You’ve Got Ears—Use ’Em!

Sound & Vision - - LETTERS -

I’ve read with great in­ter­est the re­cent head­phone and DAC re­views. Clearly, it’s pos­si­ble to get as­tound­ing sound qual­ity through this equip­ment, es­pe­cially with high-res­o­lu­tion au­dio files. With our mo­bile so­ci­ety, it seems that more and more mu­sic is be­ing con­sumed via head­phones. What an op­por­tu­nity for con­tent providers to pro­duce bin­au­ral record­ings (record­ings made typ­i­cally us­ing a dummy head with mi­cro­phones placed at each ear lo­ca­tion), which are specif­i­cally in­tended to be heard through head­phones. I have fond me­mories of lis­ten­ing to John Su­nier’s Au­dio­phile Au­di­tion on pub­lic ra­dio with spe­cial pro­grams that were all bin­au­ral. I also en­joy lis­ten­ing to my bin­au­ral CD pro­duced by STAX many years ago called “The Space Sound, Dummy Head Record­ing.”

While I think this record­ing tech­nique would be great to cap­ture live clas­si­cal con­certs, it could also give the lis­tener that be­ing-there feel­ing when lis­ten­ing to con­tem­po­rary mu­sic as well. Hope­fully some record la­bels and/or artists will rec­og­nize this po­ten­tial and pro­duce some new ma­te­rial. (For more in­for­ma­tion on bin­au­ral record­ing, John wrote a very nice ar­ti­cle that can be ac­cessed at bin­au­ral.com/SunBinAr­ti­cle.html).

Dave Kulisek Belle­vue, NE

First, a quick nod to the long-run­ning con­tri­bu­tions of our in­dus­try col­league John Su­nier, who hosted his syn­di­cated Au­dio­phile Au­di­tion ra­dio show from the mid-1980s through the late 1990s and now runs a ter­rific web­site of that name that fo­cuses largely on mu­sic re­views across many gen­res and for­mats.

For those un­fa­mil­iar with bin­au­ral record­ings, the tech­nique es­sen­tially cre­ates a 360-de­gree sound­field around the lis­tener when heard through tra­di­tional two-chan­nel head­phones. I’d have to agree that the surge in head­phone lis­ten­ing does cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity, one that Ch­esky Records, at least, has em­braced. Their web­site (ch­esky.com/gen­res/bin­au­ral) cur­rently shows 38 al­bums recorded bin­au­rally, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of whiz-bang demo pieces, all with the ex­tremely high au­dio­phile qual­ity Ch­esky has al­ways been known for. They’re avail­able on disc or as hi-res down­loads from Ch­esky sis­ter com­pany HD­tracks.com. If you’d like to peek in on a Ch­esky bin­au­ral record­ing ses­sion, check out “Ch­esky Records Uses Its Head to Make Bet­ter-Sound­ing Mu­sic” by con­tribut­ing tech­ni­cal edi­tor Steve Gut­ten­berg (Sound & Vi­sion, May 2016 and avail­able on our web­site).—RS

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