What you need to know
A thumb-sized audio booster might be all you need to enjoy the audio quality of a home theater system.
Embrace Audio Lab is a Taiwanese startup that aims to bring audio quality to a whole new level. With their audio signal processing technology “XROUND” and their new device “XPUMP,” any ordinary stereo speakers can be transformed into a home theater system. Peng Lee (李鵬), founder and CEO of the company, hopes to make their technology and device affordable so that people can enjoy a high quality, multi-channel listening experience with a lower budget.
The News Lens International (TNLI): Can you briefly describe what the company does and the idea behind it?
Peng Lee: Embrace Audio Lab Inc. is a team of passionate audio experts, designers, engineers, and audiophiles who want to redefine the audio industry by improving the listening experience for all. Based in Taipei, Embrace specializes in audio digital signal processing, acoustic, firmware, and hardware design. Our first consumer product, XPUMP, will be available this December.
TNLI: How did you come up with the idea?
Lee: I have worked for a number of international tech firms as a senior audio/voice DSP algorithm developer. During that time, I helped develop multiple audio products and applications, and supervised the manufacturing of more than 50 million audio devices. Through my past experience, I found that it’s difficult for most people to enjoy good sound quality if they cannot afford to buy a complete home theater system. That’s why I started to work and develop a unique DSP algorithm — now called XROUND™ — which can process any 2.0 sound sources and turn that into multi-channel listening experience. I want to make good sound quality affordable and accessible to music/ movie lovers and gamers.
TNLI: What is your current company status, including your company scale, employees, products sold, etc.?
Lee: Embrace Audio Lab Inc. is a self-funded startup with enterprise level customers in the United States, South America and Europe. With a team of around five people, the company’s first consumer product — XPUMP — was also introduced to the market via a Kickstarter campaign that went live on Sept. 6.
TNLI: What was the biggest challenge, both personally and professionally, when founding the company?
Lee: Our biggest challenge is the same as any self-funded startup — any tiny thing can kill us. There are challenges at every step, from R&D [research and development] to design, manufacturing to quality control, and marketing to sales.
TNLI: What was the biggest accomplishment Embrace Audio Lab has achieved so far?
Lee: I introduced XPUMP to the world via a Kickstarter campaign and will begin shipping the product by the end of 2016. Our campaign hit the goal of US$25,000 in just 10 hours. Within 14 days we have raised more than 300 percent of our original funding goal. I plan to bring in more marketing resources to spread the idea to a wider audience during the rest of the campaign for about a month.
Before launching the Kickstarter campaign, I was invited to attend the IFA global press conference for startup companies this April. In front of more than 300 global technology journalists, I introduced XPUMP and was covered in renowned press such as Slush Gear, Nikkei BP and several Taiwanese media like UDN.
TNLI: What is the significance of XROUND technology? Can it be applied in other fields other than home media?
Lee: The XROUND™ algorithm, created and patented by myself in Embrace Audio Lab Inc., analyzes and reconstructs an audio signal’s sound field in real time, providing depth, width, and detail to listeners on just two speakers. The core DSP technology could be applied to a wide variety of audio equipment at both consumer and enterprise levels.
TNLI: Can you briefly describe your newest product XPUMP, how it works, what unique functions it possesses, and where it can be applied?
Lee: XPUMP is a pocket-sized, easy-to-use device that features the patented XROUND™ processing technology. XPUMP can be used with desktop or portable speakers, home sound systems, or even headphones. Users simply plug the device between the source (computer, television, etc.) and the output (headphones or speakers) and press play.
No matter the audio source, whether streaming music, video, games or movies, listeners will hear more detail and enjoy an immersive audio experience. Here is the link of XPUMP on Kickstarter for more details.
TNLI: What other products or services does the company provide?
Lee: I have developed and implemented the XROUND Engine. This enterprise level product is being used by gaming and multimedia developers and producers.
TNLI: Are there any exciting upcoming products or plans lately?
Lee: I am looking for new ways to improve the sound experience for listeners using the patented XROUND processing technology and have an upcoming product roadmap in my mind. One example is a new device to provide a customized sound field for everyone in an automatic way.
TNLI: What does Embrace Audio Lab hope to achieve in five years?
Lee: I am constantly looking for new ways to improve the sound experience for listeners and to design audio-related innovations. Our mission is to redefine the audio industry by breaking the barriers to new technology currently controlled by gigantic companies while improving the listening experience for all.
First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole