News

iHeartMedia’s new 3D audio integration may be the future for podcasts

iHeartMedia is elevating its roster of audio programs with a focus on 3D audio.

3D audio is an incredibly powerful medium that iHeartRadio is aiming to use in crafting a new format of immersive media.

Close your eyes. Imagine a stream of water trickling past your feet, and birds tweeting in some faraway trees. Imagine the wind blowing over your skin and through your clothes. Now open your eyes.

No clue how you read all that with your eyes closed, but I’m impressed.

Now imagine that instead of thinking of all of those things, you were hearing them. Birds tweeting, air blowing over your skin. You can kind of hear it already, can’t you?

iheartmedia, 3d audio

Audio can do an incredible job of transporting us to another place, lifting our imagination outside of itself and tricking us into thinking that we’re in a new environment.

People have been using this fact to their benefit for years, listening to white noise generators or ’10 Hours of Rain Sound Relaxation / Ultimate Stress Relief, Deep Sleep…’ videos on YouTube to help them get to sleep — because you really can trick the brain into feeling incongruous things through the power of audio.

And 3D audio is no different.

Through technological advancements like binaural mixing, certain audio programs can place us at the center of the experience, allowing us to truly feel like we’re within the world of the story.

This was used to a massive degree of success in 13 Days of Halloween, a collaboration between iHeartRadio and Blumhouse (the horror powerhouse known for movies like Get Out and Paranormal Activity). This program had you follow a caretaker through the Hawthorne Manor, and utilised 3D audio techniques to place you at the centre of the spooky tour.

Following the success of this podcast, iHeartMedia has recently created iHeart 3D Audio, and announced that it will be producing 3D audio episodes for some of the shows already on its roster, like the Ron Burgundy Podcast, under this banner.

As well as this, it has mentioned that it has started production on another collaboration with Blumhouse: The Mantawauk Caves — a supernatural horror story following three lost boys in the Appalachian Mountains — and if 13 Days of Halloween is anything to go off, it looks like we’re in for a good fright.

 

3D audio seems to be the way of the future, with companies like Apple incorporating Spatial Audio drivers on their new Airpods Max, and with Sony having incorporated the new Tempest Audio Engine into their PS5; and whilst the medium is still very much in its early stages, it will be interesting to see how 3D audio is incorporated into the world of media going ahead.

Whether it be iHeartMedia at the helm, or a new fresh-faced production agency — the future is truly exciting for this very new form of entertainment.