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Dirac's spatial audio tech will soon be built into wireless headphones

The technology can be integrated into digital signal processors (DSPs) of Bluetooth chipsets.
Billy Steele
September 30, 2020
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Last time we checked in with Dirac, the Swedish audio company known for “digital audio optimization,” it had developed software for improving headphone sound quality. The key element with that app is that it was designed to run on a phone or media player. Dirac has now gone a step further and integrated its spatial audio tech directly into wireless headphones. By leveraging digital signal processors (DSPs) on Bluetooth chipsets from the likes of Qualcomm, MediaTek and BES, the company is giving headphone makers the ability to bypass the playback device to insure immersive sound from stereo content.

In fact, Dirac says this is an industry first. The company explains that any digital sound optimization has typically been done on a connected phone, media player or another system. In other words, you had to download an app or use a piece of software that offered some type of audio enhancement — like a preset for your model of headphones. With this new setup, immersive audio is available out of the box and all the time. There’s no need for a companion app.

This new “spatial audio solution” does two key things. First, as the name suggests, it upscales stereo content to immersive audio. Dirac compares the end result to what you might hear from a home theater setup, only this technology doesn’t require content to be specifically mixed for spatial audio. Second, the tech includes speaker optimization. Dirac has experience with room correction and calibration, and now it’s putting those systems to use in wireless headphones. The company says the result is “maximized sound quality” without a hardware upgrade. What’s more, it can be added to existing headphones via a firmware update. That goes for the spatial audio feature as well.

This will be especially useful for companies that make true wireless earbuds. Over the last two years, the buds themselves have gotten increasingly smaller as headphone makers improve comfort and fit. Of course, that means less room for components like speakers — and less room for them to operate effectively. Companies may need to rely on sound enhancement tech like what Dirac has built in order to avoid sacrifices in audio performance. Plus, Dirac will offer the speaker optimization on its own without spatial audio, so headphone makers can “focus solely on maximizing headphone sound quality.”

Dirac says Klipsch and RHA are already planning to integrate the spatial audio tech in upcoming headphones. And you can bet the integration will be part of the pitch when those models are announced, whether the companies mention Dirac by name or not.

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