Instagram, listen up. Sound Matters.
We have 360 cameras, Augmented reality glasses, doorbells that unlock our doors from an app and voice assistants. Yet when it comes to sharing audio on social media, we remain stuck in the dark ages. Why?! Did you know that Facebook and Instagram both support 360 video on mobile, but don’t support stereo audio?
Seriously, what is the point of having immersive video if Instagram and Facebook only allow us to experience sound with one ear?
Hearing Is believing
For those of you not aware, there is a huge difference between stereo and mono audio.
Stereo is two channel audio, meaning it designates two independent sources to playback sound. Ever heard a piece of music where you can tell the drums are in the right speaker and guitar in the left? That’s stereo.
Mono is one channel audio, meaning the drums and the guitar are in both speakers. Everything is even.
Hooke records stereo audio wirelessly, which means it records two channels.
The 3D effect Hooke produces is because of the specific placement of the two microphones inside the earbuds. Hear for yourself:
A Tale As old As Time
Every week I watch a Hooke Verse customer excitedly share their binaural videos to Instagram. Since binaural audio is technically a stereo audio file, any one with a pair of speakers or headphones can experience amazing immersive binaural 3D Audio from their phone- unless they’re watching on Instagram.
When you tell stories in mono audio, you’re telling half the story.
These apps exist to tell stories, our stories. If they can’t share scent, touch, or taste, then they better do the best job at sharing our sights and sounds in their highest quality. Most social media content is POV by nature, you the viewers are expected to be transformed into the head of the user and both hear and see from their perspective. All apps do a fine job of visually conveying the world to its viewers, however one Instagram seems to think we hear the world with one ear instead of two.
Even more unsettling is that they assume we don’t care if our concert videos sound like crap (when most of them floating around on Facebook unfortunately do). It’s completely unacceptable, and unfortunately it’s persistent across all of Facebook’s products. There is a reason that you have two ears instead of one, so that you hear better and take in the sounds around you better. So why don’t our favorite apps do the same thing and utilize stereo audio instead of just using mono? When we basically live in these applications, they should do the best job that they can to deliver us the highest quality of their application.
Why would Instagram want to do this?
1. Because of size and data limitations?
No way. Video is unbelievably more data intensive than audio. Changing the audio codec upload standards from mono to stereo would be changing the file size of every video by a minuscule amount. Nothing to sound any alarms.
2. Because it’s not possible?
Nope. If the smartphone is able to recognize a stereo mic and capture 2 channels of audio, all apps working on the phone should do the same.
3. Because no one cares about the sound?
Of course, they don’t. Because they don’t have the ability to make it sound better! If you feed a village with poor quality meat, they have a better chance of turning Vegan! You are what you eat, the same goes for audio quality.
Let’s talk about the technical things consumers DO care about: Color, lighting and scenery.
Why? Because we’ve had the ability to control these parameters in our lives. We all have dimmers in our homes, auto stabilization on our cameras and filters on our instagrams. It’s made us feel like pros, which has allowed us to talk like pros (for better or for worse). Regardless, the important thing is that we’re talking about them and have opinions on them, even though most consumers opinions on lighting and color are ill informed.
Please Instagram, if you care about storytelling, support stereo audio.
Facebook and Instagram have been around for years now and have the highest amount of users at it’s fingertips. In reality, it should be catering to it’s consumers needs. It is the giant tech companies like Facebook and Twitter’s responsibility to provide us, the consumer with the best tools to tell our stories. As long as Facebook converts everything to mono, how are we to know it can be better? However, as headphone sales continue to rise and iPhones now come with stereo speakers, more people are noticing the difference and demanding more, plus a better quality of experience. There are many creators sharing incredible stories with high quality audio, but Facebook is limiting them from truly connecting with their audiences, which is hurting everyone. That ends now.
It’s clear that these companies are looking for any opportunity to gain an edge over their competition, and once the video features have gone as far as they can, audio will be next in line to help one company rise above the other. Either way, the next few months will be pivotal in the social media arms race. We say watch your back Instagram. Some one might just take the lead in providing quality for its consumers.
I’m curious, if I started a petition, would you join? Leave your comments or questions below. Thanks so much!
From One Ear To Another,
Founder, Hooke Audio