What is 3D Audio?

If someone asked you what Virtual Reality was you would probably say “its the thing with the headset and I’ve seen youtube videos of people freaking out while wearing them.” Good description. Now, what if someone asked you what 3D Audio was? You probably wouldn’t have an answer. That’s ok, most people I’ve asked don’t know either. Fear not, I’ve got the answer so you’ll be prepared when that question finally comes.

3D Audio is audio that’s recorded the same way we hear it. When you listen to 3D audio with headphones on, it trick’s your brain into thinking you’re in another place.

It’s important to note that 3D Audio is different then stereo audio. Stereo audio is how we listen to most music, TV, and radio. The sounds are balanced and nothing is too loud or too low. 3D Audio builds an enviroment around us by taking advantage of the highs and lows. Our brain interprets these sounds and allows us to perceive distance and direction, just as we do in the real world.

There are a couple of different types of 3D Audio. One type is binaural audio, which we’ll talk about today. Binaural is when you record audio using equipment that resembles a human head with 2 microphones where the ears would be. In recording sound this way we can capture height and depth information that allows our brain to interpret the environment as if we were actually there. The feeling of immersiveness becomes stronger when the person closes their eyes and lets the audio take over.

Natural soundscapes (like the ones I record for Travelear) using the binaural method, often give people feelings of realism, like a rush of excitement, relaxation or nostalgia.

I’ve been studying and experimenting with 3D Audio for a couple years now and it’s very exciting to see how fast its progressing. There’s a lot more to talk about that we’ll discuss next time, cheers!

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