The latest trend in online music is 8D audio which has been making rounds. Often messages pop up asking to listen to some songs from YouTube with your headphones on. Claims of experiencing a sing with your brain, rather than your ears, for an out of body experience as the sound would seem not to come from the headphones but outside.
What is 8D audio?
After listening to an 8D audio song, if you wondered how sound is completely different from normal audio. The result is surprising as it feels completely out of the world. You can make out that the sound is in the environment around you rather than coming in from the headphones. The effect is very similar when you walk around in your city and all the ambient sounds that come from all around you giving you a sense of space. You can clearly say where the temple bells are ringing, how the police van siren approaches from far away and goes past you. The sound comes from all different directions. This is the similar effect that comes from 8D audio when you listen to it on your headphones.
8D audio as it might seem is new for most people. It seems to be like a futuristic technology that allows you to recreate the feeling of music being played by speakers distributed around us. This provides a sort of immersive and suggestive experience. So yes, this is definitely a new experience but not essentially a new technology. There is no real technology behind 8D audio and neither it has any true commercial applications. It is rather an effect that could be applied to any pre-existing songs and make them sound like 8D. Also, 8D would mean 8 dimensions which are not possible.
Is 8D audio for real?
The reality is that there’s no new technology but a technique that allows hearing sounds as if you were in the middle of it. That feeling of music that runs through your head, thanks to the use of headphones, is the result of equalization techniques, panning and effects combined together. In short, panning is the ability to distribute the sound on different audio channels. If you think about your earphones, they have two physical channels: left and right. You can pan the sound all the way to the left or the right or, you can choose a specific sound to be played by one or the other earphone.
The result is the so-called 8D audio (which has no sense as the physical space where we live is mapped on 3 dimensions) that let you appreciate sounds coming from different directions. You can find on YouTube or Soundcloud this kind of audio recordings from the lowest quality where the record simply moves from left to right without a real point or, you can find high-quality records where the sound is correctly located in a specific region of the 3D space and you can clearly hear it through your earphones.
The reality of the spatial audio
An even more advanced “8D audio” is the Dolby Atmos, a technology developed by Dolby that, instead of using audio channels uses sound objects. With this technology, the sound moves around you in three-dimensional space, so you feel like you’re inside the action.
In conclusion, does the 8D audio exists? Yes, but no. Yes because there is the ability to hear sounds all around you on a 360° space; no, because it’s not a new technology and it’s definitely not called 8D audio but, we can call it more properly spatial sound or 3D audio. If you don’t own a 7.1 system or a Dolby Atmos supported system, use your earphones/headphone or you won’t be able to hear the effect.
It is no new technology but simple panning and equalization techniques that give to the sound a spatial feeling and that is what this 8D trend is all about.