Nathan Gallardo

Sound Design || Music || Audio DIY || Game Dev

DIYFFS! – Binaural

This is Blank Frank, my binaural dummy-head microphone.


He sounds like this:

If you want to build one, Part One of my tutorial starts here.

WTF is a binaural dummy-head microphone?

Just watch this short video. Headphones are absolutely essential for the trick to work.

Binaural recording is essentially a stereo recording technique that encodes the full range of locational information into sound.

As a sound travels from it’s source to the ear drum the audio frequency will be modified according to it’s interaction with the listener’s head and ears. Hence a sound originating directly in front of the listener will have a different set of frequencies by the time it reaches the ear drum than the same sound originating directly behind, or above and to the side etc. The brain analyses the sound and the listener can tell where the sound originated from. Not to mention the physical effect of the head on the sound, the Head-Related Transfer Function.

Having two ears, humans hear in stereo. Stereo microphones are common, and very useful, although in standard stereo recording a sound is restricted to a single horizontal plane between left and right, centred at ear height. A dummy head encodes locational information into the sound in the same way the human head does, and so the illusion of a sound originating outside of this left-right plane can be achieved.

Professional dummy heads are prohibitively expensive, so unless you’re minted it’s worthwhile building your own.

If you want to build one, Part One of my tutorial starts here.

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