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What audio engineers think about at cocktails parties


These days we’re all longing to be back amongst friends at gatherings like cocktail parties. Aside from the social interaction, they’re oftentimes the source of great inspiration. In the case of audio zooming, for instance, the inspiration is literally named after cocktail parties. The Cocktail Party Effect was mentioned in a recent DXOMARK post on audio zooming which referenced OZO Audio.

So, what is the Cocktail Party Effect? Simply put, it’s the phenomenon of the brain to focus attention on specific audio inputs and simultaneously filter out other audible stimuli to prioritize brain activity on important inputs. Effectively, the brain filters and tunes into a single voice like one might experience in a party setting.

Creating software that captures high-quality spatial audio is one thing. Tuning that software to mimic the Cocktail Party Effect is quite another. Audio Zoom and Audio Focus are both OZO Audio features that do this with precision.

The challenge with capturing high-quality spatial audio is that in many real-world audio recording situations, the sonic landscape often includes unwanted sounds that disturb the recording and distract the listener’s attention. In these instances, users can benefit from functionality our brain already does naturally – letting them control what sound sources are relevant and should be emphasized compared to other sound sources.

OZO Audio technology enables spatial selectivity for audio capture and enables both focusing towards the direction of contextually relevant sound sources and zooming in on them. Essentially, they mimic the highly complex process of focusing auditory attention like the Cocktail Party Effect.

While audio zooming and focusing are not unique to OZO, what sets Nokia technology apart is our deep expertise in natural spatial audio that creates the basis of a robust technical understanding in both capturing and processing spatial audio information. This is the bedrock upon which adjacent functionality such as the ability to filter out certain sounds, is built on. For us, directing our innovation to mimic the ways people naturally experience the world is what will create amazing opportunities for advancements in device audio. 

Read the DXOMARK post here.

Read more about OZO Audio here.

All OZO blog posts

Kai Havukainen

About Kai Havukainen

Kai ‘Kaizu’ Havukainen is Head of Product in Nokia Technologies, overseeing the product roadmap and marketing activities of the company’s technology licensing business. Kai holds master’s degree in signal processing and 20 years of experience in Nokia. He has been working in various roles in Finland and the US, including audio engineering, business development, sales, and quality management. In his free time Kaizu enjoys building all sort of things out of wood and electronics.

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