THE BINAURAL BULLETIN - page 2         



First is a letter from a customer after receiving his initial order from THE BINAURAL SOURCE:

They are ABSOLUTELY THE BEST two-channel playback available, hands down! Simply amazing, astonishing, exceptional, flabergasting, holographic, breathtaking, etc. etc.! Their sense of presence, imaging and soundstaging is state of the art! In the opinion of my friends and myself, over high quality headphones they surpass all [speakers] playing the best [audiophile stereo] recordings in sheer holographic 3D imaging, soundstaging, localization, focus, etc. HANDS DOWN, and we've heard or auditioned them all! Are there any words of praise left? -L.D. D., Tellico Plains, TN

-Your binaural program was fascinating. I especially enjoyed the recording of the nightingale. I had the feeling I was there! -A.R., San Francisco

-This was the cheapest high I ever had. I knew no one was really walking around and talking [behind me] but I found myself looking anyway. I was embarrassed. I hoped my friends weren't watching me! -J.P., San Rafael

That organ did it for me -- the 3D reverb inside that cathedral was delicious!...When the German engineer walked around his binaural rig, I experienced a full 360-degree effect for the first time. I must have played that audio stroll a dozen times. -G.A., San Francisco

Your binaural broadcast was an education. Tapes of AUDIOPHILE AUDITION are highly prized by audio buffs up here! -D.W., Brentwood, BC, Canada

I have never heard piano sound so good on CD. Piano usually sounds dead, stripped of harmonies and glow. -P.M., Santa Monica, CA

I long ago considered headphone listening as rather lifeless. An audio component to be used only to avoid disturbing others... Never hearing binaural sound I was doubtful. The old headphones suddenly came to life! The person in the room with me heard nothing except my remarks, which amounted to: "Wow.... Great.... Fantastic... Beautiful!" I must tell you that closing the eyes as you recommend put me not in my living room but in your presence... I not only heard the music but felt it. -D.G., Bethlehem, PA seven-year-old son happened to be in the house when [your] program came on... he hurriedly begged his father and I to find the headphones and hook them up fast! ... "The flute, Mom, I hear the flute like it was right here!" he told me with no small amount of awe. Then, during the jazz selection taped in Paris: "I can see each instrument." As the piece ended and the applause began:..."Was that you clapping beside me? -The M. D. family, Magalia, CA

Long before the advent of the stereo LP, people used to line up at Bell Lab's exhibition hall to put on headphones and experience the wonder of binaural sound. They listened to everything from planes and birds flying overhead to symphony orchestras and jazz combos, all captured with striking accuracy and dramatic effect.

There was no controversy whatever about the binaural recording process, which used two microphones placed at a human head's distance apart. Everyone knew then that this method was the best way to accurately record and convey realistic tonal, spatial and directional information.
-Jeff Baker, in technical notes to Clarity Recordings LP, "Fine and Mellow."

I did like the Newport Classic gold binaural CD. You are right, there is no degradation in speaker playback of binaural recordings when compared to standard stereo. -Klaus Heymann, CEO of Naxos International

I do not consider myself an audiophile but I was absolutely stunned by the program on binaural recordings. I think I'm in love. What spectacular sound! -- Mrs. P.K., Oklahoma City

The difference between...binaural sound and traditional stereo was honestly about as drastic as the difference between stereo and mono...The imaging was incredible... --K.L., San Bernardino, CA

I was thrilled with the sampler; the train was fantastic! -- Ms. P.I., Fulton, NY

That organ did it for me -- the 3D reverb inside that cathedral was delicious! When the German engineer walked around his binaural rig, I experienced a full 360-degree effect for the first time. I must have played...that audio stroll a dozen times. -- G.A., San Francisco

The use of binaural technology gives astounding results, probably the next best to being there. -- J. P., Eureka Springs, AR

I was particularly interested in the...binaural broadcast...The sound and the music was amazing! -- Ms. L. S., Baltimore

It was a wonderful experience to hear enhanced sounds through headphones [with] this advanced audio technology. -- E. O., Atlanta

The sounds of the recorded samples...were astonishing. The clarity of the sounds were so crystal clear that I could almost feel myself being in the center of the recording area. -- S. M., Dayton, OH

I was amazed at the difference even between ordinary stereo and binaural. The presence of the school band was there! The ...piano music was sparkling and full of vitality! --Ms. R.H., Riverside, CA

It was an amazingly enjoyable sound treat that entranced me out of all my worldly cares, and I felt that I was in the presence of the orchestras, bands, birds, thunderstorms and bees! I look forward to dancing with exquisite treat! -- Ms. J.N., Los Angeles

Am I There or is it Here? The sounds...just seem to appear around my head -- with my eyes closed I must gasp. I still haven't been able to get a firm grasp on how far we've come in audio. -- B. P., Augusta, GA

[My first binaural experience] was hearing a tape of a pipe organ in a huge hall. I had never heard "recorded space" before and with the pipe organ playing that was a sound I wanted more of. --V.G., San Bernardino

My impression was very much the same as my first experience looking through a stereo slide viewer...I stared at the same scene for several minutes and realized how incomplete the photograph was without the 3D component. -- J.D., Parma, OH

I'm sure you all know how staggeringly good a true binaural recording can sound through headphones, but I'm also sure you know of the scarcity of such recordings. -- C. P., Amada, AZ

For someone like me, who occasionally takes refuge from my family's noise through the use of a good pair of headphones, this is the ultimate! Wow! Great Stuff! -- B. P., Marietta, GA

I have made several "dummy head" recordings of my own and am constantly fascinated with the very realistic results. -- G. H., Ontario, Canada

I happen to have a stereo FM/headphone radio and for the first time experienced binaural sound [via your broadcast]. Spectacular! -- D. S., Bethesda, MD

[I had] never before heard a demonstration on good headphones. WOW! is all I could say... -- R. D., Ft. Washington


1. There are several companies offering binaural mike systems and accessories to consumer and semi-pro recordists. See our Links Page. Among them are The Sound Professionals, Oade Brothers, Core Sound, and MarcSound. The price range is from about $60 to around $250. Most of these come with alligator clips to clip to the temples of your glasses with the front of the mike capsules close to the ear canal entrance, or to headphones or a headband with the mikes aimed outward as near the ear canal as possible.

[There is also a somewhat similar system available from Sonic Studios in Oregon, but it is designed to mount toward the front of the temples away from the ears and is therefore not a true binaural system.] There is also a link to a page explaining how to build an inexpensive binaural mike system yourself.

These consumer-level mikes are normally used with either a portable DAT recorder such as the Sony M1, D7 or D8, or a Sony MiniDisc recorder. Bear in mind that none of these mike systems are equalized for compatible loudspeaker playback, so while your recordings will sound terrific on headphones, they will be just OK on speakers - somewhat lacking in bass end and impact.

2. The Neumann KU-81 in its latest version, the KU-100i, has transformerless mikes and improved EQ to give completely compatible playback via loudspeakers (though of course losing the "you are there" binaural effect). The majority of the recordings in THE BINAURAL SOURCE catalog were made with one of the Neumann dummy heads. About $6500 from most pro audio dealers or contact Sennheiser/Neumann at 203-434-9190, Rental available in some areas. An optional binaural mixing system allows more than one dummy head or even mono sources to be mixed in. (Both the Neumann and Aachen heads are used more for research and measurement purposes worldwide than they are for commercial recordings.)

3. The standard Aachen Head Acoustics binaural system is now a very sophisticated studio head with Schoeps mikes at $29,000, their lower-priced model having been discontinued. The high end of binaural mike systems, with widest range, best frontal localization and loudspeaker compatibility. Heads include shoulders to provide important reflections. Associated equipment includes specially-modified Sennheiser headphones for accurate matching. There is also computerized mixing equipment so that any mono or stereo sources may be "binauralized" in mixing. U.S. distributor is Head Acoustics Inc.: 248-486-0099.

[updated 7/99]         


[updated 6/99]     

Many technical articles on binaural are available in print and on the Net, but most are not written for the layman. The JOURNAL OF THE AUDIO ENGINEERING SOCIETY frequently prints technical papers on binaural subjects. [AES, 60 East 42nd St., NY, NY 10165-2520. 212-661-8528. Email:]

John Sunier, host of AUDIOPHILE AUDITION, has written many binaural articles of more general interest. The following three (which are still more technical than the remainder of the articles listed below) may be found at some public libraries. They are no longer available as back issues from AUDIO.:

A History of Binaural Sound -- AUDIO, March 1986

Binaural Overview: Ears Where the Mikes Are, Part I -- AUDIO, Nov. 1989; Part II -- AUDIO, Dec. l989. {An article on the recording session 22 years ago for The Blue Max binaural cassette is also in the Nov. 1989 AUDIO, with a review of the Lexicon CP-1 processor, with a special binaural circuit. An article by Wade Bray on the Aachen Head Acoustics binaural system is also in the Dec. 1989 AUDIO.}

AS WIDE AND AS DEEP AS IT GETS (The New 3D Image and Binaural IMAX® - John Sunier, WIDESCREEN REVIEW, Vol. 6, No. 4, Issue 26 (Jan. 1998), p. 117. Very extensive illustrated 8-page article on the 3D IMAX presentations.

A Fresh Look at Binaural Recording -- John Crabbe column in HI-NEWS & RECORD REVIEW, March l993 p. 56.

TAKING SOUND IN ANOTHER DIRECTION - John Sunier, LISTENER, Winter 1998, Vol. 1, No. 1 [Eastern Bee Pulbications, 36 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820]

BINAURAL IN DEPTH - Article by John Sunier in Binaural Mike section of website for THE SOUND PROFESSIONALS 6/99

Binaural Recording -- John Sunier, THE AUDIOPHILE VOICE, Vol. I Issue 3, p. 47 [$6.95, 219 Locust Ave., Corlandt Manor, NY 10566].

Binaural Recording: An Introduction -- John Sunier, POSITIVE FEEDBACK, 11/12 l992 & 1/2 l993 (double issue), pp. 49-52 [$6, publ. by Oregon Triode Society, 4106 N.E. Glisan, Portland OR 97232]

BINAURAL SOUND HITS THE BIG SCREEN, by Ivan Berger, AUDIO, October 1997, p. 32. Two-page article on the 3D IMAX productions.

And Speaking of Sound Investments...Feature on binaural by syndicated home electronics columnist Harry Somerfield, Sept. 23, l992, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE and 60 other newspapers.

Neumann KU-100 Binaural Head - The Ideal Mike for 5.1 Ambient Sound? SURROUND PROFESSIONAL, Issue Number Four (May l999)

Sight & Sound, article by Jim Phalen on binaural and The Binaural Source -- PACIFIC SUN, week of September 7, 1990. [reprinted above]

Survey of Headphones for Binaural -- John Sunier, THE SENSIBLE SOUND, Summer 1993 [$6, 403 Darwin Dr., Snyder, NY 14226].

Bewitched, Binaural & Bewildered -- AUDIO, August 1991; Better History Through Binaural -- AUDIO, Feb. 1992;Binaural on the Fly -- AUDIO, March 1992; Backfield in Motion --AUDIO, April 1992. Some of many columns by Edward Tatnall Canby about his enthusiasm for binaural.

Reviews of binaural CDs -- Al Fasoldt, The Common-Sense Audiophile, in FANFARE, May/June l991, p. 412. Also March/April l993. Also Jan/Feb. 1997. E.M. Long, AUDIO Dec. 1996, p. 120. Martin De Wulf, BOUND FOR SOUND, May 1997.

Fritz II Mic Makes a Ghostly Appearance -- Frank Beecham, RADIO WORLD, March 27, 1991 [5827 Columbia Pike, Suite 310, Falls Church VA 22041] [reprinted above]

Binaural Basics -- John Sunier, RADIO-ELECTRONICS, October 1991, 8 pp.

Basic Binaural Badinage -- John Sunier, BOUND FOR SOUND No. 5a-1991. Headphone Happenings Part I (also headphone amps)-- John Sunier, BOUND FOR SOUND No. 5a & 6a - 1992; Headphone Happenings II BOUND FOR SOUND No. 7a/92. [$2 ea. fr. 220 N. Main St., Kewanee, IL 61443].

Binaural: 3-D for Ears -- John Sunier, RADIO WORLD, Feb. 5, 1992. [address above].

Binaural for Beginners -- John Sunier, CLASSICAL DISC DIGEST, Issue No. 15, 1996 [$6.95 ea. fr. Box 192, Ringwood, NJ 07456]

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