What Is 3-D Binaural Audio?

3-D Sound

Binaural audio first came to my attention when I saw a post on the virtual barber shop hair cut. In this audio,  you get the sensation of depth, distance and volume, there’s an illusion that the sound is coming from three dimensional space. The barber feels as if he’s right in your ear. As if He’s cutting your hair.

There have been a number of instances this is used for situational environments such as the barbershop. I recently heard one emulating the battlefield of world wars. You hear guns and bullets ricocheting against objects in the distance. There are also examples of audio in 3D of New York city.

Very intriguing.  I can see this used as the preferred sound architecture for virtual reality headsets.  Indeed,  many video games would be enhanced by this audio technology. If it allows you to hear where your enemies are maybe. There is a definite functional use for video games and virtual reality (VR.)  You can have a far more immersive experience.

5.1 Sound

While 5.1 is great in film in it’s own right.  It does not recreate the experience as if you are in the environment.  Rather it puts you in front of the action. I find they differ.  The sensation of depth is not presumed as well.  The nuances are not carefully placed.  An engineer can only place them in the mix accordingly.  But the 3D manifests itself in the way that it is recorded. This leads us to the wonder, how exactly does it work?

How Does 3-D Audio Work?

Normally, sound has a Left and Right channel. We normally hear this on headphones when we are listening to music. But the music is typically created to have a central channel effect. There may be some instances when songs have sound coming in on the right and left exclusively. However, the instruments are still more centrally located. There is no depth when this occurs.

The way 3-Dimensional binaural, or 3D audio works is that there is a dummy head that is modeled after a person. This dummy head records sound from a first person perspective. There is a microphone recording channels in the left ear and one on the right. This is binaural – bi for two, aural for relating to the hearing. Stereo audio works similarly but the true treat of the binaural audio is that it does allow the point of view perspective.

The New York City video claims that this binaural function has worked before in older times. But I think that the audio technology is still being perfected. It would be an excellent way to provide audio live feeds as well as serving for virtual realities which require attention in 3 Dimensional space.

If you have a good pair of headphones with good low end you won’t need the 0.1 of a subwoofer. The bass should feel full when you are listening and there will be a balance of sound.

I would like the ability to recreate this 3 Dimensional space without having to record from the microphone. To create movement and depth. In terms of stereo audio, there are a few things that can be done. You can add delay, stereo shapers/expanders and wideners. You can also add reverb and delay to imitate depth. However, it will never be as precise as recording it from the perspective. Until someone can come up with a better way to distribute audio in space, I will continue to add dimension in other ways. I can see binaural audio becoming more prominent in the near future.

Binaural Beats

I’ve covered and created binaural beats before and I think if you could create them in 3 dimensional space the effect would be more intensive. People scoff at Binaural beats but I think there is merit in using them otherwise people wouldn’t be so responsive. I see people use them the way people use singing bowls and chanting in meditative temples. I’ve had discussion with people that work with the brain in lab studies and they would determine that it’s a possibility to use binaural beats as a tool. I see binaural beats akin to music therapy. But I think with 3D audio they can be much more immersive in whatever you wish to be doing. The placebo effect is powerful and real if it’s the case that someone experiences it then more power to the user.

Examples Of 3D Binaural Audio

These are some of my favourite examples of 3D binaural audio. I hope you appreciate the sounds. You can completely immerse yourself in the setting.  I see this exploding in due time because of the novelty and experience. As the technology improves and it becomes readily available it will explode. It should definitely tickle the fancy of an audiophile at least.  Enjoy.

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