If you love great audio, be it music that moves you or movie audio that draws you into the experience playing out on the screen, you will want to check out the Aftermaster Pro. This is an unusual device that doesn’t fit easily into a specific category so let’s take a look at the range of functions it offers.
The company refers to the Aftermaster Pro as a “Personal ReMastering Device.” They go on to say:
Aftermaster is pleased to introduce its first proprietary (patents pending) consumer hardware product, the Aftermaster Pro. Aftermaster exclusively developed the one-of-a-kind personal audio re-mastering device and created a completely new product category in the consumer electronics industry.
What makes the Aftermaster Pro different is the fact that it was designed to work with a variety of devices and, regardless of which device you are using with it, taking the audio to new levels.
I read some write ups on the Aftermaster Pro that dished it saying it simply pumped up the bass a bit and raised the volume overall. That has not been my experience with it nor is it what Aftermaster claims it does. Instead, the company discusses the unit as a remastering system that employs patented Aftermaster audio technology to rework the signal in order to deliver great sound. As they explain:
Mastering is the last step in the creation of a professional audio production. It is done by a mastering engineer who makes the final changes to an audio production to make it the best that it can be. Over time, audio is often re-mastered to make it sound even better than it did originally. Our world-class team of audio experts have produced, engineered and mastered more hit music than any audio company in history. We know what sounds right. We spent years developing our patented Aftermaster audio technology, a unique audio process that takes sound to levels that we couldn’t reach with even the best mastering techniques.
Somehow, the wizards behind this technology found a way to create a small portable device that is able to apply some of this mastering in real-time. It provides “bigger, clearer, fuller, louder and more exciting” sound on the go or right at home. It
Inside the box, you get everything you need to make full use of the Aftermaster Pro. You get the device itself (more on that in a bit), you get an HDMI cable, you get a USB power cable, and you get a 3.5mm cable. The inclusion of both an HDMI cable and a 3.5mm headphone cable offers a hint into what makes the Aftermaster Pro different, so let’s dig into that a bit.
I have a couple of headphone amps and some DACs but they have very specific uses. For example, I have a portable DAC and headphone amplifier that is specifically designed to take audio from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet and improve the audio fed into the connected headphones. It isn’t for used with a home audio system and it doesn’t do anything for my home theater system. For what it is the DAC does well but its use is rather specific.
I have another DAC that connects to my computer’s USB port and has a 3.5mm headphone jack to provide great audio when listening to headphones at my desk. (To be more accurate, this DAC worked with my last laptop but requires an adapter now that Apple went all in with its new computer ports but you get the idea. This latter DAC is designed for one specific use- a laptop and headphones- and while it does the job quite well it is limited in its functionality.
The Aftermaster Pro is different and can be used in two entirely different ways. First, it is designed to “transform television audio by raising and clarifying dialogue levels, while making all surrounding audio sound substantially better.” It accomplishes this by connecting via HDMI to a range of audio/video sources including cable boxes, satellite boxes, video game stations, etc. Second, the Aftermaster Pro also has a 3.5mm port and is equipped with an internal rechargeable battery. That means it can go with you and deliver improved sound on the go using your smart phone, tablet, computer and connecting them to your favorite pair of headphones. (Obviously it can also connect to other audio devices but the mobile device-to-headphones is the one you will mostly likely use.
The first scenario relies upon the side of the Aftermaster Pro that has three HDMI ports and a microUSB charging port.
With cables connected, it looks like this.
The media source such as your cable box is connected to the Aftermaster Pro via one of the two HDMI ports that indicate “media in” (via a small icon with an arrow pointing into the circle.) A second HDMI cable is plugged into the third HDMI port, this one has an icon pointing out) and connects to the audio output device such as your surround sound system. The small microUSB port on the Aftermaster Pro connects to the included wall adapter so the power is constant and the device is ready to work whenever you turn on your media. It looks like this…
Our mission with Aftermaster Pro is to provide a convenient and inexpensive way to enjoy all your audio content the way it was intended: with clear, dynamic, and exciting sound. For your TV, Aftermaster Pro hooks up easily between your TV and video source via HDMI cables. Aftermaster Pro will transform your TV audio by automatically raising and clarifying TV dialogue while improving all of the audio quality in the program. No more need to continually adjust the volume of your favorite TV show to hear what people are saying.
The second scenario relies upon the other end of the Aftermaster Pro.
This end has two 3.5mm ports. One indicates input while the other indicates output. This end also has the power button and the Aftermaster Pro magic button (my term not theirs) which turns the mastering on and off. The smartphone goes into the 3.5mm in port and a second 3.5mm cable connects to your headphones or speakers with a 3.5mm in port. It looks like this…
The Aftermaster Pro also has a built-in rechargeable battery so it can be used on-the-go with smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc. Aftermaster Pro is easily linked in between your device and headphones or speaker through standard 3.5mm audio cables. Your Pro will instantly re-master all your favorite music and videos and deliver a spectacular audio experience that you can’t get anywhere else.
The Aftermaster Pro is great for use with a home theater setup so long as your setup is wired. My main home theater is wireless so the device isn’t well-suited for use there. In the bedroom, however, we have a television and theater setup that is wired. Here, the Aftermaster Pro did its job and it did it well.
What makes this product stand out though, is the portability. That comes by way of the battery built into it and creates the scenario where I would see using it most frequently. With a full charge, you get up to eight hours of music enhancement. This being the case one could argue that it might make sense to simply get a small, portable headphone amplifier and DAC. That’s true but doesn’t take into account the flexibility the Aftermaster Pro offers by being both portable AND ready for home use. That kind of flexibility is worth a lot… assuming you will actually make use of it.
As for the sound, the company states that “for the first time you will be able to hear anything audio in a way you’ve never experienced before. Bigger, clearer, fuller, and vastly more enjoyable.” I think that is a stretch but I will say there is a noticeable difference when the Aftermaster Pro is doing its thing. That’s definitely worth something!!
If you want to hear the difference for yourself click here and scroll down to the audio samples. It really will take you by surprise!
Finally, I think it is worth spending a minute on the design of the Aftermaster Pro. This is a sleek device that will definitely prompt conversation. Made entirely from aluminum, it just looks cool. There’s no other way to put it. The first review sample I received was a bright red that looked amazing. Unfortunately, there was a problem with it so a second review sample was sent to me.
This one was black and worked just fine.
And while it didn’t have the same eye-popping appeal of the red unit, it looked pretty damn cool as well.,
At $169.99 the Aftermaster Pro isn’t inexpensive but the enhancement it offers when looking to really enjoy your music or get lost in a movie or game is pretty remarkable. Just keep in mind that if you use wireless audio or have an iPhone 7, its functionality is a bit limited. Check it out here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Works with your home system or as a mobile device; Makes a truly noticeable difference; Ships with a good selection of cables; Can run on batteries for up to eight hours
What Needs Improvement: Designed for phones and tablets with a 3.5mm port; At $169.99 people may hesitate to purchase it. If you want a simple and flexible way to improve your sound, however, it deserves a look.