Linked to the general availability of 3D TV now comes the prospect of 3D Radio.
As reported in the media recently the BBC is reportedly developing a new ‘3D radio’ effect for its stations.
Researchers at the BBC Research & Development (R&D) have been working on acoustics which can give the listener the impression of actually being at a live concert by making the sound come from all directions, including from above and below. BBC engineers say that the technology will allow listeners to receive the 3D effects from existing equipment, rather than the need to buy new products.
Frank Melchior, lead technologist for audio with BBC R&D, told The Telegraph: “We want to deliver a new experience to the audience that gives them more immersion and involvement in the content. We also have to make sure we are flexible enough in the delivery of this content. It has to sound okay on headphones as well as on speakers.”
Engineers have already tried out the new system with recordings of The Last Night of the Proms, a radio play of the Wizard and an Elbow concert.
Anthony Churnside, co-author of the BBC R&D research paper, said: “There are a number of ways to create 3D sound. There are psycho-acoustic tricks that can make you perceive sound from above and below.”
“With the Wizard of Oz we concentrated on a couple of scenes including the tornado when it takes the house away. Suddenly we had mooing cows thrown up into the air, and the wind could be all around you. With 3D sound you have every direction to play with so you can be really quite creative. For an orchestra or a live event, the majority of the sounds come from the stage in front of you, but the sense of immersion comes from the sound bouncing off the roof and the walls.”
He added: “The final solution will probably be a hybrid of the technologies so that we can record, produce, broadcast and listen to the audio in the most flexible way.”
The new techniques could also help improve sound quality of future 3D TV transmissions.
However, it’s interesting to note that the world’s first 3D radio station already exists. Hungary’s Magic FM broadcasts music tracks in 3D with the FDS-developed 3D system. From stereo or 5.1 sources the FDS processor can create professional 3D virtual surround sound. With their system the listener can hear audio effects and sounds from all around them.
The FDS 3D system is compatible with any 5.1 and 7.1 receivers but the main point is that 3D virtual surround sound can be obtained by any hi-fi stereo, car audio, TV and radio receivers and earphones.
But all of this is not new. In the spring of 1983 the BBC transmitted several stereo/binaural programmes including ‘The Fine Tuning of Ivor Gurney’. Listening to this Radio 4 radio play through headphones the listener really does feel enveloped in a 3-dimensional world of sounds, with effects radiating at them from all directions. Just goes to show that what goes around, comes around again and again…
Further to BeoPhile’s article above, there’s an interesting report from the BBC from 2011 here.
Read also: Binaural Audio, Recording and Implementation, the BBC’s own Ambisonics & Periphony Web pages and Q-Sound Labs’ Q-Sound. There’s also a Virtual barber Shop here (make sure you use headphones!)