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Some NAD Technical Features

November 1, 2006

NAD Enhanced Ambience Retrieval System (EARS)

Most music listeners who have tried the various "effects" programs available for surround sound ("Hall," "Stadium," "Church" modes etc.) have not been at all happy with the result. NAD has gone in a different direction, using digital signal processing (DSP) to produce a new mode that truly enhances two-channel sources played over a surround system. This new system, our Enhanced Ambience Retrieval System (EARS), has been widely praised by reviewers of audio/video equipment.

Most stereo sources (unless a very dry recording) contain ambient information. EARS takes this information and feeds it to the rear channels. It separates in-phase information common to both Left and Right channels and feeds it to the centre channel. It also treats the L and R channel information to widen the image at the front channels to overcome dominance of the centre channel, particularly when you are using closely spaced speakers. And finally, it adds further DSP treatment to produce side-channel information to prevent unnatural, "ping-pong" effects between front and rear speakers.

On good recordings and broadcasts, EARS enhances the sound of music very effectively. It will also reveal problems—such as multipath distortion in FM signals and poor vertical tracking in phono cartridges—so effectively that it becomes a useful diagnostic tool for remedying the troubles it reveals. You can use it to help set vertical tracking correctly, and/or orient an FM antenna to minimize multipath effects.

EARS also successfully decodes matrix surround systems such as Dolby ProLogic, sometimes with results that may surprise you with the lack of pumping and steering side effects.

NAD Soft Clipping

NAD AmplifierAny amplifier that is overdriven (asked to generate levels beyond its undistorted capabilities) will produce distortion (clipping). The result is not only very harsh sound but can often damage speakers—especially tweeters. The selectable "Soft Clipping" feature on NAD amplifiers gently transforms the music waveform as the point of clipping approaches, resulting in much clearer reproduction and simultaneous protection of speakers. One very valuable time to consider using the soft clipping option is during a party. As more and more people crowd into a room, and create more and more background noise, it is all too easy to keep setting the volume higher without realizing just how high you have turned it up. Switching in Soft Clipping will greatly reduce the chance of damage. Nothing, however, can absolutely guarantee protection against cranking volume up and leaving it there for a prolonged period. So it is best to use Soft Clipping as temporary protection until you can get to the volume control to set loudness at a more reasonable point.

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