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EBU broadcasters making noise about ‘binaural’ audio

An EBU workshop brought together audio experts from broadcasters and manufacturers to discuss and demonstrate the latest immersive audio techniques such as ‘binaural sound’ – surround sound delivered over headphones.

Binaural sound is a special type of stereo audio designed to replicate the cues used by the human ear when it tries to accurately locate the source of sounds in 3D space. There are signs that the technique, which has been around for decades, is set to undergo a boom, largely fuelled by the rise in headphone listening on mobile devices.

Speakers from EBU Member broadcasters and the wider audio industry considered both challenges and opportunities for radio and TV producers. Among the key challenges identified were: a marked diversification of consumer-end platforms for the consumption of surround sound (including various multi-speaker setups currently in use); new considerations for content producers; and the technical challenge of ‘personalizing’ surround sound, as there are small but important variances in the way each individual person hears.

The workshop was the first public event from the EBU’s recently launched 3D Audio project group, under the chairmanship of the BBC’s Chris Pike. The group is part of the Technical Committee’s strategic programme on Future Audio Formats and Radio Production Systems (SP-FAR).