Takuma:Mention home theater speakers, and many people imagine boxy enclosures—a shape those of us in home theater development have been trying to break free from in recent years. Sound quality has been one motivating factor. By nature, boxes consist of parallel surfaces, but this does not necessarily form an acoustically ideal shape. That's one reason we had been exploring other options to redefine the shape of home theater speakers.
Another reason was that people's needs in design have changed. Until a few years ago, these speakers were viewed as secondary in importance to interior design, so most of them blended discreetly into the background. Over time, though, attitudes shifted toward pride of ownership in the speakers themselves. People began to value equipment that not only sounded good but also looked like it sounded good. In design, we treat this need for products that owners can be proud of seriously.
This kind of thinking formed the basis for a series of design studies, but it was the Sense of Quartz design concept we devised with our BRAVIA team that ultimately helped us break free from boxy speakers. In the BRAVIA line, Quartz ideals can be seen in how set materials are presented, but in home theater systems, we express these ideals structurally. We see the difference between both approaches in three design elements.
First, home theater products are designed with a "Distinctive Form"—inspired by powerful, dynamic geometries that convey the amazing presence of the listening and viewing experience. Second, they have "Quartz Facet" recalling polished minerals, which reduces the number of parallel surfaces we wanted to avoid for better acoustics. And last, they enliven the listening experience with dramatic "Intelligent Luminance". But in any case, both home theater products and the BRAVIA line are true to our Quartz ideal of standing back and letting product value shine through.
Zheng:The tricky part of home theater design is arranging both the best listening experience and the ultimate in design. We seek elegant design to reflect the superb, cinematic audio quality, so we must remain focused on both excellence in audio quality and elegance in design. This made speaker design particularly challenging, structurally. We can satisfy more Blu-ray home theater customers by keeping the speakers slim, or at least slim-looking, because they're often wall-mounted. Although speakers must be substantial enough to produce good sound, careless design makes speakers look crude. That's why all peripheral surfaces of these speakers are boldly faceted, which makes them look sleek. This also means fewer parallel surfaces. The result is speakers with a more dynamic shape than ever before. Still, a lot of acoustic design and simulations went into these apparently random facets.
To express the quality and impact of the sound directly in BDV-N series Blu-ray home theater systems, we adopted an open, exposed structure for the speakers. However, it was unprecedented for us to provide a direct view inside, so it proved very challenging. With nothing to protect it, the cone itself had to be constructed of durable material. We tested a variety of materials, and in the end, we chose fiberglass. Every detail—cone shape, edge shape, surface finish, and color—was carefully designed as we conducted acoustic simulations.
It was also the first time we would incorporate lighting at floor level, which we hoped would help make the experience as exciting as being in a theater with footlights. Integrating the LED took several prototypes before we finally succeeded, because making the most of the speakers' limited size was critical in ensuring performance.
In Blu-ray players as well, we have broken away from boxy design. This player is tilted boldly forward, making it look distinctive without seeming massive, as viewed from the front. Its multi-faceted control panel is most impressive. The panels each serve a different function, and the angle of each panel suits its function well. The nearly horizontal panel is for key operations. The wide panel in the middle incorporates lighting and an NFC module, so you can touch compatible devices against it. And the most acute panel is used for display, because the screen is easier to see. In this player and other home theater components alike, we were careful to incorporate blue-green coloring, which projects a coordinated Quartz image with the new BRAVIA line.
Note: BDV-N9100W/N9100WL are available exclusively in markets outside Japan. As of May 2013, no domestic release is planned.
Tako:When we push the boundaries in TV picture quality and resolution, people naturally expect even better audio quality. It also calls for higher standards in UI usability, device connectivity, ease of installation, neat cable management, and so on. Ideally, there should be no inconsistency in these details, and a single TV should offer you the best experience all around. We've come one step closer to this perfect television in the X9000A series, and I hope we can continue to offer amazing viewing experiences through the BRAVIA line.
Takuma:As more new features are introduced each year and audio technology advances, home theater design will evolve to keep pace. It will be up to us to refine Sense of Quartz concepts accordingly, consider the optimal forms for audio performance and device functions, and seek home theater elegance. We will remain attentive to preferences that change from one generation to the next, even as we offer glimpses of what you can appreciate in next-generation systems.