Along the way, we had the opportunity to rub shoulders with key Philips personnel who expounded on the company's technologies as well as accompanying audio merchandise consumers can expect in the months ahead. Among them is Mr Frank Dethier, Technology Program Manager of Philips Consumer Lifestyle division (Advanced Technology Leuven), who helped shed some light on Philips' acoustical direction. According to him, the Advance Technology Labs in Leuven serves as an important nerve center for their audio research and development work. These ideas and prototypes are subsequently conveyed to other plants across the globe, to transform these engineering ideas into tangible products. For example, global labs based in Bruges, Hong Kong and Singapore are critical platforms responsible for a product's final execution, with each country specializing in different market areas. Singapore's plant, for example, focuses mainly on the development and implementation of consumer peripherals under the Home Theater and Televisions sector.
Philips' team of engineers was also present to enlighten us on how they sculpt their audio products. "The "Audio and Video Business Unit" is responsible for defining the quality of each product, and to ensure these aspects are met according to Philips sound quality process", says Mr Sylvain Choisel, Acoustic Engineer of Philips Consumer Lifestyle (Advanced Technology Leuven). He went on to say there are three focal areas Philips is keen on; namely the Physical Domain, Sensory Domain and Affective Domain. The Sensory Domain is one of the important areas amongst the three, where the gadget's auditory profile such as its bass reflexes and spaciousness are judged by selected audio testers. Philips' panel of judges are further divided into the Experts and Consumers groups across four regions; Leuven, Singapore, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Essentially, each site employs a panel of 12 trained listeners (dubbed as Golden Ears) to deliberate if the end results are, well, sound enough. Hence, they are required to go through a formal and stringent ear-training programme to develop abilities such as identifying frequency bands or inter-channel delays. Once certified, they can then participate in "blind" listening tests to determine which mockup has the superior acoustic production. That said, it's about time you met Philips' 2010 audio lineup, designed to bring you the most authentic listening experience money can buy. You might want to note that some of these products that we'll be sharing on the next few pages were first showcased in CES 2010 as we've covered previously, but they are only now ready to make the jump to retail. Such is the process of perfection.