8D audio explained

Earlier on this year, like many other people, I had an 8D music video suggested on my YouTube homepage. Interested by the fact that I had no idea what it could possible sound like, I folded and clicked.

For me it was a revelation. Part of the reason I clicked was because the song was ‘Goosebumps’ by Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar, which happens to be one of my favourite songs. Have a listen to the 8D version below.

Hearing the beat swimming around my head and Travis Scott’s vocals so clearly as if he was standing behind me was something I hadn’t experienced since back when I was in school messing around listening to the virtual barber.

When I saw that this video wasn’t a remix of the original song and still had over 4 million views, I thought maybe I had been missing out on what everyone else was listening to. The channel it was uploaded to ‘8D TUNES’ currently sits just below 4 million subscribers and has over 186 million total views.

Unlike any other online trend that has spawned hundreds if not thousands of alternative channels in YouTube’s case, 8D music still only has a few channels dedicated to producing videos of the sort. What that tells me is that 8D music might not be so simple to make. The people behind these channels that are doing well are probable proficient producers or experienced audio engineers that know their way around different software.

So, what exactly is 8D? Well, it’s audio that is altered to sound as if it is coming from different directions, even though there are only two when you listen via headphones, left and right. It has been described as being at a virtual concert or hearing artists singing directly into your ears.

Basically, to create 8D audio you need to use binaural processing, which is a way of processing audio signals to embed fake directional cues, not unlike the way 3D video embeds fake depth cues. Just like with 3D visuals, where you need to be wearing 3D glasses, 8D audio only works if you are wearing headphones. In doing so, you take away your own brain’s ability to locate where sound is coming from.

And what about the name, 8D? It definitely isn’t an eighth dimension despite what the name suggests, but people have their own theories about the name. Some think 8D sounds futuristic and so 8D is something only future generations will know, some say its simply a sideways smiley face, while others suggest it stands for eight directions from where the sound comes. Who knows what it really means, but we all understand what it is in relation to music.

8D music is capturing the imaginations of millions right now and may be popular for quite some time. Due to its popularity, you might here some more binaural processing techniques used in music studios around the world but it will never become popular enough to be a staple in music.

My guess is that 8D music will have its time in the sun and then become something of a required taste. I often see “bass boosted” versions of popular songs on the internet and that does appeal to a lot of people. 8D music will probably always be around from now on, but just like “bass boosted” music, it will only be an alternative to official music.

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