Binaural recording

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Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses a special microphone arrangement and is intended for replay using headphones. Dummy head recording is a specific method of capturing the audio, generally using a bust that includes pinnae (outer ears). Because each person's pinnae are unique, and because the filtering they impose on sound directionality is learned by each person from early childhood, the use of pinnae during recording that are not the same as the ultimate listener may lead to perceptual confusion.[citation needed]

The term "binaural" has frequently been confused as a synonym for the word "stereo", and this is partially due to a large amount of misuse in the mid-1950s by the recording industry, as a marketing buzzword.[citation needed] Conventional stereo recordings do not factor in natural ear spacing or "head-shadow" of the head and ears, since these things happen naturally as a person listens, generating their own ITDs (interaural time differences) and ILDs (interaural level differences).[citation needed] Because loudspeaker-crosstalk of conventional stereo interferes with binaural reproduction, either headphones are required, or crosstalk cancellation of signals intended for loudspeakers such as Ambiophonics.[citation needed] For listening using conventional speaker-stereo, or mp3 players, a pinna-less dummy head may be preferable for quasi-binaural recording, such as the sphere microphone or Ambiophone. As a general rule, for true binaural results, an audio recording and reproduction system chain, from microphone to listener's brain, should contain one and only one set of pinnae (preferably the listener's own) and one head-shadow.[citation needed]

Contents

Examples

Recording technique

With a simple recording method, two microphones are placed 18 cm (7") apart facing away from each other. This method will not create a real binaural recording. The distance and placement roughly approximates the position of an average human's ear canals, but that is not all that is needed. More elaborate techniques exist in pre-packaged forms.[citation needed] A typical binaural recording unit has two high-fidelity microphones mounted in a dummy head, inset in ear-shaped molds to fully capture all of the audio frequency adjustments (known as head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) in the psychoacoustic research community) that happen naturally as sound wraps around the human head and is "shaped" by the form of the outer and inner ear.[citation needed] The Neumann KU-81, and KU-100 are the most commonly used binaural packages, especially by musicians.[citation needed] The KEMAR system is another alternative.[citation needed] It was presented already in 1972 as a research mannequin for in-situ testing of hearing aids. The HEAD acoustics aachenhead unit (HMS IV) provides different equalization interfaces, either to make signals compatible with loudspeaker reproduction or to allow for comparison of signals with standard microphone recordings.[citation needed] Other alternatives are the Brüel & Kjær[1] and the 01dB-Metravib[2] mannequins. A simplified version of binaural recordings can be achieved using microphones with a separating element, like the Jecklin Disk. It used a 30 cm (11.81") acoustically-absorptive disk between the mics, spaced 18 centimeters. Now the new Disk is 35 cm in diameter and has a spacing of the microphones of 36 cm (double head).[3]. Nevertheless, not all cues required for exact localization of the sound sources can be preserved this way, but it works also well for loudspeaker reproduction.

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