Digital box promises easy audio enhancement that won't break the bank
The Aftermaster Pro is a small, fairly affordable box that's designed to give everyday audio a kick, upping TV dialogue volume and clarity, while improving the listening experience as a whole. Currently available for pre-order via crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, the box is designed to be very simple to use, and providing it performs as advertised, is rather compelling.
If the Aftermaster seems familiar, that's because it's actually been around a little while. The project's already been through successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, and the offering has been trimmed down from three options to just a single box along the way. It's back on Indiegogo right now, allowing potential customers to reserve a unit ahead of the planned launch later this year.
The Aftermaster Pro's creators are making some big claims about the little box, stating that it can make "any audio source sound incredible." Those are big words, but they don't say a whole lot about what the little box actually does. In practice, the idea is fairly simple – the data from the HDMI is split into sound and video, with the audio being automatically remastered by the box in real time. Everything is then recombined and sent out via the second HDMI port.
The hardware itself packs two HDMI-in ports and a single HDMI-out, as well as in and out for 3.5-mm audio jacks. Since it's designed to be portable, there's a battery on board, which the product's creators claim will be good for about eight hours before it'll need recharging. For more long-term use, there's a power adapter included in the box.
Despite its focus, the company claims that the product isn't aimed squarely at audiophiles, but that everyday users should get a kick out of using it with their entertainment systems as well. As the port offering suggests, it's designed to sit between your TV or other audio source and your existing speakers, connecting via either HDMI or the 3.5-mm jacks.
The company isn't keen to talk in-depth about how the remastering processes is actually handled, though we do know that it makes use of proprietary algorithms that work across the entire frequency range. While it will work with any audio source, the emphasis is on cleaning up the sound coming from your TV.
It's designed to increase dialogue volume and clarity, while giving the whole listening experience more depth, balance and fullness. It's also geared towards smoothing out the transition between programs and commercials, where the volume change can be a little jarring, to say the least.
The product is designed to be extremely simple, with a single button to switch it on and off. Without having a listen ourselves, it's difficult to know whether it'll live up to its lofty ambitions. There is some confidence in the technology though, with it winning an award for Envisioneering Innovation and Design at CES 2016 in January.
The pledge pricing for the little box is quite reasonable, with US$150 reserving a single unit – a slight reduction on the planned $170 retail point. The Aftermaster Pro is set to be available in a choice of black, grey and gold finishes, with the company planning to ship units to backers in July this year.