Let’s democratize 3D audio, shall we? IRCAM Amplify offers a vision for wider adoption in the music industry

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IRCAM Amplify says it will accelerate the transition from music to an immersive 3D audio experience.

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(Image credit: Rawpixel.com on Freepik)

As the trend towards more realistic entertainment environments continues, the music industry may be diving headfirst into 3D audio. IRCAM Amplify is one of the players trying to break down the barriers to adoption.

The immersive and dimensional aspect of spatial audio – and its appeal to larger music audiences – isn’t exactly a new concept for industry megaplayers like Apple Music, Sony or Microsoft. But is there a turning point towards the ubiquity of 3D audio?

according to a learn As published in Fortune Business Insights, the global 3D audio market was worth $3.8 billion in 2019. The study’s forecast that it could grow to a whopping $12.97 billion by the end of 2026 now seems extremely compelling. In 2021, major streaming giants Apple Music and Amazon Music entered the 3D audio space.

In January, Eddie Cue, Apple’s vice president of services, said reported Apple Music listeners more than tripled, the platform introduced spatial audio, and monthly plays increased by over 1,000%. Apple Music has also partnered with Mercedes-Benz to bring the treasure trove of spatial sound to drivers around the world. Now celebrate Due to its success, the streaming giant calls Spatial Audio “the future of the music industry”.

But for most players in the music industry, transforming stereo recordings and synthetic sound (both new and legacy releases) into a multi-dimensional 3D listening experience has been a challenge. Labels, producers and distributors are currently facing significant obstacles when it comes to 3D audio conversion.

There are differing views on how much work the transition to spatial audio requires. But for many, the conversion of the tracks is incredibly expensive, takes too much time and is technically very demanding. Of course, large-scale implementation isn’t for everyone.

There are already a number of players looking to solve these problems for content owners and creators. A company, IRCAM Strengthenenables broader access to complex 3D audio technology. By lowering barriers to entry, the company says it will accelerate the transition from music to an immersive 3D audio experience.

IRCAM Amplify, a subsidiary of France’s leading audio research institute IRCAM, says it is “at the forefront of audio innovation” and “is committed to the democratization of 3D audio technology”. The company recently partnered with DMN to further expand its industry-changing technology.

Frédéric Amadu, CTO of IRCAM Amplify, told DMN that artists and distributors can now effortlessly convert songs to 3D audio. “The transition requires minimal technical knowledge and a manageable budget,” he added.

According to Amadu, IRCAM Amplify’s mission is to bring their 3D audio conversion engines to the wide range of industry players – including mega labels, indie artists, distributors and “even bedroom producers”.

Discussing the existing limitations associated with the large-scale audio space, Amadu said the current path to 3D conversion requires specialized studios with specific technical equipment. “While these studios are good at processing individual tracks, there are challenges with mass spatialization.”

Amadu explains that this “one title at a time” conversion process is highly impractical for catalog owners as it requires a significant investment of time and money. “This is where IRCAM Amplify comes in. We offer a scalable solution for mass spatialization of catalog titles, quickly and cost-effectively.”

With the ability to convert large numbers of catalog titles to spatial audio at a reasonable cost, the company is encouraging widespread adoption of the technology.

The timing could be perfect. Catalog titles that were well-received for their time — and worth millions upon millions of dollars — are now on the verge of sounding “dated” quickly.

For a publisher that has multiple artist catalogs, converting hundreds of titles to 3D could be a tedious and tedious project. Nevertheless, this transition is becoming increasingly important. If publishers want to continue monetizing their catalogs, they need to find a way to transition their libraries to 3D audio—without incurring excessive expense.

According to IRCAM, this shift to spatial audio will not only “revolutionize the listening experience” but also “extend the reach of catalog titles” that are currently gathering dust without an audience: “As demand for 3D audio grows, so will the transition to spatial audio increase the IP value.”

Amadu says these old catalog recordings, originally produced with no regard for spatial formats, “could be reinvigorated and revitalized to breathe new life.”

“Many artists, companies and distributors are ready to move to 3D audio. However, they give up because the learning curve is too high and they find it too complex. With IRCAM Amplify, any distributor can create 3D audio versions of their tracks in seconds.”

According to IRCAM Amplify, old recordings made without regard to spatial formats could be

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According to IRCAM Amplify, old recordings made without regard to spatial formats could be

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Old recordings made without regard to spatial formats could be “reinvigorated and revitalized” (Image credit: Mikes-Photography)

Amadu emphasizes that IRCAM Amplify aims to democratize 3D to ensure the transition is no longer prohibitive for anyone in the industry.

As Amadu discussed the audio spatial challenges artists, labels and publishers face, he questioned whether it’s even practical or sustainable for anyone to spend thousands of dollars on 3D conversion. “Even the wealthiest of labels might shy away from an issue like this. It’s just not a viable approach. That’s why we offer a cost-effective solution as an additional service, which is offered directly by retailers and labels. This makes large-scale spatialization easily accessible and financially viable.”

Amadu explains how IRCAM Amplify’s AI-powered engine is trained to understand and analyze the DNA of every song, old or new. “Running an automated algorithm that analyzes the track, understands what it consists of and what the mastering looks like – this knowledge and understanding paves the way for a spatial transformation that offers pure excellence.”

IRCAM Amplify launched the beta version of its AI-powered spatial audio engine in May.

Music distributor for indie artists Believe and its subsidiary Tunecore have already partnered with IRCAM Amplify. The Spatial Audio Beta offers an easy-to-use interface that refines the spatialization process.

The IRCAM Amplify beta also offers extensive support for multiple formats and easy online access via a simple API. Artists can customize their approach to spatiality by adding audio effects and incorporating special treatments into the new versions of their tracks. If required, the company’s conversion engine can also highlight specific instruments or facets of a song. This creates a highly immersive and enhanced 3D experience for the audience. The company believes this level of detail in customization validates the artists’ aesthetic preferences so that the end result matches their vision.

As 3D audio gains listeners and catalog conversions take place, it will be interesting to see where the format goes next. Amadu believes their AI engine will “empower players in the digital music industry.”

As streaming services quickly transition to immersive audio experiences, listeners may soon come to expect 3D audio to be a necessity.

And that is just the beginning. The possibility of broader industry applications includes the implementation of potentially realistic simulations of live concerts at a larger scale. As phone makers and other Fidelity products make hardware updates that support 3D sound, the future of this immersive experience seems limitless.

This focus on spatial audio formats also draws attention to another benefit: mental well-being. According to a Japanese learnThe high-resolution sound of 3D audio, together with inaudible high-frequency components, ensures relaxation and increases attention even without conscious perception. Does this mean that we will soon find spatialized podcasts, audio books and other similar formats?

From the start, it looks like 3D audio could quickly encompass any piece of audio. But one must not forget that every few years new “promising” high-resolution formats come onto the market – with the claim that they would change the music world.

Perhaps we will soon live in a world where every piece of recorded audio has a sonic immersion. Or something new and even better will emerge to take the place of 3D.

Right now, spatiality improves sound quality and we’re here for that. A 3D sensory space where sounds appear all around us brings us closer to audio reality.

Artists, distributors, labels, producers and digital music companies can simplify their entry into immersive 3D formats by participating IRCAM Amplify Beta Here.