Dolby have released a new app-based solution to help improve the listening experience when monitoring for their immersive Atmos format on headphones. Dolby Atmos Personalized Rendering uses the Dolby PHRTF Creator app for iOS to take measurements of your ears and head, and apply them to create a head-related transfer function (HRTF) that's unique to your anatomy.
As Dolby explain: “Creating spatial audio content over headphones requires a process known as binaural rendering, which allows headphones or earbuds to create the perception of space and dimensionality through two stereo channels. A HRTF is a core component of binaural rendering used to represent the human body and different variants that can impact how humans hear. Most binaural renderers used by creatives today rely on a single default HRTF that represents average physical characteristics. This 'one-size-fits-all' model doesn’t factor differences that can vary from person to person and impact the perception of sound — like the shape of one’s head, ears, or shoulders. Because of this lack of personalisation, even seemingly minor physical deviations between someone’s anatomy and a default HRTF model can result in very different experiences between two people listening to the same content.”
It's an important point (and one we made in our recent feature on binaural recording), and it doesn't just affect listeners — content creators will also benefit from being able to produce Atmos content confident in the knowledge that the spatial elements will translate to a multitude of listeners: “For creatives,” say Dolby, “this can pose real challenges like reduced productivity, lower confidence in the scalability of their headphone mixes, and increased reliance on access to loud-speaker equipped mixing rooms.”
The app apparently captures up to 50,000 points of the users head, ears and shoulders, using them to generate an acoustic map that can be loaded into the Dolby Atmos Renderer application.
Dolby's Personalised HRTF app is currently in beta, and they're offering a limited number of early-access licences to audio professionals. To find out more, and to request a licence, check out the URL below.