Sound & Visionary: Bob Carver Page 3

The second innovation is my compact subwoofers, which replaced woofers that were as large as coffee tables. My subs go as low and play as loud as very large speakers, and with the same purity. Their genesis, of course, came from me and many others receiving eviction notices from our living rooms by our spouses. We couldn't have those big speakers in the room, especially now that there was surround sound and we needed five of them. So I developed compact subs, and the technology is now ubiquitous.

Where is audio headed in the next five years? That's a fascinating question. I've been asked that throughout my career, beginning at a roundtable discussion in 1970 - and I missed the mark. I kept saying it was going to be whole-house involvement with entertainment, with audio and video integrated. And we all missed it - everyone in that roundtable missed it. Today, I think I could say that, and its time has finally come. There will be enormous integration using digital technology to integrate the whole house. That should be fun - but it could also be a disaster. We'll see.

Does listening to music through an iPod compromise sound quality? Yes and no. It's not compromising anything if it's done properly, and if the iPod - or MP3 player, generically - is being used as a signal source. Reproduced through a fine amplifier and set of speakers using the highest bit-rate available, the sound can be glorious. But if you choose a low bit rate so you can get more tunes on the machine, then the quality is compromised - or if you listen to an MP3 player through its own headphone amplifier, which is really mediocre. That low level of performance can become a standard you're happy with, unless you know better. But an iPod signal in its most pristine presentation can be spectacular.

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