Founder, Chairman and CEO, Trinnov Audio.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Founder, Chairman and CEO, Trinnov Audio.

My Reading Room

Photography Angela Guo

"It’s like the walls disappear, the speakers disappear; and all you hear is sound.”

The living spaces in Singapore are smaller than what you’re used to. Is that a problem as far as getting good audio?

It’s challenging, but possible. The smaller the space, the more complex the acoustics become, so we try to control the acoustics of a space with a microphone and processing.

We’ve also looked into high spatial resolution. By this I mean the ability to localize the sound, so there’s a high degree of precision. For that we need more than stereo and even more than 5.1. The challenge becomes how to install that many speakers in the room, especially if it’s a small one.

Right. That makes me wonder how many speakers you need to actually get proper surround sound.

The more speakers you add, the greater the resolution you’ll get, and the wider the listening area will be. If you have more speakers, you can have listeners closer to the walls.

I would say start from 7.1, where you have three screen speakers. For high-performance home movie audio, all the speakers should be very close to the screen. Either behind the screen or on the side, and the surround speakers should be on the side or behind you. But we also need to reproduce sound from the top; so six up-firing speakers would give you better coverage.

That’s a lot of speakers.

Yes, in total I’d say you need sixteen channels for highperformance home performance. Because if not, the object is not flfying over you; it’s flying in front, then it disappears and reappears in the back. It becomes more realistic with a 3D speaker layout, because we can reproduce the true nature of sound.

When I’m talking to you in this interview, I’m sitting in front of you, so you hear sound from this direction, and that’s it. But in reality, I’m projecting sound everywhere in the room. Sound goes to the ceiling; to the floor … some sound comes back to you later because of refiections.

Our brains have learnt to analyze sound since birth, so you don’t need to see me to know that I’m about one meter away from you. You also have a sense of how big the room is. It’s all this subtle information that makes it realistic.

We can’t reproduce all directions with surround sound, so we still perceive that it’s reproduction. But with 3D speaker layouts, we can reproduce sound from all directions and create very realistic sound effects.

It’s like the walls disappear, the speakers disappear; and all you hear is sound.

Is it possible to make a single sound bar produce surround sound like multiple speakers?

If you want localization of the sound independent of the speaker positions, then no. The speaker’s position is important. Even with sound remapping technology, the speakers have to surround you. You might have many speakers, but if you pack them all into one corner of the room, you won’t be able to produce sound from the other directions.

Sound is wave propagation, so if you have all your speakers in one corner, all the sound waves they produce goes from that corner to you. But if you want to give the impression that the sound is coming from the other direction, you need some wave propagation that comes from behind.

Bouncing sounds off walls or ceilings doesn’t work as well either?

It can work to some degree, but then it depends on the material. If you have a hard surface, you might be able to get a reasonable result.

The problem is that your up-firing speakers need to send audio to the ceiling and only the ceiling, not to you. And this is a challenge, because any leakage will come to you first. The brain is very good at analyzing what comes first. If it is the sound from the speaker, your brain won’t believe that it comes from the ceiling.