This Audio Doctor Makes House Calls

For most listeners, compressed audio is a way of life. Between purchased iTunes music, streaming from Pandora or Spotify, satellite or terrestrial radio, for practically an entire generation, the only audio they know is some smashed down version of what music is capable of sounding like, and they rarely experience the capabilities of what even CD quality audio can deliver. The new Signal Doctor by Harman looks to fix all of this, but restoring what has been lost and letting people hear what they’ve been missing.

While there are a lot of audio restoration schemes on the market, Signal Doctor is a different animal, and really did a phenomenal job of bringing life and resolution and detail back to even heavily compressed tracks. Where other enhancers just add a fixed amount of high and low-end EQ or reverb, Signal Doctor works by analyzing the incoming signal in real time and correcting waveform deficiencies based on the existing audio information based on Harman's years of understanding codecs and psychoacoustics. The technology also works with all compressed audio formats, including MP3, AAC, terrestrial radio and streamed content.

When engaged, the Doctor automatically scales the amount of restoration required based on the quality of the incoming signal. For instance, a 64 Kbps file received a “Prescription Strength” of 9, while 128 Kbps material was more of a 5 and the Doctor instantly left WAV files completely untouched. This all happens seamlessly without any hiccup in the sound or interaction required.

Harman demonstrated Signal Doctor in action in a variety of ways, and the results were always significant. Most noticeable was the low end bass and presence that was restored, as was high-end detail and the ambiance of the recording space. Vocals and instruments had more clarity and life to them. Without question, every track played sounded significantly improved after the Doctor’s care.

Signal Doctor is available now in JBL’s Authentic L16 tabletop audio system, and to prove how much Harman believes in the capabilities, it will also be included in the upcoming Mark Levinson 585 integrated amplifier, shipping this summer for $12,000.