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Everything You Need to Know About 8D Audio

Is it a new trend or a relic of the past? A gimmick or innovative technique?

You may have heard of 8D audio, but what do you really know about it? Here’s everything you need to know about 8D audio, and maybe even a bit more.

What is 8D Music?

In layman’s terms, 8D music is mixed in such a way as to make it feel multidimensional. In standard music mixing, most songs are limited to only a few channels. Pop music generally has two channels–left and right–but the audio in a movie is mixed for surround sound. The difference here is that movie audio comes through several speakers, so each speaker gets its own track or channel.

To achieve proper left and right channel balance, audio engineers use equalizers, panning, and effects to keep what you hear in each ear about the same. In 8D audio, the engineers use these techniques to make it sound like the channels are shifting and the music is moving around you. It’s very similar to how you might experience live music with echoes, reverb, and a much fuller sound.

In essence, 8D audio is a mixing technique that uses tricks to bring the audio experience beyond the standard two ‘headphone’ channels. While you may still only be listening to it through left and right speakers, the depth of sound feels all-encompassing.

8D vs. Binaural

If this is all sounding pretty familiar, you may be thinking of binaural audio, sometimes called directional sound. While binaural and 8D audio essentially serve the same purpose, the technique behind making them and the effects they have are quite different.

8D audio is more often used for music to create an immersive or otherworldly feeling, whereas binaural audio works best for things like video games or digital audio advertisements. In a video game, knowing the exact location a sound came from can help a player find a target or avoid a foe with much more precision than standard audio allows. Digital audio ads take advantage of the listener’s environment (in-car, headphones, sound system at home, etc.) to create more memorable and impactful ads. 

8D audio, on the other hand, offers an experience separate from the music. It is meant to elevate the music beyond what channels can do. Using 8D audio can help the creator instill a sense of calm or even evoke a meditative state in the listener. They can use it to change the tone of a song or elevate specific elements by literally bringing them to the forefront.

Another big difference between binaural and 8D audio is how they’re made. Binaural audio has to be recorded through special microphones that mimic the shape of the human ear to duplicate how we would hear a sound in real life. 8D audio is done after the recording in the mixing process. It gives the engineer much more freedom to manipulate the sound how they choose.

It’s a bit like the difference between taking a photo or painting. You can manipulate a photo, but in the end, it shows what is physically there, like binaural audio. But with painting, you can create anything from scratch—that’s 8D audio.

Why is 8D Music So Powerful?

8D audio has numerous proven health benefits that make it an extra powerful listening experience. Many listeners find 8D audio to be relaxing and help with meditation and anxiety.

The general rule for 8D audio is to include frequencies lower than 1000 hertz. The hertz discrepancy between ears is part of what makes listening such a powerful experience. Hearing 430 hertz in one ear and 470 in the other changes the way your brain registers the sound. The 40-hertz difference can trigger areas of the brain associated with relaxation and calm.

Listening to 8D audio can be beneficial to your mental health in much the same ways as going to a live music show would be.

When and Why is 8D Audio Used?

If you were a teen or older in the late 60s or early 70s, this is probably all sounding very familiar to you. If you’ve ever heard a song like the Beatles’ Revolution 9, then you already know what 8D audio sounds like and that it’s been around for a while.

In the late 60s and early 70s, new technologies were popping up that allowed artists and audio engineers to put their spin on music. With advanced mixing booths, new ways of recording, and unique techniques on the rise, many artists got experimental with how they mixed their music.

During this time, multi-track recording gained immense popularity. While we can have as many digital tracks as we like nowadays, the 24-track recording was a revolutionary leap that allowed for many of the music advances we can see throughout the 1970s.

Many of the changes artists made to their songs in this decade served to make them sound more mechanical and digital. While we use many of the same techniques today, we usually use 8D audio to make music sound more realistic.

8D music is popular not only because of the way it makes people feel, but because it brings in a lot of the elements of live music that get lost in modern recordings. Some people like 8D audio for the gimmick, while others genuinely find it to be a more immersive and enthralling experience. If you want to enrapture your audience and have your listeners hear the sound exactly how you want, then 8D audio is one of the best ways to do that.

How Can You Get, or Make, 8D Music?

You can acquire 8D music in many different ways. If you have the equipment and technical skills, you can mix it yourself by creating a new song or altering an existing one. You can also commission someone to make it for you.

Sites like Voices offer many different options, from audio editing to audio mixing, sound design, and audio engineering. If you’ve created a song and want to add the perfect 8D effects, one of the best ways to do it is to hire pros.

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