Here’s to the Liberation of Portable Entertainment!

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As a co-founder of a young audio company, I try to keep up with blogs/articles from the audio fraternity. It is interesting to see how most articles related toSound Quality trigger these passionate debates between the audiophiles and the infidels(?) that quickly transform from education to entertainment!The audiophiles react as if they are the sole guardians of “good sound quality” and the rest are purposely seeking bad sound. The infidels fail to understand that the audiophiles suffer from the Curse of Knowledge and a neck deep investment in a belief system.

What’s being overlooked is the fact that people do not “buy Sound” or “sit down to listen to sound”, they simply want to enjoy their music (in a format relevant to their modern lifestyle)! And by the way, music is NOT just about the reverberations of an instrument noticed by the ear drum. For me it has lot more depth and meaning to it. First, there is magic in the poetry and the story/history/culture/romance in the song. Then there’s the magical touch added by the artists not just because of the tunes/vocals, but also because of their personal story, how they evolved, and what they stand for today. And then there’s the personal connection that I may have with the song. I am not gonna limit my interpretation of that whole experience simply based on one variable “whether the sound reproduction is PERFECT ?”.

In fact Perfect does not even exist! Like Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”. Perfection is a pursuit that helps us move from good to better to best, until best can be bettered, you get the point.

So, do I care about the sound quality? Hell yeah! But sorry, I do not make my decisions independent of the holistic context. I totally dig my floor standing speakers in our family room, and I’ve been able to persuade my wife to keep them until we find a better looking replacement for same sound quality. But I also want to take advantage of the portable entertainment offered by digital content and portable electronic devices available today.

Like any new technology, the initial breakthroughs that shift the paradigm are soon followed by relentless innovation to improve customer experience. Candlestick phones have been totally replaced by ultra thin smartphones (with tons of additional capabilities) but it took some time. The digital content and portable electronic devices are similarly liberating the portable entertainment. The transformation has only begun, and I am sure with many more fantastic innovations to come it is only going to get better. I think the audiophile equipment and community (with their criticisms) serve a great purpose to set the target for innovators to achieve. The good news is that these innovations are not prohibitive to modern lifestyles, rather they empower consumers to have fantastic experience on their terms.

The ability to take along your music in a pocketable device on a long flight, a camping/business trip or a walk in the park is priceless! It only gets better when your digital content synchronizes on all your devices automatically. And now, isn’t it fantastic to stream your favorite tunes from Pandora or Spotify on the go? Who wants to walk away from that liberation!

For musicians, it is most fulfilling when their work gets noticed and appreciated. In fact, mass adoption of their music is critical for their survival and it will not happen unless the delivery format is RELEVANT to modern consumer’s lifestyles. Artists definitely want their music to be delivered in the best possible sound quality. This brings a huge responsibility on the audio innovators and manufacturers to continuously improve the quality of Recording, Digital Signal Processing, Formats-and-bit rates and ultimately the Loudspeakers. And if they all keep innovating to NOT become the weak-link in consumer’s listening experience, then future is bright for both artists and the equipment manufacturers.

Consumers will be best served with innovations that enhance the entertainment experience while removing the constraints. Soen Audio is one such startup in California innovating to deliver that awesome experience. As our first step towards that, we just raised the bar for portable audio with our debut speaker TRANSIT by Soen.

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TRANSIT embodies best-in-class sound in a THIN timeless design, and is built with highest grade materials and finishes. It marks the SOEN approach to de-clutter gadgets and make technology most simple and delightful. SOEN was founded by accomplished designers, acoustic engineers and craftsmen driven to create the world’s finest audio products. Prior to SOEN, this team developed some of the most successful audio products (for harman/kardon and JBL) sold in Apple Stores since 1999. Now with TRANSIT by Soen, we are ready to liberate the portable entertainment. TRANSIT is now available for purchase at Apple Online Store and Amazon.

As far as people are concerned, they will continue to choose between “specifications” and “holistic experience” based on what they value more, the rest is all noise on a db scale.