Clubhouse launches surround-sound feature to help chats feel life-like

The Clubhouse app can be seen in this illustration from July 13, 2021 on a smartphone. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration

Aug 29 (Reuters) – Clubhouse, an audio-only chat app, announced on Sunday that it would launch a spatial audio feature to make voices sound like they were coming from different directions, making conversations and virtual appearances more lifelike works.

The app, backed by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, fueled the social audio trend last year and became known for thousands of chat rooms, including CEOs and celebrities. However, it is facing increasing competition from larger technology giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify, all of which have introduced their own social audio chat capabilities.

The new surround-sound-like feature will help Clubhouse lean on the performance and entertainment spaces that have proliferated in the app.

Depending on the number of speakers in a clubhouse room and a variety of other factors, the app’s technology will assign users spatial positioning so that the listener can hear the voices around them in their headphones, said Justin Uberti, Head of Streaming Technology at Clubhouse .

In comedy rooms, for example, Clubhouse technology detects the main speaker and places that person’s voice “in front” while other people’s laughter could sound like coming from the left and right sides of a listener, he said.

“I could hear people laughing and the space exploding around me,” said Uberti. “You can imagine that there is … a lot of potential in music.”

Spatial technology also makes it easier to tell when different users are talking, while in the past people may have had to pay attention to the cadence and vocal timbre of the speakers, he added.

Clubhouse, which launched as an invite-only app and recently opened to all users, said more than 700,000 rooms are now being created daily, up from 300,000 in May.

Spatial Audio will roll out to iOS users first and then to Android users shortly afterwards, Clubhouse said.

Reporting by Sheila Dang Editing by Paul Simao

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