Sim Wong Hoo, Creative
Sim Wong Hoo, CEO, Creative Technology
How does Creative stay creative to come up with something new?
The greatest difculty 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 mufed 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 difcult. 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 conict. 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…”