It was certainly nice to see returning attendees and meet new faces at the recent AXPONA audio show in Chicago a few weeks ago. As I said in my previous post, it will probably be the last time I assemble a high-resolution, surround demo with my partners Oppo, Benchmark, Emotiva, DH Labs, and JVC. It’s tremendously expensive (and getting more expensive every year), takes a lot of planning, sweat, and time to pull together and for what? I do enjoy sharing my recordings and talking about high-resolution music during the extended sessions in the Lakeshore B ballroom, but I would probably sell more discs if I simply manned the table in front of the room.
It was encouraging that a couple of writers stopped by the room and the sales tables in front of the main demo area. While I guess I would have preferred that Chris Martens of HiFi+, Steve Guttenberg (the Audiophiliac), or Steven Stone of TAS write up their experiences after visiting our 5.1 surround demo, it was nice to see Thomas Mulready of Cool Cleveland rank our room among the best he experienced. Thanks Thomas. And, of course, the attendees that experienced our immersive, surround sound music were treated to something rare — actual high-resolution audio recording delivered through a system capable of exceeding CD fidelity.
Steven Stone, an associate writer at The Absolute Sound, has been popping up more an more in my circle lately. He was kind enough to sit through the YARRA 3DX demonstration I gave at our sales table in Chicago and wrote glowingly that it was, “one of two of the most impressive demonstrations at AXPONA…”. And just this morning, Steven passed along a link to an article by Roger Skoff on Binaural Sound (you can read the entire series of four articles at click here). I’m a fan of binaural recording and actually did a few recordings in this format — including my doctoral dissertation.
Roger is obviously a fan of binaural recordings. He argues that a single microphone for each channel delivered via headphones to our ears delivers a convincing “you-are-there” listening experience. I don’t disagree but there’s more to the story than producing a “sonic documentary” for music consumers. The sound of recorded music is fundamentally different than a live concert experience — and that’s as it should be if you ask me. Binaural recordings succeed to a great degree in delivering immersive 3D audio. All you have to do is search for binaural recordings on YouTube and you’ll be able to get your hair cut, hear David Chesky walk through a large NYC Cathedral, or listen to a nature preserve in full surround. I made a lot of nature recordings during the week that I had a Sennheiser KU-81U “Fritz” binaural head 30 years ago. It works.
But there’s a downside to binaurally recorded tracks as well — the loss of presence. The sense that you are close to a sound is lost when a single microphone is placed some distance away from the sound source. It turns out that there’s a very clever way to rectify this critical flaw in binaural albums. Take a well-recorded surround track (5.1 or 7.1 or 11.4) and “binauralize” it using software.
To be continued…
As readers and supporters of this site, I would like to ask you to help in bringing awareness to an innovative product that a close friend of mine is developing that makes use of binaural sound projection. I’ll get into more details over the next few posts, but the YARRA 3DX speaker array that he’s about to launch on Kckstarter is a remarkable technology and worthy of support. Imagine the immersive, “you-are-there”, quality of binaural with the intimacy of commercial tracks without the need for headphones and you’ll start to understand the revolutionary nature of this product. We need to develop a healthy email list prior to our launch. If you or someone you know is interested in a smart sound bar (and subwoofer) that can deliver immersive, 5.1 surround sound for games, music, home theater and more for less than $500 (with an opportunity to get up to 50% off during the campaign), then please visit the site and sign up. We promise never to spam you or distribute the list. I really think they’re on to something truly disruptive. Again please visit, YARRA 3DX.