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Binaural for Headphones: Your thoughts and votes please…

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
Category 0. I can’t be bothered to read though all the options.

Category 1. I fully support binaural technologies:
a) I prefer to add binaural equipment to my existing rig.
b) I prefer sticking with my existing stereo system but will purchase binaural recordings wherever possible.
c) Other Reasons falling under this category.

Category 2. I may or may not support binaural technologies:
a) I don’t like the range and capability of binaural equipment currently available.
b) Only if the current binaural equipment improves will I consider purchasing binaural equipment. (24/96 capability, digital in + out, fully adjustable binaural effects and settings etc…)
c) Sometimes I prefer standard stereo to binaural effects or vice versa.
d) I have heard many binaural recordings/effects and sometimes they sound good and sometimes they are disappointing.
e) I have heard only one or two binaural recordings/effects so I’m not sure if I’m experienced enough to come to any conclusion.
f) Other Reasons falling under this category.

Category 3. I don’t like binaural effects and prefer to stick with stereo.
a) I have no complaints with stereo recordings so far and have not avoided any stereo recordings for this reason.
b) Occasionally, I have avoided some stereo recordings which could have been fixed with binaural equipment but still not often enough to want me to purchase binaural equipment.
c) I avoid many stereo recordings but still won’t purchase binaural equipment.
d) Other Reasons falling under this category.

Category 4. I do not know what binaural technologies are.

I’ve been wanting to ask this for quite some time and would like to hear what some of you have to say regarding binaural technologies. I have spoken with a number of traders and retailers and all agree that recently, headphones have been ‘coming back’ in the market. However, I doubt headphones will go much further without a ‘revolution’.

Perhaps many of us have realised that standard stereo recordings have their limitations especially if the stereo effects are too extreme, fatiguing or just not natural enough. This is assuming that simple crossfeeding isn’t good enough to fix the problem, whatever it may be.

I may not have heard electrostatic headphones before, but I believe the current crop of dynamic headphones and amplifiers (non-binaural) are very near the peak and that binaural recordings and or equipment are the last big improvement to add to headphone technology. It’s just my humble opinion that without the benefits of binaural technologies, headphones will always be secondary to speakers and will remain mere ‘accessories’ in the eyes of most music listeners.

The key question is: How important is binaural technology in the advancement of headphone listening? (Please remember to avoid enforcing your opinions on others. Everyone is entitled to state their own.)
post #2 of 63
Thread Starter 

'Sigh' bump...

If the level of responses are anything to go by, I don't see a bright future for binaural recordings and similar technologies...
post #3 of 63
What do you mean by binaural equipment? As far as I know, you only need a stereo rig (without crossfeed) for playback. You only need "special" equipment for recording. I'd buy binaural CD's if given the choice between binaural and stereo, naturally.
post #4 of 63
Thread Starter 

Finally!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Feanor
What do you mean by binaural equipment? As far as I know, you only need a stereo rig (without crossfeed) for playback. You only need "special" equipment for recording. I'd buy binaural CD's if given the choice between binaural and stereo, naturally.
There are specialised software and equipment out there which digitally convert any stereo recording to sound binaural.

AKG Hearo 999

Yamaha DP-U50 (Using Yamaha's 'Silent Cinema' processing)

Dolby Headphone

Lake Technologies Theaterphone (Using Dolby HeadPhone processing)

SRS WOW

The above products/information would help. However, the technology is still not widely known or understood and is still in its infancy. Additionally, everyone's hearing differs slightly (but not too different) so not all the above listed products may be optimal but will still sound decent. I only know the AKG Hearo 999 to have 10 different settings to cater for the majority of the people out there.
post #5 of 63
I'd go for it if it really did make a good improvement. I have not heard a lot of binaural recordings nor any binaural equipment, but I have used Dolby Headphone on PowerDVD. The effect is interesting in the context of movies, but I am not yet convinced completely by it. I'll have to do some more movie watching as I dont watch that many anyway.

I voted 1 BTW.
post #6 of 63
I've been really impressed by the binaraul sample recordings I've heard and I just ordered "From Silence" I'd like to see more music available in binaural format.

Most of what I've read about the various surround sound DSPs seems to be oriented towards movie watching so I haven't paid much attention to those. If something like Dolby Headphones turns out to be good for music I might be interested.
post #7 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwax
Most of what I've read about the various surround sound DSPs seems to be oriented towards movie watching so I haven't paid much attention to those. If something like Dolby Headphones turns out to be good for music I might be interested.
When the time comes, binaural technologies and headphones will blow speakers out of the water for clarity and consistancy regardless of room acoustics (except perhaps in the bass department).

I picture the ideal binaural DSP to be much like the DEQ2496. It will have digital in/outs, 24/96 processing, presets for different HRTF settings for every member of the family, the ability to simulate the acoustics of any rectangular/square/circular room minus all the flaws of a real room and most importantly, a built-in test programme to help you determine your ideal HRTF curve from the start. In theory, you could get the binaural DSP to simulate 2, 4, 6 speakers at any place in a virtual room. Even mono will sound quite good. It will be dynamite!
post #8 of 63
I'm all for hardware-based binaural encoding of standard discs (if it works, that is), but would be hard pressed to buy a bunch of specifically processed CD's that sound horrible on non-headphone systems. I'll certainly buy a few specific binaural releases every year, but can't see much more than that.
post #9 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flea Bag
There are specialised software and equipment out there which digitally convert any stereo recording to sound binaural.

AKG Hearo 999

Yamaha DP-U50 (Using Yamaha's 'Silent Cinema' processing)

Dolby Headphone

Lake Technologies Theaterphone (Using Dolby HeadPhone processing)

SRS WOW

The above products/information would help. However, the technology is still not widely known or understood and is still in its infancy. Additionally, everyone's hearing differs slightly (but not too different) so not all the above listed products may be optimal but will still sound decent. I only know the AKG Hearo 999 to have 10 different settings to cater for the majority of the people out there.
Those products cannot create true binaural audio from a 2-ch or even 5.1 ch source. At best they're approximations of speakers situated in a room defined by the algorithm's parameters. A true binaural recording does not require any special equipment for playback (other than headphones), and should sound significantly better than any processing technique is capable of.

If there is ever a binaural version of a CD I want, I will buy it without hesitation. I see a lot of value in Dolby Headphone, but only because I know DVD movies will never be recorded in binaural. If a standalone DH processor with digital I/O comes out, I will consider purchasing it.
post #10 of 63
Binaural effects are quite breathtaking, but binaural recordings are few and far between. If there was a supply of popular (or otherwise good) music recorded with binaural equipment (the trick is the in the recording, no amount of software or signal manipulation will ever be able to fully reproduce a real binaural recording), I would be very supportive and probably pay a significant premium for these albums.

Binaural through great headphones can reproduce "real" sound positioning better than any speakers I've ever heard. A few of the "demo" binaural tracks I've listened to are creepy they sound so real, close your eyes and you're there. This gets said about alot of different audio concepts (speaker reviews, etc) - but IMO it's well overused. Confusing reality for reproduced sound is a very rare trait.

The problem is, there's no software. Binaural recordings don't make sense through speakers, and that's the market. Pretty simple.

-dd3mon
post #11 of 63
I voted "full support-other" because while i love the binaural effect I prefer to record binaural events myself

Music does not necessarily lend itself to the medium like audio books such as Stephen kings "The Mist" and I beleive the potential for binaural movies over headphones to beat the pants off of dolby headphone (if done right the realism could be startling) but as with most things headphone/imaging related you must have your head locked into one position for the effect to work correctly.
Wandering around with cordless cans would seriously degrade the experience.

same for music.
A live concert recorded in one take using binaural mics would be scary good but move your head and the stage position goes with the movement.

binaural simulators ? Never tried one but i am game at some point.

surrounded by ricks
post #12 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flea Bag
There are specialised software and equipment out there which digitally convert any stereo recording to sound binaural.

AKG Hearo 999

Yamaha DP-U50 (Using Yamaha's 'Silent Cinema' processing)

Dolby Headphone

Lake Technologies Theaterphone (Using Dolby HeadPhone processing)

SRS WOW

The above products/information would help. However, the technology is still not widely known or understood and is still in its infancy. Additionally, everyone's hearing differs slightly (but not too different) so not all the above listed products may be optimal but will still sound decent. I only know the AKG Hearo 999 to have 10 different settings to cater for the majority of the people out there.
Those aren't binaural technologies at all, they are proprietary algorithms which do (at least SRS Wow and Dolby headphone do) nothing more than add "room" like reverberation to the sound.

True binaural recordings are never converted from stereo. In fact, they (obviously) require special attention to recording and recording technique.

The only real difference in binaural recording equipment is the style of microphones used, usually some sort of dummy head is used, etc.

Anyway, I just thought that could use some clarification, because it might be confusing to some.
post #13 of 63
Quote:
The only real difference in binaural recording equipment is the style of microphones used, usually some sort of dummy head is used, etc
The "dummy head" with one microphone in each "ear position" is what creates the binaural effect .Even better would be a full torso "dummy" for the most accurate recordings.

there is a circuit for converting stereo into binaural but this is only an approximation and not as accurate as a true binaural recording.When i make my own recordings i use a pair of old headphones with condenser mics placed where the headphone transducer once was so in effect i use my own head and body as the recording medium (my recordings probably would not sound good for someone with a big head ) .This recording when played back is damn scary in the realism,the ability to place each sound exactly where it was in relation to myself when the recording was made.
The spring treefrog/peeper chirpings are classic when reproduced this way
post #14 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flea Bag
When the time comes, binaural technologies and headphones will blow speakers out of the water for clarity and consistancy regardless of room acoustics (except perhaps in the bass department).

I picture the ideal binaural DSP to be much like the DEQ2496. It will have digital in/outs, 24/96 processing, presets for different HRTF settings for every member of the family, the ability to simulate the acoustics of any rectangular/square/circular room minus all the flaws of a real room and most importantly, a built-in test programme to help you determine your ideal HRTF curve from the start. In theory, you could get the binaural DSP to simulate 2, 4, 6 speakers at any place in a virtual room. Even mono will sound quite good. It will be dynamite!
the DEQ2496 does something like this already, it has stereo seperation and speaker placement that can change how "far away" the left and right channels sound from each other and what direction they sound like they are coming from
post #15 of 63
Thread Starter 
Hi JeffL and rickcr42,

Sorry, there was something I needed to clarify.

No the products I listed aren't 'true' binaural. It's hard to draw the line to separate what is 'true' and what isn't. To many listeners, what really matters is actually the listening experience. 'True' binaural isn't defined properly. It is best done from binaural recordings which will produce sounds surrounding the listener but did you know that as long as a recording or in this case, a piece of equipment simulates a sound to suit a person's HRTF, it is considered to be binaural?

The products I listed of course can't 'surround' the listener using only stereo information. The best they can do is spread the sound out to sound like it's being played in a room or to simulate speaker reproduction. It is this ability that makes them binaural, only backwards. When properly executed, makes headphones sound far more natural.

A lot of people mistake 'binaural' to mean just the recording when binaural technologies are actually much more than just that. Any equipment that attempts to simulate someone's HRTF is considered to employ binaural techniques. It does not matter whether the HRTF is done at recording and played back in stereo or recorded in stereo and played back using binaural techniques/algorithms Although the results are not so comprehensive in the latter, they are all considered binaural.

flecom,

I own the DEQ2496 and have played around with the three stereo width techniques, even playing with dynamic processor and delaying the left speaker from the right but was unable to achieve anything even similar to virtual speaker placement. How were you able to do this?
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