AES London 2011
Tutorial T12

Monday, May 16, 10:30 — 12:00 (Room 5)

T12 - You, a Room, and a Pair of Headphones: A Lesson in Binaural Audio

Ben Supper, Focusrite

Stereo recordings that are intended for loudspeaker reproduction do not work properly over headphones. Methods for converting stereo for headphone monitoring have become increasingly elaborate as the availability of digital signal processing has increased. The challenge is to arrive at a stereophonic effect that is as the composer, engineer, and producer intended: stable, with correct perspective, out-of-head localization, and no excessive polarization of the stereo image.

To do these things successfully is not as trivial as may first be assumed. No two listeners are identical; choice of headphones are a matter of taste. Moreover, the illusion needs reverberation, but this must not get in the way of the music.
This tutorial picks a path through the peculiarities of the human hearing system, discussing aspects of our perception of loudspeakers and rooms, and how close we can come to understanding and modeling them completely. Insights will be given into how the human auditory system can be made to believe a virtually-rendered sound field, how to do this cheaply, and why we don't need to cram the entire gamut of reality onto a tiny piece of silicon.

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