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QSound 3-D Recording System

QSound's recording systemToday, QSound recording technology has found a home not only in the world of video gaming, but in enhancing CDs, DVDs, movies, television programs, Internet streamed audio, MP3s, consumer electronics products, sound cards, and even hearing aids.

Calgary-based co-inventors Dan Lowe and John Lees—respectively a music producer and electro-sound technician—developed QSound simply by trying to establish why exactly an auditory illusion had occurred during a recording session.

Lowe had positioned 14 microphones and upon playing back the recording discovered that the sound had a three-dimensional effect. The reason behind the effect would prove to be a combination of brain and sound wave.

After learning that true 3D sound using two speakers was impossible according to acoustics theory, the pair researched how the brain processes sound.

The Economist reported on Lowe’s and Lees’ research into the acoustic phenomenon in its 9 September 1990 issue. "The human brain recognizes three constituents of sound: frequency, which can be high or low; amplitude, which can be loud or soft; and phase, which is the delay between the times when sound waves hit each ear. In order to identify the origin of a sound, the brain relies particularly heavily on phase; precisely how it measures phase differences is not yet clear. QSound performs its trick by manipulating the phase of sounds after recording."

And so, Lowe and Lees analyzed "ramp time," the time it takes a sound to reach full amplitude. "Sounds with long ramp times, such as those from cellos and wind instruments, are thus harder to pinpoint than more percussive sounds. In order to help a listener find sounds with long ramp times, they inserted cues into the digital signals of those sounds. The cues were designed to allow the sounds to be located without interfering with the sound itself."

Featured Audio

QMax II Internet Audio Demo

The Heritage Community Foundation is pleased to present this feature audio clip, courtesy of QSound Labs.

Beyond the recording studio, QSound Labs has also developed 3-D Internet Audio. Take a listen in this demo! Listen

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