As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…
I’ll be honest with you. For a long time, binaural has felt…to me…like little more than an interesting exercise. It’s a neat trick, for certain, and handy for people who don’t have, or want to invest in, a multi-channel playback system. Whenever I’d listen to a binaural recording, I’d think it was cool…but it never really made me go, “WOW!” This was especially true whenever I’d watch a…we’ll call it flat?…playback/game with binaural audio attached. It was cool, but there was nothing to make me feel that it had anything unique versus a multi-channel system.
I got a Vive this week, and finally got it set up yesterday. This has sold me on binaural!
I realize now, that the piece that was missing from my experiences was immersion. I spent about a half hour, just playing around in the tutorial demo. That’s the sum total of time I’ve actually played with the device so far, and it about triples my previous experience in a VR headset. Tilting and moving my head, while listening to the movement (or, actually, lack thereof) had me grinning from ear to ear. The thing that makes this so satisfying is turning 285 degrees to lock on to a sound source. Not just my head, but my whole body. Head tracking and body immersion into an alternate 3D space makes binaural shine.
Yes, I’m aware this can be replicated with a multi-channel playback system for a VR experience, but there’s something about the closed off nature of headphones that reinforces your presence in an alternate space. I honestly think binaural is the better choice for VR.