Binaural recording is most appreciated by blind and visually impaired people since they rely solely on different environmental sounds when they want to familiarize themselves with new surroundings, or they just want to have a detailed spacial description of the environment. Of course the description from a real human would definitely help in some cases, but because of the notion that blind people have a very sensitive hearing for example, they are able to accurately pinpoint the location of a sound source around them, and learn their actual physical position in the process by just using their ears and sometimes with the help of their other senses as well. One topic you can read is echolocation if you want to know more about it.
This is the first episode of our podcast about binaural recording through a special type of microphones called Sound Professionals, and the handy digital recorder called Zoom H1. In this podcast, Sarah is going to demonstrate the difference in sound quality when you record using regular stereo recorder, and the binaural recording which I’m going to discuss more below.
How to Achieve Binaural Recording
There are so many ways available if ever you want to record audio, and they are the following:
- Through hand-held digital recorders like the Zoom H1
- Through built-in microphones on mobile devices
- Video cameras
- Computer or laptop microphones
- Studio microphones
- Binaural microphones
When you record using some of those equipment in the list you usually get mono or stereo audio output. However in binaural recording, not only will you achieve a clearer sound quality, you’ll also capture a more detailed audio; thanks to the very sophisticated microphones especially made for this particular purpose.
What are the different types of binaural microphones in the market
Three types of binaural microphones are currently available in the market: The dummy head, the lavalier type and the in-ear-type binaural microphones. Sarah has used the in-ear-type binaural microphones in this particular recording.
What is a binaural recording
A binaural recording can be accomplished by using those special type of microphones mentioned above. One very popular brand when people talk about binaural recording is the Sound Professionals. The result of the audio recording is almost similar to stereo quality, but comparably can capture so much more details and audio information than what stereo has.
Unlike in stereo which you only have the right and left directions for your audio, in binaural audio, you will be able to identify which direction the sound is coming from; if it’s coming from the sides, if it’s in front or it’s coming from the back. You’ll also be able to tell if the sound source is above your head or below near the floor. One very good example of this is the audio game called A Blind Legend made for the visually impaired gamers. Or that very popular Virtual Barbershop audio recording that can be found on Youtube.
When you listen to those recordings, you will feel like you are actually present in the scene; for instance when you’re listening to a restaurant or street sound. Or like what is in the audio presentation above, Sarah had made a recording of her while doing her household chores. She’d also take us to their backyard and give us the chance to listen to the outside sounds for example the neighborhood ambience, the airplane sounds, the pool, all the bird chirping etc. That’s why I’m eagerly inviting you to take a listen to the podcast and be impressed, amazed while being immersed into it.
What are the different binaural sounds recorded
- 0:00 Introduction
- 03:15 Sound of the TV
- 04:23 Aircon sound
- 04:35 Kitchen sounds
- 05:00 Ref and the icemaker
- 06:05 Living room sound
- 06:32 Laundry room
- 07:40 Exhaust fan
- 08:26 Outside the house
- 10:35 Swimming pool
- 11:53 Bird sounds
- 12:13 Wistle sound
I promise you once you hear a binaural recording you would be asking for more and you would even want to ask for a specific sound recording for you to listen to because you’ll start to get curious. Those environmental sounds that you won’t be able to hear unless you actually go there physically would now be just a recording away, or a binaural recording away to be specific. So if you want to hear more binaural sounds, let me know in the comments.