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Atmos for headphones and binaural sound


We humans have only two ears, on the left and the right. If we can only intake sound from only two “sound sensors” how it possible for us for us to discern sound originating from every single angle? Not only from left and right, but straight ahead, directly behind us and even above and below us. Close your eyes and listen to your surroundings, you can pinpoint exactly where each source of sound is, but how is this possible?
Atmos for headphones converts multi-channel audio to binaural sound
The answer comes in two parts, brilliant engineering on the part of our outer ear and some accurate post-processing. Contrary to what most people think, the outer ear – the piece of cartilage known as the auricle – does have a purpose. Because of its shape its able to focus and reflect sound originating from the font and attenuate (slightly reduce) sound originating from the back. The frequencies are also slightly shifted and delayed. The audio processing regions of our brains are then able to use these slight changes to decode where the signal is coming from.
The outer ear focuses and changes the pitch of sound based on the originating angle.
When we wear headphones or earphones, our outer ear does not play a big part as the sound skips the audio tuning usually performed by the outer ear and directly goes into the middle and inner ear. The post-processing component does not get the required shifted frequencies and so does not decipher any direction and distance data – so you generally can’t feel or get a sense of the where the sound originates from.

However, a workaround to this is known as binaural recording, this uses a dummy head or a mannequin head with externa ears. Inside each ear is a microphone that records audio exactly how it is perceived inside the ear. Sound waves bounce off the dummy head and external ear reaching the microphone exactly how the dummy would hear it if it were a real human. When this is played back over headphones, the listener gets the perception of hearing the sound as though it has already bounced off the external ear, giving the perception of surround sound.
A binaural recording mannequin.
The dummy head is not used to record sound in movies, TV and games. Rather it is recorded in multiple channels (microphones) and designed to play back over the same number of speakers. Sound from these speakers are meant to bounce off your external ear and be processed by your brain. Hence you don’t get binaural and you can’t experience surround sound in a headphone.

This is the problem Dolby Atmos for Headphones seems to solve. Dolby Atmos for Headphones works by taking sound from multi-channel audio such as Dolby TruHD or Atmos and processing them in to binaural audio so it gives a surround sound experience. Atmos for headphones uses an algorithm that can create a binaural effect which can create virtual speakers in any angle and distance. With Atmos, it can tap into the object meta data and create infinite channels to create sound originating in any direction.

You don’t need an expensive headphone to experience amazing virtual sound You could even use an affordable Logitech or Shure headphone to get the same amazing effect. Read our reviews.

See also
Binaural recording image source - https://staff.aist.go.jp/ashihara-k/mhs.html. Licensed under under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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