What is 8D audio - discussing the new trend

    The network is gaining popularity 8D-music. YouTube videos with these records already have hundreds of thousands of views. Today we will tell you what 8D audio is and how it is “arranged”.

    Photo of Ludo Rouchy / CC BY

    What is 8D music

    I want to start with what 8D-music is not. This is not a new music genre or even a new technology. This is a post-processing audio recording method, when DJs take an already existing track and mix it, creating the effect of sound movement around the listener.

    In fact, 8D audio emulates the ambison surround sound format . The latter implies that the listener is in the center of the “acoustic sphere”, at the edges of which the sound sources are placed. The name 8D simply means that the sound comes from eight directions: left, right, front, back, plus four combinations.

    It’s hard to say who is the creator of the first 8D record. However, today you can find a large number of channels on YouTube, the authors of which post similar music. One of the largest - 8D Tuneswith five million subscribers. An example of his work is the 8D version of Twenty One Pilots’s “Nico and the Niners” composition .

    Another example of the channel is AviionMusic , which now has 390,000 subscribers.

    How it works

    Cavities in the human ear have their own characteristics of resonances and reflections, which depend on the frequency of the sound wave and its angle of incidence. Our brain is able to notice these distortions and determine the direction from which the sound is coming. The intensity of distortion for each person is individual and is described by the so-called head-related transfer function , or HRTF. Using filtering, taking into account the transfer function of the head, and special software, you can create the effect of "moving" the sound source "around" the listener.

    To make the effect as realistic as possible, it is necessary to calculate the transfer function for each person individually. However, the musicians use the ready-made HRTF sets, measured in an anechoic chamber (we wrote about it in detail in one of the previous materials ). These kits form the basis of special filters for sound processing programs, such as Sennheiser's Ambeo Orbit.

    Sometimes, Haas effect is also used to simulate the location of sound sources in space when processing audio . To do this, in one of the two stereo channels the track is “delayed” by 5–30 ms. As a result, the sound that reaches our ear first will sound louder. This will create the illusion of moving the sound source left or right.

    Opinions on 8D audio

    Listeners leave mixed reviews about 8D effect recordings. There are those who compare 8D audio with live sound. For some, the new effect is similar to the ACMP phenomenon : people listen to such recordings in order to relax before going to bed. There are reviews of a more unusual reaction to 8D sounds: recordings help someone to get rid of tinnitus or pain.

    Photo by William Brawley / CC BY

    There are people who criticize 8D music. In a thematic thread on Hacker News, a number of commentators noted that such records make them nauseous and dizzy . Probably, this reaction is associated with differencesin HRTF. The average transfer function used to mix 8D songs is not suitable for everyone, so listening to this content can cause discomfort.

    DJ and co-founder of the music portal Yousic compares 8D audio with ping-pong when the voice and melody jump from ear to ear. According to him, it makes it difficult to truly enjoy the music.

    From 8D-audio is not happy and professional sound engineers. Chief Sound Designer of 740 Sound Studio Chris Pinkston (Chris Pinkston) also believes that the effect of 8D distracts from the melody. Chris says that he himself would never use it in music. However, in his opinion, the popularity of 8D audio on the Internet is easy to explain. Listeners are too accustomed to standard stereo recordings, and now any spatial audio processing seems unusual and attractive to them.

    Possible perspectives 8D

    Although 8D audio remains an amateur format, some see the possibilities of its use in studio music. For example, the same Chris Pinkston believes that the 8D effect has a future not in pop music, but in more “ephemeral” ambient genres.

    In other areas, say, in VR apps or movies, 8D audio is probably not going to work. There are many surround sound technologies that can create a more realistic sense of space, such as the same Ambisonics format , the effect of which emulates 8D. Therefore, while 8D-audio will remain an experimental way to create music for a narrow circle of fans of such a sound.

    Additional reading is our World of Hi-Fi and tg-microformat about sound:

    Eight audio technologies that will get into the TECnology hall of fame in 2019
    How to turn a computer into a radio, and other ways to extract music from the calculus. Sound levitation systems
    can be used in medicine

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