MyEars improves gaming surround sound

[From APCMag.com; a 3:12 minute video is available here]

[Image: Part of the calibration test from MyEars. Shapes headphone sound to match your ears.]

Dramatic surround sound improvement for gamers blows Dolby away

Software that generates an audio profile of your ears and improves gaming surround sound piped to your headphones is now available for subscription. Get set for amazing sound.

Bennett Ring
19 November 2010

While graphics in games show what’s immediately in front of players, it’s the soundscape that envelops and surrounds them, instilling a sense of place. Unfortunately many gamers use headphones, and this is a major obstacle to immersion. Until now.

An Aussie invention called MyEars has figured out how to deliver true 3D positional audio over stereo headphones, and the result is a much more compelling experience. MyEars isn’t the first company to deliver virtual 3D audio over stereo headphones; Dolby has been offering surround sound for years. However, MyEars takes the basic principle of Dolby Headphone and builds on it to deliver a much more accurate experience.

The man behind MyEars is Simon Carlile, an Australian academic specialising in the field of auditory neuroscience. Simon’s earlier work in virtual reality, and the role audio plays in dragging participants deeper into the virtual rabbit hole, led him to realise that Dolby Headphone and similar solutions offer a one-size-fits-all approach, which ignores that each human has a very different way of hearing. The influence of the shape of our ears can be mathematically described as a set of Head Related Transfer Functions (HRTF). Before using a MyEars equipped game, the user must first conduct a listening and tuning test. This builds a unique set of HRTF tailored to the user’s ears and is saved as a unique profile. This profile is then loaded into the game’s sound engine. We conducted A/B testing between MyEars and Dolby Headphone using Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and MyEars won hands down. The sense of space was much deeper and more enveloping, allowing us to detect sneaky soldiers.

A year’s subscription to MyEars is available for $USD29.95. but a free trial is available at www. myears.net.au. If you’re reading this article and still need convincing, we urge you to give the program a shot — just bear in mind that the tuning process is a little tricky. Our tip for better profiling is to close your eyes during the listening tests, and try to imagine that each audio tone is somewhere around your head.

MyEars can be applied in two ways: integrated F-mod support (the most popular audio engine in AAA engines, and another Aussie success story) should be the norm in six to twelve months, while today’s games can be run with a software layer between the game and your soundcard. It’s great to hear of a small Aussie tech company taking on the likes of Dolby and Creative.

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