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On the depressing lack of binaural recording

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
It is my belief that there is a terrible wasted potential in the world of sound, with a severity on par with modern pop music mastering. I'm a speaker man through and through. People say things about how headphones give greater detail than speakers, about how they remove the room acoustics from the presentation, about how they remove the distortions produced by speaker crossovers, and how they are so much cheaper than speakers and don't bother the neibors. Those all sound good in theory...but speakers sound better to me, despite all that. I think this is because music is recorded for speakers. I think headphones DO have the potential to live up to all those arguments, and all it takes is recordings designed for them. In other words, binaural recordings.

My eyes have been open to this ever since I bought my minidisc and started screwing around with homemade microphones. When I play a well recorded source on my stereo system, it is as if the band is playing in my apartment. I made a binaural recording of my speaker system. It sounded like my grados were off and I was listening to my speaker system. The band was still playing in my room. I can only imagine the results that would exist if binaural recording was taken seriously throughout the production process.

I really do not understand why binaural recordings are practically unheard of. Oh, I know they exist...but why are they not ubiquitous?

Very many people that are into audio and video, have never even heard a binaural recording. Nobody can blame them, they are hard to find, and when you do, it's some novelty thing with a guy walking around you shaking maracas or something.

I hate headphones now. Listening to material miced, mixed, and mastered for playback on speakers on headphones is a waste of my expensive headphones and gear. It's not even the proper way to do things. You think so too...you just probably don't know what you are missing! Crossfeed makes it bearable, but I often find myself just waiting until conditions are right for listening to my speakers...end result: I have even less time to listen to music. Now, if the recordings were engineered for headphones, then you'd have something. GIGO.

I don't mean this just for music, the big market nowadays is home theatre. We should see binaural 'headphone' tracks on DVDs. Imagine the benefit that would come from playing videogames with artificial DSP-created binaural sound, that would allow true immersion.

I honestly believe now that better results could be gotten, if no other choice, by simply recording speakers. Imagine, if the movie studio just took a perfectly setup listening room with a perfectly tweaked surround system, and make a binaural recording. How easy would that be to include on a DVD? Technically, it's just a stereo track...

I now honestly believe that, if the viewer didn't have a surround system, or a good surround system, that this track would be far and away better than listening to the surround material downmixed to stereo and crammed unnaturally into his head. It's never going to be better than the speakers, but there is no better substitute on headphones. It's no wonder people don't take headphones seriously...there are practically no recordings designed for headphones.

I have been using my minidisc player to record my records so that I can listen to them portably. I am now strongly considering making binaural recordings of my speakers instead, despite my lackluster speaker setup and poor room. The significant loss of quality that does result from the trek through the analog loophole is more than worth the extremely natural presentation of sound that is properly constructed for listening on headphones.
post #2 of 27
Two words. Walter Tilgner I'll be happy to send you a few of his recordings.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm sure his recordings are great, and I would like to listen to them very much.

But what I'm upset about is the lack of binaural recordings of my favorite albums. I like speakers better than headphones...but I'm not even sure if that would be the case if they could be properly listened to on headphones. It's a terrible waste. And with the iPod generation, indeed, on even on a headphone message board, you would think that there would be more awareness.
post #4 of 27
I've never been unable enjoy music on my headphones, just because it was mixed for speakers. Far from it, I get eargasms all the time.

That being said, it would be awesome if binaural recordings were regularly made for commercial release.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by trains are bad View Post
I'm sure his recordings are great, and I would like to listen to them very much.

But what I'm upset about is the lack of binaural recordings of my favorite albums. I like speakers better than headphones...but I'm not even sure if that would be the case if they could be properly listened to on headphones. It's a terrible waste. And with the iPod generation, indeed, on even on a headphone message board, you would think that there would be more awareness.
regarding awareness: i am aware that something like 90% of ipodders use the white buds of garbage. nuff said.

i also have a few albums that sound AMAZING on my speakers (crappy little ones) but are totally un-listenable on headphones.
post #6 of 27
The Shining with binaural audio OMG that would be immense!!!

Then comes the question --> how can unpowerful people like us affect the big industry to consentrate more on binaural recording? Maybe it would be great commercial to post a documentary of it on youtube or something? I dunno...
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexpea View Post
The Shining with binaural audio OMG that would be immense!!!

Then comes the question --> how can unpowerful people like us affect the big industry to consentrate more on binaural recording? Maybe it would be great commercial to post a documentary of it on youtube or something? I dunno...
by creating an interest in it. If someone were to make binaural recordings that became extremely popular on the internet, the bigger companies would follow, as is always the case.
post #8 of 27
I'd love to hear some of those speaker recordings.

You might want to try recording the impulse response of your speaker/room, and then digitally applying it your albums to save the hassle of recording each one.
post #9 of 27
Despite not being made for headphones, I still prefer to listen to my music through them instead of through speakers. In general, I think it just sounds better. Of course, I have never heard a really good speaker setup, so maybe ignorance is bliss.

There are some fun samples here of binaural recordings, mostly birds and stuff. But still interesting to listen to.

http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/tagsViewSingle.php?id=1190
post #10 of 27
If you want to hear an entire piece of music in binaural, check this out:

HECTOR BERLIOZ: Symphonie Fantastique/Love Scene from Romeo et Juliette - Paavo Jarvi - Telarc SACD-60578

They stuck a Neumann dummy into the balcony for the rear channels on the 5.1 version on the SACD. If you jack your amp into channels 4 and 5 of the SACD deck, you get a wickedly good binaural experience.

With the Sony SCD-CE595 hovering around $60, I think buying the deck just to listen to this is worth it. It's awesome.
post #11 of 27
They don't do it because audiophiles and headphiles are just a niche (or w/e, a small portion of the market) unfortunately, and the big corporations cater to the biggest market share.
post #12 of 27
I'd like to see some mix of binaural/headphone specific techniques (which still sound alright on speakers), and the general speaker tracking and mastering approach which is common today. That way going from speakers and headphones, they will both offer something good, and unique.

Or here's a funny idea, find a really nice two channel setup, put some excellent microphones in the optimal location, and Record a binaural version of some popular tunes!

Anybody wanna create some?

Neil
post #13 of 27
Here's the deal...

What's happening is that more and more artists are recording and mastering their albums at the same time in both stereo and 5.1 surround. One of my favorite bands, Porcupine Tree, has been doing this since 2002. The sell multiple versions of the album, either a normal stereo recording, a DVD with 5.1, or both in one set. I think the DualDisc format is doing this, too. With the introduction of the SACD years back, and now the BluRay and HD-DVD format wars, many artists will record/master their albums in full 7.1 surround at very high resolution and sampling rates (DVD-A is already at 96kHz, and BluRay promises to offer up to 192kHz).

The problem is that those that want to listen to these albums on headphones have to purchase non-audiophile grade Dolby surround headphones, which range anywhere in price from $70 (generic crap) to $700 (AKG). The headphones usually max out with 40mm drivers, so they lack a lot of bass. Add to that fact that most of them are Wireless infrared units and have a 1% THD rating and you get a unit that is very unappealing to us audiophiles.

That is why there is no mass market for binaural recordings. Audiophiles don't make up the masses. For that reason, there will never be binaural recordings of our favorite albums, but we might just get lucky if a company decides to invent an audiophile pair of Dolby Surround headphones. Even if that happens, it won't be something you can take with your portable rig. A serious 5.1 Dolby digital mix takes up way too much hard drive space for current technology to allow it to be crammed into a portable media player. At several gigabytes per album, your iPod wouldn't get very much mileage.
post #14 of 27
Are there any threads at Head-Fi that have attempted to list out all of the binaural recordings that are presently available?

It seems to me that at one time, there was a thread or two where people were making recommendations but I don't recall ever seeing a compilation thread. I'd probably end up buying practically anything that is available because I get such a buzz out of them.
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
A serious 5.1 Dolby digital mix takes up way too much hard drive space for current technology to allow it to be crammed into a portable media player. At several gigabytes per album, your iPod wouldn't get very much mileage.
Binaural files are just stereo files. There is no reason for them to take up any more space than any other high bitrate mp3.

You prove my point. If artitsts are going to the trouble to make and release multiple mixes, then a comparatively easy binaural mix would be simple to include.
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