Music to (both) your ears.
January 29, 2008 8:12 AM   Subscribe

What do you call capturing sound the way the human head hears it, that is, three-dimensionally? Nope, not stereo. Binaural recording. Holophonics. Dummy head (no, not you) recording.

Binaural recording was known of as far back as 1881, requiring a telephone and a "fancy" headset. Now you can record your own using a stealth mic or a dummy head and can (and must) listen using a pair of headphones.

Get your headphones on. Good, ready for more? (Note: all links are either to an MP3, a video, or contain links to such, as if I had to even say it.)
posted by artifarce (14 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen that first link before, and I really like it. I particularly like the fact that, though the guy is selling something, he keeps the 'selling something' in a small paragraph at the very bottom titled "The Pitch," and spends the rest of the page giving very interesting and thoughtful information.

I had a friend who build a headphone stage some years ago that was supposed to reproduce binaural sound by running the audio through a conducter to create a miniscule delay between the two channels so that there wasn't so much resonance and so that the effect of sound being on one side of the head or the other was reproduced. I remember that it was outstanding in that I could listen to those headphones for hours and never get the headaches I usually get from prolonged headphone use. It was especially useful for him, because he suffered from migraines and (he later learned) sleep apnia.

I don't know enough about electronics to be able to say exactly how that worked, though.
posted by koeselitz at 8:28 AM on January 29, 2008

Good discussion exactly on this topic recently at askMeFi.

Holophonics is not binaural recording.
posted by lothar at 8:33 AM on January 29, 2008

Haircut was pretty good, but he missed the front.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:38 AM on January 29, 2008

Trippy, but I think we've seen these links before.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:40 AM on January 29, 2008

This guy does some amaaaaaaazing stuff with binaural.
posted by jbickers at 9:16 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hooray, it's the monthly binaural post! :)

koeselitz, the circuit you were describing is I believe called a cross-correlator; it attempts to reproduce in your headphones the L-R "cross-talk" you get when listening to commercially-recorded music through loudspeakers (... like the producers intended)

Here's a whack of info on trying to reproduce surround in headphones. Also on the site is this post which has a simple crosstalk circuit and some more discussion.

Good minidisc recorders with mic inputs oftem come up pn ebay and can usually be won for $100 or less. I've managed to snag 2 in the last 6 months for less than $20 each. Not bad, considering they retailed for north of $200 or $300 new. Great fun for playing with binaural mics.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:41 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

lothar: Could you fill me/us in on the difference between holophonics and binaural recording? I just looked on Wikipedia and it's not clear (and someone is attempting to merge the two pages, in fact).
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:58 AM on January 29, 2008

My askMeFi google-fu is failing me, but this was a recent topic.

Holophonics was (is?) a process used to make the matchbox shaking, bag on head, and hearcut demos. It was used by Pink Floyd in The Final Cut. The guy who invented the process wouldn't patent or otherwise release information on how he accomplished it. Keep in mind that he did these demos in 1983 (when I heard it demoed by the inventor at a recording studio I worked at), so there wasn't enough horsepower on earth to plug the HRTF (Head Related Transfer Functions) into a processor.

Binaural (recording) is the generic term for recording two microphones simultaneously to preserve L/R stereo information that a human listener will perceive as having spatial relationships. This may be done with a dummy head, in-ear microphones, or a pair of mics placed to mimic the relationship of human hearing. Sometimes this includes pinnae (the floppy external parts of your ears), or other comb filtering techniques, sometimes not.

"Pink Floyd's 'The Final Cut' uses the Holophonics process to achieve some binaural effects."
posted by lothar at 11:28 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Found it!

I'll try to remember to dig out citations and update wikipedia...
posted by lothar at 11:38 AM on January 29, 2008

Binaural recordings are pretty spacey, no? Use real headphones, not earbuds, and be transported to the scene of the music.
posted by caddis at 4:21 PM on January 29, 2008

I have a great pair of Core-Sound binaurals, but since I hate listening to music on headphones, I don't use them very often. They don't really get the most out of my speakers.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:16 PM on January 29, 2008

I am so going to start calling people 'dummy head'.
posted by pompomtom at 8:45 PM on January 30, 2008

Artful Codger: Thank you both for making me blush and for posting a great comment despite having seen this before. ;)
posted by artifarce at 7:30 AM on January 31, 2008

« Older The Other Keynes Diary   |   What can 12 musicians create in 12 hours with only... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments