Berklee Today

Berklee Beat: Koi/Berklee Research Nets Tigers for Classrooms


Eye of the Tiger: From the left, Berklee student Alfredo Gonzalez, faculty member Mike Abraham, and student Pete Myers surround a KOI Tiger Powered Speaker System in a Berklee classroom.
Photo by Mark Small
 

Shuji Yamamoto, KOI Audio founder and chief product designer, believes that the next generation of audio products will be based on a better understanding of psychoacoustics—the human perception of sound. To prove his point, his Framingham, Massachusetts, company has just introduced the Tiger, an ultra-compact three-piece powered speaker system. One of the steps in the development of the revolutionary new system involved research at Berklee. The final product, which has elicited raves from listeners, will be installed in Berklee classrooms and offered at a special discount to alumni and students.

"Recreating the emotional impact of a live performance has been the goal of audio-system designers since the development of sound recording,” said Yamamoto. "During the past decade, audio has made great strides through advances in material sciences and electronics design. Little progress, however, has been achieved in psychoacoustics.”

Berklee MP&E Assistant Professor Michael Abraham '83, who also serves as vice president of business development at KOI Audio, has worked closely with Yamamoto for several years furthering the study of psychoacoustics and developing new, cutting-edge speaker technologies. It was Abraham who enlisted the trained ears of Berklee faculty members and students when KOI needed to do psychoacoustic research on the Tiger system.

"I feel that Berklee is truly an untapped source for this type of research,” said Abraham. "Musicians and recording engineers spend hours every day creating and fine-tuning their sounds. Their keenly developed sense of hearing makes them an invaluable resource to audio designers.

"Our listening tests clearly demonstrated that the most advanced audio test equipment cannot detect artifacts that trained musicians and recording engineers could easily hear. We measured the energy spectra of a wide variety of audio sources and combined that data with our listening tests to optimize perceived sound quality.”

The KOI Tiger Powered Speaker System represents an investment of $3 million and four years of research and development. It has been favorably compared to high-end audio systems costing tens of thousands of dollars. At KOI's research lab, the success of the design is convincingly demonstrated in an A-B comparison that pits the Tiger against a pair of B&W 801 loudspeakers powered by a McIntosh amplifier.

KOI's Human PsychoAcoustic® technology has received critical acclaim, and the Tiger recently won the Innovations 2001 Award at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Tiger's impressive performance has also led to its selection by Berklee for use in the Performance Department's instruction studios. Over 60 systems will be installed during the fall semester. Coupled with Marantz's PAC750, the audio systems will deliver state-of-the-art sound in Berklee's teaching studios.