Surrounded by sound: how 3D audio hacks your brain – Binaural audio explained

The Verge has a great story on how binaural audio is recorded and how it is perceived by our brains:

Surrounded by sound: how 3D audio hacks your brain.

It is a great story on how our brains respond to the 3D sound around, and it is just an eight-minute read.

What are Binaural Recordings?

Binaural audio recordings reproduce the way we listen. For this audio engineers use microphones placed 18cm apart. This distance mimics your ears and the way we listen to sounds. But it is not enough to place the microphones 18cm apart. Binaural audio also takes into account the mass of the brain, which acts as a barrier to sound propagation, and mannequin heads are used, among other techniques. In result, recordings that explore this create soundscapes that promise be more immersive and feeling 3Dish. They aim to put you in location by hearing the binaural audio.

Here’s an example of a binaural audio recording from SoundCloud. Try to use headphones and listen to the 3D aspect of this recording.

Listening to Binaural Audio

Naturally the best way to listen is to have a good pair of cans (headphones), or even better, to use in-ear headphones. They provide you the richest experience. Also, close your eyes and imagine the scene of the binaural recording. A binaural recording is not the same thing as a stereo recording because in stereo capture doesn’t necessarily try to imitate the human ear placement. Also, this kind of recording has been used to entrain the brain to allow for higher concentration. Those are called Binaural Beats and according to the different bands and frequency used, can lead you to relax or to focus better.

Binaural audio is not everyone’s cup of tea but it produces unique experiences that you might enjoy. Maybe they are also a good sleeping aid?