Axiom Audio - Home Theaters Axiom AudioFile Newsletter
Published Monthly Since 2002
Issue 79 | October 2008
Axiom's Anechoic Chamber

In This Month's Newsletter

FutureTech: Wireless HD and HDMI?

As much as we’d all love to eliminate the messy cables we use to connect our HDTV displays, AV receivers and Blu-ray or DVD players, Electronic House magazine reports that both Belkin and Monster Cable have delayed the introduction of their wireless HDMI devices until next year. Planned demonstrations of the new technology for the January Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas have been postponed and a spring launch is more likely, a Belkin spokeswoman says. Monster Cable is said to be introducing its own wireless HD accessory, Wireless Digital Express, in the second quarter of 2009, Electronic House reports.

Belkin’s proprietary Flywire system promises to wirelessly transmit full audio and video, including 1080p signals, across the room or even between floors of a house and also let users select from up to six A/V sources.

Sony has its own wireless HDMI system (the DMX-WL1) that according to some sources only works with Sony’s Blu-ray players, and will sell for $799.

Axiom’s chief R&D engineer Tom Cumberland, who sits on a number of Consumer Electronics Association boards, reports that these systems use digital spread-spectrum technology (no conventional carrier is employed) and are capable of very wide bandwidth, including 1080p. However, he notes that one of the continuing problems is very short range, limited to about 20 to 30 feet. –A.L.

Financing At Axiom!

The Archives

Selecting Your Home Theater:

Home Theater Basics

What to Look For When Buying a Receiver

Spotlight on: Home Theater Buying Tips

Choosing a TV

Ten Tips to Getting a Big Screen TV 

Buying a DVD Player


Do I Need Two Subs?

What's in a Cable?

Cable Quandary: Composite, S-Video, Component Video,
DVI, and HDMI Connectors

Choosing A Home Theater: Ten Mistakes to Avoid

Why Wall Units are the Enemy of Loudspeakers

Going the Separates Route

Beginners' Guide to Home Theater

Budgeting and Building a Dedicated Home Theater Room

Five Steps to Buying a Great HDTV

Ten Things You Need to Know About 1080p

Stereo Devotees - You Might Just Prefer Music In 5.1!

Home Theater Setup Guides:

An Essential Guide to Home Theater Layout

Stereo Setup Guide

Subwoofer Connections

How to Manage Video Connections

Five Totally Simple Ways to Get a Better TV Picture

Subwoofer Placement Tips

Running Multiple Sets of Speakers in Other Rooms

What is Impedance

Choosing Surround Sound Modes

The Forgotten Component: Getting Room Acoustics Right

Basement Home Theater

AV Connections

5(.1) Ways to Improve Your Home Theater Experience This Weekend

Five Steps to Beautiful A/V Installations

Soundproofing your Home Theater: The Basics Part 1

Soundproofing your Home Theater: The Basics Part 2

5.1 Symptoms That Your TV Display Needs Proper Setup

Bringing Sound Outdoors


Axiom AudioFile Newsletter Continues

Axiom T-Series Full-Size Speakers for Cabinet Installation

Axiom's humidity chamber rehydrating Tom CumberlandIn the past, we've discouraged owners of M80s, M60s and VP150s from trying to install Axiom speakers in special custom cabinets, cubbyholes, entertainment centers or armoires because of the potential acoustic problems that may result.

Clearly there was a demand, so Axiom is introducing its T-Series of in-cabinet speakers, meant for custom in-cabinet installation with NO compromises in acoustical performance. The T80 and T60, for example, use the same size enclosures as our standard M80 and M60 floorstanding towers, but they are both front-ported, with a slim baffle that protrudes ever so slightly from the cabinet. The T150 center channel is also identical in performance to its VP150 brother. The T-Series speakers are offered in a paintable version to match any custom installation or room décor, or in a VaSSallo version with a solid, real-wood front baffle (not a veneer) that can be custom finished by a cabinet-maker to match the surrounding cabinetry in a home (Axiom will also custom-finish to order).

Prices of the T-Series are identical to those of our standard speakers, including the custom Vassallo finishes (in the latter, while the entire speaker is not finished, the front baffle is real wood, not a veneer, so the custom aspect of the speaker is the same).

The T-series availability will be approximately 4 weeks (late November).

Axiom AudioFile Newsletter Continues

Featured Article

Axiom's Contribution to A/V Standards
by Alan Lofft

Alan LofftIt probably comes as no surprise that listening to music, whether live or smoothly reproduced from recordings can be a source of intense pleasure for many people. Axiom’s sales of loudspeakers and customer feedback over 25 years certainly attest to that. But what is interesting is the body of research that has emerged in recent years that lends scientific support to our own subjective impressions of music.

Given the scientific research into loudspeaker measurement, design, and listening tests directed by Dr. Floyd Toole over several decades at the National Research Council in Ottawa, in which Axiom participated, it’s especially gratifying to note that fascinating research about the way music affects the brain is emanating from several Canadian universities, including McGill and the University of Montreal. In fact, under their sponsorship, as well the Montreal Neurological Institute, there is now an International Laboratory for BRAin, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS) dedicated to addressing questions such as:

Why is the brain "musical"?

How does the structure of the nervous system allow us to listen to, remember, play and respond to music?

Fascinating Conclusions

So what has the research shown so far? In one study co-authored by Dr. Robert Zatorre of McGill University and the Montreal Neurological Institute, subjects were monitored with brain-scanning technology while they listened to music of their own choosing. Blood flow in the brain increased while a “shivers-down-the-spine” pleasurable reaction was noted in the subjects, and it affected areas of the brain “known to be active in response to other euphoria-inducing stimuli such as food, sex and drugs of abuse” as it’s phrased in the academic language of the scientific report. (This would seem to lend scientific authority to the old mantra of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”)

Another study determined that in people with perfect pitch discrimination who sing perfectly on key, one part of the brain is used while another part—the cerebellum—records rhythm. That part of the brain was heretofore associated only with movement and balance, so the urge to “get up and dance” (or at least move around in response to music) seems to be very much innate and instinctual, according to Dr. Zatorre.

Melody and the Words

McGill University researchers also found that when a song with music and words is played, the right side of the brain is focused on what is happening in the music while the left side is hearing the words. (On a personal note, I’d always wondered why I have such a perfect memory for melody—I inherited perfect pitch from my parents—yet I've always had trouble remembering song lyrics. On the basis of this research it would seem that my right brain is much more dominant than the left side. An old friend and former roommate from college days whose pitch is not so true has a phenomenal recall of song lyrics but has trouble reproducing song melody accurately. So in his case, the left brain is more dominant than the right, I’d guess.)

Another unpublished study conducted by Dr. Zatorre at McGill using 10 subjects with perfect pitch and ten without indicated that a zone of the left frontal region of the brain lights up when analyzed by brain-imaging equipment in the brains of people who sing absolutely on key. The brains of those with less certain sense of pitch did not light up.

Other intriguing research has been conducted by Dr. Daniel Levitin, a former rock musician and studio record producer for Stevie Wonder and The Grateful Dead, who left the pop music world and got his doctorate as a cognitive neuroscientist and now heads the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University. In his recent book, “This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession,” Levitin addresses the phenomenon of a song melody getting stuck in your head as a “cognitive itch.” “The way you scratch it,” he says, “is by having your brain play it over and over again.” He notes that if an individual is especially anxious or tense, it may get worse, and in some people it may interfere with sleep and work.

In an interview published at Dr. Levitin also discusses how we determine what is "pleasurable music" or why some people dislike the sound of certain instruments such as bagpipes or the accordion. He notes that such likes and dislikes are cultural or from an association with childhood experiences but also claims that some of it may be influenced by the shape of the external fleshy part of the ear (the pinna), which differs from one person to another and which filters sound similar to the way sunglasses filter light, letting in some wavelengths and rejecting others. "This can set up a case where the accordion sounds different to you than me because of the filtering," he noted, "so it may be pleasant to one of us and unpleasant to another."

On the face of it, this statement may contradict some of the results of the blind listening tests of loudspeakers conducted at the NRC, which concluded after many years of rigorous study that people with normal hearing essentially agree on which loudspeakers sound the best or most pleasant (“pleasantness” in fact was one of the NRC’s speaker rating criteria) and which ones sound the worst when the brand, size, and cost of the speakers under test are concealed from the listeners. That has been my experience over three decades of blind listening comparisons as well, but perhaps Dr. Levitin’s theory applies only to the sound of specific instruments. (For example, I don’t mind the sound of bagpipes or accordions, but a piccolo heard live or recorded drives me crazy—I want to cover my ears.) And, as Axiom’s founder and chief speaker designer Ian Colquhoun notes, "Even if people hear different instruments differently they still want the loudspeaker to reproduce it as they are used to perceiving it, hence accurate sounds natural to everyone even if natural is different to different people."

What would fascinate me is a magnetic resonance imaging study of the brains of listeners as they listened to good, accurate loudspeakers and poor non-linear speakers. Perhaps we can look to future studies at McGill University or other Canadian research. On a personal note, I’ve always found that in a loudspeaker listening comparison in which there is a smooth, transparent, neutral loudspeaker, I stop trying to analyze the character of the good loudspeaker’s sound and simply enjoy the music. Inevitably, it is that speaker that wins the comparisons when the scores are totaled.

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