When it comes to home theatre, the vast majority of people spend a lot of time focussing on the visual side of things and completely neglect the audio. But a recent development from Sydney-based startup MyEars means that it doesn't really matter anymore - they can provide you with a surround sound effect much more effective than 7.1 by using nothing more than some clever technology and your standard stereo headphones.
Bennett Ring from games.on.net managed to score some hands on time with the technology, which will apparently be making its way into top of the line games within the next 12 months. It works by creating an individual profile based on the way your unique ears detect sound. Then, as you play any game with a surround sound mode, the audio is run through this profile before being sent through the audio cable to the headphones, and creates a realistic surround sound audio effect.
As Bennett explains in his article, Dolby already uses a similar technology in its surround sound headphones, but rather than a unique approach to individual's ears, it's a one-size-fits-all-approach. Does it work? Well, judging by Bennett's response, you'd kind of think so:
During our test session at Simon's office, the difference between MyEars 3D audio and stereo sound was quite simply massive - while playing BioShock it truly conveyed the sense that we were surrounded by sounds, and we could pinpoint exactly which direction individual sounds were coming from. We've used Dolby Headphone much in the past, and while it does an ok job, MyEars is exponentially improved.
Technically, MyEars hasn't launched yet - they're currently beta testing and have plans to roll out a subscription service soon, which will cost somewhere in the order of $60 a year. But given the desire for games in particular to be truly immersive experiences, and the fact Dolby headphones can cost around $200, the value could be worth it.
You can head on over to the MyEars site to set up your profile and register for the service, or read a more detailed first hand account on games.on.net