Audiophile quality integrated audio amplifier with a DSP to increase voice intelligibility, 3D sound and a deep bass on two speakers.
With the arrival of smaller and smaller entertainment electronic devices: flat panel TVs, smart phones, personal computers and MP3 players the quality of audio delivered to the listener has been significantly degraded.
We decided to launch the Koi project to address this problem. Koi is a high quality audio amplifier that accepts inputs in the form of either digital or analog audio from TVs, computers and portable electronic devices and delivers outstanding sound either directly to your ears through ear buds or headphones or indirectly through loud speakers.
Instead of just amplifying the audio input, Koi is an “Integrated Amplifier” meaning that it has a preamplifier and signal processing for each channel that is amplified. In fact, Koi has a highly sophisticated digital signal processor that sets and controls gain, an equalizer and special effects relating to the quality of the audio experienced by the user for each audio channel. For example, Koi supports two channel stereo Spatialization, bass enhancement and improved voice clarity.
Two channel stereo spatialization, or “WideSound,” is a 3D effect that creates a multi-channel sound image where only two speakers are utilized. Different from other spatial techniques, wide sound uses the full power of a true digital signal processor to create a very smooth audio image distribution with much more breadth of control and much broader separation. This technology permits a smaller, more compact audio system with the ability to create a much more expansive sound stage.
Bass enhancement, or “DeepBass,” is desirable in small systems where there is less mass and lower audio power outputs. DeepBass is a psychoacoustic low-frequency effect which increases the apparent bass frequency response in systems where larger speakers and subwoofers are not possible or desired. It takes the original low-frequency content of the audio signal and artificially generates the supportive frequencies that can be faithfully reproduced by the smaller speakers. In the context of these higher supportive frequencies, the lower frequencies that are not reproduced seem more apparent. This technique leads to less perceived distortion and a smoother low end frequency listening experience.
Improved voice clarity, “ClearVoice,” is an audio effect which enhances the audibility and intelligibility of voice or vocal audio content. It acts as a voice-to-background ratio control which automatically separates the voice content and elevates it above the level of the other audio content. In this case, carefully placed harmonic distortion improves the quality of speech and extracts critical vocal frequencies and then creates and blends selective harmonics in subtle amounts while slightly increasing the audio gain at the critical vocal frequencies.
There are two models of Koi that are defined by audio power output: 20 Watts RMS and 30 Watts RMS; both delivered into 8 Ohm speakers. However, it is safe to connect speakers that are 4 to 16 Ohms with the appropriate power rating.
Koi’s footprint is approximately 4 by 7 inches by 2 inches high (the design was done in metric), a small enclosure that will fit nicely into the décor of any room. And, as Henry Ford said: “they can have any color as long as it’s black!”
The powers on/off switch and volume control are on the lower right hand side of the front panel. There are four blue LEDs that indicate the audio source which is selected using a momentary push button switch on the lower left hand side. A red LED in the center of the panel shows that there is power to the amplifier but the system is turned off. The left hand audio jack is provided for an easy front panel connection of a portable audio device while the right hand audio jack is used for stereo headphones.
Koi’s back panel is pretty much self explanatory. The upper left contains two sets of 5-way binding posts for the left and right channel powered amplifier outputs. Below them from left to right is the primary power input, the pre-amplifier output to a RCA type phono-jack for the subwoofer, a Type-B USB connector (the PC or game machine will recognize the amplifier and will not require software drivers to be loaded), an optical S/PDIF audio input, and dual left and right audio line in connections via RCA phono-jacks.
Who needs a Koi?
• TV watchers—have a more robust bass and more intelligible speech and a spatially distributed sound to emulate surround sound effects.
• Portable music players including iPods—these small machines do not have the audio processing power to faithfully render the music or speech output without a high quality integrated amplifier such as Koi.
• PC, laptop and tablet users including iPads—similar to the portable music players, the similar electronic components and mechanical size and mass preclude a quality audio experience with a personal computer.
• Gamers—whether using headphones or a set of speakers and a subwoofer the complete range of game sounds are accurately reproduced to ensure a great gaming experience.
• Perfect for college dormitories—a small footprint is always welcomed in a bedroom or other smaller sized rooms without compromising the quality of sound reproduction; privacy or shared listening are ensured by the range of audio outputs available.
The Koi project is already underway and we need additional resources to tool the product for production. The hardware and software design is done and the printed circuit boards are currently in layout with fabrication in the second half of September. The tooling for the aluminum extrusion has been designed but the production die tooling has not yet been started.
The 20 Watt SLA-120 will retail for $299 and the 30 Watt SLA-130 will retail for $399.
Koi, designed and manufactured in the United States of America!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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