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Apple looking to simplify home theater surround sound configuration

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Apple has shown interest in making it easier to properly configure surround sound to get the best possible audio out of a variety of home theater setups.

The details were revealed this week in a patent application discovered by AppleInsider entitled "Multi-Channel Sound Panner." The filing was made with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March of this year, and is a divisional application of a filing first made in 2007.

The proposed invention describes a software sound "panner" that can support an arbitrary number of input channels and changes to configurations. In this manner, Apple's system could support all kinds of surround sound configurations and provide users with the best possible sound presentation.

There are a great deal of variables when setting up a surround sound system, including the number of speakers, the placement of those speakers, where the user is located relative to the speakers, and the size and shape of the room where the home theater is set up.

Sound systems are traditionally arranged with five speakers and a subwoofer, otherwise known as 5.1. But modern content and receivers can support more complex speaker arrangements that offer improved surround sound capabilities if users so choose.

A sound panner allows the user to manipulate source audio of content and improve the quality of its surround sound. But conventional sound panners can be complex and time consuming, presenting users with too many options and requiring them to set up one speaker at a time.

Patent 1


"Given the number of variables that affect the sound manipulation, and the interplay between the variables, it is difficult to visually convey information to the operator in a way that is most helpful to manipulate the sound to create the desired sound," the filing reads.

Apple's solution is a panner that would allow users to manipulate a source audio signal as it applies to all speakers in the surround sound setup at once.

This system would allow the user to "view how the manipulated source signal will be heard by a listener at a reference point in a sound space." In this manner, content could be designed to more quickly get the best possible performance out of any home theater setup.

The filing describes Apple's sound panner as a system that "seamlessly handles changes in the number of input channels." In this way, content could be easily encoded for five, seven or some other number of sound channels.

"Also, the panner supports changes to the number and positions of speakers in the output space," the patent application reads.

The description of Apple's sound panner software includes a "puck" in its interface that the user drags around to change the sound output. In this manner, a user is given visual feedback to better understand how the sound is being manipulated.

This "puck" would represent the point at which the sound of all the channels in a user's home theater setup would appear to originate from the perspective of a listener in the middle of the sound space.

"For example, if the five channels represented a gunshot, then the operator could make the gunshot appear to originate from a particular point by moving the puck... to that point," the filing states.

Patent 2


The proposed invention is credited to Aaron Eppolito, a software engineer at Apple. Its publication by the USPTO this week is particularly interesting as rumors of a full-fledged television set from Apple continue to persist.

While much has been made of the potential screen and software of an anticipated Apple television, nothing has been said about the sound capabilities of such a device. Most current HDTVs feature weak built-in speakers that do not offer high-quality sound, requiring users to purchase external speakers and systems that provide improved audio.
post #2 of 27
Display tech. Headphones. Surround sound.

Yawn. Leave it to accessory makers, Apple.
post #3 of 27

If Apple does come to market with an HDTV, I'd love to see them tackle the surround sound system at the same time; it'd be really interesting to see what they'd do to help simplify that process. Plus, it'd be nice for them to acknowledge that a good movie experience requires surround sound and dedicated speakers, instead of pretending like the laptop speakers stuck in the back of the television are anything but worthless.

post #4 of 27
I welcome this, because rarely does one have the right equipment or right number of speakers when setting up their system when using parts purchased over years. (Unless one purchased their system all at once, they likely won't have an optimal system) Also, it would be nice to have truly a one remote controls all without the annoying CEC (Consumer Electronics Control; Sony calls it Bravia, Samsung calls it Anynet+, SimpLink by LG, Viera Link by Panasonic, etc.) clutter not doing what you want it to do, or making remote changes you didn't expect or want! I don't like my Blu-ray Player changing my TV input source for me (usually to the one I'm not using).

I do wish that Apple doesn't have only a touch screen remote either, they need a tactile remote with actual buttons as well as other input sources such as gestures and voice (Siri).

I understand this is just talking about a Sound Panner, but I'm sure that's all included.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The description of Apple's sound panner software includes a "puck" in its interface that the user drags around to change the sound output.

Hmm, the puck comes back¿

@gatortpk: I agree with the annoyance of auto changing stuff like your Blue Ray player, and therefore ripped my DVD's and put them on my MacMini HDD which sits underneath the TV. Still have to switch, but at least I control the Mini from iOS. Which 'strangely enough' is easier than I thought it would be.

Good thing AI changed the URL:
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/07/05/apple_looking_to_simply_setup_of_home_theater_surround_sound.html
to:
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/151101/apple-looking-to-simplify-setup-of-home-theater-surround-sound
Edited by PhilBoogie - 7/5/12 at 6:35am
"Fibonacci: As easy as 1, 1, 2, 3..."
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"Fibonacci: As easy as 1, 1, 2, 3..."
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post #6 of 27

Nice, a REAL TV and seperate speakers, just for me. Remember the old Apple Pro Speakers, they were little orbs. they don't work now because they used special software drivers to work and it is only on older Macs.

 

 


Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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post #7 of 27

How is this any different from the automatic surround setup systems already supplied by a variety of companies built into their 5.1 amplifiers?

 

From: http://raindefence.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-set-up-and-calibrate-your-home-cinema-or-theater-surround-sound-system

 

"Most receivers nowadays have an auto setup system which will calibrate for you. Different manufacturers have different systems, Denon, Onkyo and Marantz receivers have Audyssey, Yamaha have YPAO (Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer) and Pioneer have MCACC (Multi Channel Acoustic Calibration). There is also another AV manufacturer called Anthem, who use something called ARC, which stands for Anthem Room Correction. All of these systems attempt to do the same thing though which is set up your system for you, although the consensus tends to be that ARC is the best, followed by Audyssey, with the others behind that. This is a matter of opinion and is the sort of thing AV geeks argue about, but that seems to be the way most people in the AV world think as far as I can tell."

 

Looks the same only substitute the word "mic" for "puck" and we're done.

post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by logandigges View Post

Nice, a REAL TV and seperate speakers, just for me. Remember the old Apple Pro Speakers, they were little orbs. they don't work now because they used special software drivers to work and it is only on older Macs.

No, they didn't require software drivers at all. They don't work now because they weren't powered speakers. You needed an amplifier. The G4 iMac and G4 PowerMacs had 20W stereo amplifiers built in to power the speakers. These speakers were made by Harman Kardon.

post #9 of 27

After reading the patent application, specifically the 2nd paragraph of the Background under the description section, I believe the author of the article has misinterpreted what the patent application is for. Specifically, this passage is particularly relevant:

 

"Thus, an audio engineer may wish to alter the mapping of the input channels to sound space speakers, which is where a sound panner is very helpful."

 

I believe this patent is for a more advanced surround panner for the mixing of audio in a surround sound space, not on the user end as the article would have you believe, but on the production end.

 

Going one step further, this may be a patent for the multi-channel surround editing feature that will be added to FCP-X in the an upcoming version.
 


Edited by Rob55 - 7/5/12 at 9:58am
post #10 of 27
Yeah my Marantz amp/decoder comes with a mic that you just position near where you will sit and it works out the best settings for the speakers. This is nothing new.
post #11 of 27

hmmmm......something almost identical to this appeared in the now defunct audio editing application Soundtrack Pro, that was part of the Final Cut Studio.

 

Screen Shot 2012-07-05 at 17.07.26.png

post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Display tech. Headphones. Surround sound.
Yawn. Leave it to accessory makers, Apple.

Apple ignores audiophiles, people whine.

Apple tries to make setting up an audiophile-quality system as easy as anything else it has done with tech, people whine.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


Apple ignores audiophiles, people whine.
Apple tries to make setting up an audiophile-quality system as easy as anything else it has done with tech, people whine.

 

Let me correct that for you. 

 

Apple ignores audiophiles, audiophiles whine.
Apple tries to make setting up an audiophile-quality system as easy as anything else it has done with tech, audiophiles whine.

 

 

Audiophiles are just whiners.  Like many self-described "experts" they are a picky lot with many delusions. They don't like people pulling back the curtain. 

post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Let me correct that for you. 

Yeah, that's probably right. 🎼
Quote:
Audiophiles are just whiners.  Like many self-described "experts" they are a picky lot with many delusions. They don't like people pulling back the curtain. 

Hey, I can hear with the best of them! lol.gif I just don't feel the need to spend $10,000 on a system for music. I'd be quite happy with something far cheaper as long as I feel the music's right coming out of it. And I don't know the terms or anything, but to me that just means no tinniness, no flatness, and no massive throbbing bass.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #15 of 27

This stuff would complement Loewe's equipment very nicely.

 

http://www.loewe.tv

 

I think Apple is partnering (with option to buy) with both Loewe and Tomtom.  It just makes sense.

 

Time will tell.

post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

 

I think Apple is partnering (with option to buy) with both Loewe and Tomtom.  It just makes sense.

 

 

I thought that rumor was debunked.

post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

Let me correct that for you. 

 

Apple ignores audiophiles, audiophiles whine.
Apple tries to make setting up an audiophile-quality system as easy as anything else it has done with tech, audiophiles whine.

 

 

Audiophiles are just whiners.  Like many self-described "experts" they are a picky lot with many delusions. They don't like people pulling back the curtain. 

 

Entirely true.

 

However, audiophiles are also a great source of used, bargain-priced quality audio equipment because while they whine, audiophiles are also buying the latest and greatest whatever-it-is and selling their perfectly good whatever-it-was because it no longer "sonically matches" their newest acquisitions.

 

Moreover, used audiophile equipment is usually in much better condition than regular used A/V gear from Joe Consumer since audiophiles baby their gear. "Used" audiophile gear often means "like new."

 

I encourage audiophiles to keep whining. If they got content and stopped whining, the spigot of audiophile equipment bargains would be shut off, and we can't let that happen, now could we?

 

lol.gif

post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


Apple ignores audiophiles, people whine.
Apple tries to make setting up an audiophile-quality system as easy as anything else it has done with tech, people whine.

I wasn't whining: I was signaling boredom with the topic. That's what 'yawn' means.

post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I wasn't whining: I was signaling boredom with the topic. That's what 'yawn' means.

Oh, I know. Just saying that when it comes to tech, Apple can't seem to please anyone.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

After reading the patent application, specifically the 2nd paragraph of the Background under the description section, I believe the author of the article has misinterpreted what the patent application is for. Specifically, this passage is particularly relevant:

 

"Thus, an audio engineer may wish to alter the mapping of the input channels to sound space speakers, which is where a sound panner is very helpful."

 

I believe this patent is for a more advanced surround panner for the mixing of audio in a surround sound space, not on the user end as the article would have you believe, but on the production end.

 

Going one step further, this may be a patent for the multi-channel surround editing feature that will be added to FCP-X in the an upcoming version.
 

This is what Dolby Atmos is about.   In addition to standard mixing to a channel (Left, Center, Right, Left Surround, Right Surround, Left Rear Surround, Right Rear Surround, Subwoofer), where a channel, especially the surround channels, may comprise multiple sets of speakers, Atmos permits mixing to an object model where the mixer places a sound object in space and the playback system determines the appropriate speaker to send the signal to, depending upon the configuration of the theatre.   When fully implemented, each speaker, not just each channel, is wired to a different amplifier channel so that sounds mixed in the object model can be sent by the system to a specific speaker.    For the object model, the system also includes overhead speakers, front side surrounds and surround subwoofers.   

 

The first film mixed in this format is "Brave", but it's only being shown in Atmos in about 15 U.S. theatres.  

 

Obviously, if this is at the mixing level, that's totally different than simplifying the setup of a home audio system.   I do think the user interfaces of most multichannel A/V receivers are incredibly bad, but they actually do a pretty good job of setting up the system.  They generally recognize what speakers are connect to which channels, test whether they're wired properly in-phase and then set levels and EQ.    If setup with HDMI control (although getting this configured properly can be confusing), a lot of the system switching is automatic.  For example, when  I turn on my TV, it will automatically turn on my reciever.   If the receiver is on and I sent iTunes to the receiver via AirPlay, the receiver will automatically switch inputs and play it.    If I turn on the Blu-ray player, the receiver will switch to the BD input which will in turn switch the TV to the Home Theatre input.     But everything else about the controls on the receiver is a mess.   I'm very surprised that the receivers, especially the high end ones, haven't moved to a bit-mapped display.     I can imagine the equivalent of the iPhone display as part of the receiver panel instead of the pre-defined panels they have today.

post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

Let me correct that for you. 

 

Apple ignores audiophiles, audiophiles whine.
Apple tries to make setting up an audiophile-quality system as easy as anything else it has done with tech, audiophiles whine.

 

 

Audiophiles are just whiners.  Like many self-described "experts" they are a picky lot with many delusions. They don't like people pulling back the curtain. 

I think it's just the opposite.    A company like Apple, in an attempt to simplify the experience, HIDES what's behind the curtain and doesn't let you control what's been hidden.   That might be fine for most users, but not for those who are concerned with ultimate picture and audio quality.    I do think the user interfaces of virtually all home theatre receivers (and some TVs) is a disaster and Apple can probably use its expertise to make this a far better experience.    But if, for example, the new Apple TV set is real and it doesn't contain ISF controls or if you couldn't connect it via HDMI to a receiver, no high-end user would ever consider buying it.     

post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I wasn't whining: I was signaling boredom with the topic. That's what 'yawn' means.

I know what you mean, I think, about about niche accessory minutia, but maybe it helps to see these things in terms of global media ecology. Apple is on its way to taking over the world's living rooms, desktops, laps, airplane seats, dashboards and pockets. Eyeglasses may be next. No territory is off limits in this scenario. They are doing it by aetheticizing the tools and the experience of using them.

The problem is that the left-brainers are going to be seething with hate and rage about their freedom to have bad experiences that they can tinker with to alleviate. How are we going to help them get over their ego crises? I'm looking for ideas on this.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

I think it's just the opposite.    A company like Apple, in an attempt to simplify the experience, HIDES what's behind the curtain and doesn't let you control what's been hidden.   That might be fine for most users, but not for those who are concerned with ultimate picture and audio quality.    I do think the user interfaces of virtually all home theatre receivers (and some TVs) is a disaster and Apple can probably use its expertise to make this a far better experience.    But if, for example, the new Apple TV set is real and it doesn't contain ISF controls or if you couldn't connect it via HDMI to a receiver, no high-end user would ever consider buying it.     

Do you have an example of how Apple hides controls that you miss having? I'm seriously asking.
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Do you have an example of how Apple hides controls that you miss having? I'm seriously asking.

Not him, but Apple has completely removed the Activity window from Safari 5.2 and 6.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #25 of 27
Guess Conrad got tired of being a Poe.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post


Do you have an example of how Apple hides controls that you miss having? I'm seriously asking.

 

 

One example is the lack of access to the file system in iOS.

post #27 of 27

Don't get the hostility towards audiophiles, nor the correlation or lack of it for that matter between audiofidelity and Apple.

Those things are on a flawed spectrum and don't really compute.

 

In the true sense of the word, what is wrong with being a friend of great sound ;)

 

I love great sound and will go to some lengths to achieve it and hate the consumer settings that mess with the intentions of those who create great sounding stuff as much as I hate the huge 300 button Japanese remotes. Yes I am a nerd and built my own iPhone remote with as few buttons as possible

(but enough;-)  to control some esoteric gear, like many people do these days to get the best of both worlds.

 

Anyway, Apple is not really a player in hi-end audio and  focus seems to be more on mass-market market capitalization and nothing wrong with that I guess..;)

I would speculate to say that this thing about surround is probably about "hiding features for consumers who don't  have the time or inclination" rather than anything "pro" or "audiophile". 

 

I get the convenience and respect it, but do my best try to stay away from anything that messes with the (sometimes and hopefully) great intentions of creative people.

Love much of my Apple stuff and hate some of it. This one is a possible contender for the hate part ;)

end of rant, fwiw

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