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CD quality to soon jazz up MP3s
Squeezing the file size takes a toll on the quality of audio files. Now, Kenwood engineers have found a way to improve the sound of MP3s.

Engineers at consumer electronics giant Kenwood Corp. have developed a new technology that makes compressed digital music files, such as MP3 files, sound as good as the original cut from a compact disc.

The technology, code-named Supreme Drive, re-creates high-frequency sound signals usually lost when music is converted into digital data and then compressed.

When audio data is compressed in a format such as MP3, high-frequency data is lost. As a result, certain sounds in music might not be as recognizable. Supreme Drive takes the missing harmonics -- known as "fundamental" -- and mathematically re-processes the data through a sound generator. When finished, music then has a more natural sound, according to Kenwood.

Industry experts contacted by MacCentral said it is too early to tell if this technology will have a far-reaching impact on all types of MP3 music files, but that early indications show it's a breakthrough and something to be watched closely.

"We'll have to take a close look at it and see how it can affect the various types of uses for MP3 files," Edward Kessler, Vice President of Engineering for Napster Inc. told MacCentral. "It's too early to tell what this could really do to the quality of MP3, but it's exciting nonetheless."

Napster is a controversial Internet music-sharing site that has been in legal turmoil with the music recording industry over the illegal distribution of copyrighted music.

"From the little technical information Kenwood has released, I think this could make a profound difference in the quality of MP3," said Duncan Harmon, an independent digital audio engineer based in Cincinnati. "This is obviously both a software and hardware solution that would be built into audio components such as car stereos, portable MP3 players and a the like."

"If it sounds as good as they say it does, I think Kenwood has got a real money-making technology on their hands," Harmon said.

Kenwood said it plans to incorporate the technology into a future digital audio products of its own, but would give no timeframe of when products using the new technology would be available, or what kind of products they would be. The company also plans to call on other player manufacturers and music delivery service providers to introduce the technology to their own products and services.

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