Most of the advancements in home entertainment have been with video. After the hugely successful 1080p/
What really bothers me is that consumers often neglect the most important piece of the home entertainment puzzle, the audio system. I personally believe a good/better audio system is much more important than the screen itself. The immersive nature, the “Whoa” effect, the surprising scare you get when a sound suddenly appears in the surround speakers. These effects make it a lot more enjoyable experience, even more than the high-resolution screen itself.
Now if you are getting weary of reading stuff you already know, just hang in there. I wanted to talk about a revolutionary invention in audio technology, called Binaural Audio. The reason I call it revolutionary, is because that’s the only word which would do justice to it.
Binaural audio doesn’t rely on multiple speakers located around the room to give you the immersive effect. Instead, it relies on just using your two ears, and let your brain do all the “signal processing”. The idea behind this binaural audio is so mesmerizingly simple that it’s very hard to believe the results.
The secret to achieving this true 3-D sound effect is using the natural sound processing power of the human brain. The human ears, there is a reason why we have two of them. The same sound wave, originating from the same source, takes slightly longer to reach one year than the other. And millions of years of evolution has trained the human brain to compute the exact location of the source of this sound by calculating the difference in time taken to reach the ears, and also relative loudness of the sound wave in each ear. This seemingly simple thing involves a great deal of complex computation that our brain routinely does without even us noticing. The result is the spectacular ability to pinpoint the exact location of various sounds in a soundscape. Which means when coupled with the visual feast of modern screens, binaural audio has the ability to put you right in the middle of the action with terrifying accuracy. Trust me, it doesn’t just bring the scene to the living room, but it takes you into the damn scene. The difference is astonishing. Check out this video first, and mind you, good quality headphones only please.
So, if this tech is so amazing how come more companies are not taking it up. Why aren’t we watching movies at the cinemas with audio in binaural. Simple, unlike the 3D glasses needed for 3D movies, binaural audio requires the cinemas to be outfitted with headphone jacks in each seat. In every cinema. Even if the customers are willing to pay the extra cost, it becomes an impossible task for the cinemas to maintain the outlets. Just think of all the mess we have to deal with in aeroplanes and the stupid audio jacks. I asked a few audio experts about the chances for this to become main stream and none of them were very positive. But, it can come to the home theater avenue, because its just another encoding to the bluray disks they sell. With any luck TV broadcasters may take this up as well. But, knowing how they blew the 3D broadcasts, I don’t have high hopes. Right now, only Blurays seems to be the viable option.
Before that happens, feel free to enjoy the dozens of high quality binaural (3D and binaural audio are being used interchangeably) videos on YouTube. Be aware of the shitty pseudo-spiritual garbage being peddled about binaural beats, third eye, etc. None of that is real. Just enjoy these real ones which simply elevate your enjoyment to the next level. This last video I am about to share is the one that got me excited about binaural. This one was by “Verge” and it details how the process works.