Genelec are rightly famous for their reference monitor systems and world beating GLM automatic alignment system, but now they’ve turned their hands to bringing accurate monitor reference performance to headphones as well, with their new Aural ID technology. This was launched today at the AES International Conference on Immersive and Interactive Audio, at York University, UK.
What Is HRTF And Why Is It Important?
HRTF stands for, “Head Related Transfer Function”, and does pretty much what it says on the tin. Aural ID calculates the user’s personal HRTF, which describes the acoustical properties of the head, upper torso and external ear - all elements that interact in complex ways to affect the way that sounds reach the eardrums. Aural ID then computes all these elements and creates a personal data file characterising the unique way that sound arrives to your ear, from any azimuth and elevation.
This file consequently enables an audio engine to precisely render stereo or immersive content via headphones.
So What’s New About Aural ID?
Until now, gathering personal HRTF information has been a complex and time-consuming process that requires an anechoic room, placement of measurement microphones at the entry to the user’s ear canals, and careful attention to setup and procedure details with multiple measurements. Even after these steps have been taken, the data gathered is often not fully comprehensive and can still be prone to errors.
Genelec’s Aural ID software simply requires the user to provide a 360 degree video of their head and shoulder region - for which a high-quality mobile device camera is sufficient. Once the video is uploaded to the Genelec web-based calculation service, the calculation process first builds an accurate and detailed 3D model scaled to exactly the correct dimensions of the head and upper torso, with special attention paid to modelling of the external ears.
SOFA So Good…
After this, acoustic fields are analysed and calculated numerically with a full-wave method to capture detailed acoustic phenomena. The acoustic fields are computed for hundreds of different orientations of audio approaching the head, after which the HRTFs are formed and the data is finally compiled into a downloadable SOFA file - a format which has been defined and standardised by the Audio Engineering Society (AES). This maximises the technical compatibility of the HRTF data file, since the SOFA format is already supported by many virtual reality and game audio rendering engines.
Genelec Managing Director Siamak Naghian comments:
“In the same way that our monitor loudspeakers established the sonic reference for professional audio monitoring, and GLM calibration software revolutionised the way studio monitors could be optimised for any acoustic space, we are determined to help bring standards of sonic truthfulness to headphone reproduction. With an increasing number of audio professionals relying on both in-room monitors and headphones, Genelec Aural ID is a significant first step towards the use of headphones for actual reference audio monitoring and listening.”
Available To The Public Soon
The Genelec Aural ID service will become available for purchase online via the Genelec Community website during the 2nd quarter of this year. Keeps your eyes peeled for a full Production Expert review of this exciting new technology soon. You can also sign up to be notified when Aural ID is available here.