Recreating Concert Hall Acoustics

An interview with the “Golden Ears” of Sony’s Automotive Audio about the creation of Live Acoustics 

Goro Shiraishi listens intently in a dedicated sound reference room in Tokyo, Japan.

Goro Shiraishi

Project Lead - Live Acoustics

Acoustic Architect & Senior Manager - Acoustic Engineering Sec. 

Creating great sound is a difficult task. Creating great sound in a vehicle is even harder. When tuning a vehicle you have to consider that you are in a small, confined space; different noises are coming from every direction; and the shape of the windshield, seat materials, and where a car manufacturer wants to put the speakers all affect the sound that can be produced. With all of this in mind, how do you now make the driver feel like they are sitting in a concert hall listening to the greats perform instead of in traffic on his/her way to work? We spoke with an Acoustic Engineer or as he is better known, the “Golden Ears” of Sony’s car audio, Mr. Goro Shiraishi, to learn how he and his team took on this great task.

Inside the sound reference room is home to top quality speakers, amplifiers, and music so Shiraishi can compare sound quality between the room and the vehicle. 

Q: Everyone wants to know, why do they call you “Golden Ears”?

Shiraishi: I’m not really sure who started that, but I do have a strong background in music. I have been playing the violin since I was 4 years old, have almost dedicated my life to music and sound, and in 2000 I became a concert master of the Sony Philharmonic Orchestra. I can really analyze music from an artist’s level because I am one. Maybe that is why people have called me “Golden Ears” 

Q: What is Live Acoustics?

Shiraishi: Live Acoustics is an audio algorithm based on measurement data that brings out the ambiance and feeling of live music. With this technology we are able to transport your listening experience to among the world’s greatest concert halls while still giving you a natural, comfortable, and accurate sound.

Specialty microphones are placed throughout the vehicle in the various listening positions to record the sound properties of the cabin.

Q:  What was your main objective in creating the Live Acoustics algorithm?

Shiraishi: I have been involved with music almost my entire life. It is a part of me. My main objective in creating this technology was to bring the experience of how people enjoy live music into the car, and to relay the meaning of the music to the listener. I wanted them to feel what I feel when I am listening. I wanted to be able to bring out the emotion of a song. It is an experience that people can only get at a live concert when you are watching artists perform.The emotion of a song is very important when you listen. It is more than the beat or a catchy tune, when you can bring out the emotion so the listener “feels” it, it connects them to the music on a completely different level. With the Live Acoustics algorithm, our objective is to bring the listener outside of their car, transplant them to a live concert, and help them really feel the music.

Q: Can you tell us how you went about creating Live Acoustics?

Shiraishi: When we first started talking about creating Live Acoustics we had many different ideas on where to go to gather measurements. We decided that we should go to multiple concert halls to gather so we could get a variety of sounds and nuances. A concert hall’s sound is very special, these buildings were made for listening. We studied three world famous concert halls in Vienna, Amsterdam, and Berlin by using special, multi-directional speakers and setting up unique 8-point microphones in all of the best seats in the house to record the sound measurements and reverberations. Then we took that information and analyzed it to pick out the important data to then create the algorithm. 

Shiraishi uses Sony audio processing software to calibrate the audio system, including Clear Phase and Live Acoustics, to create premium sound performance.

Q: This algorithm was brought into home audio before bringing it into the car. Can you explain how adding this technology into the car is different?

Shiraishi: When we introduced Live Acoustics to our car amplifier, we had to modify the algorithm so it fits into the car audio format bringing the total experience to driver and passenger in the car.  When you are tuning a sound in the car you have to consider a lot of things that you wouldn’t for your home. For example, in the car, you are in a much, much smaller space than a concert hall or your home. This means that speakers are very close and we have to alter the style of the sound so the speaker locations don’t make you feel so confined in your vehicle. You also have a lot of different materials in the car that you are working with and how the sound reflects off of the glass, versus plastic, versus leather has to be brought into consideration. There are many differences between the car and home so you have to make sure you are taking precise measurements inside the vehicle to ensure that everything can still sound very natural. I believe we accomplished this with Live Acoustics. 

Learn more about Live Acoustics and Sony’s Automotive OEM Audio by clicking the buttons below.

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