DIY Binaural Head

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I’ve been looking into VR sound, and I was fascinated to find that no one has come up with a great (i.e. standardized) solution yet. If you’re interested, I highly recommend this article that goes through several approaches to sound in VR film, including their pros and cons.

As I learn more about these emerging solutions, I became interested in binaural recording, and the impact that it’s having on VR sound research.


For binaural recording, Nuemann offers a beautiful $8,000 binaural head, which of course is beyond my “messing around” budget.

Not one to be put off, I decided to put together a $20 solution using a styrofoam head from a craft store and a couple of electret microphones.

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With a bit of quick tinkering and digging into the head with an exacto knife (and mounting on an LED-lit Ginga Kogen beer bottle for style points), I managed to get things up an running.

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The results (which you can hear below) aren’t bad, but I probably need some ears (silicone or something) in order to make things sound truly 3D. I’m not sure that’s an investment I want to make in this particular project.

As it stands, it serves as an excellent illustration of the binaural concept for my students!

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Here are some sample recordings. Keep in mind that, as these are binaural recordings, you need to listen to them through headphones to experience any binaural effect.

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Art, to be fully appreciated, must be true to contemporaneous life. It is not that we should ignore the claims of posterity, but that we should seek to enjoy the present more. It is not that we should disregard the creations of the past, but that we should try to assimilate them into our consciousness.

-Okakura Kakuzo