Audio branding

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Immersive Audio Podcast Episode 41 – Charles Spence (University of Oxford)


In this episode of the Immersive Audio Podcast, Oliver Kadel is joined by world-famous experimental psychologist and Professor at the University of Oxford – Charles Spence via Zoom from Oxford, UK.

Professor Charles Spence is a world-famous experimental psychologist with a specialization in neuroscience-inspired multisensory design. He has worked with many of the world’s largest companies across the globe since establishing the Crossmodal Research Laboratory (CRL) at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University in 1997. Prof. Spence has published over 900 academic articles and edited or authored, 15 books including, in 2014, the Prose prize-winning “The perfect meal”, and the international bestseller “Gastrophysics: The new science of eating” (2017; Penguin Viking) – winner of the 2019 Le Grand Prix de la Culture Gastronomique from Académie Internationale de la Gastronomie.

In this episode, Charles opens up about the world of multisensory design focusing on how sound affects our perception of taste and much more.

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Charles Spence Extended Bio

Much of Prof. Spence’s work focuses on the design of enhanced multisensory food and drink experiences, through collaborations with chefs, baristas, mixologists, chocolatiers, perfumers, and the food and beverage, and flavour and fragrance industries. Prof. Spence has worked extensively in the world of multisensory experiential wine and has also worked extensively on the question of how technology will transform our dining/drinking experiences in the future.

The research conducted at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory in Oxford has garnered widespread media attention across the globe, including in The Economist (February 4-10th, 2012, p. 74), and The Financial Times (3rd June, 2013, p. 14; and has been profiled in The New Yorker ( Over the last decade alone, Prof. Spence and the CRL have been featured in more than 3,000 newspaper articles, radio interviews, and television programs.

Prof. Spence frequently delivers consumer neuroscience lectures and courses to global companies, and business schools and schools of business administration, such as at Los Andes, Rosario University, and Javariana University in Colombia, the Saïd Business School, Oxford, and the Singapore Business School.

Prof. Spence has been awarded numerous national and international prizes for scientific excellence, including the 10th Experimental Psychology Society Prize, the British Psychology Society: Cognitive Section Award, the Paul Bertelson Award, recognizing him as the young European Cognitive Psychologist of the Year, and, the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany): ‘in recognition of past accomplishments in research and teaching’. In 2008, together with Dr. Max Zampini, he was awarded the 2008 IG Nobel prize for nutrition for his work on ‘the sonic crisp’

Show Notes

Charles Spence – Sensploration (FoST 2016) –

Accounting for Taste How packaging can make food more flavorful –

“The Perfect Meal” | Talks at Google –

Heston Blumenthal –

Fat Duck –


AEG Tasteology –

Neurocuisine, The Guardian –

Multisensory Experience and Coffee – Reco Symposium –

Unexpected connections – pleasure and pain: Charles Spence at TEDx UHasselt –

Entomophagy in our world, TEDx City University London –

Spence LSE Gastrophysics talk –

Spence Going Underground TV –

For multisensory packaging video, see –

Nuffield Triannual Food Conference –

Taste of General Mills Podcast, Making food your five senses will love –

Chef Jozef Youssef –

Charles Spence Book “Gastro Physics” –


We want to hear from you! We really value our community and would appreciate it if you would take our very quick survey and help us make the Immersive Audio Podcast even better: Thank you!


This episode was produced by Oliver Kadel and Michelle Chan with the help of Emma Rees and included music by Knobs Bergamo.

Immersive Audio Podcast Episode 39 – Helen Bellringer (Solarflare Studio)


In this episode of the Immersive Audio Podcast, Oliver Kadel is joined by the creative lead at Solarflare Studio Helen Bellringer via Zoom from London, UK.

Helen is a Creative Director, specialising in the dynamic intersection where technology, humans and music meet. Having cut her teeth at MelodyVR, where she developed their original storytelling formats she now leads creative for Solarflare Studio, a pioneering creative technology agency.

In this episode, Helen talks about the importance of sonic branding, the challenges of delivering immersive music to a mass audience touching on a number of unique projects and sharing her professional career journey as she traversed creative industries.

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Show Notes

Helen Bellringer Profile –

Grand Central Studios –

Massive Music –

Melody VR –

Solarflare Studio –

Wireless Festival –

Music Discovery Month –


We want to hear from you! We really value our community and would appreciate it if you would take our very quick survey and help us make the Immersive Audio Podcast even better: Thank you!


This episode was produced by Oliver Kadel and Michelle Chan with the help of Emma Rees and included music by Knobs Bergamo.

Immersive Audio Podcast Episode 32 – Sonic Presence



This episode of the Immersive Audio Podcast is brought to you in partnership with our friends at Sonic Presence, the New York City-based wearable microphone start-up with a mission to democratize how immersive audio is recorded on the go.

Whether you’re a regular concert-goer or a Youtube content creator, it’s time to take mobile audio recording to the next level. Immersive Audio Podcast sat down with the Sonic Presence team to share the brand story and the product they created as well as hear from early adopters sharing their experience of using this technology.

In this episode, we’ll explore what goes into building a 3D microphone, how to make recording immersive audio more accessible, and the future of audio content creation.

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Guest Speakers

Russ Hamm, Co-Founder & President at Sonic Presence

Russ Hamm co-founded Sonic Presence in 2015 with the vision to improve the mobile sound recording, especially when paired with 4K mobile video. Russ has more than 40 years of experience with media technology, recording top musical artists, producing sound for films and developing leading-edge technology solutions. Russ founded Qmedia, a milestone provider that leveraged broadband opportunities for media customers using the newly built national fibre infrastructure, establishing network technology that is currently used by ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN and FOX. Prior to that, he collaborated with Bell Labs on large-scale digital systems for music and film and was president of Gotham Audio Corporation and G Prime Limited, a leading distributor of professional audio products. Hamm has led media industry engineering and technical organizations and twice received the Audio Engineering Society Board of Governors award for outstanding service. He is a member of the Recording Academy, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Chris Van Deusen, Co-Founder & Creative Director at Sonic Presence

Chris Van Deusen co-founded Sonic Presence in 2015 bringing 10+ years of graphics and web design experience to the startup. As Creative Director, he manages all company branding, develops print and digital media, ad copy and marketing assets. Van Deusen also contributes to product design and business development. Before Sonic Presence, Van Deusen was the Creative Director for Rainbow Broadband, where he oversaw all of the company’s marketing, PR, social media and website development. Van Deusen holds a degree for Communication Arts & Digital Media from Marymount Manhattan College. On the weekends Van Deusen plays the guitar and performs in the NYC-based rock band Animal Reporters.

Mike Dvorscak, Principal Sound Engineer at Sonic Presence

Mike Dvorscak joined Sonic Presence in late 2018 after a chance encounter at AES NY. As Principal Sound Engineer, Dvorscak plays a critical role in product development, acoustics research and prototype assembly. He also creates and edits video and sound compositions for the company’s online presence. Dvorscak has a degree in Audio Production and Engineering from SUNY Purchase and has performed on and/or produced a number of Indie pop records. In 2019, he founded Beachball Records – an indie record label based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Alex Hernandez, Marketing Consultant at Sonic Presence

Alex is an entrepreneur and designer based in Los Angeles with a background in AR/VR. He has focused on immersive technologies since 2015 and is currently working with Sonic Presence as a consultant for all things media-related.


David Solomon, Chief at Hi-Res Music Evangelist

David Solomon has been in the high-end audio field for three decades spanning almost every aspect. He’s a part-time musician and audio engineer and understands sound on many levels. Currently, David is launching his second Hi-Res streaming service: Qobuz. In 2014, he did the same for Tidal. David’s passion for music is deep and well known throughout the audio industry. David currently holds a board position on CTA’s audio board and consults with several well known audio companies.


David Weiss, Founder & Editor at SonicScoop 

David Weiss is Founder and Editor at SonicScoop, a leading online media company reporting on the music, sound and recording industry worldwide. An internationally published journalist, David Weiss has been covering audio production for Audio Media and Mix magazine since 1999. His work has appeared regularly in publications such as Drum!, Time Out New York, Remix and many more online/print outlets on music and technology. He is also co-author of the book Music Supervision: The Complete Guide to Selecting and Licensing Music & Sound Design for Media, published by Music Sales (2nd Edition, 2017). Visit the companion site at He is also the co-founder of, a song discovery service for music supervisors.


Jim Anderson, Recording Engineer & Producer at Anderson Audio New York

Jim Anderson is an internationally recognized recording engineer and producer of acoustic music for the recording, radio, television, and film industries. His music recordings have received eleven Grammy and Latin Grammy awards and 27 Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations; radio productions have received two George Foster Peabody Awards and television productions have received two Emmy nominations. In 2013 and 2018, Jim won the Grammy for Best Surround Album (Patricia Barber’s “Modern Cool” – 2013 – and Jane Ira Bloom’s “Early Americans” – 2018) and was nominated for Best Surround Album in 2014 with Jane Ira Bloom’s “Sixteen Sunsets.” A graduate of the Duquesne University School of Music in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jim was awarded the music school’s first Alumni Achievement Award in May 2018. He is a professor with the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and was also the President of the Audio Engineering Society (AES).


Ulrike Schwarz, Sound Engineer & Producer at Anderson Audio New York

Ulrike Schwarz is a sound engineer and producer of acoustic music in the radio, television and recording industries. Her recordings have received multiple international nominations and awards: two Echo Klassik Awards, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenindustrie, Ars Acoustica, Diapason d’Or, a Grammy Nomination and many others. In 2015, the BRKlassik production of Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis” featuring the choir and symphony orchestra of Bayerischer Rundfunk, conducted by Bernard Haitink, received a Grammy Nomination for “Best Choral Performance.” Ulrike’s production of Gisle Kverndokk’s “Symphonic Dances” has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Immersive Audio Album category, 2020.


Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer 

Bob Ludwig is an American mastering engineer. He has mastered recordings on all the major recording formats for all the major record labels, and on projects by more than 1,300 artists including Led Zeppelin, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Ocean, Bryan Ferry, Paul McCartney, Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen and Daft Punk resulting in over 3,000 credits. He is the recipient of numerous Grammy and TEC Awards.


Show Notes

Sonic Presence:

Sonic Presence SP-15:


Neumann KU 80:

Neumann KU 81:

Neumann KU 100:


Madison Square Garden:

Purchase College, State University of New York:

AES Convention:

New York University:


Jeff Lorber:

Sonny Emory:



Lee Scratch Perry:

Gateway Mastering Studios:

A&R Recording New York:

Sterling Sound:


Eastman School of Music, The University of Rochester:

Portland String Quartet:

DaPonte String Quartet:



Voice Record Pro:


Music Supervision: The Complete Guide to Selecting and Licensing Music & Sound Design for Media:

The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music:

Anderson Audio New York:



We want to hear from you! We really value our community and would appreciate it if you would take our very quick survey and help us make the Immersive Audio Podcast even better: Thank you!



This episode was produced by Oliver Kadel, Alex Bragg and Michelle Chan with the help of Emma Rees and Haley Lerner and included music by  Hair Fairlight, Mikey Geiger, Isaac Joel, Yung Koolade Knobs Bergamo.

Immersive Audio Podcast – Episode 23 Sofia Brazzola (Ambeo Sennheiser)


For this episode of the Immersive Audio Podcast, Oliver Kadel is joined by Sofia Brazzola, the User Experience Manager with the AMBEO team based at Sennheiser.

Sofia holds a Master in Design with a focus on Research and Visual Communication, and in her professional experience at Sennheiser has honed music and technology innovation expertise. Sofia is the User Experience Manager at Sennheiser’s AMBEO team, where she leads user-centric research to validate and develop new solutions for a range of 3D audio applications.

As part of the R&D team who developed the “AMBEO VR Mic”, she launched Sennheiser’s first early-adopters program by engaging with a community of beta-testers and content creators. She is currently leading Sennheiser’s Augmented Audio Developers Program, where early-adopters engagement, user-centric innovation and strategic marketing play another important role in AMBEO’s thought-leadership in AR audio.

Today, Oliver and Sofia discuss the role of the AMBEO team, Sennheiser’s AMBEO line of products, and the Augmented Audio Developers Program.

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Show Notes



Magic Leap:

AMBEO Lab App:

HD25 Headphones:

HD600 Headphones:

AMBEO VR Microphone:

AMBEO Smart Headset:


Augmented Audio Developers Program:



Comply Memory Foam Ear Tips:


This episode was produced by Abbigayle Bircham, Oliver Kadel with the help of Kaelyn Tindall and included music by Knobs Bergamo.


Oliver Kadel to Present at AES Conference

We are thrilled about presenting our work at the upcoming Audio Engineering Society Conference on Immersive and Interactive Audio.

Oliver Kadel and Professor Justin Paterson co-wrote a paper on the subject of Immersive Audio Post-production for VR & 360º content.

For more information follow the links below

International Conference on Immersive & Interactive Audio –

White Paper –

1.618 Digital Team

Sonic Logo


Audio branding is a powerful tool for companies and products to reinforce a brand or corporate identity. Successful companies like Twitter, Nike and McDonald’s are instantly recognisable through their blue bird, swoosh and golden arches icons. Like these icons, sonic logos are crafted to represent a brand, by taking a word or a concept and translating it into a sound.

Audio branding can build a soundscape which represents the identity and values of a brand or company. Music and sound are emotive and transcend language but still convey meaning with great clarity, so when designed successfully, sonic logos create implicit associations with companies and products in our minds. Strategically using sound to differentiate a brand or product can enhance recall and improve sales while creating a subconscious preference. Used in conjunction with visual cues, it is possible to create multi-sensory brand communication and brand design.

Sonic Brading isn’t just for big corporates

Sonic logos and audio branding aren’t just for huge, global brands. They can also be beneficial to small companies, helping them to make an impact on current and potential customers by increasing brand awareness and loyalty.

Like with any logo, when designing a sonic logo it is essential to first establish what the brand stands for. All different mediums used should reflect a consistent picture of the brand values a company wishes to convey in a distinctive manner. Successfully created logos generally consist of a core melody, voice or a unique sound effect or a combination of some sort, are usually only a few notes or beats in length and can be built to scale from stadiums to mobile devices by using various instrumentation.

Though sonic logos became popular through radio, the opportunities to use these have increased in recent years with the rising popularity of podcasts and new media, and devices with built-in audio delivery. When used correctly they can be incredibly effective, like Intel’s instantly recognisable 5 notes composed by Walter Werzowa.



The landscape of future media is changing rapidly

As the IoT (Internet of Things), along with smart home speakers like Google Home, Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and many others, become more and more prominent in our everyday lives, it is necessary for brands to start future-proofing for a time that is less reliant on screens. When most devices offer visual cues, audio cues can seem superfluous and unnecessary. As virtual assistants like Alexa are becoming more popular there is a need for users to receive information without having to rely on visuals. Music and sounds can be more useful and less intrusive than voice. If the user knows the meaning, a simple note or sound can convey as much information as a full sentence.

Brands that want to remain current will need to create a sound landscape that is pleasant and useful to users and informs without distracting. This also extends to AR or MR (Augmented or Mixed reality), where sonic communication is overlaid on the top of the real world – a properly designed sonic logo and soundscape will trigger brand awareness in a user without visual branding is necessary. Furthermore, there is a significant uptake in immersive branding where global brands are enjoying a whole myriad of new tech enabling them to promote their products and services in VR (Virtual reality) or in 360 Videos. Within this media the sonic logo can be implemented in 3D as spatial audio, adding a whole new level of engagement.

As we enter a new age of emerging tech the opportunities to experiment with new formats of sonic branding will increase significantly and those who embrace this will enjoy a competitive advantage.

To find out more about the world of immersive audio or if you’re interested in designing a sonic asset for your brand please get in touch with us:

Example of 1618 Digital’s own sonic logo:

For previous articles on sonic branding please visit our blog page.

1618 Digital Team

Immersive Audio Podcast – Episode 12 Steve Snooks (SubPac)


In today’s episode, Oliver was joined in our London Fields studio by Steve Snooks, sound designer and artist. Snooks runs an indie record label and dj sound system music and works at SubPac where he is involved with Partnership Development and Sales in Europe.

Snooks tells us all about haptics and the technology behind SubPac. He speaks about its uses in production and recreating physical environments as well as its uses in health and wellness and the therapeutic value of low frequencies.

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The Rattle:

Marshmallow Laser Feast:

The Feelies:



Peugeot ‘Fractal’ Concept Car:

Chris Fonseca:


Justin Wiggan’s Life Echo:

Digital Catapult:


Intro: Immersive Audio Podcast: In conversation with industry leaders, practitioners, artists, academics and entrepreneurs, discussing all aspects of this rapidly evolving industry from art, science and business to practical insights and project case studies. We aim to inform, educate, explore and unite the community.

Intro: Welcome to the Immersive Audio Podcast, brought to you by 1.618 Digital. Today, host Oliver Kadel is joined in our studio by Steve Snooks. Steve is a sound designer and artist, and runs an indie record label. He works at SUBPAC where he is involved in partnership development and sales in Europe. Today Snook’s tells us all about haptics and the technology behind SUBPAC. He speaks about its uses in production and recreating physical environment, as well as its uses in health and wellness, and the therapeutic value of low frequencies.

Oliver: Steve Snooks, welcome to the Immersive Audio Podcast. How’re you doing mate?

Steve: I’m good, I’m good.

Oliver: Good to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

Steve: No worries at all.

Oliver: Steve, I heard you guys recently moved to Rattle.

Steve: Yes indeed. So previously we was in Soho and now we’re over at Tobacco Dock in East London amongst a really good selection- a really nice little collective of music and tech start ups. I haven’t really had the opportunity to dive in and meet everyone. But yeah, it’s amazing. There are some really good people down there.

Oliver: How’s that going?

Steve: It’s great. We’ve got studios. Like I say, you know there’s lots of new start-ups, loads of tech, it’s all music related, basically. We’ve had some really exciting mentors that have come down and spoke with us. There’s so many people in the mix there like us. I really haven’t utilized the facilities yet or met everyone there but the studios are great. There’s going to be some really exciting things are going to come out of it.

Oliver: Sounds like a perfect place for you guys to be, given the fact that you’re an audio dedicated company as well.

Steve: Indeed it is. It’s almost perfect. It is perfect. When I first found out about it, it was like, ‘we have to be there’. And yeah, you know, a couple of weeks ago we moved in and yeah, back to East London where I was brought up – had enough of Soho, basically. We had like a little cupboard in the middle of Soho. So we’ve outgrown that. It’s good to be in East London now.

Oliver: Is it quite a big place – is it already filled up or there’s still loads room?

Steven: It’s a really cool space so, I mean- You know, for people that’ve heard Tobacco Dock, obviously you know the history of that sort of area on Wapping. It’s huge, and The Rattle have only got maybe one little corner of it. There’s less than 15 different companies involved where we are, and you know, the way that it’s looking at the moment I can see it really expanding and becoming quite a big thing. So yeah, it’s really exciting.

Oliver: Right, my first question as usual: I’m quite curious to hear about your personal journey. How did it all start for you? How do you get into the industry, your educational background, does it relate to audio, and then the whole transition to your role at SUBPAC. Can you tell us more?

Steve: Well I’m a musician and a sound designer. I grew up playing instruments. Always loved music, always. I’ve always been into music and I know it sounds like a really stereotypical sort of trope to say, you know, my father’s record collection of music in a house, but really you know I grew up with such a selection different music, but I’m heavily into electronic music and grew up with drum and bass, and going to raving and I was in bands when I was younger. And it got to a point where I decided, “I don’t wanna work with other people – I want as much… control, correct control.” So I went to study recording arts so that I could be the guy on both sides. I could control a desk, I could mix like an engineer as well as being a musician. And then I worked in retail for quite a few years in Pro Audio and then I kind of got my break working at Black Market Records. And I was a record buyer, you know drum and bass, garage, dub and reggae, and I was at Black Market for maybe six or seven years. And at that point, one of the founders of SUBPAC – he was going on a journey across Europe showing off this concept. At that point, it’d just finished on Kickstarter and I met him in the record shop and the rest is history, you know? We got on really well.

Steve:  I wanted to get involved with SUBPAC the moment that I tried it, the moment that I actually was like, “this is, y’know, it’s an extension of the type of technology that you know that I like to use!” And to go out to raves and to experience music – physical music on sound systems – and to be able to get that and have it in another context and in places where you can’t have a sound system. So yeah, that’s kind of my journey really, you know, physical music.

Oliver: That’s really interesting, and it’s actually a perfect segway to my next question about the Subpac. So I would love you to talk a little bit more about the product and technology – Can you give us an overview of a SUBPAC for general listeners and, you know, things they might not know about? Haptics – how does it work?

Steve: Okay, so SUBPAC technology is- At the moment, we’re on the second generation of products, but effectively our devices enable you to monitor low frequencies. So in the same way that, you know if you’re standing next to a big P.A. system or a subwoofer, you know, you feel sound waves, low frequencies. It’s a physical sensation. So we have a wearable form and we have one that actually attaches to the back of the chair and it basically pumps low frequencies through your body very accurately using tactile trench juices and it is a very simple concept, but it’s something that you know you really have to physically feel to understand the depth of the sensation and the dynamics that you can get with that product. Initially, it was designed for music production, Pro Audio individuals, but as you are aware you know with a lot of other emerging technologies especially – I say emerging, VR has been about for decades – but how it’s being realised now to involve haptics and physical sensation in all of these experiences.

Steve: It’s key, you know? Sound is so important and not just within the audible range, so we end up working in so many different- you know, whether it be a gaming industry, we do a lot of work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and in community projects like that. There’s so many directions that we can go with this technology, it really is just the start of a massive journey, you know?

Oliver: I know that you guys are offering two key products as part of partners brand. What are the main differences between the two SUBPAC devices that are offered and how do you find consumers are using those most?

Steve: Okay so at the moment we’ve got three products technically. So we have a wearable phone which has been adopted by our VR enthusiasts and gamers and a lot of live musicians, you know for live. So you’ve got the wearable form, a very similar concept to the seatback version and it really is just the use cases. So a lot of people that are working in studios, engineers that are mastering or engineering or just creating music. I use the seatback which is the SUBPAC S2. And then we also have a wearable form, the M-2. We’ve just launched a new slightly upgraded version of the M2 called the M2X. And again, it’s the same principle tactile trench juices. It’s kind of like a vibro-tactile material in the vest and the new ones a little bit more powerful, less harmonic distortion and longer battery life basically. But yeah.

Steve: So really depending on the individual, we get a lot of people that use them, use a wearable when they’re trying to accompany their front of house, bassists, drummers, and then the seat back one is more for gamers and people that kind of like to sit when the working or when they’re just enjoying enjoying their sounds. But there is a major difference. You know when you look at different territories and you know which versions been adopted in America or like North America, the wearables are not more popular in Europe, it tends to be the seatback version. But again, you know different people work in different ways. I like to use both depending on what I’m doing. It’s really nice to wear the vest and play bass guitar. You know, there’s no other way of being connected to the instrument so closely. So yeah it’s the same principle but just just different forms.

Oliver: What are the benefits of using SUBPAC for producing audio and what are the key applications of the moment that you’ve seen across the landscape?

Steve: The most important thing… So you know if you’re being very analytical with your audio, if you’re an engineer and in mastering, some of the issues that you get with low frequencies or non directional sound is, you know, the acoustic space, colouring the sound, change in a tone, or not giving you an accurate representation of what you’re actually producing. So by using a SUBPAC, instead of you know the air being fluctuated by the cone of the speaker and then bouncing off the walls, the air is not the medium anymore. With a SUBPAC, your body’s the medium. So it’s a lot more accurate and it’s a lot easier to tell exactly what you’re doing. Initially, you know, the groundwork is, you know, Pro Audio guys. But like I say we’ve we’ve had a lot of people that are developing games, film, that there’s so many different forms of media that you know where sound is very important, especially low frequency sounds.

Steve: Just to add to the to the other question as well, not just, you know, issues with acoustics, but also being able to monitor low volume levels so obviously you’ll see or if anyone looks up SUBPAC after listening to this podcast, a lot of us come from a music background, music industry. So you’ve got a lot of people producing electronic music, a lot of DJs, and it’s very common for people to really blast the volume levels and you know, kind of really damaged their hearing. So generally when they’re pulling in volume levels up, it’s to get the physical sensation. So by using the SUBPAC, you can get that same sensation with the volume levels lower so you’re actually protecting your hearing which is key, you know, for people like me and you. We work in audio with our ears. That’s our work. You know? That’s a very important thing but you know, again there’s so many different applications. It really does sort of… it boggles the mind.

Steve: We’ve had some really cool partners over the last couple of years. People like Marshmallow Laser Feast, Grace Boyle with The Feelies, you know? People that are doing these sensory explorations and VR experiences and I think there’s so many more possibilities than just music production. At the end of the day, it is a creative industry so it really is… the SUBPAC’s amazing but depending on what you put through it, you know that that’s what makes it amazing. And some of the best experiences are when that technology has been used in a really subtle manner. But yes, to answer your question: Gaming, VR, a lot of people that are working with healing, healing with sound and some of the sort of esoteric things that, you know, our technology is enabling people to do a little bit more research into. Yeah, there’s so many possibilities.

Oliver: Just shows that how deep and wide that sonic dimension runs across that all kinds of aspects.

Steve: It’s crazy! I mean, you know, we’re very visual beings and sometimes we forget how important audio can be. Whether it’s physical or in the audible range but you know a really good example: put one of your favorite films on and just turn the sound off, or, you know, try and get something without a soundtrack. It’s something that if you took it away, very much so you’d would notice the difference. And I think usually when you have elements like that, you only notice them when they’re taken away. But audio is a very, very powerful thing across all the different mediums and nowadays, now you have a lot of the game experiences and, you know, spatial sound. We’re kind of at the edge now of all of these new formats and it’s really excites me. Low frequencies and non-directional sound are a very important element of that and that’s how we experience day to day lives, you know? And people forget that.

Oliver: I’m actually curious to hear whether you own a device as well?

Steve: Of course! I’ve got a collection of SUBPACs I can imagine, prototypes and yeah, allsorts!

Oliver: What is your favorite way of using SUBPAC personally, in your personal everyday life?

Steve: Very simply just to enjoy music. Like, whenever I listen to, I’d never- I don’t just use headphones and I don’t just use monitors. A SUBPAC is always in the mix somewhere. Most recently, I’ve really enjoyed getting back playing bass guitar with a wearable SUBPAC but yeah – gaming, watching films, everything I do pretty much! I’m really into sort of, synthesis and hardware synthesizers and things and to just be able to noodle about and mess about with that sort of lower end of the spectrum. Yeah. But I was simply just enjoy music. I still buy and sell records. Not necessarily electronic music, it can be any sort of style of music, but to just enjoy music and actually experience it a little bit closer to the producer’s plan as opposed to, you know, the tinny earphones and laptop speakers. Just enjoying media really. I know that’s a really boring answer but pretty much everything I sort of, consume in terms of media. There’s a SUBPAC involved there somewhere.

Oliver: It just sort of extends that inability to experience sound differently and just gives you that extra low end. You can feel that nuance in the lower end and it just completes the experience I suppose.

Steve: Exactly! And I think the thing is a lot of people- we’re not sort of adding to anything these, frequencies are in a lot of these mediums, you know. Whether it’s a film soundtrack with the special effects or whether it’s a game, and you know it doesn’t matter what it is. Generally, these sound designers and these composers and musicians are creating this, and our technology just enables you to actually delve into that that lower end of the spectrum.

Oliver: It’s really interesting, especially these days when a lot of people, especially younger generations, consume content on demand on the go. Smart devices, laptops tablets, etc. Also, kind of lower quality headphones arguably, you tend to lose a lot of detail in low frequency domain. Something like SUBPAC can just bring that detail back to those people because you might argue that, you know, there are like certain ways, certain methods that you would recommend in order to get the most out of it. For example for people who potentially live in urban environment in a quite small flat and simply physically cannot put like a big sound system that is capable of producing those frequencies.

Steve: That’s a perfect case, whether your making music, whether you want to watch films that, you know. Like you say, in an urban environment you’re living close to other people, you know you can’t always blare the music. You can’t always have a subwoofer, so it enables people to actually consume media in a much better, in a better way way really. But I think for me as a creative who comes from a background in sound system culture, to be able to educate people and to show that there is so much more that sort of stuff you know- I’m not a purist, by any chance, but fidelity is so important. People don’t realize the idea of a highly compressed files. YouTube rips, you know you can physically feel the difference between like a wav. or a lossless file and an MP3, you know?

Steve: And that’s not to say, you know, there’s pros and cons on both sides. You know it’s great that people can consume music nowadays and it’s very easy to find music. There’s more music than ever, it’s easier to create music, it’s easy to distribute it, which is amazing. But sometimes we need to just sort of sit back and put a record on the turntable, you know? And actually, you can feel the difference. You know, your brain has to work a lot harder while, you know, while you’re actually- and there’s studies the show this. You know, if you’re listening to something that’s highly compressed, you know your brain is working harder. You get fatigue from listening to things like that. Highly, highly compressed. But again, like I said I’m not a purist, there’s great, there’s pros and cons to both sides, but if you ever do get a chance to, you know, just listen to a really good record like a dub record with a SUBPAC there is nothing like it. It’s one of the most amazing things for me anyway.

Oliver: I’m wondering what the most interesting VR projects that you’ve seen SUBPAC being used in in recent years of months?

Steve: So I mentioned a couple of partners that we had earlier. So Marshmallow Laser Feast… I don’t know how to describe what these guys do, I mean, they’re a collective of artists and they work across all different types of media, but they’ve done a recent project in Montreal – There was multiple locations, room-scale VR, they was dropping balls onto gongs and recording that, and there was microphones so that when you spoke it would create a virtual representation of what you were saying and then waves… just look them up! It’s crazy, that they’re so out there.

Steve: And another partner Grace Boyle and The Feelies, she’d been doing projects with Greenpeace, an amazing cause, you know? The whole project, you know, in the Amazon basin. In a way, she was measuring and taking their, you know, whether it smells, physical sensations, audio recordings, binaural, you know, really put you into a specific place in order to, you know, raise awareness of this group of people that are basically going to be- their whole life is going to be changed because of, you know, a dam that’s going to be built in the Amazon Rainforest. And again, there’s a lot of studies that show the idea of creating presence in VR and how it affects us emotionally. So, there’s so many different things. For me, Marshmallow Laser Feast are just completely out there, they’re wild. They’ve done three or four projects over the last couple of years using wearable SUBPACs. And again, you know, we tend to do projects that are related to trees a lot? I don’t know what that is. But there’s two or three partners that have done the same sort of thing. But the idea of connecting us closer with nature and to raise empathy and to help people realize, you know, we need to be connected with nature a lot more. And I guess the physicality of SUBPAC technology is something that works quite well in that context. But yeah, there’s so many crazy projects out there.

Oliver: I think there’s something about our physiology and the fact that, you know, the sense of vibration within us as species develop much earlier than… you know, for example, visual data processing capabilities and like hearing the way we know now. If there are any people out there who would question what I just said, please spare me because I’m not-!

Steve: [laughs]

Oliver: But there’s something about that sort of Earth’s vibration and connection and… you know?

Steve: I think it’s quite simple, I mean you know if you was to physically feel something you know is low frequency like an earthquake that instills fear in you, you know, or maybe the idea of, you know, like large animals and danger, you know low frequencies, quite a lot of time are associated with fight or flight- you know, your adrenaline get’s pumping. So there’s many different avenues that this sort of technology has been used to either create- We’ve done some really cool projects with the label Hyper Dub, a guy called Kode9? So he’s got another project called Audint and a lot of it- Okay, he specializes in the study of sonic warfare, and to be able to create fear in people and to put them into scenarios where they’re basically shitting themselves, you know, it’s the opposite of a lot of other people’s work where it’s to do with healing. Right? Which is kind of a weird thing, you know, there’s two sides to that coin. But it just shows you that, you know, physicality and feeling sound is such a primitive thing. And like you say, it’s something that evolved very early on and that’s something, if you can tap into that in some form of experience, whether it’s VR, whether it’s a game, whether it’s just audio, you can evoke some very strong emotions. And there’s going to be a lot more work and also a lot of academic research into this sort of thing using that technology. So it’s really exciting. I’d definitely recommend you check out Kode9 and the Audint project, really sort of experimental but we’ve done some really cool stuff that you can have a look at on our blog on the website where, you know, it will give you all of the information about it.

Oliver: Awesome, we’ll put it in our show notes. Sounds very intriguing. And if there is any evolutionary theorists out there who would like to correct us-

Steve: Do so!

Oliver: Please do! [Laughs] We kind of start talking about it and we went into a kind of high concept talking about why a haptic device like SUBPAC, which offers this extra sensory dimension through vibration, you know, makes any experience kind of deeper and more fulfilling. But is there any research that we could talk about that supports the evidence that haptics feedback enhances the immersion of any experience?

Steve: Thing is, what we need to address here is that it’s not necessarily an extra thing. You know? When we experience reality on a day to day basis, you know, visually, audibly, you know. I guess with VR you’ve got your HMD that will do you visually, you’ve got your headphones. So up until now there’s maybe been a few projects and a few people that use, you know, tactile trenche juices, but not in a sort of form, you know, what we’ve made and what we’ve made commercially available. So really, it’s not like an extra sense, it’s that where we put in a few more pieces of the puzzle in, you know? At the end of the day, with VR and a lot of these experiences, we’re trying to recreate an realistic an environment as possible and without physical sensation. And, you know, to go beyond that, localisation and haptics. Like you say, I mean, what we’ve done at SUBPAC is that we’re very slowly pushing the whole concept of physicality. You know, there’s other people, there’s other companies that are working with the idea of localization and movement, but I think we’re quite far off with that sort of technology. We’re not quite at the holodeck just yet. So we’re trying to push that concept.

Steve: I’d like to cite some academic research but the thing is, especially with our technology, a lot of these studies are still ongoing. A lot of the studies that I’m very heavily into and I’ve actually looked into it have been more to do with reaction times, you know. So I’m not sure if you’re aware, we’ve done a project with Peugeot, like a concept car and the idea of having, you know, tactile trench within the automobile of the future. So there is a lot studies into that. So, you know, you will react a lot quicker to a combination of visual and physical compared to just visual. So, you know they’re safe. I guess the health and safety angle as well and also training with VR. You’ve probably seen this as well, a lot of a lot of people now, different companies, are using VR to train because it’s a lot safer, you know, to put their staff in these environments as opposed to a real world safety training environment. So yeah, I’d love to be able to say, “oh you can cite this on google scholar and this,” but honestly if you just look up presence and immersion, the more senses that are involved in any of these experiences, the more realistic it is, the more you feel immersed, the more presence you have. I think that kind of goes without saying, you know? I’m not an academic by any chance but you know the more senses that I can fill in any of these environments or VR spaces, you know the more realistic we’re going to feel it is and we’re gonna feel that we need more there than if those were not there, basically.

Oliver: No, I totally agree with that. I’m curious to hear, where is SUBPAC heading in 2018 and beyond?

Steve: There’s so many possibilities but I have to be pretty tight lipped to be honest. Some of the projects that we’ve been involved with, you know, quite recently is something that is quite close to our hearts at SUBPAC is, you know, working within the deaf and hard of hearing communities. So in a recent project I was involved with, there’s a gentleman called Chris Fonseca. He’s profoundly deaf and he’s a dance choreographer, so he uses our technology, the wearable form, when he does lessons, when he’s learning his own choreography or writing his own stuff, and about a week ago we was filming some pieces with him and MTV and it was a big, like a major project to do with getting young women into engineering. And also, you know, just educating people on what engineering is. A lot of people, they tend to have the wrong idea of what an engineer is. There are so many possibilities within that sphere, it’s so ambiguous.

Steve: So with Chris, we was doing some filming with the MTV guys and he was choreographing, you know, you’re writing a piece and the music was speeding up and then I was doing pieces to camera talking about our technology, kind of what we do, what we’re doing today. But again, you know, to cut a long story short, working an enabling people to experience music who, without technology, wouldn’t be able to do that. That blows my mind! You know, it’s amazing that we can enable people like us that, you know, are on this spectrum of hearing, to be able to access low frequencies and maybe delve into those low frequencies and experiment a bit. But imagine what it’s like to be profoundly deaf you know? The only way you would experience sound would be through physicality. And because our technology is so accurate, you know people can have singing lessons, people can discern the key of the song through vibrations alone. So stuff like that, that really, really gets me going.

Steve: And also, another project with a gentleman called Justin Wigan. This is another one that’s quite out there, we tend to attract people that are doing really weird stuff and quite sort of left field. So he’s working on a project called The Internal Garden where he’s… through some gadget, through some form of this device, it enables you to convert signals from living plants into MIDI and then from MIDI obviously, you know, that could be any sound source or any VST synth or whatever. So basically he’s enabling people to communicate with plants and interactive plants and the plants are communicating back via music and low vibrations. So it’s kind of like an internal dialogue really, it’s kind of circular, so depending on how you interact with it, or you touch a plant, or even the light levels, or you know, there’s so many different things. It will sing, effectively and he’s going to be doing a really cool thing so a big shout-out to Justin actually, because his project’s called Life Echoes and it’s all to do with memory and sound and, you know, how memory- how it works basically and how senses like smell and sound can be such strong indicators and, you know, reminders and… you know what it’s like. You know there’s a difference between feeling something and the smell is something about the way the brain works with smells you can just go all of a sudden, very vivid memories can be evoked from smell and physical sensations. And he’s doing a lot of studies with, you know, people that are even in prison or people have got, you know, depression and anxiety up to people that have got Alzheimers and, you know, just basically using technology and other types of audio technology to try and help these people you know? Through sound and through music which is, you know, music – it is a therapy and if we can make that sensation a little bit more, you know, I guess, stronger with the physicality of sound that, you know, I’m hoping that it makes much more of a difference. That what he’s doing is amazing. But that’s something again that you’ll be able to find out soon on our blog post where we’ll update people, but again it’s quite esoteric stuff, it’s quite unusual sort of areas of research. And also Justin will be getting, you know, there’ll be some proper academic research off the back of that to see how this actually helps people, you know, in forms of therapy and also Vibrotherapy and things like that.

Oliver: Yes, it’s fascinating. Wow, what a range of projects. I would love to speak to all those people and see what they’ve got to say. Amazing, Steve. Where do you see SUBPAC and immersive audio heading in the future?

Steve: I see it in very much the same way. Well, you know, at the moment it’s very normal to have headphones. It’s very normal to have speakers everywhere. This technology will be everywhere from cinemas to cars. And there’s so many different, like we’ve discussed, there’s so many different ways that it can be utilized. So for example in South Korea we’ve got Cinemas we’ve our technology actually embedded in all of the chairs, we’ve done the concept car with Peugeot, the Fractal, we’ve done installations in Westfield mall with Sennheiser. So I really do see this technology depending, you know, the world will form. There’s no reason to say, you know, it won’t be as as popular as normal to see people walking down the road with a SUBPAC just like they’ve got Bluetooth earphones. But you know, and I hope that it will educate people in terms of, you know, the idea of fidelity and quality of sound and also to make sure that they’re looking after the ears really. So yeah. Long, long winded answer is everywhere. There’s no reason why it can’t be in every place. And if you can have these sort of – I come from a background of raving and clubs and big sound systems – if you can have that same sort of physical sensation of sound in a different space that you can’t have a sound system like galleries, you know, it really should be everywhere and it will get to that point. It’s just that we slowly sort of educating people about the idea of physicality of sound and things like VR have really helped us push this concept. So yeah, everywhere. Everywhere.

Oliver: I like that answer and I totally agree. As we move into this experiential-multisensory-everything era, you know, next chapter of our lives, we’re going to see more and more things like that enter into market and penetrating our everyday life. I can’t see any negative things about it. I think it’s great. It’s just going to enrich our experiences with various media and just going to make it more fun and, you know, we’ll have a deeper connection to those.

Steve: That’s exactly what it is. A deep connection to, you know, the creative output of artists and only there’s no- like you say, it can be used as a type of technology that could be used in different ways by different individuals. But, you know, to enable creative people to have access to a little bit more of that spectrum, you know it is going to do wonders, you know, and a lot of these things in terms of sound healing, there’s a lot of therapeutic value of low frequencies and to be able to deliver that in a safe manner- The only way that you can kind of do that at the moment, you know, would be with our technology. So it’s something that, health and wellness is a big thing for us, you know, I think in this sort of highly hyper connected world where there’s so many things going on, sometimes it can be a little bit too much. I think, you know, using this sort of technology to, to sort of connect people with the real world again, even with this technology can really make a difference, you know?

Oliver: The haptic feedback industry has seen a lot of development in the last few years, as far as my experience goes anyway. I’m wondering if, do you see that as a quite competitive landscape? Do you have any rivals or perhaps do you see any other companies that are developing other products that tackle different kinds of issues and that you can potentially collaborate with and, you know, make your offering even stronger and more holistic?

Steve: Most definitely. As far as I see it there’s no competition. You know, it’s a very niche market as it is. So anyone, in or out, into that field is only going to, you know, push the concept of what we’re doing as well, you know. There really isn’t many commercially available products that are anywhere near this fidelity in the quality and the accuracy of what we do. But you know, there are other companies that are doing slightly similar devices. And you know honestly – and also this is the sales person in me talking as well, that is something that I kind of do at SUBPAC as well – it’s a gateway drug. You know, if you get something and then it’s like, “Oh this is great, I like the idea of tactility of this.” And then you get a SUBPAC and you’re like “Whoa. This is intense,” or it can be really intense. Haptics is a weird one I think, because you know there’s a lot of sort of military use and there’s a lot of sort of amazing technology but not commercially available. And I guess that’s that’s what we’ve really done well at SUBPAC, we’ve enabled this to become something that is commercially successful and you know, that’s off the back of music you know, off of the back of the creativeness of, you know, sound system culture, you know? So yeah, I think that the next stage that really interests me is the idea of localization of movement. When you talk to people about VR and you know, what is the end goal? I guess it’s, you know, something like the holodeck, to be able to recreate the subtlety of wind on your skin and things like that. But there’s no one there that I know of just yet unless it’s a government highly sort of secret thing. Yeah. I think the more that this becomes an area like a peripheral you know we have hearables – and I know these sound like buzz words and you probably come across a lot hearables, wearables, whatever – it’s normal to have headphones. It’s normal to have speakers. So the more people that enter into this sort of category of peripherals, the better for us. That’s the way I see it.

Oliver: Moving on to my final questions: Which project that you’ve been involved with are you most proud of and why?

Steve: Any of the projects that have enabled people with either accessibility issues, or hard of hearing or the deaf community experience music. It’s a major cause, you know, it’s something that I don’t think able-bodied people realize enough, you know. Accessibility is in venues. We take a lot of stuff for granted. So for me, you know that, I know this isn’t a specific answer but whether it’s Chris Fonseca, or whether it’s the music project that we’ve done, or anything on that sort of spectrum that enables people to access, you know, creativity or to make music or or to just actually be involved in these things that would normally be quite hard for them to do. That is the stuff that gets me going, you know? That really, really gets me excited where we basically enable in a new generation of creative people to get involved and it is quite a wide range. And I guess kind of an ambiguous sort of answer, but everyone deserves the opportunity to be creative. Without creativity, you know, we wouldn’t be here you know? And when we work with people and we sort of offer them our technology to utilize in these environments like that, that really gets me going. That really makes me happy, that stuff that gets me up in the morning. It’s nice to work with producers, and engineers, and producers and whatever, but we’re talking about potentially, you know, an untapped generation of creatives and who knows what they’re going to make in the future? These are people that have a slightly different view in that they don’t think necessarily in the same way because of their backgrounds. And I think I should take this as an opportunity to big up Chris Fonseca as well you know? I mean, imagine being a dance choreographer and being profoundly deaf, you know? That’s crazy. And I think for me, sound is so important. I can’t imagine what would be like to even have a section of my hearing, you know, the frequency band sort of pulled down and not be able to experience music in that way. So yeah, just working with people with wide ranging disabilities and to enable them to make and experience media in general, that’s what we really like to do.

Oliver: That’s very humbling to get that sort of perspective of a person who suffers for something that you can’t even imagine to live with, and just opens your eyes.

Steve: It’s an area thing, you know, like assistive technology. It’s something that, until I got involved in SUBPAC… The only thing that I ever experienced, you know, going to raves when I was growing up, you would get people that were deaf or you know that would want to be near the speakers and obviously, you know, that’s how they they can get some form of feedback from the music, but now they can do that wherever they are with a SUBPAC. It’s great for us. You know, we can whack a bit of dubstep and drum and bass and enjoy it without annoying our neighbors. But it’s changed these people’s lives and I hope that we continue to do that. And you know, if anyone’s listening to the podcast now you know we’ve got accessibility issues, they can’t, you know, their hearing or whatever, it may be, you know, feel free to reach out to us. We definitely want to be involved in those communities and whatever charitable cause it is. We want people to be able to feel music and sound. Whoever you are, wherever you are. And I think that’s what our technology enables us to do.

Oliver: That’s amazing point to finish, but I’ve got one more question go.

Steve: [laughs] Go on.

Oliver: You’ve worked across most industries and now you are in a unique position where you are always in touch with, you know, all kinds of people and companies that do unusual things and you must be learning a lot and you know, experiencing it-

Steve: It’s too much to take in. There’s so much stuff going on. It really is- I should’ve let you finish the question. [laughs]

Oliver: I think I’m asking too many questions in one question! But in simple words, where I’m going with this is, I’m just curious to hear, what piece of advice would you give to someone who is young and aspiring individual and would like to get into the industry? What would be that thing that you could pass on to another person?

Steve: I find it so hard to give advice. First thing: don’t take it. Don’t take any advice from people. Experience stuff yourself. Try stuff. For me, my personal journey, you know, and I’m not saying anyone should do this or whatever, but what has helped me is to always gravitate around things I love and enjoy. And I think I’ve just been very lucky to have gone on this journey that I have. But I’ve always been interested in music and sound and people and groups and creativity and so- My main advice is find what you love. Okay? Try stuff to as many things as you can (within reason) and find what you like and what you don’t like. You know, there’s no wrong. There’s no right. The role I have at SUBPAC I’ve kind of, you know, I head up sales, I do sort of more tech related stuff, I do demos, you know. I deal with artists and partnerships and it’s quite a wide range of things but the common thing amongst all of them is just dealing with people and creativity, so I’ll just stick- not stick to, but just find things that you really love that you enjoy.

What’s the worst that could happen? You might get really bad pay, but you’re you’d be doing something you enjoy. To give my advice to young people – like I’m THAT old, really [laughs] – is just go gravitate around things that you love. You can’t go wrong if you do that and you know just try and find people that you enjoy working with. And I guarantee that there’ll be some great things that you can begin to along that path.

Thank you. Where can our listeners find out more about SUBPAC or perhaps go and experience that physically themselves?

Steve: Yeah sure. I mean that’s the key thing, you need to try SUBPAC. But if you wanna have a little look at the website – – There’s great list of loads of musicians, producers, engineers, creatives that you may recognize them that you respect enough to go up and, “you know what I’m going buy it without trying it,” but if you do wanna try it, we’ve got Pro Audio shops in London. If you look on our website, you’ll see all of the retailers that are available in your territories across Europe or wherever you may be and also keep an eye out, you know, film festivals, you know, VR experiences,places like Digital Catapults that are helping this digital economy in the UK. So many creative and cool people using our technology, I’m sure if you do a little bit of research, you’ll find somewhere where you can actually try it out and if all else fails, you can just hit me up and I’ll come and meet you and I’ll give you a SUBPAC demo.

Oliver: Steve Snooks, it’s been a great pleasure.

Steve: My pleasure mate.

Oliver: Thank you very much for stopping by and talking to me.

Steve: No worries at all. Thank you.

Outro: You’ve been listening to the immersive audio podcast hosted by Oliver Kadel with guest Steve Snooks. This episode was produced by Gillian Duffy, Oliver Kadel and Giacomo Corpino, and included music by Knobs Bergamo. If you enjoyed listening, please go to Apple Podcasts and rate, review, and subscribe. Visit to access the show notes, other episodes and any bonus content. Follow us @1618digital on Twitter and Instagram. Thanks for listening!


1.618 Digital to join Czech VR Fest 2018

We are delighted to announce that 1.618 Digital will be attending the Czech VR Fest 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic. The Czech VR Fest is now in its second year and will be taking place from the 10th until the 12th of May. Oliver Kadel will be giving a presentation on Immersive and Interactive Audio on the 10th of May at 17.30. If you are attending the festival, be sure to drop by and say hello.

Tickets and more information about the Czech VR Fest, including a list of speakers can be found here:

1.618 Digital Team

1.618 To Join The Panel at The BVE 2018 Excel London

1.618 Digital will be taking part in a panel at The Storyteller Theatre at the BVE 2018 Expo Excel London. Oliver Kadel will be discussing the use of immersive audio in modern storytelling, covering everything from future technologies to next generation audio. We’d love to see you there!

The panel discussion takes place on the 1st of Match at 12.30. You can get your free ticket here: Ticket Registration

Check out what else is taking place at BVE 2018.


See you soon!

1.618 Team

Exclusivity & Identity


In this installment of our sonic branding series we will continue to discuss the concept of exclusivity, perceptual self-identity of a consumer in relation to a brand and purchase decision-making based on sonic branding strategy.

It’s hard not to agree with Jacob Lusensky’s statement from his book Sounds Like Branding – “Music makes brands and people feel special”. People express their identity through music, and so too should brands. Not by shouting over their competitors, but rather by targeting the relevant market segment efficiently with a minimum amount of ‘noise’ through a consistent, carefully chosen sonic branding strategy.

In fact, a lot of brands already have some form of sonic identity, though as it often turns out, this takes the form of a largely unintentional, semi-random legacy of music assets – be it a telephone sound chosen by an IT department, who certainly do not understand or care about the brand, or ‘cheesy’ generic library music chosen by a video editor who made an introduction video for the company several years ago, which does not have any substance or meaning in the context of this particular brand or its recent marketing campaigns. And the list goes on…

Driving memorability and brand awareness

Brands pay a great deal of attention and allocate funding to wording, reputation, legalities and visual aspects such as design, logos and trademarks, but rarely is the same degree of attention and care attributed to establishing a sonic identity. Hearing is a critical component of how we perceive the world around us, which sits deeply in our physiology and psychology and simply cannot be ignored. A study by Dr North and Dr Hargreaves  revealed that companies who have defined their sonic identity along with a music branding strategy are likely to be 96% more memorable when compared to businesses that do not have any music or sound associated with them, or those who are in possession of an incongruent legacy of sonic assets randomly accumulated over time.

With this in mind it’s little surprise that music and sound can be an effective way to create brand awareness. An appropriate strategy helps to create attention by engaging audiences in a conversation about music or an artist the brand is associated with. Big brands have huge budgets to make shortcuts by having endorsement deals with global superstars or featuring their well known hits, though the same principle can also apply with much smaller scale activations.

Some brands, for example Red Bull, approach their audio branding strategy differently. By nurturing and representing much smaller unknown talent through their music label and various endorsements across the brand promotion, their audience very much enjoys and appreciates the unified sense of community and identity.

The factor of exclusivity plays an important role here. Customers are unlikely to be thrilled by or feel emotionally connected to musical content that has been recycled. No doubt, existing library back catalogues could often be an efficient and affordable resource to tap into every now and then, but would audiences react in the same way to the John Lewis Christmas ads if they weren’t accompanied by a beautiful melody? When it comes to large scale campaigns music and sound should be as authentic and original as the message or story the brand is telling. The audience will notice and appreciate that this content is available only as part of this activation and for a limited time period – creating a sense of exclusivity and belonging in the eyes of your customers.

Any positive or negative connotations with a brand affect its public profile, and association through sound is no different. Selecting the right sounds, music and artists can help to establish the desired perception in the eyes of the public and reach out for the targeted demographic. This is why McDonald’s are unlikely to feature a Radiohead track in their next campaign, considering Thom York’s public condemnation of animal cruelty. Or on the contrary, Ray Winstone’s gangster persona with a cockney accent is the perfect voice fit for Bet365 betting agency. As G.J Gorn once said in his publication about the effect of music in advertising on choice behaviour:

“What a customer hears may make the difference when they’re choosing and not choosing your brand”

Context is everything

A customer’s overall perception of brand experience concerns aspects such as performance and customer service, both in person and via other channels. Deploying the right sound will advantageously tailor customers’ perception of a brand. For example, it would be highly inappropriate to play heavy metal songs in an expensive wine or jewellery shop, whereas classical music would be just right. The congruent use of music can not only increase perceptional quality of a brand but also influence customers’ perception of themselves. For example, by making them feel more affluent and able to purchase a more expensive product or service. In contrast, how many times have you found yourself in a situation where all you need is a quiet moment with a delicious cup of flat white and peaceful contemplation, but excessively loud and distorted pop music is  pumped through cheap speakers installed in the corner by the bathroom. This turns the moment into a highly unpleasant and stressful experience – quickly forcing us out.

At 1.618 Digital we employ a unique combination of sonic branding strategy and years of experience in sound design to develop a powerful sonic identity for your brand. Contact us today via to find out more.

In the next installment of our sonic branding series we will continue by discussing the importance of a sonic logo and how it compliments its visual representation.

1.618 Digital Team