I recently wrote a research paper about speakers and headphones. During the accompanying quest for acoustical enlightenment, I became acquainted with binaural recordings.

Binaural recordings are best listened to on a pair of ear-buds or headphones. However, they are different from regular stereo recordings because they not only create an illusion of a wider sound, they actually give the sensation that you are in the place where the audio was originally recorded.

Not following me? Bust out a pair of earphones and then give this a listen:

“Virtual Barbershop”

It sounded like you were there because the brain processes the different signals sent to the right and left ears and uses them to construct a spacial illusion. The most accurate binaural recordings are made using a dummy head with microphones where the ears should be, like this:

These recordings are the most accurate way to experience recorded audio. By accuracy, I mean that you hear almost the same thing you would hear if you were at the recording location in person. Binaural recordings of classical concerts are also available. In fact, some audiophiles (assuming they are familiar with the concert hall in which a recording was made) can tell in which row and section the binaural dummy was sitting, just by hearing the recording.