Genelec seeks to redefine headphone monitoring with Aural ID technology
Genelec has announced what it believes is a significant first step in improving the trustworthiness of headphone listening through the introduction of its Aural ID software technology. Aural ID works by acquiring a person’s exclusive acoustic attributes to create a detailed modelling of their unique anatomical features affecting hearing, which can then be compensated for – thus enabling the delivery of more truthful and reliable sound when headphones are employed for reproduction.
Recognising that traditional ‘one size fits all’ headphone reproduction fails to yield a proper reliable reference for audio professionals, Aural ID calculates the user’s personal Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF). The HRTF describes the acoustical properties of the head, upper torso and external ear: elements that interact in complex ways to affect sounds reaching the eardrums.
Aural ID then computes all these elements and creates a personal data file characterising the modification to sound arriving from any azimuth and elevation.
This file consequently enables an audio engine to precisely render stereo or immersive content via headphones. 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.
Yet even after these steps have been taken, the data gathered is less comprehensive than that attainable using Aural ID, and can still be prone to errors.
By contrast, Genelec 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 phone 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.
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 (VR) and game audio rendering engines.
Genelec managing director Siamak Naghian commented: “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.”