This summer, the Audio Engineering Society held its third International Conference on Music Induced Hearing Disorders at Columbia College Chicago. Its focus was on strategies and technologies for safer long-term hearing outcomes resulting from exposure to loud music. Two days of papers and presentations from notable scientists and application experts in the fields of audiology, product development, and sound production, as well as lively panel discussions, contributed to a well-rounded conference experience.
In keeping with the theme of technology to preserve hearing, Bob Schulein, conference co-chair, engineering producer and ImmersAV Technology’s founding partner, organized a demonstration of a new entertainment experience as a part of the conference banquet on Thursday evening. He arranged for Glass Mountain, a Chicago American folk trio, to perform for the guests and to assist in the demonstration of a unique, binaural audio “you-are-there” experience.
For the performance, each attendee was provided with a set of Sennheiser supra-aural wireless headphones and remained in their seat from dinner for the performance. The group performed in front of a single large diaphragm condenser microphone as well as ImmersAV’s binaural mannequin, named Dexter. As the performance progressed guests were able to compare the headphone reproduction versus that from a two-speaker loudspeaker sound system feeding the output of the single microphone over Dexter’s head. As the trio played a number of folk classics and originals, each attendee heard the audio with natural binaural spatial rendering no matter where they were seated. The listening experience mimicked being magically transformed directly in front of the band, hearing exactly what Dexter is hearing, with the added benefit of being able to control their own listening volume level.
“What a potential boon for night clubs, dinner clubs, theaters, churches, and auditoriums, to enhance the listening experience for every person coming through their doors, while listening at one’s own desired level,” said Schulein.
“The ImmersAV performance felt warmer and clearer compared to the sound from the traditional loudspeakers,” said Laura Sinnott, a conference attendee who is an audiologist and audio engineer. “The wide spatial image truly allowed for a "you-are-there" experience."
Glass Mountain performer and doctor of audiology Heather Malyuk (fiddle, guitar, and vocals) described her experience during a rehearsal playback session.
“It was amazingly realistic,” she said. “I could hear every nuance of my performance, as well as an excellent ensemble balance with my band mates.”
Watch the videos embedded below to experience the performance.