EU Patent for Apple audio system, loudspeaker & method of operation
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EU Patent for Apple audio system, loudspeaker & method of operation

Excerpts of patent description

Loudspeakers can significantly enhance the listening experience for a user. Unfortunately, installing loudspeakers in a room can be difficult. The placement of the speakers and their characteristics, such as phase and frequency responses, make setting up and balancing the speakers challenging.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved audio system, loudspeaker and method of operation thereof.

It is in particular an object of the present invention to provide an improved method and system for time synchronizing and/or equalizing multiple loudspeakers.

The computing device

In accordance with the invention, a method and system for time synchronizing and equalizing multiple loudspeakers are provided. A computing device may transmit one or messages that include a synchronizing protocol to the loudspeakers. The loudspeakers transmit one or more responses to the computing device in response to the messages. Through the transmission and receipt of messages and responses, the computing device may synchronize all of the speakers to a universal time. The computing device may also transmit an audio signal that includes a pattern to the loudspeakers. A measuring device located at a listening position captures the signal reproduced by each loudspeaker and transmits each captured signal to the computing device. The computing device then determines offset values for each loudspeaker to equalize the speakers for a particular listening position. Some or all of the loudspeakers may be associated with additional listening positions. The computing device may then equalize the speakers based on each listening position or for groups of listening positions.

First system -- equalizing multiple loudspeakers

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With reference to the figures and in particular with reference to FIG. 3, there is shown a block diagram of a first system for equalizing multiple loudspeakers in an embodiment in accordance with the invention. System 300 includes speakers 302, 304, measurement device 306, and computing device 308. In one embodiment in accordance with the invention, computing device is implemented as a computer located in the interior of speaker 302. In another embodiment in accordance with the invention, computing device 308 may be situated outside of speaker 302. And in yet another embodiment in accordance with the invention, computing device may be implemented as another type of computing device.

Measurement device 306 is implemented as any device that captures sound and transmits the sound to computing device 308. In one embodiment in accordance with the invention, measurement device 306 is a wireless microphone. Measurement device 306 successively captures the sound emitted from speakers 302, 304 and transmits the sound to computing device 308.

A user selects a listening position 310 and points measurement device 306 towards speaker 302. After sampling the sound emitted from speaker 302, measurement device 306 transmits the sampled sound to computing device 308. The user then repositions measurement device 306 so that measurement device 306 points toward speaker 304. Measurement device 306 captures the sound emitted from speaker 304 and transmits the sampled sound to computing device 308. After receiving the sound captured from speakers 302, 304, computing device 308 automatically generates compensation or offset values that equalize speakers 302, 304 for listening position 310. The process of equalizing the speakers is described in more detail in conjunction with FIGS. 6-10.

Second system: equalizing multiple loudspeakers

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Patent FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a second system for equalizing multiple loudspeakers in an embodiment in accordance with the invention. System 400 includes speakers 302, 304, measurement device 306, and computing device 308. After equalizing the sound for listening position 310, the user places measurement device 306 at listening position 402 and directs measurement device 306 towards speaker 304.

After sampling the sound emitted from speaker 304, measurement device transmits the sampled sound to computing device 308. The user then repositions measurement device 306 so that measurement device 306 points toward speaker 302. Measurement device 306 then captures the sound emitted from speaker 302 and transmits the sampled sound to computing device 308. After receiving the sound captured from speakers 302, 304, computing device 308 automatically generates compensation or offset values that equalize speakers 302, 304 for listening position 402. The process of equalizing the speakers is described in more detail in conjunction with FIGS. 6-10.

Synchronizing time

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is shown a block diagram of a system for synchronizing time in an embodiment in accordance with the invention. System 500 includes computing device 308 and loudspeakers 302, 304. Although system 500 is shown with two loudspeakers, embodiments in accordance with the invention can include any number of speakers. Time is synchronized for all of the speakers associated with the computing device, and the speakers may be located in the same room or in separate rooms.

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Communications between computing device 308 and speakers 302, 304 occur over connections 502, 504, respectively. Connections 502, 504 are wireless connections in an embodiment in accordance with the invention. Connections 502, 504 may be wired connections in other embodiments in accordance with the invention.

Computing device 308 includes clock 506. Loudspeaker 302 includes network system 508 and clock 510. And loudspeaker 304 includes network system 512 and clock 514. Computing device 308 acts as a time server and synchronizes clocks 510, 514 to a universal time, which in the embodiment of FIG. 5 is clock 506. In one embodiment in accordance with the invention, computing device 308 synchronizes time using Network Time Protocol (NTP). In other embodiments in accordance with the invention, computing device 308 synchronizes time using other standard or customized protocols.

With NTP, computing device 308 acts as a server and speakers 302, 304 as clients. Through the transmission and receipt of data packets, computing device 308 determines the amount time it takes to get a response from each speaker 302, 304. From this information computing device 308 calculates the time delay and offset for each speaker 302, 304. Computing device 308 uses the offsets to adjust clocks 510, 514 to clock 506. Computing device 308 also monitors and maintains the clock of each speaker 302, 304 after the offsets are initially determined.

Automatically equalizing multiple loudspeakers

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FIGS. 6A-6B, illustrate a flowchart of a method for automatically equalizing multiple loudspeakers in an embodiment in accordance with the invention. Initially a user points a measurement device towards a speaker, as shown at block 600. As described earlier, the measurement device is located at a listening position when positioned towards the speaker.

A computing device then generates an audio signal and known audio pattern and transmits the signal and pattern to the selected speaker (block 602). In one embodiment in accordance with the invention, the known pattern is a Maximum-Length Sequence (MLS) pattern. In other embodiments in accordance with the invention, the audio pattern may be configured as any audio pattern that can be used to measure the acoustics of a room.
The measurement device captures the sound emitted from the speaker and transmits the captured sound to the computing device (blocks 604, 606). The computing device then obtains the characteristics of the speaker and the measurement device, as shown in block 608. In one embodiment in accordance with the invention, the speakers and measurement device are measured and calibrated in a standard environment. This may occur, for example, during manufacturing. The characteristics for the speaker are stored in the speaker and the characteristics for the measurement device are stored in the device. These characteristics are then subsequently obtained by the computing device and used during equalization of the room.

The computing device determines the impulse and frequency responses of the speaker and stores the responses in the computing device, as shown in blocks 610, 612, 614, respectively. A determination is then made at block 616 as to whether there is another speaker in the room that is associated with the current listening position. If so, the process returns to block 600 and repeats until all of the speakers in a room that correspond to the listening position have been measured.

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If there is not another speaker associated with the current listening position, the process continues at block 618 where the room is equalized using the frequency and impulse responses for all of the speakers in the room that are associated with the current listening position. A determination is then made at block 620 as to whether the user wants to equalize the room for another listening position. If so, the process returns to block 600 and repeats until the room has been equalized for all of the listening positions.

A determination is then made at block 622 as to whether the room has been equalized for more than one listening position. For example, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, a user equalizes the room for two listening positions 310, 402. If the room has been equalized for only one listening position, the process ends.

If however, the room has been equalized for two or more listening positions, a determination is made at block 624 as to whether the user would like to average the compensation and offset values for the multiple listening positions. If the user does want to average the values, an average is generated and stored, as shown in block 626. A determination is then made at block 628 as to whether the user wants to use the average of the offset values for all of the listening positions in the room. If so, the process ends.

If the user does not want to use the average for all of the listening positions in the room, the user selects which listening positions use the average values, as shown in block 630. Selection of the listening positions may occur, for example, through a user interface on the computing device or on a remote device associated with the computing device. The selected listening positions are then stored in the computing device (632).

Method for applying an offset

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Referring to FIG. 7, there is shown a flowchart of a method for applying an offset for the frequency response of a loudspeaker in an embodiment in accordance with the invention. Initially an inverse filter is created from the measured impulse response of the loudspeaker, as shown in block 700. Another inverse filter is then created at block 702 using the measured frequency response of the room.

A composite inverse filter is then created from the impulse response inverse filter and the frequency response inverse filter (block 704). Next, at block 706, the composite inverse filter is applied to the audio signal. Depending on the magnitude of the nulls and modes of the speaker, some or all of the nulls and modes are eliminated or reduced by applying the composite inverse filter to the audio signal.

Random points

A: Filter circuit includes three Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filters. For example, filter circuit may be implemented with one or more Butterworth filters, Bi-quad filters, or a combination of filter types.

B: Loudspeaker receives an audio signal via antenna. In one embodiment in accordance with the invention, the audio signal is transmitted over a wireless connection, such as, for example, an IEEE 802.11 connection. In other embodiments in accordance with the invention, the audio signal may be transmitted over a different type of wireless connection or over a wired connection.

C: The speakers may be located in one room or in multiple rooms. Additionally, the speakers may include any number of audio drivers, such as woofers, tweeters, and sub-woofers.

Notice

Macsimum News presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent applications and/or grants should be read in its entirety for further details.

neo@macsimumnews.com

 
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