The “new” trend of 8D audio explained; what is it and how is it achieved?
At 3L-3S, we have featured the developments in audio tech, especially as it gets personalised with headphones and earpods and how musicians are adapting their output to these changes. Earlier this week, social media went viral with the message: “Listen to this song with headphones (put on the 2 headphones). It is the new music of the Pentatonix, composed with 8D technology. Listen to it only with headphones. It will be the first time that you will listen to that song with your brain and not with your ears. You will feel the music from outside and not from the headphones. Feel the effects of this new technology” with Pentatonix’s new song attached to it. Whilst the experience is undoubtedly mind blowing, it isn’t clear whether it is the music itself or the tech that is delivering it. This piece in The Groove Cartel helps us understand what the whole thing about 8D is. It says that the tech is nothing new “The reality is that there’s no new technology but a technique that allows hearing sounds as if you were in the middle of it. That feeling of music that runs through your head, thanks to the use of headphones, is the result of equalization techniques, panning and effects combined together. In short, panning is the ability to distribute the sound on different audio channels. If you think about your earphones, they have two physical channels: left and right. You can pan the sound all the way to the left or the right or, you can choose a specific sound to be played by one or the other earphone.
The result is the so-called 8D audio (which has no sense as the physical space where we live is mapped on 3 dimensions) that let you appreciate sounds coming from different directions. You can find on YouTube or Soundcloud this kind of audio recordings from the lowest quality where the record simply moves from left to right without a real point or, you can find high-quality records where the sound is correctly located in a specific region of the 3D space and you can clearly hear it through your earphones.”
Even if it isn’t radically new tech, the novel experience is getting people attempt the technique across genres including legendary classics like Stairway to Heaven and Time. Don’t forget to put on your headphones whilst you make peace with what looks like a protracted lockdown.