ALTHOUGH it may seem like we haven't come very far since good old stereo sound, research continues into improving listener experience.
When the BBC's R&D department realized that more and more people use their smart phones to listen to the radio they began a long term project researching binaural technology (not to be confused with Binaural Beats). Designed to enhance the audio, it makes the listener feel like they are actually present in whatever experience the broadcaster chooses. This is done by replicating the audio cues we experience in real life using space, pitch, reverberation and so on.
Check out this example of a trippy binaural recording:
At the end of October the BBC Radio 4 website featured 'Tommies' - a production about World War I that the listener could choose to listen to in binaural.
They worked with a sound designer to effectively remix the drama. BBC research scientist Chris Pike said: "We did not set out to be gimmicky, we wanted to use the tools that we have to enhance the original stereo mix with spatial effects whilst maintaining a high quality experience."
Another way of producing the binaural effect is by rendering a 5.1 surround mix to a stereo mix, as they did for another October production 'Under Milk Wood'.
Radio France launched a website last year called NouvOson, which has been broadcasting a series of programmes using the binaural technology. We recommend you don't try it when you're driving however.
BBC radio have not used this technology widely up to now because there are still imperfections - for instance, the technology would need to recognise your head movements, since, as you move your head, the perception of sound changes. They are currently trying to retrieve as much feedback from the audience as they can through surveys on their site.
The question is, when these imperfections are ironed out how far can it go? Can the technology ever be used to enhance a clubbing experience?