1 Year, 5 Months, 2 Weeks, 4 Days, 8 Hours, 12 Minutes ago.
8D Audio - what's it all about?!
In the past week, 8D audio seems to have gone viral with everyone wanting to know exactly what it’s about and if it’s something new they can use in their advertising, content or music.
IRIS seemed to kick things off and it wasn’t long before I was sent the 8D Spotify playlists.
At SNK Studios along with our partners at Red Apple Creative, we’ve been producing ‘immersive’ or ‘3D’ audio for years. One of my favourite campaigns was a collaboration with Spotify and BBC Studios for Sir David Attenborough's Seven Worlds, One Planet nature documentary.
We produced seven spots using the distinctive sounds from each continent to create a disruptive and wildly immersive campaign, an example of which can be heard here (best experienced through headphones).
So when I heard of another dimension being added, I asked the experts who make music and immersive audio everyday, what they thought.
Here are some of our sound engineers’ responses on 8D audio:
Ben Darier - Sound Engineer, Red Apple Creative and SNK Studios:
Here is a quote from IRIS website: “This is achieved through a proprietary algorithm which splits out and increases the phase information sent to the brain”. So we know that they’re playing with phase. Listening to their A/B tests, it sounds like they’re boosting the mono signal and giving it a bit more warmth, making the voice sound a bit closer. As far as I’m concerned, it’s very similar to binaural synthesis (creating “3D” sounds from regular stereo sounds, like we do at Red Apple Creative). Nothing “8D” to it.
The 8D Tunes channel uses the same process but in a lot less subtle way, panning around the head of the listener (it actually sounds to me like it’s pendulating at the back of my head for some reason). It is just a little audio trick and doesn’t add anything to the music in this context as far as I’m concerned.
There is apparently 9D, 10D, 11D music on the market too, which could mean these musicians (or marketing directors) have found the remaining dimensions to make string theory valid?
More seriously, how can it be 8D when there are only 3 spatial dimensions as far as today’s science goes?
Rob Baker - Sound Engineer, Red Apple Creative and SNK Studios:
To my ears, it sounds like it is using a very similar technique to our “immersive” or “3D” mixes. They have used a room reverb / impulse in a few examples with a mono source which gives the listener the sense of listening in a specific space. This method allows the sound source to move more noticeably around the space. We usually avoid this feature of the software when mixing for our immersive 3D audio as it doesn’t sound as clean and polished for an advert.
I’m confident 8D is a buzzword for an existing technology (and one that we already use). There seems to be a fair amount of audio processing going on - spatial processing using phase effects, room reverb / impulse response, EQ and overall signal / level balance. Some of the 8D audio is nicely detailed and well treated, but it’s more showing off the effect than improving the music. I would imagine Dolby Atmos to binaural downmix is being used in a few cases.
Personally I don’t see much point in 8D music where it’s slowly panning around the listener’s headspace as, for me, this makes the track sound a lot worse. You also have to create a mono source from the original stereo audio which detracts from the music just to create the 8D effect.
Chris Bristow - Sound Engineer, Red Apple Creative and SNK Studios:
Yeah this just seems to be moving effects with essentially the same treatment we currently use for 3D audio. Whilst it might make it feel maybe more engaging as your brain is forced to follow the sound, there’s definitely nothing going on that is technically different from what we use for current spots, it’s all just turned up to 11 as they say. I think it’s safe to say that this is a marketing buzzword - I think overall it just takes away from the music a fair bit!
Al Bolt - Sound Engineer Red Apple Creative and SNK Studios:
I’ve never heard of it. I’ll caveat this by saying I’m usually pretty cynical with stuff like this, so apologies if anything comes across bluntly; but to me it’s not founded in any science and it’s just a bit of a marketing gimmick. I can’t find anything on the site that says what it actually does which is always a red flag - anything really geared towards high fidelity always wears details like this on its sleeve. Using my ears, turning on the ‘IRIS’ function just applies a bassier EQ, turns it up and gets rid of any panning (making it mono), their example of Wish You Were Here doesn’t do it any favours. This takes out any intricacies in the work that the mixer and mastering engineer would have done. On certain tracks it might sound more impressive, just because the EQ is more favourable to headphones, but this could be achieved by the EQ in your phone settings if you desired.
The 8D Spotify playlist seems to me to be just ‘3D audio’ (binaural) - someone has spun the track around and added their own sound design, just a bit of a fun idea really, much less disagreeable than ‘IRIS’ (the name is just a bit misleading).
There’s no indication of what IRIS is actually doing - there’s nothing we couldn’t do with existing spatial audio techniques that we use for our ‘3D audio’. The 8D playlist is just someone having fun with a spatial binaural panner. It’s just buzzwords.
So there’s the verdict: 8D audio is nothing new and in some cases, it’s making binaural or standard immersive and stereo sound worse.
Finally, I decided to put it to the test and asked our resident composer superstar and sound engineer wizard, Ben Bell to make one of our SNK Publishing Library tracks 8D.
Listen to the original here and the 8D here.
To quote Flight of the Conchords, that’s too many ds on the dancefloor for me.
1 Year, 5 Months, 3 Weeks, 8 Hours, 35 Minutes ago.
We have a long-standing relationship with Crisis, the national charity for homeless people. Crisis has decades of experience working with people who are homeless, providing support to help rebuild their lives.
Protecting yourself against Coronavirus is harder when you’re homeless; People who are sleeping rough are more likely to suffer from respiratory conditions, they can’t regularly wash their hands and it’s impossible to self-isolate. So, what can you do to help?
Crisis’ In This Together Homelessness Emergency Fund will get vital care to vulnerable people. Crisis are keeping their doors open, delivering essentials packages to homeless people - packages that include food, tissues, hand sanitiser and hard copies of the latest Government health advice - as well as providing people with mobile phones so they can stay in contact and informed. They’re also supporting and funding local grassroots charities and shelters with emergency grants.
Mass sporting events like the London Marathon are essential sources of fundraising and their cancellation could have a massive impact on the essential work of many charities, but virtual events could be the answer. Crisis’ Step Together online step challenge has been extended into April. You can set your own step target and ask your friends and family to sponsor you. Each step target you can choose from represents a key fact from Crisis research that informs their invaluable work. Use your daily exercise to do some good!
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “Now more than ever we value donations to keep our frontline services running, and to support smaller, local homelessness charities with their emergency response in these unprecedented circumstances. We know that with the public’s support we can protect people facing homelessness from the worst effects of this outbreak.”
For more information on In This Together and to donate, please visit www.crisis.org.uk/coronavirus
1 Year, 5 Months, 3 Weeks, 1 Day, 13 Hours, 16 Minutes ago.
There’s never been a better time to start watching a new show, or that film you meant to catch at the cinema but never got around to seeing.
While COVID-19 has resulted in the delay of productions and the postponement of many theatrical releases, including the latest James Bond installment No Time To Die, it’s not all bad news. Some studios are choosing to release their titles digitally so we can watch from the comfort and safety of our own homes.
Recently released films, plus those to due for release soon, available well ahead of the normal digital release schedule include:
- The Hunt
- The Call of the Wild
- DC’s Birds of Prey
- The Gentleman
- The Trolls sequel, Trolls World Tour
- Pixar’s latest creation Onward, which will also be available to stream on Disney+ in April
Not forgetting everything that BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 Netflix, Amazon Prime and now Disney+ have to offer!
With so many streaming platforms out there it’s difficult to know where to start, so we thought who better to do the hard work for you than our sound engineers and producers? They’ve crafted original audio for thousands of hours of TV and cinema, so we picked their brains for their favourites.
Here’s our team’s recommendations for some of the best films and TV shows to stream right now...
- Any classic Studio Ghibli offering - Netflix
- Booksmart - Prime
- Uncut Gems - Netflix
- Manchester by the Sea - iPlayer
- Paddington (1 & 2) - Prime
- This Country - iPlayer
- Broad City - Prime
- Sex Education - Netflix
- The Boys - Prime
- Feel Good - All 4
1 Year, 6 Months, 5 Days, 1 Hour, 30 Minutes ago.
For the last two weeks as the scale and severity of Covid-19 has increased, we’ve faced the most challenging decisions since setting up our business...
One of those has been whether we keep our recording facility open as we have a responsibility to our team, customers and suppliers.
However, we have to consider the health and welfare of our team and everyone who comes into the studios as well as the extra pressure the NHS is under at the moment, which is why closing the studios now is the right thing to do.
Therefore we are closing our studio facility from tomorrow, Tuesday 24th March, until further notice.
We have an incredible network of voice artists who have home studio facilities and our sound engineers have all been set up to work from home. We’ve got a full IT infrastructure in place so we’re able to keep disruption to a minimum.
This hasn't been an easy decision to make as we’ve battled head vs heart, but for the greater good it's the right decision and we hope all our clients understand. We always appreciate your business and take nothing for granted, but we hope you’ll continue to work with us through this, so we can all move forward together once we're on the other side.
The SNK Studios team
1 Year, 8 Months, 2 Weeks, 23 Hours, 22 Minutes ago.
Jess Elton - Bookings Assistant says:
'My favourite selection of well-known rock out tunes or upbeat classics or just some of my favourite 80's / 90's bangers on there - fab for livening up the morning on the bus or tube to get you pumped for work, or my personal favourite - distraction from cleaning!!
Enjoy the awesome sounds in there!'
Check out the playlist here
2 Years, 2 Weeks, 5 Days, 12 Hours, 8 Minutes ago.
Tom Ryan - Sound Engineer says:
"Now the sun's back out, here's a selection of soul-ey, hip hoppy goodness which I'd much rather be listening to in the park!"
Check out the playlist here.
2 Years, 1 Month, 1 Week, 2 Days, 21 Hours, 20 Minutes ago.
Chris Lux - Sound Engineer says:
'With the sun making an appearance at least twice this week I thought I would make a summer hip-hop-driven playlist. Featuring some old classics alongside some recent releases; from Santana to Travis Scott... enjoy'
Check out the playlist here.
2 Years, 3 Months, 1 Week, 1 Day, 1 Hour, 34 Minutes ago.
Authentic Stories and Maybe Reading Your Dad’s Porn...
Kathleen Moroney, creative director at Red Apple Creative, shows how brands can enter the podcast space without disturbing the balance between podcaster and listener. Working across original content creation, writing, producing and consultation, Kathleen is constantly innovating what the audio space could look like.
Check out her recent interview with LBB about podcasting here.
2 Years, 3 Months, 2 Weeks, 5 Days, 4 Hours, 33 Minutes ago.
Emily Rhodes - Receptionist and Admin Assistant says:
"Here's a selection of my favourite female artists, guaranteed to bring out your sassy side and make you feel like you're lip-syncing for your life!
Ideally I'd listen to this infront of a wind machine, Beyonce style... But the tube wind also works... if you're listening on your way home from work."
Listen to the playlist here.
2 Years, 4 Months, 2 Weeks, 5 Days, 15 Hours, 3 Minutes ago.
"I've always been a fan of random music experiences, wherever they come from. Every Field Day festival I'd always end up spending a load of time watching artists like Omar Souleyman, Imarhan, Mbongwana Star, Toumani & Sidiki Diabaté and Ata Kak etc.
Rob Baker - Senior Engineer says:
It's always my go-to when I want to listen to something a bit different.
Current favourites are 1980's Tanzania, 1970's Zimbabwe (South Rhodesia), 1970's Indonesia and 1980's Colombia.
As the site relies on people uploading new tracks, sometimes some countries don't have a huge selection, but what's up there is usually pretty decent.