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Summary:

Apple has reportedly hired Tomlinson Holman as its new audio chief, according to a tweet by Leo Laporte Wednesday. Laporte has it “on good authority” that Holman “is joining Apple to run audio.” Holman created THX, and could shake up computer and mobile audio at Apple.

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Apple has reportedly hired Tomlinson Holman as its new audio chief, according to a tweet by Leo Laporte Wednesday morning. Laporte said he had it “on good authority” that Holman “is joining Apple to run audio.” Holman is the brain behind Lucasfilm’s THX sound, and the world’s first 10.2 surround sound system. Apple had yet to respond to a request for confirmation as of this writing.

Holman is currently a film sound professor at the University of Southern California, and he has received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement. He spent 15 years as the corporate technical director for Lucasfilm, and all of the company’s THX patents stem from his work and research. Holman also has experience designing loudspeakers and amplifiers in addition to his work in the film industry. His experience covers all aspects of audio, according to Holman himself in a 1996 interview. He says that his ability to avoid narrow specialization is what got him his earliest jobs.

If Apple has indeed brought Holman on board, it could signify big things in store for Mac, iOS and even iTunes audio. Apple already builds optical audio out into all new Macs, via the headphone port (it works with optical TOSLINK cables using an adapter), which can provide true surround sound from your computer to your home theatre system, but it could stand to improve the quality of its built-in Mac and iOS device speakers and headphones. There have also been rumors that Apple may be looking to improve the sound quality of iTunes audio files, which is definitely something Holman could assist with.

Isn’t it time we got good (not just okay or passable) sound from our computers and iOS devices? Admittedly, we’ve come a long way since the days of the first speakerphone, but considering the advancements in display and video quality (a game Apple’s already winning with its Retina Display), I think it’s about time we saw similar investments made in sound quality, too.

  1. Terry Henderson Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Everybody Is Missing The Real Point Of This Hire. A 50″ THX Certified Apple Branded HD TV. IMHO.

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  2. “…If Apple has indeed brought Holman on board, it could signify big things in store for Mac, iOS and even iTunes audio…”

    Think bigger. It may mean big things for Apple-branded HDTV’s and A/V Receivers.

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  3. Tom Holman is a marketing hack, and not an engineer. THX was a bad joke on the movie business, and you’ll note has mostly disappeared. Most of Holman’s ideas are long since discredited – read Dr. Floyd Toole’s book surround sound where he guts Holman like a fish.

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  4. I hate the speakers of my MacBook… I miss the ones in my old MacBook Pro…

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  5. Allan Hanley Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Holman is an audio carney-barker, a blowhard self-promoter in an industry of big egos. I have difficulty imagining what kind of “science” this grossly unscientific marketer can bring to Apple. Most engineering at Apple toils in anonymity, for good reason. Holman’s bio says he’s responsible for Audessy, another so-called audio advance that most acousticians agree doesn’t work.

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  6. This AirPlay strategy holds so much promise and Apple seems to be putting the pieces in place. We see video downloads consumed on mobile devices, such as.

    http://www.bitmenu.com/blog.html?headline=location-location-location.html

    We know these devices provide wonderful portable libraries for coaching videos yet the device itself is hard to share. A flat panel TV with AirPlay takes sharing into a whole new world of possibilities.

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  7. Jeff Bridges Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    I once had cops come and bang on my door at 12:30am because of music from the speakers on my MacBook Pro, so I think Apple’s doing just fine in the loudness department.

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    1. Your wall’s much be tissue paper thin.
      As the auto output of the Macbook line is poor at best.
      it’s almost as if Apple does not like loudness.
      Apple has never been known for sound level.
      Set a Macbook next to just about any other computers.
      Dell, HP, IBE and they will blow them away.
      In order to do any type of presentations with my macbook I always
      bring powered speakers.

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  8. Holman hasn’t been involved with THX for decades (and they haven’t been involved with LucasFilm for a long time either). He is an accomplished engineer and professor at the USC film school, and he could add a lot to Apple’s audio initiative. This would be far beyond any single issue like TV, surround, etc.

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    1. Tommy Stickle Friday, May 20, 2011

      Holman is no engineer. He’s got an arts degree. The AES is currently rewriting his flawed cinema sound standards. Like everyone in Hollywood he’s much less than his press clippings.

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  9. Holman is an audio carney-barker, a blowhard self-promoter in an industry of big egos. I have difficulty imagining what kind of “science” this grossly unscientific marketer can bring to Apple. Most engineering at Apple toils in anonymity, for good reason. Holman’s bio says he’s responsible for Audessy, another so-called audio advance that most acousticians agree doesn’t work. He was fired by THX, his so-called 10.2 system is a fraud, and he’s got little respect of his peers in the engineering world. Holman is the “white van” of audio engineering circles.

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  10. I highly Disagree! Firstly THX broke away from Lucasfilm LTD in 2001 to become a separate entity. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois, is Professor of Film Sound at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television and a Principal Investigator in the Integrated Media Systems Center at the university.

    I might add also an highly regarded author of two widely used University textbooks: Sound for Film and Television by Tomlinson Holman and Surround Sound: Up and Running NEW by Tomlinson Holman. Most recently notable for creating the 10.2 Surround sound system which will be the new cinema system of the future! Keep your uneducated opinions to yourself unless you actually know otherwise!

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