What are some solutions for representing sound in aural space vertically? Assume that I don't want to put speakers on top of one another, that I would only have two speakers.


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With only two speakers, HRTF is pretty much your only option. The positioning of sound is perceived due to the way that the placement and shape of your head and ears impact the sound that your eardrums pick up.

Without having an actual speaker in the general proximity where you want the sound to come from, the only option is to attempt to alter the sound in such a way that it will sound like it would have if it had come from the desired location when it gets to the eardrum.

Doing this from across a room when you have to contend with those same changes occurring and also having to deal with the reflections of sounds around the room is difficult to impossible depending on what you are trying to accomplish and the room you are in, especially with only two speakers to work with. This is why most HRTF setups are for headphones. Speaker arrays offer some other options since they can do some interesting phasing things, but if you only have two speakers that is not an option either.

  • Another way would be to somehow have one ear tunnel pointing slightly downwards and the other upwards like owls' ears :) Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 15:35
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    @Schizomorph That might not work for humans. Our ears detect vertical displacement by decoding reflections off the pinnae (the visible part of the ears). Changing the orientation of the head changes the orientation of the pinnae and the brains kinesthetic assesment if the location and orientation of the head, so the decoding will be informed by those changes. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 4:25
  • Lacking a better mechanism, we do it the way you said indeed. My comment was purely hypothetical and not very serious but somehow these things get lost with written word. Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 14:59

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