Gaudi Audio’s sound system is virtually perfect

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Gaudi Audio’s sound system is virtually perfect


The CEO of Gaudi Audio Lab, Oh Hyun-oh, stands in front of an audio recorder for virtual reality content on April 13. [OH SANG-MIN]

As the virtual reality (VR) market heats up, people are starting to seek out more immersive content. Until recently, the spotlight in the VR market centered on devices that maximize visual effects and 360-degree settings, but global information technology giants are now developing technologies that can add sonic, tactile and even aromatic experiences to the VR space.

One local start-up attracting the VR industry’s attention with its enhanced audio technology is Gaudi Audio Lab, a group that is outfitted with audio mechanics who are second-to-none.

“There hasn’t been a notable revolution in audio technology for decades,” Oh Hyun-oh, the 43-year-old CEO of the start-up, said during an April 13 interview at his office in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul. “And we will capture the global market with an immersive interactive audio solution catered to virtual reality content.”

The start-up has developed audio technology that enables people to enjoy three-dimensional stereophonic sound for VR content using regular earphones. The new technology localizes sound by making real-time calculations of distance between VR device users and the sources of sound in a VR situation.

“With current VR audio technology,” Oh explained, “when an empty can rolls on the ground, the sound of the can kind of echoes around the ear in stereo, but our technology concentrates the sound in exactly the spot where the can has fallen, adjusting to the user’s movement.”

Gaudi’s software can be applied to hardware such as VR devices, smartphones or 360-degree video streaming platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Its technology, MPEG-H 3D Audio, has been selected as the next-generation international audio standard, beating world players such as the United States’ Qualcomm, Germany’s Fraunhofer and China’s Huawei at the International Standards Meeting in Barcelona, Spain. Starting next year, local terrestrial broadcasting companies will be transmitting sound via this standard.

“We added the historic architect Gaudi’s name to our company name to commemorate the splendid achievement we obtained in his city,” Oh said.

Gaudi Audio Lab is currently working on commercializing its VR audio software for gaming, film and VR platforms. Oh is confident that “in the VR audio category, we are a leap ahead compared to existing global audio companies.”

Oh was a part of LG Electronics’ television audio engineer team until he left the company in 2010. While there, he attained over 1,000 audio technology patents, but audio was not a top priority for the home appliances and television-centered company. He says no one fully recognized his breakthroughs, even after he developed a technology superior to that used by longtime market leader Dolby Laboratories.

Ever since his middle school years, he dreamed of becoming an audio engineer, and would often disassemble record players. He decided to leave the safe haven of a conglomerate and founded Gaudi Audio Lab in 2014. As the local audio market was in a slump for years, the number of acoustics major students declined, even those from Seoul National University and Yonsei University, the traditional alma maters of most of the industry’s master’s and Ph.D. graduates.

“We are opening an overseas corporation in Los Angeles this year,” Oh said, “and we plan to recruit foreign talent that will help our company become a global VR audio giant.”


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