NEWS TECH TALK — 15 October 2017

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I’ve been offline over these past few weeks again. There have been pressures associated with my university position, some family medical challenges (not my own thankfully), management of the book, and the demands of the YARRA 3DX campaign. I have intentionally avoided pushing the YARRA 3DX product on my own blog following the launch but after last week’s Kickstarter LIVE event, I’m inspired to share an exciting update. First, the campaign has already been a tremendous success. We reached our goal in a matter of hours (admittedly the goal was set too low) but we’ve eclipsed $600K! Honestly, I’m convinced that it could easily be twice that number but it’s difficult to demonstrate the “sound” of a speaker or the 3D audio immersive capabilities of the YARRA 3DX sound projector during a pitch video. You really have to hear one to be convinced.

So the CSO, co-inventor, and my very close friend, Peter Otto and I hosted our second Kickstarter LIVE event last Thursday to answer questions, talk about the technology, and demo the YARRA’s ability to localize sound in the space. This time we were granted access to the Spatial Audio Lab at UCSD, the place where Peter and several doctoral students imagined, researched, and realized the patented beamforming technology that makes the product work. You can still view the live stream by clicking here.

One of the most impressive things about beamforming is the ability to create very narrow, discrete beams of sound from an array of identical speakers. At about 47:00 minutes into the video, Peter demonstrates this by having me place myself AND the computer at 0 degrees in front of the array and then at plus 55 degrees and minus 55 degrees. What I heard at each position were three different audio programs. In the middle was the sound of a cafe with people clinking glasses, talking, and interacting…when I moved to the first off axis position at plus 55 degrees, without changing anything, I heard music. The sound of the cafe was completely gone. And finally, at minus 55 degrees, I heard the sound of woman’s voice talking about Ambisonics and immersive audio. The YARRA 3DX sound bar was simultaneously playing three difference programs, all of which were highly localized. There was no bleed or crosstalk. The programs were discrete and separate. You can watch the video and hear the same thing if you listen carefully. The demo was done without any tricks!

Now imagine two of those beams delivering properly processed binaural audio to your left and right ears. That’s how we deliver immersive 5.1 or 7.1 surround soundtracks or immersive music mixes to you without headphones.

The Kickstarter LIVE events are intended to be broadcast only but in this instance three local audiophiles showed up at the door. They took my announcement that “EVERYONE’S WELCOME” to invite themselves to the Spat Lab last Thursday. There was a gentle knock on the door right at show time — so I invited them in and set up some chairs along the site. This was Pierre’s reaction. He wrote a comment on the KS page:

“OK. found the place. Met Mark and Peter and they were gracious enough to let my two friends and I sit in the studio while they did the live stream. I’m already a backer, and now the two friends I brought are backers as well. We were able, after the live stream, to sit down and listen to a near field example of beam forming. Absolute magic. The ability to create a wrap around sound stage is absolutely stunning. I signed up because I thought this would be a nice upgrade to my TV sound bar. I left thinking this may well replace my high end audio speakers as well.
Thank you to Mark whose blog I’ve followed for a couple years now, and whose AIX catalog of music is my go to source for HiRes music. Thanks also to Peter. His disarming and thoroughly charming demeanor belie his status as a leading international figure in the field of sound. I walked away comfortable in the knowledge that these guys are exactly who they say they are, and the product does everything they say it will do. I’m very excited to take delivery early next year.”

The success of their experience has prompted the team at YARRA 3DX to imagine multiple “Hearing is Believing” demonstrations in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City this week! We’re anxious to demo the YARRA 3DX technology for as many people as possible on Friday and/or Saturday. The events will happen in a convenient location (perhaps a shared work space, studio, the company office, or hotel room) according to a tight pre-arranged schedule. But first, the CEO wants to be assured that enough people will show up. So please let me know via email or in a comment that you would be interested in hearing this remarkable technology. If we can get 50-100 people to show up in each of the 4 cities, the demos will happen. The sooner you can let me know the better. If you want to send an email to me use mwaldrep@aixmediagroup.com or you can also sent to the company at info@comhear.com.

Thanks in advance for your time.

Finally, for all you who backed the Smyth A16 Room Realiser campaign last year, the YARRA 3DX is the perfect companion accessory. Peter and I have spoken to Mike Smyth and tried to get a unit to his office for his review but complications made that impossible (timings and logistics). However, if there are backers of the A16 campaign that would care to share some of the above information on their Kickstarter page…it would be shame for A16 backers not to know about YARRA 3DX and be able to secure one at a substantial discount. Thanks.

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About Author

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

(6) Readers Comments

  1. Not at all interested in the Yarra 3DX, but what I *am* interested in is the book and the audio files. Can you tell us what’s happening, please?

    • Alex, I posted an update the other day. The book should arrive from the printer soon…within a couple of weeks. They found a bunch of illustrations that were low-res that I had to fix. The eBook is having the illustration converted to color. Things are stressed around here as my brother-in-law is at death’s door after battling cancer for the past year. I appreciate the patience, the end is near.

  2. Hi Mark,
    I am a backer for the Smyth Realizer A-16. I noticed that you said the YARRA 3DX is the perfect companion accessory for the A-16. Would you elaborate on that point for us? How might one integrate their use?
    Jack

    • The Smyth Realiser does all of the appropriate decoding (Atmos, DTS X and Auro 3D) and the applies your PRIR measurement to it and outputs a binauralized 2-channel signal. The YARRA 3DX would replace the headphones and deliver the same experience for up to three listeners in near field or far field. I used my A8 at the LA Audio Show and people were knocked out. If you can post a notice on the Smyth KS comments section, I would appreciate it. There no way that someone with a Smyth unit wouldn’t want to augment their system with this sound projector.

  3. I have a semi technical multi-part question. In the explanation of how Yarra works, it was stated that a separate signal is directed to each of a listeners ears. Assuming that ears are about 5 inches apart, what is the optimum distance from the speaker to experience the best effect? And how will the experience degrade in other than the “sweet spot”? Further, if more than a single sweet spot is generated, could a listener ever be in a position such that they would receive the same left or right signal in each ear. (I realize this is a very good question)

    • Alan, good questions. The amount of crosstalk cancellation between two ears is about 30 dB, which is a lot. Discrete signals can be beamed to your left and right ears with sufficient separation to give you an amazing amount of binaural localization. The YARRA 3DX system lets you tune the location of your listening positions — it’s flexible and allows you to set up the best configuration for your listening room and number of users. The optimal distance is near field…about 3-5 feet but it work well at 10-15 feet.

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