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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001


Tomlinson Holman working at a Mac in 2007 (Source: Flickr)
As noted by GigaOM, tech pundit Leo Laporte today tweeted that he has heard "on good authority" that Apple has hired audio pioneer Tomlinson Holman to head up the company's audio projects.
Apple has reportedly hired Tomlinson Holman as its new audio chief, according to a tweet by Leo Laporte Wednesday morning. Laporte said he had it "on good authority" that Holman "is joining Apple to run audio." Holman is the brain behind Lucasfilm's THX sound, and the world's first 10.2 surround sound system. Apple had yet to respond to a request for confirmation as of this writing.
Holman spent fifteen years at Lucasfilm, working to develop the THX sound system and related technologies. He has been serving as professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California while also pursuing development of advanced surround-sound technologies such as "10.2" for increased spatial sound perception through his own company. The technology focuses on creating a heightened level of immersion by utilizing an array of seven front speaker channels, including a pair of "height" channels installed at a 45-degree angle above the listening area.

Holman received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement in 2001 for his contributions to the development of cinema sound systems.

Article Link: Apple Reportedly Hires Audio Pioneer Tomlinson Holman


macrumors regular
Mar 1, 2011
Oregon, USA
10.2 surround sound must be spectacular. 5.1 in my car sounds amazing as it is.

So will Apple be leading the way towards such systems for the home? Or merely the software for making such music? New audio devices and downloads through iTunes?

So many questions.. :)


macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
Wow. I wonder what he's going to work on, because most audio professionals already use Apple computers.


macrumors regular
Mar 3, 2009
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

quite the payroll our beloved company has, investments which pay off handsomely-10.2 built into an iMac sounds silly but delicious...


macrumors 68020
Nov 5, 2009
I had the opportunity to audition a true 10.2 system at the Bjorn's in San Antonio. Needless to say it was quite amazing.

I wonder what type of things he would lead for Apple's audio department. Perhaps better quality dacs and amps for their iPod lineup? It'd be nice to give their macbook/pros and iMacs higher quality speakers. As of current they have exactly no sub-bass reproduction-- basically making any pair of external speakers or headphones mandatory for music listening.


macrumors 6502a
Jun 5, 2006
This would be beneath his talents, but I'm just hoping for better support for surround sound in apple hardware. "It just works" does not currently apply to surround sound.


macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2003
Interesting, I assume he would work on speakers and related stuff as opposed to software (itunes, GB, Logic etc)?


macrumors 6502a
Sep 30, 2007
Audio Engineer Needed

Good! Maybe they'll finally update the annoying startup noise that the Macs make when they power on. Especially with my 27" iMac my poor cats are freaked out every time I start my computer!

Lesser Evets

macrumors 68040
Jan 7, 2006
Most people are not audiophiles. Yes, they listen to things, but they are not finely attuned to the quality of sound. Many audiophiles don't even realize they aren't really. However, being so progressive and perfectionist with sound shows how brilliant Apple is as a company. Does Dell, MS, or other computer companies give a ****? No. They crank out rubbish more often than not.


Aug 6, 2008
Manchester UK
Good! Maybe they'll finally update the annoying startup noise that the Macs make when they power on. Especially with my 27" iMac my poor cats are freaked out every time I start my computer!

If you have external speakers plugged into it then unplug them, turn the volume down to one bar, then plug them back in and set the volume to normal


macrumors 68000
Apr 17, 2008
Well this must have something to do with Thunderbolt.

7.1 is sweet with blu-ray. Or maybe this is all more on the line of patents.

Let him figure out and invent new things and Apple gets to patent it all up just in case. Not like they money would be wasted.

I can't see this been about speaker because who cares there are so many good speakers for computers and home use already.


macrumors newbie
Mar 13, 2010
I had the opportunity to audition a true 10.2 system at the Bjorn's in San Antonio. Needless to say it was quite amazing.

Used to live in SA and visit Bjorn regularly- Introduced to Meridian there- love it; say Hello from ken if he's still around. Was the 10.2 sourced that way or processed into those channels?

love this news from Apple



macrumors member
Mar 3, 2009
Spacial sound. He was a professor of mine at USC in the 1990's and he had developed the most amazing audio technology. By just using a pair of audio speakers (stereo) he was able to reproduce sound spatially. That is, in my mind I could swear I could locate where the drums were placed, locate where the guitars were placed, locate where the vocals were placed. It was like I was in the room with the musicians. He had applied this to some movies at the time was well and it was simply astounding. The sounds did not come out from the speakers but was in the room with you. You needed headphones or needed to sit one place to get this effect, so this technology appeared to me to most useful for military applications and gaming platforms. It would also be amazing for someone sitting at computer as well.

This is all conjecture. But it was a piece of technology that was... magic... as I never experienced anything like it before. The effect on the mind was so much more powerful than the 3D visuals we have today, which are nice, but not to be repetitive, this audio technology was was jaw dropping.


macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
Good! Maybe they'll finally update the annoying startup noise that the Macs make when they power on. Especially with my 27" iMac my poor cats are freaked out every time I start my computer!

Just mute your computer b4 you shut it down. Problem solved.


macrumors 65816
Dec 4, 2008
The back of beyond.
Maybe they'll get him working on iPod headphones! Though that might be overkill.

Perhaps the rumours of an Apple branded TV set are true and they want someone to build an excellent sound system to go with it.

Though he is probably just working on the pro audio software or something similar.


macrumors 68000
Jan 5, 2010
Almost Rock Solid
Could be for the "real" Apple TV

Sounds like the work Mr. Holman was doing was yet another gimmick (like 3D) designed to pry people away from their home entertainment systems and back into movie theaters. Good move to get away from all that, if he is in fact an Apple employee now.

But adding surround sound to Macs would be drastic overkill in 99% of the user base. (Yes, I know that audio is one of the Mac's weak points.) And I doubt he'd come to Apple just to work on improving iPod / iPhone / iPad audio. My wild guess is that he could instead be working on the audio system for an actual Apple HDTV set and/or a surround sound accessory for it.

The preamp / amp / receiver / speaker mix & match game has been played thousand of times by dozens if not hundreds of home electronics makers over many decades. And if there is any home electronics system screaming out for a wireless solution, it's surround sound speakers. The problem, of course, is maintaining audio quality without wires.

Oh well, if the rumors are true, it'll be great to see what Mr. Holman can do for Apple.


macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
Cork, Ireland.
Interesting.. can't imagine what he'd be working on. I wouldn't have thought his skills would be suited to Logic Studio... so what hardware/solutions could he be involved in?

I'm voting for an Apple TV with unparalleled sound support as standard*. (*More what I want, than what I expect)


macrumors 68000
Jun 23, 2009
iTV with the best sound quality of any TV on the market, come on doooown.

What else could he be working on, Mac speakers?!!

Macs arent thirsting for that.

Audio speaker accessories?!!

Cant see Apple in that market.

Speakers for a TV that would allow u to get away with buying a home theater system?!!!

Thats what Im talking about!!

iOS is nothing more than a way to sell entertainment content. Just like Apple does with its software, they create their own devices to ensure an enhanced experience compared to its competition. With Amazon, Google/android, Dish network/Blockbuster, Red Box, netflix, Hulu, Sony/Crackle, Comcast, etc all selling content, Apple will do their best to make sure they provide THE BEST experience.

OS X-Creation
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macrumors member
Apr 15, 2010
please bring lossless audio support to Mac OS. I hate booting into windows to watch blu-ray rips with DTS-HD MA or TrueHD
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