Berlin is known worldwide for its vibrant electronic music scene. This was what drew Argentinian-born electronic music composer, Alejandro Mosso, to the German capital. While studying for his Masters Degree in Sound Studies and Sonic Art at Berlin’s Universität der Künste, he discovered binaural audio, the term professionals use to describe 3D audio made specially for headphones. During lockdown, Alejandro Mosso has released two records using binaural technology – Other Worlds vol. 1 and vol. 2 – and more 3D audio is in the making,
"When you are composing music for this type of audio you think about the space in different ways. You can suddenly have way more elements at the same time not fighting for the same sonic space” Alejandro Mosso
“World 2“ by Alejandro Mosso was produced using binaural technology to create a feeling of being completely submerged when you listen on your headphones.
“This music was already in the works as a traditional composition, but when I started working with binaural technologies, I realized that this would be ideal for a 3D concept. It was the start of the pandemic, I was not travelling and people were just listening at home – so this idea of offering people a true-to-life experience at home was ideal" Alejandro Mosso
Here are Alejandro Mosso’s tips for the best 3D listening experience:
You need good over-ear headphones and quiet surroundings.
If there’s noise around you, make sure to listen on closed headphones.
If you close your eyes it helps to enhance your auditory perception. Then you don’t get distracted by visual elements.
Check out more of Alejandro Mosso’s work here
What is 3D audio?
3D audio is a term used to describe the perception of sound in an entire 360° space around the listener. It overcomes the limitations of stereo by enabling the placement of individual sound sources anywhere in a 3D space – in front or behind, above or below the listener. This is why 3D audio is sometimes characterized as a "true-to-life experience" since our natural hearing is used to recognize sound sources surrounding us from all directions. With the latest developments in 3D audio technology, you feel surrounded and immersed by the audio experience. Instead of looking at the stage, you are placed in the middle of it – you become a part of the experience. The beauty of 3D audio for headphones is that it doesn't require a special decoder or additional hardware components – the whole process of creating the sound field is finalized in the mixing studio. All you need is high-quality headphones.
Powered by the Pandemic
Based in Düsseldorf, Dear Reality is a German company specialized in 3D audio software and virtual acoustics. We asked Kai Detlefsen from Dear Reality why 3D audio seems to be booming right now.
“Today's 3D audio developments are the result of the industry’s constant effort to achieve the most immersive and realistic sound impression. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the demand for true-to-life experiences with a feeling of active participation due to closed event locations and lockdowns. With the latest portable headphones, your smartphone and a rising supply of streaming services, you have everything you need to dive into these 3D audio experiences.” Kai Detlefsen
There are several ways to create 3D audio experiences for headphone playback. Using the latest audio software, the sound engineer can bring every individual audio signal into the 3D audio world. Dear Reality's innovative software tools enable the sound engineer to position the individual sound sources like the singer, the guitar, or the drums, in the 360° space. The basic concept behind this process is to apply a binaural panner that enhances the well-known stereo pan-pot with the ability to position audio in any location left, right, above, below, in front, or behind – instead of only left or right.
“3D audio enriches all kinds of audio productions with a new dimension - whether music, podcast, film, game audio, VR, or AR. We believe that in the future everyone will be confronted with 3D audio in nearly every scenario, whether you are in a cinema, in your car, at home, or in a venue.” Kai Detlefsen
The outcome is that the listener will experience audio as though it is coming from all angles, from behind and from above. Listening will never be the same.
To listen to more 3D audio, check out Dear Reality’s blog article about the immersive podcast "Dark Audio Moments" which was produced using their software. It's scary stuff (the podcast is in German)