Binaural audio is audio captured in real time based on how we hear the world to our own ears. Binaural microphones capture the exact location of any sound source around the microphone, given its relationship to the person doing the capturing.
What is binaural audio? Binaural audio is a new way to hear sounds around you. A 2-channel system is a pair of speakers or headphones. Binaural audio is not stereo made up of two multi-directional microphones where one mic is placed with precision, inside the ear. Binaural sound is intended to create a 3D audio sensation for the listener actually being at the location of the recording.
The process begins by using a “dummy head recording” where a mannequin has two microphones, one in each ear. The word “binaural” is not a synonym for “stereo.” Normal stereo recordings do not take into account natural ear spacing or “head shadow” of the head and ears, which happens to be a function of the way a person is listening.
With binaural audio, the listener generates their own “interaural time differences” (ITDs), and ILDs (interaural level differences). The microphone used in binaural audio resembles the shape of a human head, complete with the ears that have two microphones built into the dummy’s ear canals. A binaural recording is exactly what the listener hears during a performance given that the microphones capture what is audible.
Three-dimensional sound is not as canned as two-dimensional sound because the left and right playback channels have to go to the hearer’s own left and right ears. In order to listen to the audio, headphones are required. The distance of the microphones approximates the position of an average person’s ear canals.
To recapture the sound as it is, listening through headphones is the way to go as any brand or style will work. Headphones cause the listener to be transported back to the location of the recording. Binaural recording units have two microphones capable of capturing sound to the fullest extent possible. It is possible to listen to binaural recordings on normal speakers, but the listener cannot always get the 3D effect as the left and right channels mix. Normal speakers however mix up the left and right channels and the brain cannot make sense of what direction the sound is coming from.
Binaural recording can bring listeners closer to the actual sound, which is useful for recording artists, bands, and orchestras. Binaural recording is about having listeners relive the performance in complete accuracy. Binaural recording is capable of capturing the energy of a live performance. Fans get their own personal performance using binaural recording techniques.
Binaural microphones are used in the artist’s own head, not a dummy’s. These are known as clip-in binaural microphones, first built by Core Sound LLC, 1989. Content is recorded over a multi-channel speaker. The microphone makes a recording of how humans hear multi-channel content. Playback should make a person feel like they are actually at the location of the sounds coming from the speaker.