Page 24

Executive Issue 24


We have to find more partners to bring 3D audio into the market

Tom Ammermann

Founder & General Manager, New Audio Technology

By Steve Fairclough So far 2018 has been a great year for Tom Ammermann with his 3D audio work on legendary German electronic band Kraftwerk’s album 3-D The Catalogue helping it to get two Grammy nominations, with one win in the ‘Best Dance/Electronic Album’ category. Ammermann founded his company, New Audio Technology, in 2012 and has since established it as a leader in providing the tools and technology for the fields of 3D audio, Headphone Surround 3D, spatial and immersive audio. His presentation at ISE 2018 delivered an overview of 3D audio and VR audio, what kind of applications it has in the recording industry, how to create it, the formats and their pros and cons. Ammermann believes that 3D audio will be a key area for future ISE attendees. “I’m 100 per cent sure that we will see it more and more in ISE exhibitions and

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conferences over the next years. You can see Dolby is there [in the market], Fraunhofer is there, everybody is showing 3D audio technology. Also, everybody is using headphones in the industry and there are a lot of advantages to using spatial binaural audio for headphones.”

HEAD SPACE New Audio Technology has developed Headphone Surround 3D. “If we talk about VR audio we always talk about spatial audio, so binaural audio, for headphones and this is what’s behind Headphone Surround 3D,” Ammermann explains. “What is special in our technology is you have a lot of parameters that you can use. We have generic HRTFs (headrelated transfer functions), which means that this virtualisation works for many people right away – you just use some parameters to tune it and, differently to other competitors, we have had response from paying

customers for a long time. This makes us very sure that we are on the right path.” He sees other applications for 3D and VR audio for binaural headphone virtualisation, such as in-flight audio, and also for intercoms, so that in a conference situation you will know exactly who is speaking. “The speech intelligibility becomes much better with spatial audio,” he adds.

MIXING IT UP The production work that Ammermann did with Kraftwerk not only gained him a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Surround Sound Album’ but also helped to validate his work in 3D audio. He explains, “The main challenge is to convince people [about it]. Kraftwerk is a standard, a major act, that has always pioneered new technology, so [people] have to listen – they can’t say nobody is interested in it. There are artists, a lot of record companies and end users

who buy these products, so I can show that there is an application, how we did it, which tools you need – and that it isn’t difficult to create 3D audio. This should help to convince the AV industry to spend a little bit more energy in the 3D audio domain.” He is honest about what’s required to push 3D audio forward. “We have to find more large industry partners to bring 3D audio into the market. We are catering for a small, expert and early adopter market, but to bring it broadly to the whole market you need large, industry-leading partners like Nokia, Fraunhofer, Dolby and Sennheiser as partners and licensees. It’s not easy; currently everybody wants to do it by themselves, so I will wait until they maybe see the advantages of our approach and technology. We’ll use this time to evaluate our marked response of the last year to develop things that we believe everybody wants to have in the near future.”

21/02/2018 12:17

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