[ProAudio] stereo perception through headphones

Jim Brown jim at audiosystemsgroup.com
Thu Jan 30 12:14:56 EST 2020

On 1/30/2020 10:48 AM, Bill Whitlock via ProAudio wrote:
> IMHO, this is an apples vs oranges problem and any conversion between 
> the two would, of necessity, be very complex!

Like Bill, I've also studied stereo extensively, with the emphasis on 
sound reinforcement. There are, indeed, three sets of cues about 
localization. Most important are those related to time of arrival, with 
interaural distance being critical. Second are cues from our pinnae, 
which provide cues about up/down. Third, and least important, are those 
related to amplitude.

The most robust stereo experience is produced by widely spaced 
microphones reproduced by spaced loudspeakers, as described by the Bell 
Labs 1936 patent. The least robust are those produced by amplitude-only 
panning of microphones.

I addressed this in a 2002 AES paper, which resulted in an invitation to 
publish in JASA and three invited presentations to ASA by me, Bruce 
Olson, and Bob Coffeen. It applies the principles of the 1936 stereo 
reinforcement patent to modern sound reinforcement.


Unfortunately, pop-oriented music recording and reinforcement chose the 
least robust of these systems, best described as multi-mike mono, and 
pile it up until it's loud enough reinforcement, which turned into 
flying big line arrays, creating the visual illusion of stereo, but 
being fed a mono mix.

Well done recordings with spaced microphones hold up quite well in 

Jim Brown

More information about the ProAudio mailing list