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8D Audio Technology Explained

8D technology has been trending online, many have received a message promoting them to “Listen to this song with headphones (put on the 2 headphones). It is the new music of the Pentatonix, composed with 8D technology. Listen to it only with headphones. It will be the first time that you will listen to that song with your brain and not with your ears. You will feel the music from outside and not from the headphones. Feel the effects of this new technology.”. But many people have heard 8D Audio earlier last year, and you may have heard it if you have spent plenty of time on YouTube.

Some have described the result of listening to the audio as a 'feeling of being in the middle of an empty environment with the sounds and music all around you'. Listening to the 8D Audio gives a similar experience to being in a city, where audio is coming from different directions but, this is recreated in music. Many have commented by saying that 8D audio is a type of futuristic technology, but it is much less complex than the name suggests.

You may be wondering, how can audio have eight dimensions? Why do you need to use earphones to listen to it? and how can we actually hear something in eight dimensions?

For various reasons '8D Audio' is not a real concept, while the experience the music creates is real, audio doesn't actually have any dimensions, despite the misleading name. Although, our brains interpret sounds, and every other sense, in three dimensions; height, width and depth. This is what enables us to pinpoint the average location of a sound, i.e. where it is coming from. So put simply, 8D audio is less of an accurate description, but actually a marketing term to promote and categorise a certain type of music.

Further there is not new technology but rather a technique that creates this experience of 'being in the middle of sound', it is the result of 'equalisation' techniques, panning and other effects combined. Now you might be a little more confused then you were to start off with but; panning is simply the ability to distribute the sound on different audio channels, which is made say with earphones as you already have two physical channels; the left and right earphone. In fact it's common for music to be created so that certain sounds comes from one particular earphone; you pan the sound to the left or right. The result of this is what has been coined as 8D audio, you can find clips of music using these techniques, either in low quality, where the sound switches from right to left with no focus or high quality examples where the sound is located in a specific part of the space, which you can hear clearly through the earphones.

YouTuber Dylan Tallchief, who runs a channel about all things audio, did a review of the Audi to try to decipher how it is recreated. Dylan suspects that two primary changes are made to create the effect; firstly reverb is applied, which adds the echo and spatial reflections. Dylan used an audio program to create the rotating effect, then, using a 3D stereo panner, he manipulated the audio to make it sound like it's rotating around the listener. Although of course the audio is just stereo, the brain is tricked into thinking there is more space than there really is.

So essentially, '8D' is just a clickbait term that doesn't really mean anything, but is just categorising the remix style of many songs to create an eerie and encapsulating environment.

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