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CES 2023: Dirac Live Active Room Treatment is ANC for your speakers

The massive convention halls of CES 2023 in Las Vegas are filled with blinding eye candy as far as you can see — everything from the latest TVs and computer monitors to smart projectors and more. But the Swedish digital audio processing masters at Dirac want you to know that the annual tech show is also loaded with things that sound amazing. To that end, Dirac today announced its Dirac Live Active Room Treatment, which it says works like active noise cancellation technology by using your home theater system’s own speakers to help clean up the sound in any room.

A Dirac Live Room Treatment-enabled speaker showing a soundwave graphic filling the room.

Anyone who’s ever set up speakers or a subwoofer in a home entertainment space will tell you that everything from the size of the room to its walls, floor, ceiling, and the objects in it can affect the sound — bass frequencies can cross and create an annoying boom, and sound can bounce all over the place, creating unwanted noise.

It’s a complement to its popular Dirac Live software-based sound-processing tech that includes Dirac Live Room Correction and Dirac Live Bass Control. whch have been available for AV components from Denon, JBL, StormAudio, Marantz, NAD, and others for years. The company says that its new Active Room Treatment feature differs in that it measures the sound of an entire speaker setup in the room, as a unified system, and enables “advanced spatial optimization” to use the system’s speakers against itself to “actively cancel out unwanted wavelengths originating from other speakers” (see the diagrams below). Hence the comparison to active noise cancellation. Dirac says that the more speakers there are in the system, the better the sound is optimized.

Dirac’s press release states that this new digital-processing feature will automatically reduce bass decay times so that listeners can “experience clear sound devoid of boomy, smeared bass — as if the room itself didn’t exist.” Traditionally, achieving this kind of room clarity can involve adjustments to the room itself, often with expensive and ugly sound-dampening panels on the walls and/or ceiling, as well as the potential to have to place subwoofers in awkward places to prevent crossover and boom. With Active Room Treatment, the idea is that this is done digitally and automatically.  

“Dirac pioneered digital room correction through our impulse response optimization technology found in our acclaimed Dirac Live Room Correction feature,” stated Mathias Johansson, Dirac’s chief product officer. “Now, with Active Room Treatment, we are moving beyond traditional room correction to actually reduce bass decay times digitally, without needing bass traps or thick layers of wall absorption.”

If you’re eager to get Dirac’s new tech into your home theater or listening room setup, however, you’re going to have to wait a bit. While their above-mentioned calibration products can be found and added to a range of brands, Dirac Live Active Room Treatment will be limited to processors and AVRs from French audio makers StormAudio and included free in units ordered after January 1, 2023, with a firmware update being delivered in spring 2023. For those with StormAudio products ordered prior to January 1, a license can be purchased for $299 at the Dirac online store, after the firmware update drops. The CES 2023 release did not mention whether the feature will be made available in other brands, but it’s likely it will.

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