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Is Binaural Spatialization the Future of Hip-Hop?

Modern hip-hop is typically associated with samples and MIDI and not so much with creative source spatialization since the energy-driving elements are usually located in the center of a stereo image. To evaluate the impact of certain element placements behind, above, or underneath the listener on the listening experience, we experimented beyond standard mixing practices by spatializing beats and vocals of two hip-hop tracks in different ways. Then, 16 hip-hop musicians, producers, and enthusiasts, and three audio engineers compared a stereo and a binaural version of these two tracks in a perceptual experiment. Results showed that hip-hop listeners expect a few elements, including the vocals, to be mixed conventionally in order to create a cohesive mix and to minimize distractions.

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