The story of Atmosphere…
Atmosphere began when our lead designer Ted Denney contemplated why system’s seem to sound better late at night and worse mid-day. As a pioneering designer of the first high performance power cord, the original AC Master Coupler of 1994, and his later work in 2007 to develop the world’s first patented non-current limiting AC filter found in our PowerCell AC line conditioners, he knew there must be more to the mystery of what we hear late at night vs mid-day than just the state of AC coming out of the wall. After all if it were only AC than power conditioning and high performance power cords would have solved this problem long ago.
So we began researching variables that could contribute to the mystery of midnight vs. mid-day system performance and came to the conclusion that man-made and solar RF must play a significant role. This led us to research of factors that contribute to fluctions in the Earth’s ambient RF environment. Ted reasoned that if differences in RF can degrade sound, then RF can be modeled and shaped to improve sound.
The Sun and RF propagation on Earth:
There are three major disturbances on the Sun that affect radio propagation here on Earth. Solar Flares, Coronal Hole and Sudden Disappearing Filament (SDF). Each disturbance causes both electromagnetic radiation and ejection of material from the Sun that alter RF on Earth. What we looked at was how each of these disturbances affect our RF environment during the day vs late at night with the intention to mimic late night conditions to improve sound mid-day. *If you want to skip the technical primer please scroll down to “Solar Flares, Coronal Holes, The Sudden Disappearing Filament and Wi-Fi- Oh my”.
Solar flares release huge amounts of energy, including sustained, high-energy bursts of radiation from VLF to X-ray frequencies and vast amounts of solar material. Most solar flares occur around the peak of the 11-year solar cycle. The first earthly indication of a huge flare is often a visible brightness near a sunspot group, along with increases in UV and X-ray radiation and VHF radio noise.
The sudden increase in X-ray energy from a large flare can immediately increase RF absorption in the Earth’s lowest ionospheric layers, sometimes causing a phenomenon known as a Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance (SID). An SID affects all HF communication on the sunlit side of the Earth and signals in the 2 to 30-MHz range may disappear entirely. Even background noise may cease in extreme cases. When you experience a big SID, your first inclination may be to look outside to see if your antenna fell down! SIDs may last up to an hour before ionospheric conditions temporarily return to normal.
Typically, several hours after a flare erupts at the Sun, particles begin to arrive at the Earth in the form of a plasma, a highly ionized gas made up of electrons, protons and neutral particles, traveling at speeds up to 300 miles per second. Really high-energy protons may even disable satellites orbiting high above the atmosphere and seem to have a negative effect on the way our audio systems sound.
A second major solar disturbance is a so-called “coronal hole”. Matter ejected through this “hole” becomes part of the solar wind and can affect the Earth’s magnetic field.
Statistically, coronal holes tend to occur most often during the declining phase of the 11-year solar cycle and they can last for a number of solar rotations. This means that a coronal hole can be a “recurring coronal hole,” disrupting communications and degrading the subjective performance of our audio systems for several days.
Sudden Disappearing Filament
The Sudden Disappearing Filament (SDF) is the third major category of solar disturbance that can affect RF propagation on Earth. SDFs take their names from the manner in which they suddenly arch upward from the Sun’s surface, spewing huge amounts of matter as plasma out into space in the solar wind.
When the conditions are right, a flare, coronal hole or an SDF can launch a plasma cloud into the solar wind, resulting in an Ionospheric Storm here on Earth. Unlike a hurricane or a Nor’easter in New England, an ionospheric storm is not something we can see with our eyes or feel on our skin. However we can see the indirect effects of an ionospheric storm on magnetic instruments located on the Earth’s surface, because disturbances in the ionosphere are intimately related to disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field.
During a geomagnetic storm (“geo” means Earth, in Greek), we may experience extraordinary radio noise and interference, especially at HF. You may hear solar radio emissions as increases of noise at VHF. A geomagnetic storm generally adds noise and weakens or disrupts ionospheric propagation for several days.
Solar Flares, Coronal Holes, The Sudden Disappearing Filament and Wi-Fi- Oh my.
In a nut shell we discovered that during the day ambient RF is stronger while the Earth’s Schumann Resonance is weaker in relation to overpowering solar and man-made radio frequencies. Typically speaking the ambient RF environment is at a higher frequency and is more complex during the day, and at a lower frequency and somewhat less complex late at night as our planet turns away from the sun. While charting Solar Flare, Coronal Hole and SDF activity we learned that the prevailing RF environment is affected by solar activity much more during the day, and less at night and this led to the discovery of specific RF environments conducive to what we perceive as good sound.
Synergistic Research Atmosphere
An Unexpected Discovery
In the early stages of Atmosphere’s development we were looking for ways to overcome the chaotic high frequency RF environment of day and replace it with the soothing lower frequency environment we experience at night. While working to recreate the perfect RF environment we built a single ELF field generator and like so many others found the Schumann Resonance, 7.83 Hz, to be a powerful talisman against high frequencies generated by solar activity as well as man-made factors like cell phones, Wi-Fi, lighting, and radio. We also found the Schumann Resonance to have significant limitations. Generate 7.83 Hz one way and sound was improved but also ‘darker’, like switching from an open sounding cable to a darker sounding cable that warms a system as it steals resolution in equal measure. Generate 7.83Hz another way and the sound opened up but at the expense of low frequency weight and control. In other words broadcast the same frequency in two different ways and you get two different results with neither being exactly right. The observed differences created by a single ELF generator eventually led to broadcasting over multiple separately tuned ELF and SLF generators. By working with multiple frequencies and variables we effectively sidestepped the inherent tradeoff of single frequency conditioning. With multiple tuned generators we were able to create an RF environment without tradeoffs by shaping multiple frequencies instead of relying on a single generator operating at a single frequency. What we never expected as we experimented with multiple signal generators was the realization that we were affecting, all aspects of sound.
As we continued to alter the output parameters of our multi wave generators we found we could control soundstage width, depth, and height. We also found we could shift perceived frequency balance making sound warmer or more open at will. Likewise we could control low frequencies making them sound fuller or tighter. Mid-range was also within our control allowing us to match the perceived mid-range of our systems to better compliment a given recording. By shaping literally millions of potential settings for Atmosphere we can place a performer in-between a set of speakers or when recordings calls for something massive like a full orchestra, we can ensure the room and system are capable of projecting a massively layered soundscape. It was not long before we had cataloged dozens of what we were now callings ‘scenes’ to better match different types of music.
Atmosphere Scenes- control at the touch of your iPad:
Screen shot of the Atmosphere iPad control app
Atmosphere is a multi-channel signal generator with millions of potential adjustments and when properly calibrated compliments an infinite variety of music, different systems, and even rooms with known issues, like an abundance of glass or hard reflective surfaces. To control Atmosphere there’s an included iPad app. Simply pick from the 3 base scenes- Intimate Acoustic, Hologram, and Grand Canyon to calibrate Atmosphere’s field to the type of music you’re listening to.
Intimate Acoustic Scene
Screen Shot of iPad control app for Intimate Acoustic Scene
As the name implies Intimate Acoustic is perfect for small scale recordings of whenever you want a precisely focused sound stage that places the the performance primarily between your main speakers.
Screen Shot of iPad control app for Holographic Scene
Holographic is perfect for performances recorded in a live hall, or mastered with reverb and is more layered front to back than either Intimate Acoustic or Grand Canyon. Holographic allows for the greatest sense of envelopment off the three standard scenes making you feel as if you are sitting in the actual recorded space. Holographic dimensionally favors soundstage height and layering with a strong sense of acoustic space.
Grand Canyon Scene
Screen Shot of iPad control app for Grand Canyon Scene
Grand Canyon is perfect for large scale classical and amplified performances or anytime you want a wide soundstage with minimal envelopment. This scene creates a wall-to-wall soundscape that starts behind your speakers with excellent depth, precise image outlines, and focus. Grand Canyon seldom if ever presents envelopment around your listening position but rather places the performance behind your speakers with maximum soundstage width.
Optional RED Atmosphere Tuning Module or ATM includes 4 additional iPad control scenes
RED ATM Scenes
In My Listening Room Scene
Screen Shot of iPad control app for In My Listening Room Scene
Ideal for close miked stringed instruments like acoustic guitar or anytime you want to hear music with enhanced clarity and focus, this scene places performers in your listening room with settings optimized for the RED Atmosphere Tuning Module. In its default setting, music is precisely portrayed with excellent low frequency control, a natural mid-range and precise image focus.
Advanced Settings: ‘Sharp’ presents sonic images with enhanced focus when compared to ‘Liquid’; ‘Live’ opens up the sound field and allows for increased layering, sense of space and decay.
Screen Shot of iPad control app for Expansive Scene
Presents larger acoustic recordings with an accurate sense of scale, natural layering and envelopment. Frequencies sound more linear than Holographic while sound staging is wider and more layered than In My listening Room and amplified music sounds softer than the Amplified scene.
Advanced Settings: ‘Near’ moves you closer to the performance with sharper image foes. ‘Expansive’ opens up the sound stage over the default ‘Layered’ settings with softer image outlines.
Screen Shot of iPad control app for Amplified Scene
Maintain the energy of amplified music with sharp leading edges and powerful dynamics. Ideal for live and studio recordings like Rock n Roll, Pop and modern amplified Jazz. In the default setting low frequencies are tight and punchy, mid-range is immediate with high frequencies that are not overly smooth, or etched.
Advanced Settings: ‘Crunchie’ removes any politeness from hard driving electric guitars, horns and leading edge transients leaving nothing but the raw amplified event. ‘Stadium’ opens up the sound field and is perfect for larger scale venues.
Screen Shot of iPad control app for Ethereal Scene
Perfect for Electronica, Orchestral and New Age recordings. Ethereal presents the maximum scale possible without limitations. On already holographic recordings you hear scale and envelopment that transcend the boundaries of your listening room in a most dramatic way. In its default setting music is gorgeously lush and layered with envelopment that places you in the middle of a live event.
Advanced Settings: ‘Air’ opens up high frequencies and enhances your systems ability to portray a maximum sense of hall and decay. ‘Stratosphere’ is the ultimate setting for width, depth, layering and air.
Atmosphere is sold with an unconditional money back guarantee. Contact your SR dealer or distributor to audition the world’s most advanced acoustic technology today.