August 2020 editorial

A new Apple patent for immersive audio

[Apple New Patent]

Author: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Published: June, 2020

Earlier this year, in our January editorial, we told you about a new Apple patent for audio, which makes possible to create a stable stereophonic image independently from the position of the listener, via a system of cameras and microphones.

Apple's attention to the sound quality of their devices is well-known and this new patent (which dates back to a couple of months ago, though submitted in 2018) aims to simulate the sound coming from a MacBook as it is far away from it. The patent is titled “System to move a virtual sound away from a listener using a crosstalk canceler”.

This new virtual acoustic system by Apple would send noise out at different angles (see official Apple scheme above), aiming the audio at different parts of the listening room, so to create the illusion that the sound isn't coming from the laptop or any other audio device where this system is applied.

In the patent document, though, Apple warns the reader that there could be “always some imperfection or error” so that the listener might still perceive the sound coming from the device. This could be fixed adjusting reverberation and other audio settings, more or less like the technique used for 8D Audio on headphones, where the sound seems to come from the area surrounding the listener's head.

It is not sure this technology will be really applied soon to MacBooks or other audio devices, but for sure, there's room for very interesting applications in HiFi, as well. The sound that is perceived coming directly from the speakers is quite annoying, actually. Some speakers have the ability to disappear and let the air surrounding them vibrate, but it's a kind of magic that works just with specific loudspeakers and rooms. And it is any audiophile's dream, because this makes the listening experience more realistic. Perceiving an instrument playing inside the speaker box is rather unpleasant and definitely not natural.

Several speaker designers have tried to overcome these limitations, for example Duevel and Larsen (see reviews of their speakers here on TNT-Audio) but it is always a “give and take” game.

In any case, we don't know what this will bring us, but for sure we owe Apple gratitude for their research efforts in the field of audio.

Copyright © 2020 Lucio Cadeddu - -