Demystifying Binaural Audio

Demystifying Binaural Audio

Have you ever wanted to visit every concert to listen to your favourite artist perform live? All you need is a good headphone and a binaural track of your favourite song. Let’s break it down to the basics.
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Have you ever wanted to experience that concert-like surround sound? Now, all you need is a good pair of headphones and a binaural track of your favourite artist to achieve that. Let’s break it down to the basics.

Have you ever wanted to visit every concert to listen to your favourite artist perform live? Or, sit in the studio and watch them record that best selling album. Well, you can do all that right from the comfort of your home! And all you need to experience this is a good set of headphones and a binaural track of your favourite song. Let’s break it down to the basics.

HOW WE LISTEN

The shape of our ears and the time taken for the sound waves to reach them is how you can understand which direction the sound originated.

Let’s make it clear with an example. You are standing in the middle of a room. You hear your friend shouting from one end of the room. Only a part of your friend’s voice will reach your ears directly. The remaining will bounce off objects in the room before reaching you (your ears).

Also, if your right side is facing your friend, your friend’s voice will first reach your right ear and then the left one. This delay is hardly noticed as your brain processes it as sound from the same source, but this helps it identify the direction (location) of your friend's voice.

Binaural audio does the same. When you listen to binaural music you can pinpoint whether the vocalist is standing in front of you, the guitarist is sitting beside you, or the drummer is playing that groovy beat behind you.

HOW DO I GET THIS EXPERIENCE WITH MY HEADPHONES?

Audio files are recorded in two ways — Mono and Stereo. A single mic records music in mono. Similarly, to record music in stereo mode, two mics are used. These separate microphones are placed at a distance to pick up various information.

To present a life-like audio image, binaural music is recorded similarly to a stereo recording. For binaural recordings, a dummy head is used with powerful mics fitted within the ears. This method gives a more realistic listening experience as the dummy head mimics how the sound travels into human ears.  

ARE MY HEADPHONES GOOD ENOUGH FOR THAT CONCERT-LIKE FEEL?

Just like every human is different, so is every headphone. While you can listen to binaural music on all headphones, the kind of headphones will affect the spaciousness of your music and in turn the listening experience as a whole. An open-back headphone or a 3D gaming headphone offers a better ‘concert-like feel’ when compared to others.

An open-back headphone or a 3D gaming headphone offers a better ‘concert-like feel’ when compared to others. Even headphones from brands like Ultrasone ought to give you a wider soundstage thanks to their S-Logic technology.