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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Fourth Primary Color

From the time we were kids, we were all taught that there are three primary colors - red, green and blue. We all know that we can make any color in the spectrum by combining those three colors in various combinations. This 3 color idea has shaped our design world going back centuries, but that's about to change.

Sharp has announced that it will incorporate yellow as a fourth color into it's new high-end Aquos TV's in order to improve the viewing experience. This new LED technology expands the the possible color gamut from 1 billion to 1 trillion, while increasing the image detail. It's said that you can really tell the difference in any program containing golds and blues, and that the 3D version of the television offers outstanding detail in that format.

What does this have to do with audio? A couple of things actually. First, picture is becoming an increasingly important part of audio, with the two coming closer together every day. Audio engineers now have to keep up with the latest in the video world, since you never know when that knowledge might be needed.

But the real thing that I wanted to point out is that it's important to question our assumptions from time to time, since sometimes that's the only way to take technology to the next level. What we know to be right today can be become a mere footnote in our learning curve tomorrow. Quick example: we used to think that 0 dBFS was the absolute loudest a digital signal could go with out lighting the Overload indicator until intersample distortion was discovered (transients exceed 0dBFS in-between the samples, causing an overload without the Overload indicator ever lighting).

So keep an open mind. A known fact today can so easily fall by the wayside tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy our new primary color.

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