Binaural recording and signal processing are generating boundless enthusiasm in the audio press these days, potentially offering perfect surround from only two loudspeakers, incredible earphone reproduction, etc. Yet the physics of binaural hearing and the enormous differences in ear shape between different individuals present possibly insurmountable barriers to these goals. This paper will review the principals of binaural hearing, and use the results of our own research and that of many others to describe just how high these barriers are. We will then show a few ways they can be bypassed or worked around. Our own research goals at Lexicon are binaural recording techniques which are at least as effective for two channel loudspeaker reproduction as standard miking, improved performance from loudspeaker stereo, and headphone equalization which allows the full benefits of binaural recording to be enjoyed by a large fraction of interested listeners.
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