and middle ranges.

TruVolume has already appeared on the 2009 range of Samsung plasma and LCD TVs - Samsung calls the technology 'Auto Volume' - plus on TVs and a soundbar from Vizio.

While TruVolume really addresses a pet hate of TV watchers, the real potential of this technology is for mobile devices. SRS has developed a variant of TruVolume called MaxV, which is especially designed for smartphones. This tech will allow you to not only be able to hear more clearly any audio or video content, it will also result in the louder ringtones.