The Aftermaster Pro Audio Remixer - Product Profile

Aftermaster Pro Setup Using HDMI
Aftermaster Pro Setup Using HDMI. Images provided by Aftermaster Labs

One of the most frustrating things these days is that despite all the great audio technology we have to listen to our music and watch TV programs and movies, somehow the audio listening experience, isn't as satisfying as it could be.

For example, when listening to music, often times the vocals get buried by behind the percussion and other instruments, and for TV shows and movies, the biggest complaint always seems to be "I can't hear the dialog".

Yes, you can go into the audio settings for your playback device or home theater receiver and do some tweaking, but every music or movie content source has a slightly different mix, when means, you guessed it, more tweaking...

One of the reasons for these issues, especially with movies released on DVD and Blu-ray, is that the original sound mixes were designed to play back in a movie theater rather than a living room or home theater room.

Since the acoustical properties of movie theaters are different, the sound balance between dialog, music, and sound effects, does not always translate well in the home environment.

Although some studios do their best to take these factors into account when putting together a home release, other studios may just pass along the original theatrical mix on the home release. This state of affairs often results in low volume dialog and other inconsistencies that vary from movie to movie.

However, what if there was device that you could connect to your source (smartphone, TV, Blu-ray/DVD player, Cable/satellite box) and your headphones/powered speakers, stereo, home theater, or sound bar), that would fix all that once an for all - According to Aftermaster Audio Labs, their Aftermaster Pro device can do the job.

Introducing Aftermaster Pro

The Aftermaster Pro is a little portable "black box" (a little larger than a typical smartphone) that you can use either at home or on the go. What it does is take any incoming audio from a compatible audio source and, on the fly, do a complete automatic remix that balances out the sound elements so that they all sound distinct, and more importantly, well balanced in relation to each other. However, it doesn't change the intent of what the original sound mixer/engineer intended.

Aftermaster Pro Features

One end of the Aftermaster Pro features a power button, Aftermaster audio processing on/off switch (allows you hear the difference), a battery level indicator (the Aftermaster Pro is rechargeable with up to an 8 hour use time - or can run off its AC adapter/charger), one 3.5mm analog audio input, and one 3.5mm analog audio output. With regards to the analog audio input and output, you can also use devices that have RCA-type audio connections, but you will need an 3.5mm to RCA connection adapter/cable.

However, there are more connection options. On the opposite end of the Aftermaster Pro, there are 2 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output. According to Aftermaster Labs, the HDMI connections are ver 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 compliant.

This means that in addition to accessing the audio portion of the HDMI signal when connected to a Blu-ray Disc player and a TV, it will pass-through all video signal formats currently in use.

With both analog and HDMI connection options, the Aftermaster Pro is compatible with just about any audio source or playback device. It can be used with smartphones (connect between the phone's audio output and headphones), tablets, digital audio players, CD players, DVD/Blu-ray Disc players, TVs, sound bars, powered speakers and more...

For added flexibility, audio sources that are connected through either HDMI input are also routed through the 3.5mm audio output.

This allows audio coming from devices, such as DVD and Blu-ray disc players to be heard on older TVs, stereo/home theater receivers, and many sound bars that may not have their own HDMI input (although you lose surround sound in favor of 2-channel audio on the output side). It is also important to note that audio connected to the 3.5mm audio input cannot be routed to the HDMI output.

However, it is important to point out that when using the Aftermaster Pro with a DVD or Blu-ray disc player, you need to set the audio output of your player to PCM and not-Bitstream. Since the Aftermaster Pro does not perform any Dolby or DTS decoding, by setting your player to PCM, you player will do the decoding internally and send the decoded results to the Aftermaster Pro so it can do its job.

On the other hand, other audio formats (analog, MP3, CD, etc...) are fine.

The final connection provided is the power connector, where you can plug in the provided AC adapter and use to either charge the unit for portable use or power the unit for home use.

Aftermaster Pro Hands On

I first had a chance to get a hand's on demo at the 2016 CES (although not included in my a wrap-up report at the time) an early prototype of the Aftermaster Pro product and its technology, and despite a noisy exhibit hall, the results were impressive.

At first, It seemed like all it did is just make everything louder, but upon further listening, there was more going on.

The mid-range frequencies are brought forward, not only bringing more presence to vocals but other related sounds that reside in that part of the audio spectrum.

Also, other details, and supporting sound elements, are also made more distinct, all without muffling high frequencies or subduing the bass.

I had a chance to hear before and after samples on both headphones and speakers and the best way to describe the results is that it brings depth, balance, and maintains frequency range, without using compression techniques in such a way that limits dynamic range in such a way that everything sounds like it is at the same volume level.

In addition to improving music and dialog, things such as sound fluctuations between TV channels and TV shows and commercials are also evened out.

Not only can Aftermaster Pro sound better through headphones, traditional speakers, powered speakers, and sound bars, but even those anemic TV speakers can sound better.

More Info

For more details, including online demos and pricing, check out the Official Aftermaster Pro Product Page and Aftermaster Pro Indiegogo Page

The Aftermaster Pro is expected to be available for shipping in June, 2016.

Original Publish Date: 04/13/2016 - Robert Silva

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