We talked to Arnaud Laborie of Trinnov about their focus on the improvement of audio quality with specific attention to spatial resolution, acoustics correction, and immersive sound, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Arnaud Laborie: Thanks for asking.
Fortunately, my family, our team, and I are all safe and healthy.
I monitor the evolution of the pandemic in France very closely and adapt the company’s recommendations whenever necessary. So far, this has kept the team safe, and having the team working from home has only had a limited impact on our business, but we obviously remain very humble against this unprecedented and unpredictable situation, and our thoughts are with people more severely affected.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Trinnov.
Arnaud Laborie: I always had a passion for sound and was heading the audiophile association at my engineering school, where we built HIFI systems. That’s where I met one of the two other co-founders. I then met the third co-founder during a course at IRCAM, which is quite a unique institution located in the heart of Paris, dedicated to research on acoustics and music.
We started working on the project right after our graduation with a very ambitious research program focusing on immersive audio, pioneering around high-order ambisonics techniques. Within a year, we had a first fully operational system that we could demonstrate and which caught the attention of many sound engineers worldwide. We founded the company a couple of years later. The company name Trinnov actually stands for TRIdimensional INNOVation.
How does Trinnov innovate?
Arnaud Laborie: Trinnov Audio is fundamentally an engineering company with innovation at its core; this is our strength and what makes us truly unique and resilient. Since we started, the focus has been on the improvement of audio quality with specific attention to spatial resolution, acoustics correction, and immersive sound.
We innovate by not paying attention to what others do but by creating our path. This is essentially what we did in 2005 when we started focusing on Loudspeaker/Room Optimization, which was not very well perceived and accepted by studios and sound engineers at the time. This type of technology is now accepted and widely spread across multiple applications going from professional audio to high-end audio and even consumer electronics. Our customers, partners, and competitors respect our expertise in this field.
Furthermore, whereas many similar companies tend to outsource a lot of their development and to extensively use OEM platforms, we tend to keep as much development and control as we can in-house. As such, we develop our own hardware and operating system to make sure we can leverage our software and algorithms to their maximum capacity. This also enables us to extend our product’s life-cycle by enabling major updates via software, whereas most of our competitors traditionally use limited DSP-based platforms and ultimately do not offer the same kind of sustainability and upgradeability.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Arnaud Laborie: Sustainability is not only part of our product design philosophy; this also accurately defines the way we drive our business. Indeed, it has always been our intention to diversify our activities as much as we could, not only by addressing different audio industries but also by establishing an international sales network.
Fast-forward to 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic; the commercial cinema market has been severely impacted around the world with the various lockdowns, and so has this part of our business. On the other hand, content creation, whether its music or TV shows and films, is increasing with the rise of streaming platforms. This has helped us both with our professional studio business and with HIFI and home theater sales, which are also increasing as more and more people invest in high-performance entertainment systems at home. Overall, our loss in cinema has been more than absorbed, and we are lucky to be growing year to year overall. This has not changed but rather reinforced our commitment to the commercial cinema market, which we believe is important to spread culture and as a very different experience to the smaller private theater.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Arnaud Laborie: Uncertainty is and will always be difficult to manage. This kind of situation forces humility and calls for strong measures to prepare for the next challenge.
At the peak of the crisis, we had to decide whether we should lower our expenses drastically or adopt a more balanced and rational approach. We decided to remain positive and keep long-term perspectives in mind. We limited some expenses only and decided to maintain all positions as well as our recruitment plan to focus more than ever on research and development.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Trinnov in the future?
Arnaud Laborie: We are engineers, and somehow, we manage by trying to take emotions out of the equation when possible. We remain calm and take a step back to consider the present and all variables at hand, and we always ask ourselves whether or not we overreact.
A few months down the line, with the brighter perspectives of 2021, we are confident we made the right decision.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Arnaud Laborie: We have a strange relation to the notion of competition. As said before, we tend to create our own path and to pay as little attention as possible to what others do. We strongly believe that’s the best way to stay not only in the game but on top of our game.
In some cases, competitors help. That’s the case with the broader adoption of loudspeaker/room optimization, otherwise known as room correction, which we have seen in recent years. This would have taken much longer without the help of our competitors, and rather than fighting against them; we are rather thankful.
In other cases, our competitors are much larger companies, with a different culture, different goals and ambitions, larger budgets, and different agendas. We may be competing against in one market but partnering within another. Here also, we need to be respectful of each other and appreciate our respective positions on the market, reminding ourselves there is room for everyone as long as we stay relevant in what we do.
Finally, some companies are competing with us head to head, which may be the best win, but ultimately, we need competition; doing better is healthy and necessary.
Your final thoughts?
Arnaud Laborie: Looking forward to 2021, thanks for giving us the opportunity to share some insights.