BBC Radio is launching an experiment that will offer surround sound through standard headphones.
From today, a Christmas service from the BBC archives will be available online in a ‘binaural’ format that creates realistic surround sound through ordinary headphones.
The Radio 3 website will offer a recording of Nine Lessons and Carols from 2007 in binaural sound until the end of the Christmas period. The service was recorded in surround sound as an experiment by BBC engineers and processed to create binaural audio by BBC Research and Development.
Listeners can simply plug their standard headphones into any computer with a stereo output and then stream the specially processed audio, which should make them feel as if they are hearing the music from speakers around them, not just their headphones. There are six different surround settings to choose from, to suit different types of headphones and head shape.
Tim Davie, Director of BBC Audio & Music, said: “We have stepped up our innovation within the BBC so that listeners can enjoy an even better experience of radio. If successful, our intention is to offer surround sound on a whole range of BBC programmes. This is part of an exciting series of trials such as HD Sound, and personal control of crowd versus commentary audio during events such as Wimbledon.”
Rupert Brun Head of Technology BBC Audio & Music said: “This experiment is an attempt to enhance the standard ‘stereo’ sound headphone users have had for over 50 years and, although it is only a trial at this stage, if listener feedback is positive it could offer a significant improvement to audio quality in the future.”
The trial is part of BBC Radio’s continuing innovation in audio, including the launch of HD Sound, the Wimbledon NetMix experiment and ongoing trials of ‘3D Sound’ technology.
This year’s ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ will be broadcast live on Radio 4 on Christmas Eve and will also be available online in HD Sound.