Digital room conditioning. The room is half the battle and I beleive we will be able to adjust for room dimensions while the signal is still in the digital domain.
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How about this: a purely digital vaccuum array. Instead of speakers pushing the air, one has dozens of tiny vaccuum modules around the room. They receive a digital signal, and create a vaccuum of a certain strength, for a certain period of time, depending on the signal. The system would be infinitely adjustable depending on characteristics of the room, such as air pressure and temperature, and could also 'detect' objects in the room, such as listeners, and adjust. I'm sure at some point some physicists will solve the problem of aiming a vaccuum.
Another idea, to deal with room reflections and the like, would be to have a tiny speaker (rougly cylindrical or rectangular prism-like), and have it rotate in 3 dimensions REALLY fast. This way it could send a sound signal in any direction, and also send radar or some such in essentially every direction in order to give itself feedback about variable room shape.
Can't wait to hear other (more reasonable) ideas.
My favorite is the transducer (i.e. speaker) the size of a quarter that emits hyper frequencies (around 250 khz) that, when mixed with other hyper-freqs, magically reduce to human range (20-20K) and can be "focused" into a local "hearing zone" so you all can watch home theater, at full volume, on you couch while the baby sleeps in the next room. This is actual technology owned by a company in (last I heard) Poway CA.
I envision a recreation of a live musical performance, displayed as a 3-d , moving, holographic image, right in your living room, from some type of hologram projector reading a massive block of computer memory as the storage device.
The complete performance with the musicians performing in the original environment they recorded in, is projected in a 3 dimensional reality in your living room ,as you sit in your favorite listening chair.
Audio quality is 98% of actually being there. Speakers are eliminated as a device has been invented which modulates the surrounding air in your room to recreate an almost exact analogy of the pressure waves generated in the original recording venue.
Storage formats that are not medium based, i.e. MP3, that are small, incredibly high quality(better than DVD-A, and SACD).
SACD and DVD-A are a fads based of technology that is quickly getting to its EOL, why should we still be using such limited, delicate physical media. You should just be able to queue up an album from remote storage arrays which have every song concievable already on them.... well maybe not, thanks to the RIAA
heh, i could set up an array like that in in less than a week, the technology already exists....but i'd get sue'd for the rest of my life
you know how it goes...profit before progress
The future is a virtual room like the "holodeck" on Star Trek with "controlled" particles joined to recreate the actual musicians, instruments and recording hall. The original performance would be enacted by a computer, resulting in real soundwaves. Of course, the danger is that you could become trapped on the "holodeck" with the safety protocols removed--wait, I think that WAS an episode...
I think room stuff is still thinking in the box. I'd suggest an array of speakers made like a phased array radar that would sense your head and follow you around so you are always in a 3d sweet spot sound wise.
Also we need a pure solid state music source, a crystal that is scanned (3d latice) so no rotating wow, flutter,jitter etc is introduced. We are almost there with RAM memory or flash card (digital cameras) up to 1Gbite already available.