How this student turned his passion for music into an electronics start-up

6 Aug 2019

Torann founder Lewis Loane. Image: TechWatch

Torann is one of 12 finalists in the upcoming Invent 2019 competition. TechWatch’s Emily McDaid spoke to founder Lewis Loane to find out more.

Lewis Loane is a young inventor from Newtownards who is passionate about two things that are related, even if it might not seem obvious: electronics and music.

These two interests collided one day in a guitar shop in Edinburgh.

“I was in a guitar shop and I played a Gibson guitar and plugged into a mid-range amplifier – it sounded amazing. But when I brought it home and plugged it into my higher-end amplifier, the sound quality wasn’t good,” he says.

That story has defined Loane’s future career path. As a student at Queen’s University Belfast in electronics and electrical engineering, it made sense that he embarked on creating a solution.

“I looked into fixing this problem. The signal value at the instrument is constantly changing depending on whether the volume is up or down. I created a signal adjustor that is always providing optimum value when it’s plugged in between the instrument and amplifier.”

Loane says that his main pastime is music. He has played guitar for 12 years and has gotten into both recording music and performing live concerts. He also plays “drums and a bit of piano”.

“I occasionally play live acoustic music with my two sisters, who are both singers. We do covers on acoustic sets and I also record music – anything from electronic to alternative music.”

I ask Loane how he knew that he wanted to attend Queen’s to study electronics engineering.

“I’ve always had an interest in electronics and when it came to choosing what course to do, I had a friend that was in the programme and he told me all about it. It sounded like it was for me.”

About Torann’s Signal Optimiser

  • It’s an electronic signal device that sits between an instrument and an amplifier, allowing 100% of the sound quality to be transferred
  • Loane’s company Torann – the Irish word for noise – will also produce audio effects devices such as distortion pedals, reverb and delay pedals
  • It began accepting funding in March 2019 and is now building prototypes
  • It has other applications outside of audio signals, such as improving the efficiency of wireless power transfer, or making wireless charging stations for your mobile phone work better
  • Among other schemes, it has been in QUBIS’ Lean Launch market validation programme. Loane says, “We were funded up to £5,000 to speak to consumers – that’s given me an indication of price points and I determined that the device should cost around £300 for the standard signal optimiser, and more for the professional version with effect pedals.”

By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch

Torann is a finalist in the annual Invent competition run by Catalyst, aiming to showcase the best and brightest innovators that Northern Ireland has to offer. Invent 2019 will take place on Thursday 10 October in Belfast, where 12 finalists will battle it out for a £33,000 prize fund.

TechWatch by Catalyst covered tech developments in Northern Ireland