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Difference between "binaural" and "stereo&quo

Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:14 am

What's the difference between "Binaural" and "stereo"??

Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:30 am

elvis2006 -

Stereo has instruments on each channel and a 'ghost' central sound image [normally the lead vocalist].

This leads to sounds seeming to come from across the whole area between the speakers.

In BMG's version of 'binaural' the lead vocal is on one channel & the rest of the band and back-up singers are [normally] on the other channel.

In the wider world, the term 'binaural' means 'dummy head stereo', which is something quite different.

We reckon they called the Elvis stuff by this term because they used their 'binaural' machine for the safety backups.

Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:53 am

thanks Colin for your answer.

Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:25 am

What Ernst and everyone is calling "binaural" now were simply two-track tapes. That's all. They were two-track tapes intended to be released in mono.

The same way that 4, 8, 16, 24, 48 track tapes or digital recordings are made to be released in stereo, or "5.1", or "6.1", now.

The term "binaural" persists because many 2-track recorders of that time were labeled, branded, "Binaural Recorder", and the tape boxes would be labeled "Binaural", meaning only that they were made on "The Binaural Recorder" and had to be played back on that recorder.

A real "binaural" recording is one that was made and intended to be played in two tracks over "binaural" headphones. The recorders were therefore labeled "binaural". From that capability, recording studios began to use the recorders to keep the vocal and background separate, for ease of mixing to mono later. And also for ease of replacing/repairing a vocal for the mono release when the background was already perfect. [One Elvis example, "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care"]

Elvis' tapes made that way were never intended for "stereo" release, and in fact all cases that I know of, those 2-track tapes were not even given to RCA Records at the time the of original recording.

It's fun to listen to them and I'm glad they have been released. But Elvis and everyone around at the time never intended and never imagined that those tapes would be released in "stereo" or "binaural".

If they had, they would have recorded FOR "stereo", with the vocal centered.

Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:44 am

First of all "stereo" dervies from the Ancient Greek word stereos which simply means spatial. People often think that "stereo" is the 2-channel-thing they've got at home or in their car. That's 2-channel-stereo. DD 5.1, 6.1. and 7.1 are also "stereo" but simply using more channels. Binaural on the other hand is also "stereo".

The difference between "stereo" and "binaural" as the author of this thread understands it is in the way the spatial reprodcution is created. Usually a stereo soundstage is created by panning several mono tracks down to a system of two or more channels for reproduction. Only then it's "stereo" and spatial.

Recording "binaural" means that the audible signals recorded using special micopones mounted to a dummy head create a natural "stereo" image immediately. This stereo image can only be reproduced using headphones and taking the place of the dummy head.

The sound of a fly flying around the head is now reproduced by using differences in phase, running time and level that occur when an audible signal is bent around the head of a human being / the anatomy of the human ear rather than by panning different signals on a stereo soundstage as it's usually done by creating stereo from multi-track sources. Other than this binaural also allows a 360 degree spatial image using only two micophones / channels.

None of the Elvis recordings classified as being "binaural" are binaural.

Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:36 pm

Jay33 wrote:I'm surprised that RCA has never thought of mixing the binaural tracks into stereo for the 50's songs that they have outtakes for.


That would require an overdub !

If the lead vocal is 'centralised' in the sound image, and the band in [say] the left channel, there is 'silence' from the right channel, so something has to be overdubbed there.

This has actually been done on a take of Treat Me Nice heard on the 1990 CD The Great Performances where an additional guitar was overdubbed on one channel.

Of course, if you split the band between the left & right channels, it ends up being centralised with the lead vocal [sort of back to mono] !

Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:41 am

binaural, stereo, DD, 5.1, 7.1

who owns the "quadrophonic" Aloha from Hawaii?

I do. But I don't have the quad system anymore.

Who remembers buying needles for your turntable?

what's a turntable? my 26 year old daughter might ask.

Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:57 am

ColinB wrote:
Jay33 wrote:I'm surprised that RCA has never thought of mixing the binaural tracks into stereo for the 50's songs that they have outtakes for.


That would require an overdub !

If the lead vocal is 'centralised' in the sound image, and the band in [say] the left channel, there is 'silence' from the right channel, so something has to be overdubbed there.

This has actually been done on a take of Treat Me Nice heard on the 1990 CD The Great Performances where an additional guitar was overdubbed on one channel.

Of course, if you split the band between the left & right channels, it ends up being centralised with the lead vocal [sort of back to mono] !
You got me a little dizzy Colin! :) Yes you need at least three channels to mix. Or something is going to be off center or sound crooked or back to mono like you said! :)