I saw “The Encounter” this evening. This is a one-man show that relies heavily on binaural audio. Every seat in the theater has a pair of headphones, and the sensation while you are watching the show is that there is a rich sonic landscape all around you.

The effect is very powerful, and quite emotionally engaging. If you’ve never tried binaural audio before, just put on a pair of headphones (even cheap headphones will do) and listen to this classic:


Seeing this show has gotten me much more focused on binaural audio for our own work in socially shared VR. Audio can convey a visceral emotional impact that can be far greater than the impact of visuals.

And this makes sense, in evolutionary terms. After all, 30,000 years ago, when predators were sneaking up on our ancestors, it was our ears, not our eyes, that warned us in time that something dangerous was behind us.

I look forward to incorporating binaural audio into the virtual worlds we are creating. I am sure it will greatly increase the emotional impact of those experiences. After all, where’s the fun in having a virtual saber-tooth tiger sneak up behind you, if it’s just a silent movie? 😉

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