iHeartRadio is rolling out podcasts in 3D audio

Could binaural playback be the future of podcasting?

American podcasting publisher iHeartRadio has big plans for podcasting, with its parent company iHeartMedia announcing iHeart 3D Audio and its venture into binaural podcasting.

The new method of podcast production is designed to place listeners into an audio soundscape for a more immersive experience. iHeartRadio intends on implementing the feature into podcasts with a focus on storytelling, although it could pave the way for all types of podcasting.

iHeartRadio, the number one global podcasting publisher, says that it “will debut a captivating new slate of podcasts, cementing itself in this category of experiential media and spearheading the exploration of what’s possible with cutting-edge audio technology.”

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Binaural audio, also known as 3D audio, enhances the listening experience with more precise placements of sound sources. Binaural recording is often achieved with a microphone that records through a set of dummy human ears, creating a higher sense of movement and location.

Listeners will be able to hear the effect through most headphones, although it is likely to be more convincing through a more accomplished set. You can hear iHeartRadio’s example below.

iHeartMedia and Blumhouse Television previously launched a binaural audio series, 13 Days of Halloween, in October 2020. The series garnered 2.8 million listeners and set the foundations for iHeartMedia’s expansion into future 3D audio projects. The next upcoming 3D audio podcast is The Mantawauk Caves, with bonus 3D episodes across the year for various shows, such as The Ron Burgundy Podcast.

Tech companies are striving to make 3D audio a more accessible format. Sony recently announced the development of its 360 Reality Audio plug-in, while Apple is moving forward with Spatial Audio on the AirPods Max. It will certainly be interesting to see how these devices may affect the future workflow of producers and engineers.

Read more at iheartmedia.com.

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