Anyone have experience emulating HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function)?

HRTF = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-related_transfer_function

There are any rules in terms of EQ to make sounds coming from behind, above and below?

In addition, what are the best plugins for it?


5 Answers 5


I hope this one helps:

Your hearing localizes the directions of sounds either by interpreting frequency dependent level-differences and/or the interaural time-delay between your ears. On the horizontal plane, you mostly localize the direction by interpreting time-delays. As far as I remember the highest frequency this works for is near 1,6 kHz.

On the median-plane you localize the direction of a sound source by interpreting the frequency dependent level-differences. Depending on where the sound comes from, certain frequencies are getting boosted and certain frequencies are lowered due to the shape of the human ear.

Jens Blauert did some research on these frequencies: in german his results are called "Blauert'sche Bänder". According to Blauert, when a sound comes from the front, the frequency around 400Hz and 4kHz are boosted. If the source comes from the back, the frequencies around 1kHz and 15kHz are boosted. Sounds, that are coming from above are boosting the frequencies around 8kHz. Blauert points out, that this boosts don't automatically let people localize sounds from that direction.

On the frontal-plane the human ear localizes sounds by a mixture of time-delays and frequency dependent level-changes.


Head-related transfer function. The "function" here implies a mathematical function and therefore it's well-defined, although there exist different approaches and approximations. In the Wikipedia page see the text under the heading "Technical derivation".

If you're interested in "emulating" HRTF, then I would suggest using an existing implementation (a plug-in, a software library component), unless you specifically want to understand what the HRTF is or how to construct one.

Note that HRTFs can be recorded. It's called binaural recording and its results are what the HRTFs approximate or describe.


Hey Tig,

Check out Audiostage by Longcat audio, H3D also by Longcat and Panorama by Wave Arts. Audiostage is definitely the most powerful and versatile, but see if it fits your needs

  • It seems nice this Audiostage plugin. A bit pricy though
    – Tig Picado
    Jun 18, 2013 at 13:32

If you haven't picked up on the idea from the previous two answers, HRTF is far more complicated than simple EQ. It's a complex mathematical system, and it's different for every person. That in turn leads to the issue that HRTF specific data/values do not necessarily work for everyone. There are sets that work well for a large majority of people, but they are not 100% effective across the entire human population. I'm simply stating this to give you a better indication of the complexity of the computations.

I have heard good things about Panorama by Wave Arts (already mentioned previously), but it's probably worth your time to research what other options are out there...as well as what individual experiences have been with those solutions.


I know that HTRF is pretty complicated. That's why I used the term 'emulate'. I'm researching about techniques that can improve the sense of spatialization.

About a year ago, I was working in a publicity company and the manager showed me the project below and asked me to do a project like that in 3 days. I didn't had binaural mics on my hands so I had to work my ass off to do something similar. It sounded 3d? No! But it had a pretty good stereo image! ps: It was made to listen in headphones.


All I'm asking is, apart from the use of plugins, there are any techniques used to make sounds coming from behind, above and below? How do you make it? Through EQ? Reverb? Phase cancellation?

  • "All I'm asking is, apart from the use of plugins, there are any techniques used to make sounds coming from behind, above and below?" Binaural recording. You can even DIY the mic setup for binaural recording (google). Jun 18, 2013 at 18:07
  • I'm talking about mixing...
    – Tig Picado
    Jun 19, 2013 at 13:34

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