How we listen to things, how we take in sounds from different sources is about to change and you’d better believe that surround sound has a whole new meaning.
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If you know anything about VR (Virtual Reality), you’ll know that to a certain degree it enters the 4th dimension, putting you right at the heart of the action, rather than watching from the outside of the screen. This adds a whole new sense of immersion that previously we could only dream about. Your senses are awakened, because now this isn’t just happening to a character on-screen, it’s happening to you, you are after all the main character of this world, which is why you can freely look around. In much the same way, that’s why sound is so imperative, you’ll need to know exactly where a sound came from and how far away it sounded so that it does not break the sense of immersion.
Can the same be done with headphones?
The joy of sound is that it surrounds you, every little thing has a unique sound and its own unique beauty, as well as quality, but capturing that sound and even more so, trying to replay it in a way that makes a person not present at the time of the recording close their eyes and feel as though they were there, standing in the midst of the scene, is always difficult, that’s because simulating the source of sound, whether that’s in front of you, behind you and to your sides has always been the challenge.
Imagine being able to put on headphones and hear the recording of a 360 degree, up and down scenario recorded for you, from standing in the centre of Times Square, New York, listening to by-passers as though they really just passed you by, taxis, shop music and more or in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest listening to birds, the rustling of leaves in the gentle breeze and more. Binaural audio adds 3D depth to your sound, taking into account distance, volume, position relative to where you are standing (or at least where the recording took place)
Hooke Audio wants to change that, creating a piece of technology that will allow you to not only record the sound around you, but replay and surround yourself in it in 3D. What the Hooke Verse does is instead of simply recording a sound and replying it as is, so you cannot determine from where the sound came if you were simply listening to the recording afterwards, Hooke Verse records everything from everywhere, to the point it’s almost scary, because listening to it afterwards will make you forget you are even wearing the headphones, you will be instantly transported to the scene recorded and feeling as though the sounds are genuinely taking place right around you.
Personal experiences with the Hooke Verse
We wanted to test Hooke Verse ourselves. Hooke’s Founder, Anthony Mattana came to see us in central London in order to tell us more about what the Verse was capable of and show us a live demonstration of work in progress. We were warned it was only a prototype we were about to test, so this is how the story unfolded.
After placing the wireless earphones upon my head and into each ear, they sat quite comfortable enabling me to maneuver around freely. The short cord that connects the two ear components relaxed on the surface of the back of my neck. Next, was the testing of sound. Anthony connected the headphones by simply hitting the ‘On’ button located on the side of the headphone. The bluetooth signal was now connected to his phone device and he then launched the Hooke Verse App. This is where the interesting part started.
Anthony hit record from the App and adjusted the in-App limiter in order to limit the level of sound from exceeding a specified value. This meant that if you were at a concert and you were recording on your Verse, on playback you wouldn’t hear any clipping of the sound which we experience on other devices. Anthony sat to the left of me explaining what he was doing on his device before proceeding to doing a directional test of 360 audio. He flicked his fingers to the left, back, right and front of my head in order to showcase the direction of sound relative to the Verse device.
It was time to test the Hooke Verse. Anthony pressed play on the video recording he had just done with me, I instantly turned towards him to see if he was talking to me. What I hadn’t grasped just yet, is that it was the audio that was recorded simply playing back to me through my ears, but it was ever so clear and accurate that I was baffled into thinking it was sound-waves coming from his mouth. This was my personal experience with Hooke Verse and it was an incredible experience to see the capabilities of audio technology used like this.
Hooke Audio want’s sound to transcend the 2D plane of existence, becoming more than “just a sound”. With 3D atmosphere, like VR, you could capture the beauty of sound coming from any and all angles.
The Hooke Verse is set to ship this winter.