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  5. Home Entertainment PC: Developers' Stories (5)

Home Entertainment PC: Developers' Stories (5)

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DESKPOWER
The perfect blend of Digital Entertainment & PC power. A 32-inch Widescreen Home Entertainment PC that fulfills your every digital desire. Thanks to an innovative fusion of cutting edge technology, ultra stylish design and ease-of-use, this latest introduction is set to redefine your expectations in home entertainment.

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Sound is one of the most important factors that will determine the enjoyment level for the customer when watching TV or DVD.

We interviewed Mr. Ohira and Mr. Miyakoshi, who pursued ‘audio enjoyment’ with Home Entertainment PC.

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Tatsuhiro Ohira
Engineer, Platform Development Department
Mobile Computing Division
Personal Systems Business Unit

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Naoki Miyakoshi
Engineer, Engineering Department I
Desktop Products Division
Personal Systems Business Unit

What was the most significant factor that you paid special attention to, when creating excellent sound quality?

Ohira:

Technically speaking, fixing different audio styles and ‘tastes’ are possible, simply by placing emphasis on different aspects of the sound that is produced. However, in my opinion, I think it is just forcing engineer’s selfish preference to the customer and it does not necessarily mean creating an excellent sound. I am always conscious on creating excellent sound, sound that is original, natural, and clearer than any other sounds. In other words, it means providing the ‘sound as it is’. So, I my objective was to make the Home Entertainment PC deliver any sounds ‘as they originally are’ and ‘with impact’, be it television shows, movies, music, home videos, etc. I believe it is the best way to let our customers ‘enjoy the sound’.

The speaker is a device which can behave differently, reacting to different system designs. A generated sound can also be completely different depending to the type of the speaker, size of the speaker box housing, and the layout of whole system etc. Hence, the design work of a speaker system is always done on try and error basis. For example, a person’s voice is the most important factor that must be considered when developing the sound system. In order for listeners to get the meaning and emotion correctly, it is essential that the voice can be heard properly regardless of gender, age, tone and speed of the person speaking. We have carefully listened to TV news, TV dramas, and voice sampled a CD collection of various people’s voices. We then checked the Home Entertainment PC in detail if “H sounds appear too weak”, “S sounds appear to strong” etc and we tried different combinations of speaker system design. Our engineering process made the Home Entertainment PC’s sounds closer and closer to those ‘as they originally are’.

Miyakoshi:

Also, because Home Entertainment PC has a big screen, our customers will watch the image from a certain distance. Therefore, enough volume is required to deliver the sound properly from a distance. To do so, we wanted speakers to vibrate strongly.

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On the other hand, the Home Entertainment PC is an all-in-one model with PC components in one box, and such PC components should avoid vibration. Therefore, we had to make sure the speakers’ vibrations were not passed on to the PC components. This was a challenge for us from a mechanical point of view. We must definitely avoid issues like the speakers successfully generate strong sounds but at the same time CD or DVD skips tracks due to vibration.

It was a bold decision to install the sub woofer, wasn’t it?

Ohira:

Our thoughts were that a sub woofer (speaker for low frequency bass sounds) will be good to make the sound more powerful and heavier. But the evaluation of sound quality depends on individual’s preference, so it was hard to have a common consensus on sound quality among everybody, even in our company. It might sound too exaggerated to call it ‘strategy’, but we got people in our company to listen to prototype systems. We had them compare the sounds without telling them which one is with sub woofers. We played the respondent’s favourite sounds so that they would be more sensitive to the differences. We found that most of their comments for systems with sub woofers were ‘This is very powerful!’, while the one without sub woofer had comments like ‘I feel desolateness in this sound’. When we explained that it was the sub woofer which made the difference, everybody concluded that it is indeed essential to incorporate the sub woofer in order for customers to enjoy the sound that the Home Entertainment PC provided.

Loading the sub woofers was then decided. The next concern was where and how we should install them. Speakers for middle and high frequencies and the CD/DVD drive are located in front, and there was no room for sub woofers. Fortunately, low frequency sounds is not greatly affected by the direction of the speakers, the sub woofers do not need to face the front. The Home Entertainment PC body is floating from the surface of table due to three leg design. OK! I can place sub woofers there, facing down. This could be a good idea!

Miyakoshi:

When Ohira approached me and requested me hesitatingly ‘Is it possible to open a round holes at the bottom of the body, and install the sub woofer with cone facing down?’ I was indeed surprised. It was a really epoch-making idea, and it was a first time experience for me to locate speaker facing down.

Besides, Home Entertainment PC is heavy because of the large LCD screen. It was really challenging for me to design the Home Entertainment PC with a hole at the bottom, and at the same time ensure that legs and housing are strong enough to support the heavy body.

However, we, the developers of sound system, highly appreciated the image quality of Home Entertainment PC, were strongly motivated to have a sound quality that is as good as the high quality image. In addition, we really enjoyed our work, which is to make customers enjoy good sound. I can conclude that the enjoyment of our work itself was a source of our motivation to say ‘Let’s make it happen!’