Binaural on a Budget

USITT Poster Conference, 2018

Texas Tech Graduate Poster Conference, 2018

Short Abstract:

This essay explores the history of binaural audio recording, the reasons that the technology works, and possible applications for the fine arts.

Binaural on a Budget - Recorded with Binaural Head

USITT Poster Conference 2018

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Binaural on a Budget - USITT Presentation - Jacob Henry
00:00 / 00:00

**Best experienced with headphones**

Binaural on a Budget

Sound in Theatre: Exploring the technology of Bone Conduction and Binaural Transmission, Coauthor: Kelly Murphey

Texas Tech University

Arts & Humanities - Graduate Research Conference 2017


The purpose of our long-term project is to explore the practical use of bone conduction headphones for theatrical performance. With the rise in popularity of headphone theatre and the use of binaural recording techniques in sound design, a new kind of theatre, live performance, and audience immersion has become possible. Thus far, however, there has been very limited research about the ways in which bone conduction technology might be applied to performance. This paper and presentation will focus primarily on the unique ways in which bone conduction headphones can immerse audiences in theatrical performances, and provide a safer alternative to air conduction headphones for theatre production crews. We will discuss the mechanics of bone conduction, its history, and its previous applications outside of a theatrical context. Headphone theatre is not new, but performances that have utilized them effectively have validated its growth in popularity. In Hannah Brierley’s review of ‘Séance’ at the Birmingham REP she recalls her experience, “I began to forget I had headphones on and imagined this figure in the room with us.”1 Matt Trueman from the Guardian, also posits from his experience at the 2009 Edinburgh festival that, “In these theatre pieces, listening is a part of the overall experience, rather than the whole. The relationship between what is heard and what is seen is crucial.”2 Another consideration is that bone conduction technology has given us the ability to hear sounds in a unique manner that still allows for our ears to be open to sound through air conduction. This could be helpful for theatre technicians backstage, and could bring about a new way to immerse the audience in a given performance in a manner that is not possible with air conduction headphones.