With the digitisation of the world's entertainment content underway at warp speed, it seems logical that high-end audio system manufacturers should add new functionality to differentiate their wares from the MP3 jukebox functionality now becoming ubiquitous. On cue, Bose has released two new Lifestyle home entertainment systems that store, organise and select music, taking into account the preferences of up to nine household members, with the ability to expand the system to up to fourteen zones throughout the home. Interestingly, Bose has chosen to improve the convenience and usability of the system, not the quality of the sound - Bose's usual hallmark. It's an important breakthrough that "removes the barriers between the listening and the equipment."
U-Music intelligent playback system
The brains behind the new Bose intelligent playback system (available in the new Lifestyle 38 and 48 home entertainment systems) is called uMusic.
UMusic digitally stores an entire music collection, and then learns a user's listening preferences based on likes, dislikes, even mood. It then prioritises a music collection automatically, without the need for charts, menus or manually creating and managing playlists.
The uMusic system stores up to 200 hours of music in the Lifestyle 38 system and up to 340 hours in the Lifestyle 48 system. As each CD is being stored, the uMusic system attaches detailed information to each song from its embedded database.
Like Apple's iTunes, the database recognises the album and adds the title, artist and the name of each track. The database also adds a number of other attributes, including the genre of the album, the artist's roots and influences and even subtle characteristics like mood and tone are identified. The accuracy and depth of these song profiles are ensured using databases from two leading providers of descriptive music information, covering over 500,000 individual CD titles.
As with other systems, it is possible to search for a specific song or CD, but it is the uMusic system's unique ability to learn a user's individual listening preferences, and then select and play back tracks with similar attributes which make it very useful.
All of this is done automatically, as the user stores their CDs in the system. And with every choice made, the user's preferences are further refined and evolved, with up to nine different user profiles able to be developed.
The Lifestyle 38 and 48 system's remote control is completely intuitive, with commands that emulate common listening habits. For example, "+" indicates a strong preference for a song, while "-" signals a strong dislike. "Skip" tells the uMusic not to play the track now but the listener may still want to listen in the future, while "encore" indicates to the system you want to hear music similar to the track currently playing, and so forth.
"Every Bose Lifestyle system's promise to the consumer is to combine performance with elegance and simplicity, and the addition of the uMusic system only advances that legacy," said Jim Scammon, director of the Bose Home Entertainment Division. "The new Lifestyle 38 and 48 systems with the uMusic intelligent playback system realises the potential of stored music because it removes the barriers between the listening and the equipment."
Intelligent playback in 14 different rooms
In keeping with the fundamental concept of distributed music throughout the home, Bose link expansion capability is built into the new Lifestyle 38 and 48 systems and can extend the benefits of the uMusic intelligent playback system in up to 14 different rooms or outdoor areas.
Products such as the Bose Wave Radio (high end radio tuner) and Bose 151SE outdoor speakers can added for quality audio anywhere in the home and two "channels" are available at any one time - though the system stores nine different user preferences, only two audio streams can be used simultaneously.
As the system is expanded into multiple rooms, the SA-3 Lifestyle stereo amplifiers that work in conjunction with the Lifestyle systems, have additional local audio input capabilities so that a CD player or television can be added to enjoy music from the local source. Listeners use a local remote control for independent mute and volume control and additional Personal music center II remote controls can be added at AUD$199 each. This two-way, interactive audio controller has a backlit LCD screen that enables users to play music with the uMusic intelligent playback system or by browsing through the collection and selecting songs.
The Lifestyle 38 and 48 Home Entertainment Systems
The DVD-based Lifestyle 38 and 48 home entertainment systems deliver rich, lifelike sound for both music and movies, and incorporate several proprietary Bose innovations.
The Lifestyle 48 system uses five award-winning Jewel Cube speakers. The Lifestyle 38 includes five Direct/Reflecting cube speaker arrays. Both speaker packages produce natural-sounding mid-high range notes, and work in concert with an improved hideaway Acoustimass module that delivers the low frequencies with no audible distortion. The hideaway Acoustimass module now features a higher excursion woofer that produces even more acoustic output than previous models for more impactful movie effects through to powerful orchestral passages.
Both new Lifestyle systems include the ADAPTiQ audio calibration system, a proprietary Bose technology that analyses and automatically adjusts the sound for a particular room, speaker and even listener location. The ADAPTiQ system compensates for these variables to ensure the Lifestyle system delivers superb performance for either DVDs or music.
Each system includes a media centre that plays all popular audio and video formats: DVD-video, DVD-R, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, PCM, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Digital, and MP3 on CD. Proprietary Bose Videostage 5 circuitry offers 5-channel surround sound from any source, including older, mono TVs. The systems receive AM/FM radio, and include Progressive Scan.
A universal RF remote works through walls and provides complete system control integration. It can control functions of most TVs, VCRs, PVRs, satellite or cable boxes, and other connected equipment.
The Lifestyle 38 and 48 home entertainment systems come in black and white and will be available at all Bose dealers later this month at AUD $6499 and $7999 respectively.
For more information about the new Bose Lifestyle systems call toll free on 1800 023 367 or visit www.bose.com.au