Tuesday, December 5, 2006

It's all a "little white lie" I tell you ...

It's all a "little white lie" I tell you ...

We have been living a lie since the 1950's, the record companies have had heads in sand long enough and it is now time for the listening public to take their earbuds in hand and flog the record company CEO's with them...

What we are listening to is a lie.... plain and simple.
There is a process that is just well mind blowingly realistic.

First a few basiscs, weve all heard of 5.1, 7.1, THX, Dolby Prologic and all the other flavours of surround sound, what all these have in common is that they try to replicate the sound at its source. For example if the sound comes from the left we hear it in the left speakers, so far pretty easy.

The numbers.. those 5.1 and 7.1 are the channels or speakers that are supported, so 7.1 has a total of 8 channels

1. Front left
2. Front right
3. Rear left
4. Rear right
5. Satellite left
6. Satellite right
7. Centre
8. Bass to Subwoofer or the .1

Now next time your out in the street stop, close your eyes and take in the aural landscape, listen to "how many" different directions the sound comes from I can be pretty confident that it is more then 7 and only 1 place for ALL the bass to come from.

Okay so as the new sound systems come out I guess one way to make it a more immersive enviroment would be to add more speakers, well the sound engineers can mix it in, we have faster computer cicuits to process the extra channels and spit them out to the speakers..

But how many speakers do you want, and they all need seperate tracks to play, 12 20 200 1000...(ohhh the wiring) where to stop, well the budget I guess would be one place to stop unless you just dont tell the significant other.

What if I told you that 2 would do.. and not only would two do but that 2 speakers will give you such an immersive experiance that when you listen to standard stereo recording again you will be really throughly disappointed.

But taking it even further lets ditch the speakers, get rid of those nice big 3 ways with 12 inch woofers to punch the bass out and replace the whole lot with the "lie", an iPod or one of its many competing products and a half decent pair of buds. I know, I know your thinking that this is bull but hear me out.

Now think about this when you are out in the street listening to "ALL" the places and directions those noises are coming from....how many ears do you have ?

Got the idea yet ? You only hear all those sounds in two places, the left of your head and the right of your head.

Now if we take two normal omni-direntional microphones and tape them to a pair of sunglass frames (this is a crude way) and then tape it as a normal stereo track you end up with a realistic (like scary real) soundtrack. There are USD$8000 Dummy heads with the mics inside fake ears to make it even better but that is what we what the record companies are for..

Ohh back to the story, what we are doing is recording th sound at its listening position, or the ears, we dont need multiple speakers we just need 2 small ones at the ear playing back exactly what was recorded at each ear, we let the brain do the work. It uses the slight delays that are present to each ear as sound travels around the head to pick distance and these microphones record this delayed sound, just like in an echo chamber. This recording is known as Binaural Recording or literally two ear recording

Now when we play it back our mind is tricked in to thinking that we are really there, we get true 3d spatial sound, and I am not talking left right front back I am talking 3D up and down is in there to, it sounds like the sounds are completly surounding you.

So the problem is that nearly all the music today is designed to be heard on loudspeakers, it appears to come from a single point, you might hear the drums to the left and the strings to the right but all 4 vocalists come from the centre.. not very life like.

50 years ago it would have been unsociable to listen to all your music on headphones, not that good ones were around anyway, but today when the "little white lie" rules it is the norm.. we wnat "real" sounding personal sourround experiances and we want it now.. We want the record companies to release 2 versions of live recording's, one for loudspeakers and one for headphones with the headphone track being recorded in all that HI-FI Binaural bueaty.

If you have a pair of headphones, any will do but a mid to high end pair of buds is best, dont ram them in to your ears buds need to be able to have ait get in and out of the ear to equalize the changing pressure from the soundtrack, a nice light fit that wont fall out is all that is needed and it wont hurt your ears so much..

Hmm ahh yes buds, if you have them check out these links to have a listen to some Binaural tracks, one site is recorded in MCP format or MP3 plus and you will need to install the plugin for your player, there is a link on the relevant page for it. It is worth it, The sound is better and the files smaller, if you do take the time to install the codec for MCP then you need to check out "straight out the door" (fireworks newyears eve 2002) I think, listen to it right through with your eyes closed. http://binaural.jimtreats.com/

also check http://www.xan.co.uk/volume_22.php which is a podcast done in Binaural

Now where are my earbuds Im off to flog a polition and then I need to make me some Binaural mics to go podcasting with

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