Sometimes the scariest thing is the horror you can't see: the spine-chilling screams and wicked whispers you hear when the night is at its darkest.
Just in time for Halloween, we hunted down horror podcast Darkest Night, a binaural audio drama that takes you inside the dying memories of the recently deceased. Co-creator Alex Aldea calls it "the most brutal, ridiculous, over-the-top horror podcast that exists" -- and while the subject matter of corpses, cannibals and evil scientists is chilling enough, what gives the show an extra frisson of fright is how it's captured.
Darkest Night is recorded on a Neumann Ku 100 binaural microphone -- a mic shaped like a human head.
Having a blank-faced human head on a stick in the middle of the recording studio seems highly appropriate for a horror podcast, but the KU 100 is more than just a petrifying prop. The dummy head has omnidirectional condenser capsules on each side, where your ears are. Binaural mics like this are designed to pick up sound exactly as your ears do. So when you play back the two-channel recording through headphones, you get a spookily realistic effect.
For maximum macabre impact, the Darkest Night performers don't just stand still and read their lines into the mic. Instead, they move around, playing out their roles as if they were in a theatre or movie -- and for extra spookiness, even creeping up close and whispering in your ear.
To check out the eerie effect, throw on your headphones and hit Play on the video.
"You have to use headphones," Aldea enthuses. "You can listen to it in the car -- but if you want the full experience, you gotta put on headphones and let us do our thing."
The bloodcurdling third season of Darkest Night is available now on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. It's narrated by Keith David, while previous sinister seasons were narrated by Lee Pace, whom you may remember as the villain from Guardians of the Galaxy.
The cast is rounded out by ghastly guests including RuPaul, Missi Pyle, Jason Mewes and assorted others, including stars of American Horror Story. Oh, and listen out, too, for the distinctive tones of Maynard James Keenan, full-throated frontman of Tool.,
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