Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Future of Sound

At the Audio Engineering Society Convention last weekend, the keynote speaker discussed how he envisions recording technology evolving between now and the year 2050.  John La Grou, the founder and CEO of Millennia Music and Media Systems, predicts that recording and playback technology will become highly advanced and transformative.  This makes sense based on the rapid development in these fields over the last few decades.  If La Grou’s predictions are accurate, it could be both good and bad news for classical musicians. 

La Grou believes that microphones will not be necessary by the year 2050, as music will be virtual and electronic.    Speakers will become less important due to the development of headphones to provide “spherical audio”.  The listeners will be encompassed by the sound and their “spatial resolution within the headphone bubble will match reality”.  La Grou believes that these things will provide incredible creative opportunities.  Following his presentation, he said, “ I see no technical reason why head-worn audio can’t eventually (2040+) convincingly emulate any acoustic space and any room monitor technique with lifelike precision”. 

This type of technology sounds like it would be great in certain scenarios.  For example, when I am on the bus or the train, I would love to have headphones that would allow me to become fully immersed in the music I am listening to.  However, can any type of technology really take the place of the value of a live performance?  I don’t think that any headphones could truly emulate the personal experience of being in a concert hall, or any other venue, with the musicians and other audience members living, breathing, and becoming part of the music around you.  I hope that the majority of the public will feel the same way, assuming that this type of life-like technology is indeed invented in the next few decades.  Improvements in recording technology could help promote classical music.  I hope that it encourages people to attend concerts and support live music instead of discouraging possible supporters by giving them a life-like experience anywhere that is convenient.   

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