What is Binaural Recording?
Is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a 3-D stereo surround sensation for the listener of actually being in the room with the performers or instruments. This effect is often created using a technique known as dummy head recording, wherein a mannequin head is fitted with a microphone in each ear. Binaural recording is intended for replay using headphones and will not translate properly over stereo speakers. This idea of a three-dimensional or “internal” form of sound has also translated into useful advancement of technology in many things such as stethoscopes creating “in-head” acoustics and IMAX movies being able to create a three-dimensional acoustic experience.
The term “binaural” has frequently been confused as a synonym for the word “stereo”, due in part to systematic misuse in the mid-1950s by the recording industry, as a marketing buzzword. Conventional stereo recordings do not factor in natural ear spacing or “head shadow” of the head and ears, since these things happen naturally as a person listens, generating interaural time differences (ITDs) and interaural level differences (ILDs) specific to their listening position. Because loudspeaker-crosstalk with conventional stereo interferes with binaural reproduction (i.e., because the sound from each channel’s speaker is heard by both ears rather than only by the ear on the corresponding side, as would be the case with headphones), either headphones are required, or crosstalk cancellation of signals intended for loudspeakers such as Ambiophonics is required. For listening using conventional speaker-stereo, or MP3 players, a pinna-less dummy head may be preferable for quasi-binaural recordings such as the sphere microphone or Ambiophone. As a general rule, for true binaural results, an audio recording and reproduction system chain, from the microphone to the listener’s brain, should contain one and only one set of pinnae (preferably thelistener’s own), and one head-shadow.