How VR Audio works

Here’s a great post from Enda Bates of the Trinity 360 project, talking about 360 degree audio, which is the oft-forgotten half of the VR experience. Now that VR is going mainstream with Oculus Rift finally shipping and Samsung, HTC and Sony all releasing their own headsets to go along with cheaper alternatives like Google Cardboard, we are starting to see a shift towards better audio for VR. Companies like Google are focusing on spatial audio as one of the key components of the VR experience.

I’m lucky enough to get to work often with VR audio as part of my job, so it’s exciting to see it getting more of the attention it deserves as the VR market explodes. Enda’s post is a great rundown of how audio can be captured and rendered for VR and well worth checking out. I’m looking forward to catching the upcoming performance in April to see the result of the work that Enda and crew have been working towards.

Mix Master, Cut Faster – Risset Accelerando

I’ve posted before about Shepard tones and other audio illusions, but here is another one to wrap your head around. Jean-Claude Risset, who created the Shepard-Risset Glissando (a continuous version of the Shepard tones) also produced the rhythmical equivalent – a beat that appears to get faster and faster (and faster and faster). By layering

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Musical Training Gives you ‘Super Ears’

A new study has concluded that musical training gives listeners better frequency selection abilities, particularly at higher frequencies. The study titled ‘Psychophysical auditory filter estimates reveal sharper cochlear tuning in musicians’ (J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 136, EL33 (2014);) suggested that “Increased cochlear tuning (i.e., auditory filter resolution) in musicians would help explain their enhanced pitch

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It’s not Synesthesia, Water Really does Sound Hot or Cold

Picture of Hot Water being poured into a teacup

NPR’s All Things considered had an interesting piece last week about the work of Condiment Junkie – a British ‘creative agency specialising in sensory branding’. The firm which specializes in sound design, has done research to see if (and more importantly how) people can tell the difference between hot and cold beverages being poured, to make a beer sound colder, or in the case of Twining’s make the tea sound piping hot on their commercials.

In their research they found that 96% of participants could tell the difference. NPR’s own informal web poll (now closed) found that 80% correctly identified the ‘cold’ audio and 90% the ‘hot’ audio.

The follow-up piece digs briefly into what exactly makes the sounds so identifiable.

Cold water is more viscous, or sticky, than hot water. That’s what makes that high pitched ringing, and it’s what tells your brain ‘This water is cold!’ before you even take a sip.

(Photo Credit – Oh Baby It’s Cold Outside by Daniel Novta under Creative Commons Attribution License)