Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Holophonic Sound

Okay, people have two ears - makes it easy to figure out if a sound is to the left or to the right. But amazingly we can also determine if a sound is above, below, behind, or in front of us. How does that work? Top Men have figured out that it has to do with the folds and shape of the ear itelf, subtle delays and distortions of the sound that our brain subconsciously interprets to accurately pinpoint a sound location in 3D space.

There are ways to record sound with more of the 3D attributes, but holophonic sound (patented in 1983 by Umberto Gabriele Maggi) is produced by recording and processing multiple sources to produce some very distinctive 3D results. We've included links to a few sound samples...

Headphones required. (You won't get the effect without 'em.)

Box of Matches (best sample)
Hair Cut with Scissors
Whispered Sweet Nothings
Assorted Demo (not as good)

Pink Floyd's "Final Cut" album has some holophonic sound on it. But in an interview in 1983 David Gilmour claims they really didn't do it justice. It still might be worth a listen on your iPod.

Seems like with today's processing power, we should be able to simulate this in real-time. Anyone?

Previous related Wohba links:
Villainous Youth Repellent


Anonymous electroniclas said...

I´ve heard about an Psychick TV holophonic recording on cd back in 86-87. Anyone care enough to check it out?

1/27/2009 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'll find that Hugo Zuccarelli holds the patent for 'Holophonics'.

The Matchbox Shaker was the demo record (TA3278)

Psychic TV's record was Dreams less Sweet.

I have both.

4/07/2009 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I know the current procedure is to alter the volume of one speaker relative to the other to indicate position, or as in large stereo systems have many speaker outputs to enhance the effect. For headphones though something to the left will be louder in the left ear than the right ear.
What really needs to be added is the actual minute delay between the ears to aid the perception of location. Of course this would only be beneficial for headphone users because with a stereo system the distance between the speakers and the ears isn't constant or necessarily equal.

7/19/2009 1:47 PM  
Blogger ETSkinner said...

That may be what the old method was, but I believe that they put microphones either next to eachother on a table or go as far as to model a human head with ears so that the sound can change from where it's coming from. Then when you listen to it with headphones, it sounds real because it seems like your ears have modified it.

On a different note, that is what they do for surround sound systems (i.e., mixing it to make sound come from different directions)

7/20/2009 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok so Anonymous says the current procedure is to alter the volume of one speaker relative to the other. I can see how that would designate the right hemisphere / left hemisphere location. However, if you'll listen to the matchbox shaker demo with headphones, you'll notice the very distinct "above the ear, below the ear" positioning of the sound. The "below the ear" positioning was especially obvious. You couldn't do that with just a right speaker / left speaker volume difference, or if you can, how to do it escapes me.

8/02/2009 7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Binaural Microphones... Google it

12/10/2009 11:56 PM  

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