Hong Kong entrepreneur John Lee, a partner in Orbitsound, reckons he has a sound idea for retailers…
Lee, of Tom Lee Music fame, has a big, infectious laugh as he speaks about his latest obsession.
“I’m totally analog, but I like to talk digital,” says the 68-year-old, a 40-year veteran of the music and professional audio industry. “I’ve always been passionate about technology. I was the first person to introduce digital recording to the broadcasting industry in China, in the 1980s.”
Since then, the family business has introduced a string of innovations in both musical instruments and professional audio into Hong Kong, Macau and greater China.
Lee now believes he has found another first in audio: “no-sweet-spot” stereo from Orbitsound, which comes in one handy unit. What does that mean exactly?
When music was first recorded it was just one track (“mono”), which was lifeless and one dimensional, needing only one speaker. Then in the 1930s came stereo, which became popular in the 1950s. This has two slightly different tracks to mimic your ears, with the sound coming from different directions. But for that to be most effective, you need to sit right midway between two speakers – the position known as “the sweet spot”. Sitting elsewhere dilutes the experience with poor sound balance.
With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, it is rare to have time to sit down in a specific position to enjoy perfect sound, but headphones do offer true stereo for music wherever you go. This may suit individuals, but doesn’t work when it comes to sharing. This is where “no-sweet-spot” stereo” comes in. No matter where you are in a room, as an individual or part of a group, the innovation allows everyone to easily share the stereo experience. That means that everywhere is the sweet spot in that space.
“This is a revolutionary invention,” says Lee, who has since stepped back from the family business to look for fresh life-changing ventures in the global market. “It’s something listeners didn’t know they needed, but after they experience it, they wonder how they lived without it for so long. Hearing really is believing.”
This Airsound technology is the brainchild of former musician Ted Fletcher, a British veteran audio engineer and electronics designer. It took him years to fine tune and perfect the system through his company Orbitsound.
“The implications are wide and far-reaching,” says the 80-year-old. “After all these years there is finally a better way for people to experience the music they love.”
And in keeping with today’s trends and the consumer quest for things that make life easier, Fletcher says the technology is simple to use. With everything in one unit, it is just a matter of plugging it in and enabling a Bluetooth or WiFi connection. Then play and enjoy.
Be it at home, in a store, an office, a restaurant or another commercial environment, music can help make life more pleasant. Retailers in particular know that shoppers linger just a little longer when there is appropriate background music. For now, traditional speaker systems deliver this in mono format, but now a more immersive sound experience is possible.
“My mission has always been to cultivate music appreciation in young and old alike. For years it was through music education,” says Lee, now the CEO of Orbitsound Worldwide, in charge of global sales and marketing for Airsound products.
“Now it has extended to the technology side of listening to music. Either way, music is to be enjoyed and appreciated each and every day.”