Nahimic has been offering its 3D audio technology on PCs for years (specifically, MSI’s gaming PCs), but at CES 2019, the company is expanding in a big way with a new Mac appthat promises to bring that same 3D audio sound to your laptop, all without needing any new hardware.
I had the chance to demo the app here at CES, and it actually seems to do what it says on the can — it makes music and movies sound like they’re in 3D audio. Or, if not fully 3D audio (since there’s no cheating the fact that most of this content just isn’t mastered for 3D sound), at least a fuller and richer sound that what Mac speakers usually put out.
Music in particular benefited in the demo, seeing a dramatic and noticeable improvement, while the movie trailers I watched with it mostly just sounded louder, but not necessarily better. And because Nahimic’s app works on a system level, the company promises it should just work with any audio or video source on any output device — so built-in speakers, headphones, and external speakers should all work with any app or streaming service that you can play on your Mac.
In addition to the 3D audio feature, Nahimic’s app also offers a straight volume boost too, which was less impressive. I can see maybe turning it on if I was trying to hear a video in a really loud room, but it mostly just muddied the sound, especially for movie dialogue.
For what its worth, I was trying this out by sticking my head into a sound-isolating foam box in a noisy convention room, so it’s not exactly the best circumstances for testing sound quality — your mileage with a pair of headphones or at your desk in a home setting may vary.
There is one big catch, though: Nahimic isn’t selling the app outright, only offering it through an $35 annual subscription, which is a bit pricey for an audio enhancement app. Fortunately, the company is also offering a free 14-day demo, so you can try it out and see if it’s worth your money first. And for those who don’t have a Mac, the company is already working on a Windows version for sometime later this year.