Ideas on a Postcard…

Send Your Ideas In…

w/c 30th January 2012…

I’m still trying to determine which area of audio I should pursue for my research project.
I love Binaural audio and convolution reverbs and re-amps and even psychoacousics; I probably even form the missing link between "Psycho" and "Acoustics".
I’m just bored witless by the dry information concerning the above.

Everything we know about Binaural audio and its advantages over stereo and other formats has already been discovered - hence we know about them.
EDIT: or so I thought.
What I should really have said was “I already think I know”.

I know that this is simply not true… So should I be examining and applying the knowledge we already have?
After all, most stuff we know was discovered by accident. Perhaps I should look to engage in a comparitive study between stereo and binaural. Thus, essentially giving me a license to carry out an insane quantity of binaural and stereo field recordings to compare with each other?

Binaural and stereo recordings of what?

Binaural may well prove to be preferential over stereo in any number of areas, including: live gig bootlegging - or “Audience Recording”, reverb convolution, sound effects design and 3D environment recreation - like what I demonstrated for my Sound Design for Interactive Media project. However, I’m thinking that I’ll need one specific area, not several diverse areas.

SDIM/Sonic Arts Revisited

One of the exhibit audience members was deaf in one ear.
Me being the silly muggins I was, I didn’t ask whether it was partial or total deafness.
Suffice it to say that their experience of all three exhibits would have been impaired.

So this got me thinking: could a binaural recording be modified (i.e. via phase matrixing) in such a way that a hearing impaired person would be able to benefit from it - in a manner similar to a person of typical hearing ability?
Can people with impaired hearing still use reverberation and "Uniaural" perception to determine the location of a sound source? I don’t know. But I want to find out.

For the record, I’d rather go without my hearing than my vision. As much as I love binaural, I’ve heard most of the music and sound effects I’ll ever want to hear. I could still be a roadie or a lampy.

A significant proportion of the feedback indicated that the stereo versus binaural comparison in the exhibit wasn’t a fair one as the two recordings were of different genres. If revisited, further research could be done in this area, with stereo and binaural recordings of the same source conducted at the same time from the same physical position.

So, it would seem that I can tie my Binaural Audio Sampler update into my research project.

What about a computer game (naturally written in Microsoft Visual Basic) with no visuals whatsoever, and only Binaural audio?

Research & Feedback

As I’m doing a comparitive study, It is important to note that at some point I shall have to do some of my own primary research. Yay!
For academia’s sake, I’ll have to provide backgound information on how binaural functions as a format - most of which will come from big heavy dry books on psychoacoustics and recording techniques.

My raw data gathering shall take the form of exposing a group of test subjects to a series of recordings, asking each a number of weighted questions. Such questions could be anything from “Which sound was the most realistic?” to “can you determine the position of the sonic origin?”.

Of course, the test subjects may not be completely honest for fear of offending or being identified from their results. For this reason, test results shall have to be anonymous.
It is also important to include as large a sample size as possible to gain as accurate a result as possible.

It may also be possible to develop the test for deployment on the interweb, so that test subjects can take the test wherever they feel most comfortable. The test could either be carried out directly from my server or over Survey Monkey - with an email to all UHI staff and students. All a subject would need is a reasonably quiet room, a DSL connection, a stereo sound card and a pair of headphones.

Of course, this would hardly represent a fair sample, unless my objective was to contrast binaural with stereo sound for UHI members. Plus, we have time and financial constraints.

Binaural time…