Sim Wong Hoo, Cre­ative

Sim Wong Hoo, CEO, Cre­ative Tech­nol­ogy

HWM (Singapore) - - Contents - By Mar­cus Wong

How does Cre­ative stay cre­ative to come up with some­thing new?

The great­est difculty is to con­vince our own peo­ple to be­lieve. Es­pe­cially when it comes to tech­nol­ogy. It’s sci­ence, and it’s not cre­ative. Engi­neers are known to follow the rules, so their rst re­ac­tion is al­ways to say that it can’t be done. But ideas usu­ally come from some ran­dom source, so there won’t be a prece­dent. An idea is just a spark. You have to nd a place where the spark will work so that you can cre­ate some­thing the world hasn’t yet seen.

Your thoughts on 360-de­gree au­dio and multi-room au­dio...

360-de­gree is bull­shit. They put one driver in and say, “You go around it (the speaker), and it sounds ex­actly the same”. I say that’s called “mono” (laughs), not 360-de­gree.

Sur­round is 360 de­grees, the sound goes around you; not you around the speaker.

Ba­si­cally, the physics here are quite well-known. Peo­ple are tak­ing out all this old stuff and re­hash­ing it, but it’s all about trick­ing your ear.

How does that work?

We only have a pair of ears, so you can only hear from two in­puts. The­o­ret­i­cally, I can put two speak­ers in front of you and cre­ate any sound that you can hear, be­cause you only have two ears. What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween sound in front and sound be­hind?

The sound from be­hind goes through a lter, whereas the one from the front goes straight into your ear. That’s called the Head Re­lated Trans­fer Func­tion (HRTF), and that changes de­pend­ing on where the sound is com­ing from.

The prob­lem is, ev­ery­body’s HRTF is dif­fer­ent, so if I can de­sign a HRTF that suits my ear, then I can trick my ear. There’s a learn­ing process. Just like the rst time you hear your friend on the phone, you won’t rec­og­nize his voice. It’s ltered, so you have to re­learn that sound. Then the next time we speak on the phone, you’ll re­mem­ber and know who it is.

In the same way, you need to learn that the sound is be­hind you. So the next time you hear that mufed sound, you’ll know that it is be­hind you. But ac­tu­ally, it’s in front. The chal­lenge then, is to de­sign the most com­mon HRTF, be­cause you can’t tune it for ev­ery­one who comes along.

Would you say that cre­at­ing au­dio prod­ucts is a lot more dif+cult then?

Oh, it’s a lot more difcult. With vi­su­als, it’s a brute force tech­nol­ogy. It’s about throw­ing more pix­els and get­ting more ne-grained. Au­dio is a lot tougher, but it gives you the more im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence.

A lot of times when you nd your­self moved to tears, do you know what makes you cry? It’s the sound­track. I re­mem­ber Lu­cas (Arts) once did a test where they asked peo­ple to try two dif­fer­ent ver­sions of a game and asked them which had bet­ter graph­ics. Turns out both had the same graph­ics; the one that most peo­ple said was bet­ter just had a bet­ter sound­track.

So it’s the au­dio that gives you the bet­ter per­cep­tion. But most peo­ple don’t know this! And that’s what we’re try­ing to demon­strate to peo­ple be­cause there’s no other way they can know. You can’t ef­fec­tively sell sound with words.

Is it pos­si­ble to make some­thing that ap­peals to ev­ery­one?

Well, our lat­est prod­uct – the Sonic Car­rier – ac­tu­ally solves the dilemma of hav­ing to cater to two worlds.

There’s the high-end au­dio­phile world – peo­ple who want the best in mu­sic, which is very dif­fer­ent be­cause they want it to be pure, unadul­ter­ated. And then there’s movies - to get the cinema ex­pe­ri­ence with all the booms and bangs, hear­ing ev­ery­thing from all di­rec­tions.

These two worlds have (al­ways) been in conict. You can­not put them to­gether and you need two ex­pen­sive sys­tems with many ca­bles run­ning around. Your wife will hate it; it will mess up the place.

“Au­dio is the emo­tive part that grabs your heart and touches your soul…”

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