Thursday, February 29, 2024
Archived Post

Apple patent hints at solution to Mac/HomePod stereo pairing shortcoming

As 9to5’s Ben Lovejoy pointed out in a “feature request” article, Apple really needs to add stereo-paired HomePods as a Mac sound output. Apple’s iOS/iPadOS audio apps will happily allow you to select stereo-paired HomePods as a single output device. 

Not so the Mac itself, however. I can output Mac sound to Office Left or Office Right, but not to the stereo pair. Apple needs to fix this, and a newly granted patent (number 10,542,365) for “optimizing the performance of a linked audio/video feed” gives me hope that it will, although it involves more situations than that involving the Mac.

Speaker arrays may reproduce pieces of sound program content to a user through the use of one or more audio beams. For example, a set of speaker arrays may reproduce front left, front center, and front right channels for a piece of sound program content (e.g., a musical composition or an audio track for a movie). 

In its patent filing, Apple says that although speaker arrays provide a wide degree of customization through the production of audio beams, conventional speaker array systems must be manually configured each time a new user and/or a new speaker array are added to the system. This requirement for manual configuration “may be burdensome and inconvenient as speaker arrays are added to a listening area or moved to new locations within the listening area.” Apple wants to fix this.

Here’s the summary of the invention: “An audio system is provided that efficiently detects speaker arrays and configures the speaker arrays to output sound. In this system, a computing device may record the addresses and/or types of speaker arrays on a shared network while a camera captures video of a listening area, including the speaker arrays. 

“The captured video may be analyzed to determine the location of the speaker arrays, one or more users, and/or the audio source in the listening area. While capturing the video, the speaker arrays may be driven to sequentially emit a series of test sounds into the listening area and a user may be prompted to select which speaker arrays in the captured video emitted each of the test sounds. Based on these inputs from the user, the computing device may determine an association between the speaker arrays on the shared network and the speaker arrays in the captured video.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.