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.