What is 8D audio? Origin, examples of 8D and the technology to create it

What is 8D audio?

Everyone talks about it, but what is 8D audio? It is the audio that when we listen to it with normal stereo headphones, gives us the impression of coming from different directions (including up and down) and different distances.


What is 8D audio? Does 8D mean 8 dimensions?

Even if we only hear two real sound sources (the right and left earphones), it is possible to make it seem that the origin of the sound is just above our head or that it is three or four meters to our right. Combining this with the addition of different echo types, the effect can become truly amazing, immersive and realistic.

But I think 8D is too much D. It’s enough to call it 3D. The space in which we move has only 3 dimensions. If we define a coordinate origin in the center of the head of the listener, we only need 3 numbers to define exactly the position of the origin of the sound. The only purpose of adding fictitious dimensions is to increase the number in front of the D. The aim is to give the impression that what is labeled as 8D is more evolved and of better quality than, for example, the audio with the 7D label (which also exists). In fact, you can easily find 10D and 11D sounds on the internet, for example. Please stop. We’re talking about sound, not the String Theory that needs 11 dimensions to work.


Two examples

Here are two videos with surround and multidirectional sound. It is essential to listen to them with headphones. The experience will be better if you are in a quiet environment. You’ll get better results if you turn up the volume (but remember not to set the volume too high so as not to damage your ears).

Virtual Barber Shop becomes very interesting in the minute 2:30.



Well, we already answered the question, what is 8D audio? Let’s see how to record surround sound

Now let’s take a closer look at the technology needed to produce surround sound.

Ambisonics, for example, is a full sphere sound format that has existed since 1970. The usual way to reproduce it is through loudspeakers. This makes it a little different from what we understand by 8D.

We can also use specific software to convert normal stereo audio into surround sound. We have tested the Ambeo Orbit plugin together with Audacity (both free). In the post Make 8D songs with Audacity and Ambeo Orbit (free software) we tell you our conclusions about this software combination. You can download Ambeo Orbit and watch a demo video tutorial on the Sennheiser website. These are two examples of classical music in 8D that we have prepared using this software combination. As you can hear, they have limitations with respect to other techniques:




Binaural recording

Beings with two ears have a type of hearing called binaural. One way to make a recording have binaural properties is to record the sounds with two microphones that imitate the human body. The structure of the ears and head are artificially reproduced and the microphones are placed in the inner ear. In this way it is possible to record high quality binaural sound.


Just as stereoscopic vision allows us to estimate distances, binaural listening gives us much more information than if we only had one ear. The two ears perceive the same sound differently as they are each on one side of the head. The sound travels at a speed of about 300 meters per second when it goes through the air. This means that it does not reach both ears at the same time. Almost always the distance to the source of the sound is slightly different producing a delay. This delay, together with the Haas effect, the shielding of the head and the masking of weak sounds by the strong, gives the brain extra information. Once this information has been processed, we obtain three-dimensional information about the perceived sound. You can find more detailed information about this whole process here.


You may also be interested in this related content

If this entry has awakened your hunger for knowledge, don’t forget to visit our science section where you may find more interesting articles.

If you like music more than science, you may be more interested in seeing our music-related content.

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Credits of the featured image: Headphones by Nickolai Kashirin via Flickr. Generic Attribution 2.0 License (CC BY 2.0).