Arkamys: How Two Speakers Can Sound Like 16

Leading audio software supplier announces new developments in NXP partnership, discusses latest 3-D sound innovations at CES.

Erik Derr

January 13, 2018

3 Min Read
Arkamys specializes in 3D audio effects
Arkamys specializes in 3-D audio effects.

LAS VEGAS – Arkamys, a leader in audio system processing, turns up the volume at CES 2018, introducing its latest innovations in 3-D sound audio effects, voice processing and sound rendering.

Based in Paris, the company announces it has successfully ported its audio enhancement software programming for in-vehicle infotainment to NXP i.MX 6 applications processors and BAP3 digital automotive amplifiers, meaning Arkamys’ sound spatialization solutions now offer a full digital audio path from content down to vehicle built-in speakers.

“Arkamys was founded in 1998 with the objective of enhancing sound in movies – DVD remastering – and music albums,” says Philippe Tour, Arkamys CEO. At that time, the company was only providing postproduction audio services, mainly for film makers and music producers.

But, “in 2005 the company changed the strategy and shifted to audio embedded software for electronic devices,” Tour says. “The company focus became digital audio software” and large, international electronics producers.

With 3-D audio effects, sound is manipulated as it is produced by stereo speakers, surround-sound speakers, speaker-arrays or headphones. This frequently involves the virtual placement of sound sources anywhere in three-dimensional space, including behind, above or below the listener.

Tour says Arkamys delivers high-quality, in-vehicle sound rendering with a cost-effective software-based solution that is easy to integrate and scalable from entry-level to premium vehicles. Nineteen vehicle models already have already adopted Arkamys audio technology, he says.

The company’s Remote Sound Adjustment Toolset connection to NXP’s i.MX 6 applications processors allows in-car cabin real-time tuning operations, allowing manufacturers to define algorithm parameters specific to each vehicle’s acoustics. Company technicians also help customers create customized sound signatures that reflect a particular brand image. 

Arkamys’ collaboration with NXP, the world’s largest supplier of automotive semiconductors, has focused on improving in-vehicle audio quality and enhancing the user experience for head unit systems – from entry-level to luxury audio systems. That would include moving from four to eight channels and from two to 16 speakers. 

Arkamys research suggests the market for class-D head units in automotive is expected to grow 15% between 2018 and 2022. In today’s market, Class-D audio amplifiers are highly efficient and need very little thermal management. They are rapidly gaining in popularity.

The company’s CES showcase includes a Soundstage application in a Nissan Maxima, showing the ability to enhance the audio scale so the system sounds like 16 speakers instead of two. The demonstration is designed to deliver the same sound quality perceived by customers by simply adding audio spatialization software but no additional hardware.

The evolution of hybrid, electric and autonomous cars creates new experiences with immersive high-quality audio, notes Tour.

As for the future of in-vehicle audio, a primary challenge facing the auto industry “is to reduce weight and CO2 emissions,” he says. “By compensating hardware, number of speakers, with software, virtual speakers, Arkamys makes a strong contribution to audio quality” at affordable levels.

In its recently published white paper, “The Sound of the Future Vehicle,” Arkamys lists five automotive trends it is following: 

  • Customizing listening to meet the needs of a globalized automotive economy, where consumer quality and price demands are met and balanced with the cultural sensibilities of individual markets and the branding needs of auto manufactures.

  • Developing car-sharing “à la carte” settings for individual users.

  • Developing carpooling listening options, such as personalized listening bubbles.

  • Improving the safety of increasingly autonomous vehicles.

  • Developing better voice control of the listening systems, including the use of intelligent voice-enabled personal assistants, along with the improved use of mobile voice interfaces.

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