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‘Sound is not subjective at all’: L-Acoustics founder Christian Heil talks audio artistry

The audio pioneer discusses the art of great sounds

In a world exclusive interview with Installation, L-Acoustics founder and president, Christian Heil, has spoken about his approach to understanding audio and explains his belief that “sound is not subjective”.

In a wide-ranging interview covering everything from the company’s move into the residential audio sector with L-Acoustics Creations, through to the potential long-term impact of the coronavirus on the industry, Heil discussed his PhD in particle physics and scientific background has informed his understanding of audio.

“Sound is not subjective at all,” he told Installation. “The perception of subjectivity is based on an ensemble of parameters that are measurable and you can effectively define all these metrics, but the complexity of those metrics makes people think that it is purely subjective.

“The value of science is great in this domain, and it helps us define how we can adjust the parameters so they can be more satisfying. There are still some engineers who tell me they like the sound of particular loudspeaker brands, but any of us in that area can reproduce the sound created by any of the others. It’s about applying your own signature. For example, I could define presets and make our system sound like another – it’s about how you adjust the parameters. Of course, you still need the components and the transducers capable of doing that, but you can effectively make a product that sounds like this brand or that brand.”

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Heil also recalls the formative experience that fueled his passion for achieving great sound.

“When I was young, before I started the company, I would visit auditoria looking at the nice loudspeaker systems, and at the same time I always felt there was something wrong with what I was hearing,” he explained. “It was clear to me that I was only listening to loudspeakers, not the actual music. Some loudspeakers may sound better than others, but they still sound like loudspeakers. At no point did I feel like what I was perceiving was real. Later, I founded the company and am lucky enough to be invited to the best locations at live concerts… those were the first times I felt ‘this is it, this is powerful’.”

You can read our world exclusive interview with Heil in the digital edition of our latest issue here.