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Clubhouse Adds Spatial Audio, Now Averaging 700k Rooms Per Day

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It may have lost some of its buzz, and it may seem like Twitter’s Spaces has now superseded its offering in many ways. But Clubhouse is still rising, not as fast as it had been back in January, but it is moving forward nonetheless.

And this could help it maintain that momentum. Today, as part its weekly community update, Clubhouse announced that it’s now rolling out spatial audio, adding a new level of depth to your Clubhouse chats.

As you can hear in this example clip (better in headphones), spatial audio makes it sound more like a real world chat, with each different speaker in a seemingly different position around the virtual room.

As explained by Clubhouse:

Spatial audio replicates how we hear and process voices in the same physical room, spacing individual speakers in the listener’s wired, or Bluetooth headphones (including Airpods) or car stereo system.”

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That can make it a more engaging experience, replicating IRL discussion, while also better enabling differentiation between each voice, as you’ll know, for example, that ‘John’s voice will be coming from your left, while ‘Jane’s will come from your right during the chat.

To simulate audio spacing, Clubhouse’s software will now assign a specific position to each speaker in a room “taking care to evenly distribute speakers for maximum intelligibility”. Clubhouse also notes that music and stereo sources will also be positioned, and will maintain their assigned stereo separation in the artificial space.

The only catch is that the speakers themselves won’t get the same experience – spatial audio will only be active for members of the audience. That could present some challenges in management, but it could also help those on stage to better follow along with the conversation, without having to be concerned about potential shifts in audio levels for each co-speaker.

And for the audience, it could present all new creative opportunities:

“Imagine a ghost story where you can hear the evil spirit move around the haunted house or even whisper in your ear. Or a musical performance or comedy show where you can hear applause or laughter coming from every corner of a sold out virtual club.

It’s a good update, which should help Clubhouse maintain audience interest – which, as noted, is still seemingly rising as the app continues to push on in the face of increasing competition.

Indeed, Clubhouse says that it’s now hosting some 700,000 rooms in the app every day, an increase of 130% on its volumes just three months ago.

Of course, more ‘Rooms’ doesn’t necessarily reflect more active app users overall, and Clubhouse hasn’t provided an update on its total user figures of late (the app reported 10m weekly users back in May). But even so, its download rates, while far lower than its peak, have leveled somewhat since June, with both iOS and Android users still looking to tap into its various Clubs and discussions.

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Clubhouse downloads over the last three months (iOS)

The app’s Android app launch back in May has further propelled its overall numbers, with Clubhouse seeing particularly significant growth in India, where Android is clearly the dominant OS, and where users have welcomed the open opportunity of live discussion, partnered with the more data-friendly audio-only approach.

The region has become a much bigger focus for the app of late, and it’ll be hoping that the addition of spatial audio will help to reignite interest in all markets, and maintain its position as the best audio social app.

But with Twitter set to take the next big step with its Spaces option anytime soon, and Facebook gradually ramping up the roll-out of its audio rooms, the challenge for Clubhouse remains significant.

Still, innovation is key, and spatial audio could be a big, bold step in this respect.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Iran pop singer silenced, but his song remains a protest anthem

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Shervin Hajipour's song "Baraye" draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life

Shervin Hajipour’s song “Baraye” draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life – Copyright Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)/AFP –

David Vujanovic

Even though he has been silenced, Iranian pop singer Shirvin Hajipour’s impassioned song in support of protests over Mahsa Amini’s death in custody remains an unofficial anthem of the movement.

The song “Baraye” notched up 40 million views on Instagram before it was deleted when Hajipour was arrested, but he has since been freed on bail and has distanced himself from politics, likely as a condition for his release.

Baraye, the Persian word “For” or “Because”, is composed of tweets about the protests and highlights longings people have for things lacking in sanctions-hit Iran, where many complain of hardship caused by economic mismanagement.

It also draws on everyday activities that have landed people in trouble with the authorities in the Islamic republic.

“For the sake of dancing in the streets; Because of the fear felt while kissing; For my sister, your sister, your sisters,” the song’s lyrics say.

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“Because of the embarrassment of an empty pocket; Because we are longing for a normal life… Because of this polluted air.”

Baraye has been heard played loudly at night from apartment blocks in Iran to show support for protests sparked by Amini’s death on September 16, after the notorious morality police arrested her for allegedly breaching rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.

It was also sung with gusto by the Iranian diaspora at rallies in more than 150 cities around the world at the weekend.

In one clip shared by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, a group of schoolgirls without headscarves is seen singing Baraye in class with their backs to the camera.

The tune was removed from Hajipour’s Instagram account shortly after his arrest but is still widely available on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.

– ‘Because of forced Instagram stories’ –

Hajipour’s lawyer Majid Kaveh said he was released on bail at noon on Tuesday.

The reformist Shargh newspaper said his family had been informed of his arrest in the northern city of Sari on Saturday, in a report that cited his sister Kamand Hajipour.

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She had said in an Instagram post that her parents had been informed of his arrest in a call from the city’s intelligence ministry offices.

Shortly after his release, Hajipour was back on Instagram, but this time to apologise and distance himself from politics.

“I’m here to say I’m okay,” he told his 1.9 million followers on the platform.

“But I’m sorry that some particular movements based outside of Iran — which I have had no relations with — made some improper political uses of this song.

“I would not swap this (country) for anywhere else and I will stay for my homeland, my flag, my people, and I will sing.

“I don’t want to be a plaything for those who do not think of me, you or this country,” he added.

In response to his post, many on Twitter suggested the line “Because of forced Instagram stories” should be added to the lyrics of the song.

Human rights groups including Article 19 have repeatedly called on Iran to end its use of forced confessions, which they say are false and extracted under duress or even torture.

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In one recent case, a young Iranian woman, Sepideh Rashno, disappeared after becoming involved in a dispute on a Tehran bus with another woman who accused her of removing her headscarf.

She was held by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and appeared on television in what activists said was a forced confession before being released on bail in late August.

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