The marriage of 3D audio and 3D movies

A New Jersey rocket scientist is exploring the frontiers of 3D sound technology.

The Studio 360 radio show will broadcast an interview this weekend with Edgar Choueiri, a professor of applied physics at Princeton University. Professor Choueiri is the director of Princeton's Program in Engineering Physics and the chief scientist of the university's laboratory for advanced spacecraft propulsion. Right, he's a rocket scientist, but he's also an audiophile.

Choueiri's sound lab at Princeton University; note the close spacing of the stereo speakers. Steve Guttenberg

Professor Choueiri told Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen that stereo playback over loudspeakers is a deeply flawed concept because crosstalk corrupts the natural transmission to the brain of 3D cues that exist in all stereo recordings. Crosstalk occurs in normal stereo listening when your ears hear both the left and right channels. Once the crosstalk is eliminated, stereo recordings take on a 3D quality; the soundstage is wider, deeper, and significantly more solid and realistic-sounding. Choueiri's 3D sound doesn't work over headphones, but can be heard over conventional stereo speakers. Right now, it only works with stereo speakers; surround systems are not part of his working model. The 3D effect is improved when the speakers are close to each other.

During the interview with Andersen, professor Choueiri mentioned that he recently talked with Sony Pictures and ESPN, and they're both interested in shooting 3D sound and picture demos. The marriage of 3D movies and 3D sound may be closer than we thought.

The Studio 360 Web site has a bunch of 3D audio samples and a video that covers the details of 3D audio in greater detail.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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