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Holophonic Sound

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Holophonic Sound

Postby emmet02 » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:22 pm

An engineer friend of mine played me this piece of audio recorded in 'Holophonic sound'. Its a match being struck and the box being shaken. Not very interesting you may think but when i say that when listened to on a pair of stereo headphones the box seems to be shaken behind the listener. It also appears to go up and down behind the listener. Creating quadraphonic effects using stereo is absolutely amazing. I've done a bit of research and found out that it was developed by Hugo Zuccarelli in the 80's and both Peter Gabriel and Paul McCartney were interested in the technology but I have found very little in the way of explanation of the techniques involved.

Here is the link to the audio, if you've never come across this before it really does have to be heard to be believed.

What I really want to know is this. Has anyone ever embarked on any holophonic recordings of their own? I am really fascinated by this now and would like to investigate further with my own experiments but would like a helping hand in knowing where to start.

Cheers

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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby coool » Wed Apr 12, 2006 6:59 pm

the first 2 albums by PsychicTV (1984 ish) used holophonic techniques, including the sound of being buried alive. i think it used a skull shaped transducer .. extremely life like sound but i only ever really heard it on a cheap 1980's hi fi, and ive never come across the cd's :roll:

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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby smuff » Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:23 pm

Wow. I tried it with just my speakers and it sounded really life like. Thanks for the experience. I am going to look into this further.
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby acro » Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:21 pm

Amazing on my HD650s..i mean AMAZING..
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby acro » Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:22 pm

it makes turn your head around to see who's there!!
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby emmet02 » Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:56 pm

isn't it great!

I've read that that the original recorded signal is combined with an inaudible digital reference signal. I've seen this on quite a few sites i've been on but none really go into much depth.

If anybody finds anything juicy let me know! ;)

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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Neil C » Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:08 pm

'I Love You Like a Ball and Chain' on the Eurythmics 1985 album Be Yourself Tonight has a long section at the end where a sound is subjected to a holographic technique and is meant to sound as if it is circling round the room.
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Tim. » Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:11 am

I’ve always loved this sort of stuff and experimented with binaural recordings back in the seventies. I’ve got several binaural records, most notable ones are by Can and Lou Reed.

Anyway, apart from all the sales talk, there’s some interesting stuff about holophonics (they call it ‘Holosync’) and how can be used to manipulate brainwaves here:

http://www.centerpointe.com

They have a free demo CD too.

FWIW, when I clicked on emmet02’s link I looked behind me ‘cos I thought there was a cat there sneezing… my internet pc speakers are absolute carp too.
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:15 am

The Ball and Chain Eurythmic's record wasn't made with Holophonics. If you listen in mono you'll hear the track disappear completely when it is supposed to be poasing directly behind you. That shows that the effect was achieved purely with phase shifts.

Holophonics is a little more complex than that, and is more similar to binaural techniques.

The problem with binaural techniques is that they tend to form images behind more often than in front. The box of matches effect descirbed above is a classic sympton of that.

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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Tim. » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:43 am

I also have a demo CD of some ‘VAPS’ - Virtual Audio Processing System - encoded material which is pretty impressive, although as Hugh rightly says, the problem with all these spatial techniques is the sound often appears to be behind rather than in front.

There’s more on VAPS here:

http://www.audiocybernetics.com/VA.html
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Neil C » Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:00 pm

Thanks for the correction.

That matchbox thing wasn't behind for me, it had some up and down movement but not behind (using headphones).
Do these techniques differ in effect from person to person?
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby BigAl » Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:07 pm

That's interesting especially regarding some things I've heard on TV lately.
Watching casually on my stereo TV, some sounds appeared almost behind and certainly more than a hard pan.
Then I'm sitting in bed the other night hearing a higher freq sound as if coming from the window.
Obviously in a bed room the sounds are going to bounce off different surfaces etc... but the intersting thing here is that the bedroom TV is mono.
So what's going on there ? higher freq sounds reflecting more or differently to lower freq's ?
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:05 pm

I suspect it's a reflection from a hard surface in the room near to your speaker that makes the sound appear to come from way beyond its normal position. I've noticed this 'free surround' effect in various rooms, and of course it's why we place absorbtion at the 'mirror points' in our studios, to get rid of such phantom images.


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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby emmet02 » Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:16 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
The problem with binaural techniques is that they tend to form images behind more often than in front


Isn't that the whole point though? I've not had chance to listen to the recordings mentioned above but I'd be interested to here a track with the majority of the mix occurring in front of the listener and then certain textures and atmosphere's happening behind.

Would this work?

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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Jon Stone » Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:44 pm

I know this might sound strange, but try listening to 'holophonic sound' with your eyes shut or the lights off. The brain is very clever and takes the visual cues into account when locating sound. So that means if you cant see it then it must be behind you.

Quite alot of the information that the brain gathers about where sound is coming from is the way that the sound changes slightly when the head is moved from side to side. I did hear about a system that tracked the movements of the head and made slight alterations to the sound to provide some better cues about where it was coming from. Maybe it was an alarm system for astronaughts (to help them locate beeps in the cockpit) that NASA were working on, but it escapes me.

So when listening to binaural and holophonic sounds try and keep your head nice and still, as moving your head will not result in a change in the sound and your brain will just become confused.

All this stuff the brain does is not very useful for modern day man listening to binaural and 'holophonic' sound recordings but very useful for the caveman to know in which direction to run away from the dinosaur.
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Thrumbolt » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:44 pm

grAInger wrote:the first 2 albums by PsychicTV (1984 ish) used holophonic techniques, including the sound of being buried alive. i think it used a skull shaped transducer .. extremely life like sound but i only ever really heard it on a cheap 1980's hi fi, and ive never come across the cd's :roll:

grainger

Yeah, I think one of those albums was "Dreams Less Sweet". I was into some of Psychic TV's stuff in the early eighties. I remember my brother and I sitting there with headphones getting totally freaked out by the sound.. (even on a crap stereo with crap headphones) - but we were used to that..

During one of the tracks on the first listen I remember thinking.. "man, that's a loud plane flying over head" only to turn to look out the window to see nothing!
At the time we thought this "Zucarelli Labs" thing was gonna be the future.. :headbang:

I had no idea Peter Gabriel/etc. were into it.. I just thought it was Mr Genesis P. Orridge being his usual ground-breaking weird self.. :)

Oh, and while I'm reminiscing, Psychic TV did the best cover (imho) of the classic Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" - slightly twisted, but the vocals (all multi-tracked by Mr P.Orridge again) were quite remarkable. The "Kundulini Mix" I think it was.. Check it out :lol:
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby dubbmann » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:12 pm

does anyone know if this is the technology in the carver c-9 sonic hologram generator?

thanks,

d
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby hughb » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:33 pm

I did a presentation on Holophonics about 18 months ago. I seem to remember that quite a lot of Pink Floyd's 'The Final Cut' is recorded using the technique, which involves a very accurately specified dummy head.

I never liked that album much...

Did anyone else find they thought the matches were moving round the head in a circle, behind and then in front? When I first heard this stuff last year, I thought I could only hear it behind (the lack of visual cues is a big problem for reproduction of this kind, since there aren't really any significant audio shadowing effects due to the pinnae etc), but this time I could definitely tell a difference.

The up/down stuff is very clever, and involves recording the reflected sound from the shoulders and chest on the dummy used to make the recording, which is constructed with bone- and flesh-like denisities, and accurate cranial cavities (ears, eustacian tubes, sinuses etc).

The patent office decided it wasn't different enough from other binaural systems to grant it a patent in the end, and various people thought there was a certain amount of snake oil involved in Zucarelli's system, but it certainly seems to work to a certain extent!

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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby emmet02 » Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:29 pm

Yes, the up and down meanderings confuse me the most. How can this happen when only using stereo, therefore only one sound source either side?

Thanks for the 'Holosync' link Tim I have ordered their free CD with anticipation and the VAPS link cleared a few technical things too.

My mate who originally played me the matches thing also mentioned that there was a Pink Floyd album that used this technique.

Upon more research I have discovered that you probably need an expensive encoder to create the effect. Is there any 'budget' way of doing the same?

(I suspect not!) :smirk:
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:37 am

Neil C wrote:Do these techniques differ in effect from person to person?

Yes, and that's part of the problem. It is not purely a physiological thing either. There are a lot of psychological aspects -- experience and expectations play a big part in what you hear in terms of positional information.

While I was training BBC radio folks we often set them binaural recording projects, with end of course playbacks to 20 people or so in a darkened room, all wearing headphones fed from a distribution amp. it was quite usual for those not involved in a specific recording to localise the majority of sounds to the sides and rear, whereas those involved with a production localised the same sounds in front. This seemed to be larely because they had either experienced the original recording and so knew the sounds were supposed to be in front, or had similar expectations.

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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:45 am

BigAl wrote:Watching casually on my stereo TV, some sounds appeared almost behind and certainly more than a hard pan.

There are two possibilities. Most stereo TV sets have some sort of extra wide sound mode -- ambeince or super surrousnor some other ctachy name. Essentially, this phase inverts (or phase shifts) one channel relative to the other to make the TV speakers sound much wider apart than they really are.

The other reason is that you were watching programmes that had Dolby Stereo encoded sound tracks. Anything intended for the rear channel is phase inverted in one channel relative to the other, and if not decoded with a suitable Dolby ProLogic decoder, will produce a sound that is hard to localise. The brain decides the easy option is to assume it is well out to the sides or even behind you... This technique doesn't provide stable imaging, but it is handy as an effect to get a spacious effect from a two channel source.

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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby BigAl » Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:45 pm

It certainly brings Celebrity Fat Club to life. ;)

I think in general even if you cannot localise the sound as such, when you home into it, you can (sort of) and it probably adds a bit of realism because it's usually background noise rather than the main dialogue ro anything promenant.
Mind you, I'm not really a fan of surround in general, especially in the home.
People seem to think that by spending a few hundred quid on a surround system with a 42" plasma, they have a cinema at home. :headbang:

PS. Didn't Paul White have a good comment (which appealed to me) about looking into the future in an editorial a few months ago.
So many tens or hundreds of years in the future and surround still hadn't been embraced by the masses. :D
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby BigAl » Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:50 pm

Does that mean that in theory you could have a surround system with a mono or stereo source with no clever tricks like phase or whatever.
Instead, the room if full or different reflective materials which respond to different sounds or frequencies.
It could be a pretty ugly room. :headbang:
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby ChrisCarter » Fri Apr 14, 2006 1:35 pm

For anyone brave enough to attempt a DIY approach this is an interesting link:

Apple 3D Mixer Audio Unit

.
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Re: Holophonic Sound

Postby Tim. » Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:33 am

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