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The third dimension in audio

Posted by Mike Cooke - Director of Production at PHMG on

Immersive, engaging and unbelievably realistic, 3D sound offers a listening experience like no other. And as we’re about to learn, it’s not only transforming audio consumption, but introducing exciting opportunities for brands to captivate their customer in ways they never thought possible.

3D audio – also known as binaural audio – is the term used to describe sound that’s recorded in a way that emulates the workings of the human head. Microphones are placed in two ear-like cavities on the side of a dummy skull, preserving the interaural cues and resulting in a sound that’s heard as if it’s happening in real life. The widest known use of this technology is in cinemas through Dolby surround sound, with the explosions, car crashes and fight sequences of today’s blockbusters appearing to leap right out of the screen and into the movie theatre. But this experience is no longer confined to the cinema. Companies like Sennhesier are making this technology available to the masses, producing 3D sound headphones and their very latest 3D soundbar.

With increasing numbers of consumers investing in products that let them enjoy the 3D sound experience, brands are also getting involved by developing campaigns that make use of this technology. Dutch beer company Swinckels’ ‘Trust your inner Voice’ ad is just one example, in which Morgan Freeman’s rich baritones convince audiences how important it is to trust the little voice inside that tells you to enjoy an ice cold Swinckels. When heard through headphones, his voice travels from one ear to another – and when the beer is poured into the glass, the 360 degree soundscape makes it feel as if the amber liquid is filling your entire head. More than just an advert, this is a complete experience – and it made the product appear truly irresistible. Elsewhere, Crimestoppers used a similar technique in one of their audio ads to make it appear as if the listener was right in the middle of the crime scene – illustrating how quickly it can escalate and reinforcing the importance of providing information to their hotline. And in the music industry, many artists have utilised the technology in collaboration with VR to host virtual concerts – giving fans the experience of seeing them live without the need for a ticket.

The trend for 3D audio comes alongside a boom in audio consumption, with nearly 22 million people spending around 11 hours a week listening to connected audio (Global). Clearly, this growth and the improvement in listening technology go hand-in-hand, as Jo McCrostie, Creative Director at leading agency Global points out. “As more and more people spend time listening to audio and the headphones market continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, 3D audio presents a unique way to create a more immersive and intimate listening experience.” Audiences are demanding the very best from the audio they consume – in quality and content – and this high-level consumption is showing no sign of slowing.

This audio proliferation means there’s never been a more important time for businesses to invest in their audio brand. With consumers embracing sound at every opportunity, companies can follow suit by developing an audio logo, adopting a track composed for their brand, and introducing this signature piece in a range of marketing channels – including company videos, radio adverts, in business environments such as stores or offices, or during time callers spend waiting on-hold. Increasing exposure to this piece will make it synonymous with your brand, so it becomes an instant trigger in the mind of the customer – and engages listeners in a format they’ve wholeheartedly adopted into their daily lives. But with such a demand for quality sound, this demand must be met in every audio branding channel too. This applies in terms of content, so voice artistry, copy and composition must all be executed to the highest standard. And in the case of an On-Hold Marketing production, it must be expertly mixed, mastered and edited to be heard over the phone.

With crystal clear audio, engaging content and music and voice to represent your brand, you’ll bring your business into the third dimension of sound – interacting with them in the immersive, realistic and engaging way only audio offers.

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