A Before V

I press play, and I’m back on the frenzied streets of Marrakesh. Mopeds dart past in all directions, a souk vendor beckons from behind me in Arabic, and Gnawa music jingles off in the distance. Throw in the smell of some sizzling tagine, and one might almost believe he had been mysteriously transported within the walls of the old-world city.  

I recently traveled around Morocco with my wife on our honeymoon, a fascinating adventure in a delightfully foreign land. With me, I brought a Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset—which features microphones on each earpiece for 3D audio recording—to help capture the experience. In various locations around Marrakesh, I shot scenes in 4K60 video with binaural sound, and while the footage looks fantastic, the audio is the real souvenir. 

There’s a couple reasons for this. For one, video has a long way to go to reach audio’s power of verisimilitude. To achieve full visual immersion, we’ll need virtual reality headsets capable of playing back video at 8K per eye to resolve the intrusive presence of pixel grids. Meanwhile, today’s audio equipment can readily replicate the richness of musical instruments and the subtleties of speech, and as 3D recording and playback techniques advance, recreate full environments. But even when video finally catches up to the immersive fidelity of audio, it still won’t compete with the intimate connection humans have with sound.

We have physiological and emotional ties to the things we hear, bonds that are perhaps stronger than those of any other sense. Combinations of sounds can put us physically on edge, at ease, or make us want to dance; certain songs immediately call up moments in life for which they served as a soundtrack. Many years from now, when I stumble upon my Morocco videos and listen, I’ll be immersed not only in the action of the Marrakesh Medina, but also in the memory of one of the happiest periods of my life.

Ok, so I’m a big fan of audio—and writing for an AV audience, I’m surely preaching to the choir. But, since we’re at our best when we combine our passions with practice and study, we’ve dedicated our November issue of AV Technology to audio, to help bring you up to speed on the latest in pro audio for meetings, conferencing, concerts, and more. In the Tech Manager’s Guide to Audio fo All-Hands Meetings, we provide expert insight and case studies that illustrate the challenges of pulling off these crucial gatherings without a hitch; in our Drill Down and AV in Action pieces, we examine how networked audio protocols are making life easier for a range of applications; and in our features, we take a look at how spatial audio is taking places like museums and performance venues to a new level.

Because, although “audio” is just half of our industry’s name, it’s really so much more. It’s the difference between a productive meeting and a frustrating failure, between a successful videoconference and a useless silent film—and between a moment’s simple recollection and its visceral reliving. 

Read my review of the Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset on TWICE.com.