When Teddy Riley went head-to-head with Babyface in the Verzuz Instagram battle earlier this year, a large part of his catalogue showcased the multiple hits he’s produced in his decades-long career. Now, he’s giving others a chance to play around with the music he’s made, as part of a 3D audio app that’s just recently launched. “I’m a technology freak and I love everything about technology,” Riley tells American Songwriter. “I see this app opening up a whole new can of futuristic worms.”
The app, called Audible Reality, available on iOS and Android, certainly does have the potential for new futuristic ear-worms. Created in an effort to bring hi-definition audio to a more accessible format, it’s designed to enable fans to experience their favorite songs through different audio filters, presets, or “Vibes,” as they’re called on the app. Audible Reality wants to be to be the Instagram of music, by offering listeners the chance to apply different Vibes on songs to reshape the sound — designer speakers not required.
Riley created his own Vibes for the app, coinciding with the premiere of his latest single, “Dance 4 Glory.” The uplifting track features guest appearances from V Bozeman, Donel, J.SOL and Nezi Momodu. “It’s the next level of technology,” Riley says. “I fell in love with it when I first tried it and thought it would be something amazing for people to hear from me — my vibes, my presets, and my take on Audible Reality.”
Fellow Grammy-winning producer Dan Wilson, lead singer for Semisonic, who’s helped write hits like The Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice” and Adele’s “Someone like You”, has also been an early adopter of the technology. “One thing I think is cool is that Audible Reality gives the listener the chance to transform the sound of their favorite music in ways that are normally only available to a producer with an elaborate audio workstation or mixing board,” he tells American Songwriter.
Semisonic’s first new song in 20 years, “You’re Not Alone” from their new EP of the same name, is accompanied by a Vibe that enhances the song by adding a “driving with the brights on” feel to it. “The Vibes of Audible Reality can give you alternate ‘views’ of the music very quickly and dramatically. The sounds of the Vibes would take a producer hours to create. The listener gets to try them like photo filters until they find something beautiful or exciting,” says Wilson.
It has benefits for artists themselves too, like Wilson who’s personally been using the app in his mixes. Through the Audible Reality Pro plug-in, artists can create their own Vibes, using Audible Reality’s immersive, interactive mastering tool. “It’s great to be able to put the different instruments into wildly different sonic spaces. And especially with ambient mixes I’ve had great luck using the Audible Reality app over my whole mix,” he says.
He believes fans will get just as much joy out of using it as professionals do. “I think fans will figure out which vibes they like to apply to which style of music, or even what time of day they want to use which vibes.” he says. “I can imagine listeners enjoying hearing their favorite songs at different levels of drive and excitement, with different amounts of ambient space or width.”
The first time Wilson heard the app demo — “airplanes seeming to fly overhead in the sonic space, mono signals expanded to realistic 3-dimensions” — he was amazed. DJ Battlecat, BONES UK, Big Freedia, The Stone Foxes, Ryan Cabrera and Lauren Jenkins are just some of the other artists already plugged into Audible Reality Pro.
“Music is so important, especially in today’s climate,” Jenkins tells American Songwriter. “I think our lives are better when we spend more time with it. This app could also be one of the first steps for someone who wants to have a part in the creative process. Who knows — maybe this app will help cultivate a new wave of musicians, producers, or engineers…”
Jenkins, as a musician and songwriter, understands how the smallest nuances can change a song. It’s why she spends so much time in the studio writing, recording and mixing — to get her music exactly the way she want its. “Listeners that hear the final product don’t get to hear the behind the scenes of adjusting the volume of the bass, or adding and removing instruments,” she says. “While I think it’s important and necessary to hear the artist’s final vision of a song, Audible Reality unlocks a new way of experiencing music, which is exciting.”
The app piques Jenkins’ own curiosity about how songs are made. “Maybe you’ll experience the singer’s voice in a different way, or notice a drum fill you never noticed before,” she says. “I think anything that gets people more engaged with music and storytelling is a beautiful thing.”
Audible Reality was created by co-founder and CEO Matt Boerum, who’s been an audio engineer and musician for 20 years. Boerum earned a reputation as an innovator in 3D audio for music production, through doing everything from building and designing pro studios and fixing audio equipment, to recording and running live shows, and working in film sound and audio for games — all while also teaching university students audio engineering and production.
“The final “ah-ha” moment came during my PhD in Sound Recording at McGill [University in Montreal] where I was immersed — no pun intended — in 3D audio research, automated audio processing (semantic audio/AI), and VR,” Boerum tells American Songwriter. “I felt that the experience of 3D audio was by far, the best audio/music experience I’ve ever had, but it was also the most complicated process any audio engineer could perform. You’d had to have years of experience, a room capable of setting up 20-30 speakers, and all the equipment to run that type of space.” He felt the approach, while incredible, was prohibitive for musicians looking for the quickest way to put down their idea into a finished production.
“It had to be as simple as a push of a button for anyone to adopt it,” he says. “Long story short, with a combination of AI to automate the incredibly technical challenges of 3D audio, and additional research into understanding how to predict better engagement with 3D audio, Audible Reality was born.”
Boerum sees songwriters and musicians using Audible Reality Vibes as a platform for exclusive experiences around their music, for new and old releases alike. “Having multiple vibes for a given album or track, co-producing vibes with other artists for exclusive sonic mash-ups, releasing Vibes that really just capture the sonic characteristic of an artist, or even promoting tour dates (God, help us bring these back soon!) with vibes for each venue on the tour, and sponsorship/branding opportunities with major brands looking for signature sound profiles to help market their products in new ways,” he says. It’s another tool in an artist’s box to promote and market their music. Even for someone as legendary as Riley, who has an Audible Reality book coming out, too. “You will hear the drama and sound effects alongside the reading to make you feel what the narrator is feeling,” he says.