HTC BoomSound, Dedication to Quality
HTC definitely puts a lot behind the BoomSound audio system. I am also sure anyone who has tried the flagship HTC Ones will tell you that they really set the HTC One series apart from the crowd of glass slabs. And now HTC has shared with all of us a behind the scenes story.
According to HTC, and rightfully so, most people do not really prioritize audio quality when picking a phone, especially the speaker quality, which on most phones are only used for notification sounds, any serious music listening is most probably done with earphones. But with BoomSound front-facing speakers, the speakers may actually be used for more than just blaring out your alarm and notification sounds. Through a partnership with Dolby bringing 5.1 surround sound to the One M9 (or One M9+ in Malaysia) and other select HTC devices, you can have a cinema-worthy surround-sound experience, without headphones or external speakers, right from your phone.
It appears a great deal of engineering was put into designing the BoomSound speakers given the compact size of smartphones. The shape of the speaker at the bottom end is quite normal, as the bottom is a lot less packed. Meanwhile, the speaker up top is shaped a lot more differently than what you might imagine.
As the upper part is already crowded with front-facing and back-facing cameras, the headphone jack, and more, they had to change the shape of the sound box for the speaker. The sketch you see above is the shape of the sound box on the upper side. They put a lot of thought into it, and one of the ideas was to change the material, so HTC started adding some filler to the sound box. The filler is made of a high-polymer material that is very much like a sponge. This “sponge” would slow down the speed of the air that travels into the sound box, thus slowing down the reflection and refraction of sound. The speed of sound refraction is really just fixed within a sound box that cannot get any bigger. However, if the sound that goes in has to travel through a greater distance, this simulates the space of a bigger sound box, tricking your ears into hearing louder music.
The assembly of the speakers posed a great challenge during manufacturing, as the material could easily be damaged, broken, or even scattered across the table like powder. They claim this is one of the reasons why few manufacturers attempt stereo front-facing speakers.
According to HTC, the reason why BoomSound speakers sound so good to us is that they are capable of outputting at least 90 decibels at a distance of 15-20cm from the user. Supposedly sounds greater than 90 dB will excite your physical senses and trigger your emotions, and this is the reasoning behind why audio coming out from BoomSound speakers is so much more enjoyable than your average smartphone speaker.
HTC also put a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) amplifier to use. The technology behind the DSP amplifier is in the installation of a sensor within the speaker that gives it real-time access to the state of the speaker’s vibration. With the addition of the DSP amplifier the speaker can play sounds while calculating which ones to amplify without sacrificing overall sound quality.This helped HTC achieve the perfect symphony of software and hardware working together to create a sensational user experience.
In the HTC One M9, stereo just got better. With smartphone speakers, however, because they live in such a tight space, your right ear would not only pick up sounds from the right but also from the left, and vice versa for your left ear. Because of this, the sound you hear would be far from ideal due to what’s called the crosstalk effect. That’s why HTC installed a function called crosstalk cancellation.
Crosstalk cancellation allows each audio channel to do two things: play audio through it and also play a reverse sound wave that essentially cancels the other channel’s audio. This effect makes the audio from the left channel “really left” and audio from the right channel “really right”. Add a little bit of surround-sound technology and what you get is really high-quality sound.
You can get the most out of this technology by putting the One M9 in Theater Mode. (Music Mode aims to achieve a balanced sound instead of surround-sound.) In Theater Mode, you really hear sounds as if they’re coming from beside and behind your ears, or even from behind your head.
Every generation of HTC BoomSound speakers faces challenges during the design and creation process. With the evolution of smartphones, be it a need for smaller size or better camera hardware, device manufacturers might sacrifice audio experience to boost other functions. But at HTC, they strive for breakthroughs and look for ways to revolutionize technology, especially when an idea seems impossible.
Pokdepinion: While HTC BoomSound really does offer much better sound quality than the average smartphone, I think it is still not really as useful as improvements on the output quality through the good ol’ 3.5mm jack. As a frequent user of public transport, I listen to music the most when travelling. I wouldn’t want to impose my taste in music with everyone on the bus or Monorail. When alone in my room, I usually listen to music with my laptop. BoomSound is good, but perhaps just not useful enough. For those who value loudspeaker(s) output quality in their phones, HTC BoomSound technology is definitely something. Share your opinion with me in the comments section!