Engineers sound off
on their love for music
and the listening experience
The Best Place to Listen
to Music is In Your Car
Diverse ways to enjoy music
means new challenges
in the marketplace
Passion for Developing
Premium Car Stereos
Channeling the love of music
into the new AV receiver
Channeling the love of music into the new AV receiver
Q: Pioneer takes music very seriously and the passion comes through in their products.
It's a respect for the power and potential of music. For example, MP3 is a highly popular format, but the sound quality is nowhere near as good as CD quality. We felt that now is the time to once again remind people of how exceptional CD sound is. High-resolution sound is a new standard whose time has come. There are several initiatives being implemented within Pioneer for delivering top quality sound, and the number of engineers that want to work in that area have increased tremendously.
In the music business, there's no way to avoid the analog versus digital dilemma. The speech coming out of my mouth is analog, obviously, but a digital camera records it to be edited on a computer when people play it on their devices. It will be a digital object they are seeing, but the sound will be analog. There are no limits on analog sound, but digital has restrictions like bit rates and sampling rates. Then it's a question of expanding that range to get the best sound possible.
Q: The higher the resolution, the heavier the data.
True. And that's why MP3's were created to compress those files and make them lighter, and that's the quality that people have been used to hearing. Luckily, technology keeps improving. Someday it might even be possible to make something better than analog - more real than the real thing.
Q: That's exactly the kind of development that's happening today.
You could say that we're in a state of flux. The digital world hasn't finished developing. I know that some people still fixate on analog, but digital sound is still evolving. I'm looking forward to that progression. I'm just glad to be a user, I can't imagine how crazy it must be to work on developing the future.
Q: What technical aspects of the new AV receiver did you feel strongest about?
The testing phase proved what I already believed - that changes to the PCB (printed circuit board) make an incredible difference in sound quality. As a final product, it needs to be equipped with a variety of features, and in order to be sold in markets all over the world it has to get all kinds of certification. Many hurdles have to be cleared in order for a product to make it into stores. Every function also has standards that have to be met, but sometimes those functions can clash with each other.
Q: What do you do when that happens?
In that case, one function has to be given priority over the other. There's nothing more difficult in design than having to make sacrifices. This time, we were able to clear all the hurdles without compromising the excellent sound quality.
Q: What challenges did you face in order to give priority to sound quality?
We went through an exacting process to ensure that the signal for vocal sound didn't conflict with other signals. It's very delicate work. Especially with the vocal signal, because it's not electronically produced, usually the signal that's broadcast isn't as robust as the original, but by constantly focusing on the tiniest details in the design, we were able to preserve the signal and keep it nice and robust.
Q: What about with the other components besides the PCB (printed circuit board)?
We were very selective with what we chose to include, of course. To ensure that the sounds that were undetectable before could now be heard, we had to include completely new components. With our past products, it was always difficult get exactly what we wanted after the compromises.
You don't think about it, but besides the PCB, there are all these other components, video screens and digital displays, besides the items needed for producing sounds. Because I make music, I'm always curious about how much of the PCB itself is purposed toward playing music. It's like when you find a PC, smartphone, or car navigation system in which the sound is pristine. You definitely feel that there was a love for music that went into these items. I always think about the sound factor, like when I buy a video camera, I think about microphone quality.
That's the difference between the pros and the amateurs, I suppose. (Laughs)
People in other lines of work probably obsess about the picture quality or number of pixels. This is really great being able to talk directly to someone who designs the equipment I use.
I think you'll be happy with what we've created. The new AV receiver was designed to avoid the compromises we had to make in the past. The development team worked closely together to realize the design and it was our common goal - to achieve the best sound quality possible that made the dream a reality.
Q: There's no doubt that Pioneer really cares about the music that is played on its systems.
Music is extremely important to us. As we developed the new AV receiver, we were able to get the Design Engineers of the Pioneer TAD brand to listen to our system and give us invaluable help and guidance. Our success is due to all the sound professionals who added their skills and knowledge to our efforts. I can say with complete confidence that if you want the best sound, the new AV receiver is exactly what you're looking for.
Q: Apparently, you are one of the musicians playing the guitar in the promo music for the product that you created.
I actually feel quite lucky that I was able to join in. I made the suggestion thinking it would probably get shot down, but they actually went for it.
It was one of our guitarists that wrote the music and so there was this magical moment of connection in the studio – guitarist to guitarist. (Laughs) It was just an amazing session.
The memories of when I was in a band and we were putting together an album all came flooding back. To tell the truth, I was so nervous the night before that I couldn't sleep. It wasn't the anxiety as much as it was the anticipation - the excitement.
Like the night before a class trip. (Laughs)
Exactly! I'm just very grateful that it went well. I know it's rare that a Design Engineer of a product joins in on the background music and the promotion for that product, and that's exactly why I agreed to the challenge.