A great-sounding computer audio system is just a few clicks away for about the cost of lunch for two.
I was a bit of a skeptic before hearing the difference in sound from the built-in speakers of my 24-inch iMac after installing a plug-in for my iTunes program. Sorry, PC users, it's only available for the Apple operating system now. It's another of the many reasons you should consider switching from Windows.
The miniprogram that brings music and movie sounds to life is the DPS Plug-in (www.dpsplugin.com) from Bongiovi Acoustics, developers of the Digital Power Station audio enhancement technology.
"You don't have to spend $3,000 on speakers and you don't have to spend $5,000 on a sound system," said Rob Roy, Bongiovi vice president and national program director for the DPS product. "We can take what you have and make it extremely impressive."
A simulated demo and free 10-minute trial is available on the site. You'll pay $29.99 for the software key to keep the plug-in working. It's worth it.
"Music recorded in the studio is intended for two speakers times the number of instruments," Roy said. "Movies have real life situations with 10-times dynamic range. There are more sounds and more frequencies, so the plug-in addresses each one differently.
"When you're at home watching a movie, the quiet parts are quiet and the loud parts are loud-loud. The sound is mixed for a giant movie theater. When you're playing the movie in a little environment, like earbuds or your desktop computer, all that sound is being squashed into tiny speaker. Everything is out of proportion."
The DPS plug-in launches with iTunes and runs in real time, using a profiling system that understands the ranges and delivers enhanced sound tuned to a specific playback device. Users select options from the control panel to home in on the type of speakers, headphones or earbuds in use.
"We started with the Mac community, as it is tech-savvy. It's also very community- oriented, and we're trying to embrace that," Roy said. Feedback from users of the plug-in is vital to the Bongiovi team. "We created the DPS community at dpsinsider.com. It's a blog, a user group and forums. Our engineers and guys on the team are on these forums. It's how we keep as current as possible."
Roy said the plug-in grew from a solution created by Tony Bongiovi to improve the audio environment on his plane in the 1970s. "It took 6-foot-tall processors, then in the '80s was put into printed circuitry." The technology was digitized about seven years ago and was introduced in car audio products.
Plans include DPS versions for home audio and the Windows platform.
"The technology adapts to anything," Roy said. "The plug-in speaks for itself."
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