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3D Sound and What it Offers

Overview iHeartMedia, speaking at CES® 2021 and featuring award-winning recording artists Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa, recently announced plans to produce 3D, or binaural, audio shows and podcasts. Learn more about what binaural audio is, and the experiences it can enable.

Recently, iHeartMedia announced iHeart 3D Audio and an expansion into binaural podcasting, exploring how podcasts can be more immersive and create a sense of movement.

iHeartMedia and Ryan Seacrest joined us at CES® 2021 to speak about reimagining the music and entertainment industry, featuring top artists Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish. The company’s foray into binaural audio showcases another way iHeartMedia is using technology to enhance experiences for consumers everywhere.

Explore what makes sound three dimensional, and what binaural audio can help accomplish.


Not Just Surround Sound

Binaural recording systems aim to recreate the architecture of the human head with how it captures sound. Having ears on opposite sides of a skull affects the way humans perceive sound, with sounds from one direction taking longer to reach one ear compared to another. The brain recognizes these differences to better localize sound, allowing humans to understand where a sound is coming from with precision.

Binaural audio emulates this. Two microphones around ear-like cavities on either side of a dummy head recreates the density and shape of a human head and how we perceive sound, allowing the microphones to best encapsulate audio cues the same way a real human would.

While surround sound can match a visual with louder audio from that specific direction —for example, more sound from the right side to match fireworks coming from the right of a movie screen — binaural audio effectively recreates exactly what ears hear to accomplish a more 3D and realistic sound.

Omni-binaural or omnidirectional microphones even further enhance this system to produce a 360-degree experience, useful in virtual reality (VR) settings.


Virtual Reality, Health and More

Musicians and VR companies have harnessed the unique qualities of binaural audio to create realistic and engaging experiences for consumers. In a VR setting in particular, if a user turned around and the audio experience did not turn with the user, it can decrease the depth and enjoyment of the experience.

As virtual events such as concerts and games increase in frequency, binaural audio can help audiences and fans engage with the event as if they were truly there and further enhance interactivity.

In the health industry and for those interested in autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), binaural recordings can also trigger soothing, calming responses that may be helpful in achieving better sleep or relaxation.


iHeartMedia aims to harness binaural audio to evolve its podcast network and provide a multifaceted listening experience as consumers turn to digital format entertainment.

“This is virtual reality for the ears,” said Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartPodcast Network, in the press release.

On-demand programming from the all-digital CES 2021 is now available for all to view. The industry-changing insights and announcements shared by tech visionaries at CES 2021 are key to the continued growth and advancement of your business and our tech ecosystem. With that in mind, we’ve opened the CES sessions to everyone.

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