AUDIO IN A 360 WORLD
(Part 2 of 5)
by Robert Margouleff
THE NEXT GREAT DISRUPTOR
I have been giving a lot of thought to what I believe is the next great disruptive wave for all of us. The next great disruptive game changer is AR/VR/ and MR and discrete immersive surround sound rendered on headphones. Think about it! Surround for Every Woman and Man, on your cell phone, tablet, or computer. It will be totally portable and simple. I like to say “One Big Play Skool Sized Knob” with on/off and there it is — an immersive experience.
Well, HEAR360 has the technology to deliver a Theatrical Audio experience on any headphone right now. Major SVOD platforms and 360 Video Platforms are already in the process of adding the technology to their offering. You can hear for yourself right now by putting on headphones and listening to the video below.
A great cinematic experience is never complete without an exceptional immersive audio soundtrack. In AR/VR there will need to be a new emphasis on the audio to guide the viewer. Sound design will play an important role in generating a sense of place, movement, and interaction, providing an aesthetic effect, and giving cultural context for the activity at hand.
We live in a surround world. Sound does not hit our ears from one static direction, instead it comes from all over. Music for thousands of years was like this. We take it for granted! Think of all the religious music in the huge cathedrals, churches, concert halls and primal tribes. Surround made it more emotional and mysterious. It was a big part of the experience!
In classical music, the concept of surround in live performance is well known. First, before the invention of recording, and then with electricity in the 30–50’s, Theremin, Varèse, John Cage, and other early pioneers, reached for surround in electronica. They were held back by the complexity and size of the primitive and large playback equipment, which was only suited for large halls and played in real time. They too could not store the surround sound. When the performance was over, the experience went away forever. Interestingly, the Theremin was one of the first instruments that used a loudspeaker for a performance, which meant that the speaker and the performer could be in different locations. (Where would the electric guitar be without it’s separate guitar amp?)
We have all heard great surround sound in movie theaters, concert venues and dance clubs, but at home we have grown up on lowly MP3’s, not so good in the sound department, but very portable. Most of us don’t even realize that the next wave is coming, and as a matter of fact; the wave is here.
I understand the power of surround, as I have spent more than twenty years preparing multichannel audio for music, film, and television and I see the writing on the wall. Can you name one film mixed in the last few years that is NOT mixed in surround? Surround Sound has been an integral part of the film going experience for many years, but has not been as successful in a music-only format. DTS tried it in the early 90’s, I was a part of it. The surround CD brought an incredible amount of excitement and emotion back to the listening experience and sounded great but the listener was grounded to a large and expensive home theater system oriented to viewing an image. Do you want to listen to music on your mother and father’s home theater system in the living room. NO!
When we started making records, we were forced to abandon the entire concept of surround (localization / vector) simply because we could not store the information electrically. Now at last, we can store it and deliver truly immersive surround in headphones to the other 99% of our audience who don’t have the real estate or the money for large home theater surround systems like the 1%!
To learn more… follow HEAR360 on Medium and read PART THREE next week.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Margouleff is a Grammy Award winning American Record producer, recording engineer, electronic music pioneer, audio expert, and film producer. Margouleff’s work has always been on the innovative edge of art and technology. Most noted for his work with electronic music synthesizer programming for Stevie Wonder, he produced four of the music sensation’s albums.
In 2004 Margouleff realized that surround sound for the home theatre was different than theatrical surround. He advanced the theory of “near-field” surround mixing and mastering and formed Mi Casa Multimedia, a unique complex of sound studios located in an old Hollywood mansion. In these studios, which emulate the home environment, Mi Casa’s engineers remastered for Home Theater audio for over 100 top-selling titles, including New Line’s entire Lord of The Rings cycle, MGM’s James Bond Collection and Fox’s X-Men: The Last Stand.
Now Margouleff is committed to the next big disruptor in audio — fully immersive audio technology for music, games, VR and AR. He joins HEAR360 in their quest to make VR sound incredible.