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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but for me, it’s all about the audio

I’ve always loved recording and listening to audio, ever since I received a Fisher Price tape recorder as a child. Indeed while so many people capture their world in photos, I capture mine as much as possible in audio. And just like with photos and video, evolving technology has made it easier to capture audio more easily and in much higher quality.

Note, all of the clips in this post should be listened to while wearing headphones, you will not have the same effect if listening through speakers.

Virtual haircut

I’ll never forget the day I learned about binaural recording. Binaural recording is a technique which allows audio to be captured in more than just stereo, it’s recorded almost exactly as the listener hears it, with the audio surrounding the listener. Anyway, I first discovered this when a friend told me about this incredible video of a virtual barber shop. I listened to the video and was totally blown away by just how realistic everything sounded. For the first time, I felt like I was truly part of the audio scene, not just listening to it.

Virtual hair cut on YouTube

I was absolutely blown away. I immediately thought of all the things in life I wanted to record with that same level of audio quality. I no longer just wanted to listen to recordings, I wanted those recordings to transport me back to exactly where I was when they were made. And so I set out to figure out how I might be able to do this.

Hooke Verse

I soon discovered Hooke Verse, a bluetooth binaural recording headset. The way it works is very simple, the headset, which is like a pair of earbuds connected to each other with a wire connects to my phone via bluetooth. Each earbud has some additional microphones, so while I’m wearing them, audio is captured in the same way my ears would capture that same audio. In addition, the microphones allow me to hear what’s being recorded, so I can hear what’s going on while I’m recording. I received my Hooke Verse the day before leaving for a conference and so I decided to try and record the sounds of my flight getting ready to take off. The following is an excerpt of that first recording.

Excerpt of my first recording with Hooke Verse

Since acquiring Hooke Verse, I’ve made all kinds of recordings: Christmases, my children’s school concerts, audio while traveling, and so much more. It’s been wonderful to be able to listen to these recordings and to experience them exactly as they were originally recorded.

Sennheiser AMBEO

One thing that always bothers me is being dependent on a single solution, what happens if that solution goes away? And so I wanted to find another method for making binaural recordings. Eventually, I discovered another binaural headset, the Senheiser AMBEO. While somewhat similar in earbud-type design to Hooke Verse, the main difference with the AMBEO is that it is not bluetooth. As such I need to be tethered via cable to my phone while using it. One advantage though is that I can use it to record directly in multiple iOS applications. I decided to test the AMBEO by recording a rain shower at my house (yeah, going out in the rain with new technology somehow seemed like a good idea at the time). While I’m on my covered back stoop when this recording starts, I eventually walk into the rain; listening to the audio, see if you can tell the difference.

Recording in the rain with the AMBEO

I love binaural recording, I think it makes audio come to life in ways never before possible. Binaural recording can also be combined with video providing a truly immersive experience. I suspect this technology will only continue to improve and as someone who loves experiencing the world through audio, I’m excited to see what comes next.

Thank you for coming on this little audio adventure with me, I hope this has helped give you a taste of just how amazing capturing the world in audio can be.

4 replies on “A picture may be worth a thousand words, but for me, it’s all about the audio”

this is incredible Steve! I hadn’t heard of this before your blog post. the rain was cool but hearing your voice made me smile. thanks for the intro to binaural recordings.

Aww, you are so kind. I’m glad you enjoyed the recording, I just hope that some day, 3d recording becomes more mainstreamed. I think it must be awesome when paired with video, best of both worlds.

Yay! This is fantastic. Let me know if you decide to record something, I’d love to check it out. 🙂 Also, definitely ping me if you have any questions, I’m still learning along the way, but always happy to share what I find with others.

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