October 9, 2007 When automotive designers create car interiors, acoustics are not the number one priority. From glass to carpets and seat coverings, cars contain many materials that obstruct and degrade audio quality - add to this the uneven positioning of speakers in relation to the listener and you have a recipe for less than ideal listening environment. No correction system has been able to overcome them but Alpine Electronics claim that its new IMPRINT technology has the ability to solve these problems and optimize sound reproduction to fit the specific vehicle.

IMPRINT is a hardware/software combination powered by technology called MultEQ. It works by analyzing the vehicle cabin acoustic characteristics and then creates a set of equalization filters to correct for frequency response and time domain problems for each speaker. The system removes sound distortion caused by the specific acoustical problems in your car by applying unique FIR equalization using more than 500 points along the frequency spectrum (instead of the small number of equalizer bands).

Developed over the past five years in cooperation with founders of Audyssey Labs, IMPRINT involved intensive research and testing to understand the fundamental causes of room acoustical distortion. As a result, it is the only system that measures the entire listening area, capturing time domain information from each listening location and applying a proprietary method for processing it to represent all seat locations, the aim being to provide the best possible listening experience to the people in each seat.

The great thing about this system is that in minutes it can complete the same vehicle sound tuning that would usually take skilled professionals days to accomplish. The first two products featuring the IMPRINT technology are the CDA-9887R, CD/MP3/WMA/AAC Receiver and the separate IMPRINT Specialist Tuning Kit, KTX-100EQ for installers. The CDA-9887R uses a 24-bit Burr Brown D/A converter and playback of WMA, MP3 and AAC files. Connectivity solutions include KCE-422i Full Speed Connection for iPod; Bluetooth via the KCE-300BT adapter; and support for USB WMA/MP3 players via the KCA-620M adapter.

The Tuning Kit includes the IMPRINT Sound Manager set-up software (CD-ROM for PC), a PC USB interface/calibration unit, cables and a microphone. The software allows the installer to automatically tune the system right in the vehicle. The complete tuning process takes approximately 45 minutes. The CDA-9887R retails for £399.99 (approx. US$815) and the KTX-100EQ for £199.99 (approx. US$405), both are available from licensed Alpine dealers.

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