Rich & Inviting
When you think of Pioneer Electronics, what comes to mind? If your first reaction is flat-panel televisions, Blu-ray Disc players or navigation products, you are not alone. But, actually, Pioneer is and always has been an audio company.
In fact, Pioneer Electronics started as a speaker company in 1938 and is rooted in a rich audio heritage that has produced first-of-its kind home entertainment and in-vehicle audio solutions, including innovations such as the first separate home stereo system and the renowned Supertuner®, the first high-sensitivity car stereo tuner to deliver radio reception with exceptional sound quality to the automobile. More than seven decades later, Pioneer continues to push the boundaries of audio reproduction, incorporating innovative technologies that benefit both the car and home listening environments.
Creating Immersive Audio Experiences
“We want consumers to emotionally connect to their favorite entertainment without having to think about the technology behind it,” said Dave Bales, manager of audio marketing and product planning, Home Entertainment Group at Pioneer Electronics. “And that stems from creating consumer electronic products that allow consumers to hear every nuance in a soundtrack to recreate the experience the original musician, television producer or other artist intended.”
That’s why Pioneer continues to integrate sound-enhancing technologies into both its home and in-vehicle entertainment products. The company has developed key innovative product features for portable media device connectivity, source volume balance, auto-equalization and Class D digital amplification.
Wild, Wild West of Compressed Audio
In a world where portable music is ubiquitous, Pioneer’s portable media playback and connectivity are second to none. Pioneer was one of the first manufacturers to develop products designed to seamlessly integrate with the Apple iPod, introducing connectivity for the car in 2004 that offered playback, control and charging through compatible in-vehicle single CD, audio/video and navigation products. In each of the following years, the company has continued to develop innovative iPod and iPhone solutions and has expanded connectivity throughout both the home and car product families.
The company’s 2009 line of Pioneer home A/V Receivers and 2009 in-vehicle products were the first to receive “works with iPhone” certification. Unlike many other manufacturers’ products available on the market, consumers can still receive calls on their iPhones while they are connected to A/V receivers and in-vehicle products and are not required to place their phones in airplane mode.
Despite its omnipresence and convenience, most commonly used compressed audio codecs (MP3, WMA, and AAC) ultimately reduce file size by sacrificing sound quality and actually remove audible musical information from the original recording. The deletion of this audible data results in music that lacks the detail, warmth and clarity of the original performance—generally sounding dull and flat.
Pioneer faced the challenge of compressed audio by developing a proprietary audio enhancement technology called Advanced Sound Retriever (ASR), which compensates for the reduced frequency range of digital compression to restore near CD-quality sound. ASR is incorporated in many of Pioneer’s in-vehicle products and home A/V Receivers.
“Compressed audio has long been a topic of debate among music lovers, particularly audiophiles and those who are fans of two-channel audio. Regardless, the consumer benefits of portability and accessibility offered by compressed audio is here to stay and will continue to evolve,” said Ted Cardenas, director of marketing, Mobile Entertainment Group at Pioneer Electronics. “Understanding this, we wanted to provide consumers the same high-quality listening experience with compressed audio that they have come to expect from Pioneer. We’ve accomplished this through the application of our ASR technology.”
Turn It Down, Now Turn It Back Up
You know when you switch from listening to your iPhone to listening to the radio and get jolted by the volume? Or you are watching the latest episode of CSI and all of a sudden a commercial comes blasting on the screen? Pioneer long ago recognized consumers’ frustration with fluctuating volume levels between audio tracks, connected sources, television channels and commercials.
To solve this issue, the mobile division developed a feature called Source Level Adjuster (SLA), which matches volume levels between AM/FM, CD or other sources.
Originally a high-end feature introduced in 1992’s flagship KEX-M900 in-dash cassette receiver, SLA is now found in virtually all Pioneer car audio products.
Pioneer’s home division later unveiled a similar technology, called Auto Level Control (ALC), in its 2008 line of A/V Receivers. ALC produced volume consistency between different content, so consumers don’t have to keep changing their volume levels when a television show goes on commercial break or if they switch from other sources such as their Blu-ray Disc player or video game console.
Achieving Sound Quality through Advanced Technology
In Pioneer’s quest to reproduce sound quality that matches the artist’s original intent, the company has developed many unique and innovative technologies.
Pioneer’s mobile division has been applying the power of digital signal processing (DSP) in the car for almost two decades. Auto EQ and Digital Time Alignment were originally introduced in Pioneer’s Optical Digital Reference (ODR) system in 1993 and has been incorporated into many in-vehicle single CD and audio/video products over the last 17 years. Auto EQ analyzes the system frequency response and adjusts the built-in equalizer to obtain a smooth sound that can be further tailored to the consumer’s tastes. Digital Time Alignment delays the sound produced by each speaker independently, “aligning” the sound to arrive at the listener’s ears in unison.
This is critical to achieving a cohesive sound and a broad stereo effect in the car.
In Pioneer’s quest to create technology for the home that replicates the artist’s original intent, the company partnered with AIR Studios, the legendary recording studio founded by The Beatles’ longtime producer, Sir George Martin. During a decade-long partnership, the companies have developed key audio technologies specifically for the home division’s Elite A/V Receivers.
“Auto MCACC was the first major sound technology we developed with AIR Studios,” said Bales. “MCACC or Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration tunes your system with sophisticated electronic acoustic treatments to ensure the best possible multi-channel home theater experience in any room. It eliminates ‘phase lag’ to ensure that sound from all the speakers arrives at the listener in complete synchronization.” CR