Videos and songs with the "8D audio" label in titles have gained popularity on YouTube and social media, but is there such a thing as 8D audio at all? Not quite. 8D audio is an artistic and creative effect (and a marketing term), so it's not an industry-standard audio format.
The degree to which 8D is applied can vary, and it's often created to enhance the listening experience and create a more engaging and immersive feeling when listening to music or audio. This effect is most pronounced when listened to with headphones because they create a stereo sound separation that allows the listener to perceive the direction of the sound.
In this article, we'll talk about how to create 8D audio, where you can find one, and how it works.
What is 8D audio?
8D audio is a type of audio processing that creates an immersive and three-dimensional sound experience for the listener. It simulates the sensation of sound moving in various directions around your head, creating the illusion of a 360-degree soundstage. However, 8D audio doesn't involve true 8D spatial audio as used in the context of three-dimensional sound in virtual reality or augmented reality environments.
To better understand what's under the hood of 8D audio, here are the key characteristics and techniques associated with this effect.
The audio is panned from left to right and front to back, making it seem as if the sound is coming from different directions.
The sound appears to move around the listener's head, creating the sensation of the audio source circling or orbiting them.
Binaural audio processing is often used to create the 8D effect—it simulates the way we hear sounds in the real world by using two microphones to capture audio with spatial cues and then reproducing it in a way that tricks the brain into perceiving direction and depth.
Reverb and echo
Effects like reverb and echo can enhance the spatial characteristics of the audio, making it feel like it's in a larger, more immersive environment.
How 8D audio works
Synthetic or artificial echoes are added to the audio and are manipulated in a manner that deceives the brain into perceiving the sensation of sound emanating from various directions all around the listener.
Equalisation involves adjusting the distribution of frequencies in the audio. Panning, in essence, entails dispersing sound across different audio channels. When combined, these elements impart to the listener the impression that the music is resonating from within their own head.
How is 8D audio different from 3D audio?
8D audio is primarily an artistic effect designed for headphone listening that creates the perception of sound moving around the listener, while 3D audio is a technical approach aimed at recreating true three-dimensional sound in immersive environments such as VR and AR. The key distinction is in the purpose, application, and level of realism between the two.
8D audio is typically designed for headphone listening and relies on effects like panning, binaural processing, and spatial manipulation to create the illusion of sound coming from various directions.
3D audio, in turn, is a more technical and comprehensive term used to describe audio that is truly three-dimensional, often in the context of virtual reality, augmented reality, or immersive audio systems. It replicates the way sound propagates in the real world, considering not only direction but also distance and elevation, creating a more realistic and accurate audio environment.
Do you need headphones to listen to 8D audio?
To fully appreciate the immersive and three-dimensional effect of 8D audio, you should put your headphones on. Headphones provide stereo separation, allowing you to perceive the direction and movement of sound, which is a crucial for 8D audio experience.
When you listen to 8D audio with headphones, you'll have a more pronounced sense of sound moving around you, creating the illusion of a 360-degree soundstage.
How to make 8D audio
And can you make it at all?
You can, but there's a nuance. Achieving this effect is feasible, but you'll likely need to engage a professional for this.
The process typically begins with the conventional production of your song in mono—you record distinct tracks for each instrument, and then a mixing engineer will blend these tracks to achieve a balanced stereo sound.
To transform your track into immersive 8D, it's better to collaborate with a producer specialising in 8D audio mixing and mastering. They will take your standard track and arrange various sounds within an audio map.
Creating 8D audio involves manipulating sound to make it appear to come from different directions and move around the listener's head in a three-dimensional space, which is typically achieved through binaural audio processing, simulating the way we perceive sound in the real world.
Here's a general and very basic overview of the steps to create 8D audio:
- Start with a high-quality audio source, preferably in a lossless format like WAV or FLAC. The better the quality of your source audio, the better your 8D audio will sound.
- You'll need audio editing software that supports binaural audio processing. Adobe Audition, Audacity, and Reaper are popular choices.
- Load your audio file into the software.
- Create multiple duplicate tracks of your audio. The number of duplicates will determine the number of "virtual" audio sources you can use to move the sound around the listener.
- Assign each track to a specific position in the stereo field (left, right, front, back, etc.). You can use the pan control or automation to move the audio between these positions.
- Use audio effects and filters to manipulate the sound to create the illusion of movement. This can include panning, delay, reverb, and EQ adjustments to create a three-dimensional sound stage. Experiment with these effects to achieve the desired 8D effect.
- To create the sensation of audio moving around the listener, use automation to control the panning and other effects over time. This can be a complex and creative process, and the precise movements you choose will determine the final 8D audio experience.
- Fine-tune and continuously listen to the audio as you make adjustments, and consider wearing headphones to ensure that the 8D effect works as intended.
- Once you are satisfied with the 8D effect, export the audio in a format suitable for your intended use, such as MP3 or WAV.
So, as you see, creating 8D audio requires some skill in audio production and editing.
Where can I find 8D audio songs?
On YouTube. Simply search for a song you like followed by "8D audio" to find numerous options.
Some music streaming platforms may have dedicated playlists or channels that feature 8D audio songs, so check services like Spotify, Apple Music, or Deezer for 8D playlists.
There are also websites specifically dedicated to 8D audio content that curate and provide 8D audio tracks for listeners, but be cautious of the quality and legality of the content on them.
Another way is to join online forums, communities, or subreddits dedicated to music or audio enthusiasts—they often share links to 8D audio tracks and discuss new releases.