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For part two of our Xperia details series we caught up with Masaaki Tahara, the engineer behind Xperia Z2‘s re-vamped audio experiences to talk front facing speakers and digital noise cancelling technology.

“Given its renewed focus on video entertainment, with Xperia Z2 we wanted to create an audio experience that would help people to immerse themselves in the content in front of them. There were two key ways we approached this, firstly through our digital noise cancelling capability, (which quite literally shuts out the outside world to draw you into the audio experience), and secondly through a dramatically improved speaker system that allows people to showcase their music in more social situations.

Digital noise cancelling works by attaching two small microphones to the earpieces of the MDR-NC31EM headset. These feed sound back to a special digital noise cancelling circuit in Xperia Z2 which reads it, flips the sound waves upside-down and plays it back into the earpiece. When the two waves meet, because they are the opposite of each other, they cancel each other out, and in this way we are able to eliminate up to 98% of background noise. We combine this technology with a bigger driver in the earpieces to produce a better, clearer sound – all of which is a long way of saying you get to experience your audio in brilliant clarity without being distracted by background hum.

The other major area of improvement is in the way we re-created the speaker experience. Firstly and perhaps most importantly, we switched the speaker layout so that the two speakers are on either ends of the phone and face forward – straight at the listener. If you’ve ever been at concert and stood at the side of the speaker you’ll know how much of a difference it makes to have the sound coming at you rather than going away from you. Secondly we’ve introduced some incredible new software to help create clearer, fuller sound. We’ve even created our own version of surround sound through a technology called S-Force Front Surround. This uses the fact that the speakers are spaced further apart to virtually re-create surround sound, and the effect is very dramatic.

In short – we recognised that if we’re going to create a phone that helps people both to re-live experiences and create new ones, then we have to make those experiences every bit as good as real life. Our ears are every bit as important as our eyes – people remember important moments with perfect vision and incredible sound and the changes we brought to Xperia Z2 are a huge step forward in achieving this.”

For an example of the effect that noise reduction can have check out the example tracks below. (NB. These are intended only as a point of reference and actual reduction levels will vary depending on your surroundings.)

First with noise reduction off:

and now with noise reduction on: