Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Microphones with ears

If recorded music is to sound spatially authentic to our ears, what's needed are microphones with pinnae [ears]. It sounds like a preposterous idea, but in fact it's been done for years. You just sculpt a life-size head... and embed ordinary microphones at the ends of the ear canals. The head blocks high frequencies and creates the appropriate delays between the ears, and the pinnae make the usual reflections. Position the head at the best seat in a concert hall and perform an opera. Then listen to the recording through in-ear headphones...

The effect is magical. A whisper behind the ear is heard just there behind the ear.

Chapter 1, Music, the Brain and Ecstasy, by Robert Jourdain