Are You Ready For 3D Radio?

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BBC Radio is testing out 3D audio technology that will change the way we listen, according to The Telegraph. You won’t be able to visualize sound, but by using specifically positioned speakers you’ll be able to get the surround sound experience from a broadcast. The government-funded company tested out the technology for a few listeners yesterday with clips from airplanes at the Duxford Air Show, choral performances and a radio drama using eight sound devices, however public testing is still years away.

While developers expect some people to purchase the technology to listen at home, they are hoping that the experience can also be optimized for listeners online with the right equipment and for those listening on their car radios. The BBC’s director of audio and music Tim Davie has expressed interest in bringing the sound technology to regular television broadcasts in the future. Trying to innovate radio is nothing new for the company: The BBC recently released a high-quality audio service called HD Sound for BBC Radio 3 listeners.

Although it has become common for pundits and others to suggest the radio medium is dying out, a study by Nielsen from last year revealed that younger generations still listen. Results showed that people between the ages of 18 to 34 years old in small and mid-level markets listen to the radio 21.5 hours each week. NPR reported a nine percent increase in listeners from 2007 to 2008, which amounts to a 47 percent increase in individuals tuning in since 2000. Whether or not 3D radio will go the way of digital music or die out like Betamax and smell-o-vision remains to be seen, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

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