Was ist 8D-Audio?

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When it comes to entertainment content, the bigger the number, the better the quality: 4D movies, 4K games and, the latest buzz, 8D audio. Even if we can’t know who invented 8D audio, this music trend has taken over YouTube and we are not surprised, as it takes music to a whole new level.

In the last few months, you’ve probably received a message from a friend saying something similar to “listen to this song, BUT DO IT WITH BOTH HEADPHONES”. You click on that link, hoping it won’t be a virus or something not suitable for working hours and bam! It’s a song like you’ve never heard before. Check on the title and it says “8D audio”. You’ve probably heard about 3D and 4D, so what is “8D” exactly? 

The thing about 8D music, and what makes it so popular, is that it provides a unique listening experience, one that allows you to fully immerse in the music and listen to all the details, while giving you the experience of major speakers at the reach of your headphones. A quick search around YouTube will show everything in 8D, from Beyoncé to the sounds of a barber shop, and several channels dedicated to it that gather millions of subscribers. It sounds something like this, be sure to have your headphones in hand: 

With 8D audio, the structure simulates the feel of moving circles around your head, while a reverb effect is also added to make it seem like the audio is coming from a live concert. What’s so great about it is that audio seems to come from all directions and sources, making it a very different experience from regular listening. Basically you feel like you are in a concert or a party – when we could have one of those. 

How does 8D audio work?

The 8D audio effect attempts to mimic the sensation of hearing a binaural recording. Let’s explain that now in english: binaural recording intents to create a 3D stereo sound sensation for the listener which resembles being actually in the room with the performers or instruments. This type of recording is intended for replay using headphones and will not translate properly over stereo speakers, that is why 8D audio can be appreciated mainly with headphones. Try listening to an 8D song on speakers, as good as they may be, and you won’t get the same effect as listening to it on any kind of headphones. This is because the binaural recording is intended for replay using headphones and will not translate properly over speakers. 

Some may argue that 8D audio can be bad for you, but, just like any other kind of audio, it’s meant to listen at a specific range. The most comfortable audio range is 85DB and below, so you can listen to any music – including 8D –  and it will not hurt your ear or you will not lose hearing in the long term.

How to create 8D audio?

The recording process of 8D is identical to one done in a regular studio. The difference though is that for 8D music producers have to manipulate a song’s stereo parts, moving them within a virtual 360-degree space to create the illusion of physical movement. This is why, in reality, the ‘8D’ in 8D audio doesn’t refer to 8 dimensions (there aren’t actually more dimensions added onto the track) but more like 8 directions. Basically, if 8D was a movie, it would be a 3D one.

8D audio sound is created in post-production, by adding to the final mix of a song, an automated effect alternating from left to right. This is called panning, which is the ability to distribute the sound on different audio channels. Reverb is also applied to the track, which adds an echo and spatial reflections. Basically, it sounds as if the audio track is being pumped through a room and you are in the middle of it. The sound moves around you in three-dimensional space, so you feel like you’re inside the action. This is why many people like to say that 8D audio doesn’t exist and it’s just 3D sound. Some say it is basically spatial sound, which is true, that has evolved a bit to become this new trend. 

How can you create it with a computer at home? 

Using a 3D stereo panner you will be able to rotate the audio and manipulate it to sound as if it’s bouncing around the listener’s head. Like everything related to editing any kind of content, it takes time and practice to master it. Chances are your first 8D tracks will be a bit distracting and the sound will “move” around a lot, but soon enough you will be able to have a finished product that is both professional and on trend. Welcome to a new dimension, the 8D one!