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In preparing for a new generation of N Series laptops, ASUS have shared with us their plans to integrate even better sound capabilities on the new machines. As you may recall, SonicMaster was developed by a dedicated team of audio engineers at ASUS, led by Henry Huang, who cooperated with the world-famous sound experts at Bang & Olufsen ICEpower.


The original SonicMaster debuted on super-laptop NX90, designed by our dear friend David Lewis. It demanded bigger speaker chambers, stronger materials to minimise audio issues like vibration and distortion, and the best available digital sound processing. It resulted in a wider sonic range, with powerful bass, really crisp high notes, and genuinely clear vocals. While I can’t pretend to understand all the scientific acoustic research info Henry and his team have published, what I do know is that the first time I was sat in front of a SonicMaster-enabled laptop it really did come very close to what you’d expect from your home entertainment setup in terms of impact and clarity. It certainly did not sound anything like the rather underwhelming audio output laptops have been pumping (or more like seeping) out until then. But this was in 2010, so it’s now time for a major refresh.

Where SonicMaster began


SonicMaster Premium builds on and retains all the advantages of original SonicMaster, and still benefits from Bang & Olufsen ICEpower involvement. However, as ASUS is getting ready to launch the redesigned N Series, a Premium version has been in the works, and is now ready. SonicMaster Premium sees Henry and co. really go wild with sound enhancement, with a speaker amp that’s on average 300% more powerful than commodity laptops. The speakers themselves use chambers that outstrip vanilla laptop hardware by 60%, plus to make sure bass-fiends get their fill, ASUS will bundle a new subwoofer with the upcoming N models.


A sound system, I mean an N Series laptop

For someone who advocates headphone listening so as to avoid any disturbance to others, SonicMaster Premium integrates new sound processing algorithms that are specifically aimed at personal/non-speaker audio, so the boost is felt either way.


Likely the biggest differentiation compared to original SonicMaster is that Premium will ship with MaxxAudio 3 professional audio tools by Waves Audio. Waves are among the most respected and prolific vendors of sound capabilities for various platforms, from smartphones and games consoles to movie theatres. The MaxxAudio 3 suite they’ve developed together with ASUS for the N Series offers significant software tuning of all audio content. Some of the key components are MaxxBass deep note enhancement, MaxxTreble for clearer and more dynamic high notes, and MaxxStereo headphone optimisation. We will also be getting MaxxEQ, MaxxDialog, and MaxxVolume, a trio of features that gives us as users better personalised control of the way we listen to content on our laptops.

Image copyright Waves Audio

So basically SonicMaster Premium is exactly what is says on the box: it’s a more deluxe version of something that was already quite deluxe to begin with. If you in any capacity use your laptop as a multimedia machine (and I do, I watch movies on mine all the time), then this is a development to definitely be excited about. The new N Series is scheduled for release sometime in the late spring/early summer, so you may want to stay…tuned.

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