Stereo sound was designed for speakers at a certain distance/angle to the listener. It is now uncommon for people to have such setup, as many people listen either with headphones, or casually (mono speakers, or randomly arranged stereo speakers). While it is possible, it is very rare for people to have a stereo-to-binaural setup (see a related question).

So, should audio tracks be designed for headphones (binaural)?

Is it perhaps already commonplace?

Are there standards on how to add information to audio tracks so a conversion can be attempted (or not) on the fly?

Given the difficulty of mastering and distributing music in both formats, what are the pros and cons of the two options from practical and sound fidelity point of views?

  • 1
    I think that assumption may not be correct - everybody I know has at least one full stereo setup in their house. Quite a few have multiple rooms with stereo setup. Certainly many more than back when I was young. And only a few of them like headphones (I know I don't enjoy wearing headphones at all - neither the sound, nor the feeling)
    – Rory Alsop
    Feb 3 at 16:38
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    "So, should audio tracks be designed for headphones (binaural)?" Most Headphones are stereo.
    – Alaska Man
    Feb 3 at 18:47
  • @AlaskaMan Stereo and binaural recordings are quite different: they share the property that they are recorded into two channels; from the point of view of representing the spatial information of the sound, they are different; while you can hear music with the wrong equipment and still hear the music, you won't hear it as intended, unless the sound technician who did the mixing was looking for a compromise for both recording technologies.
    – Kiwi
    Feb 4 at 13:45
  • Can't put this in as an answer, because it's simply my opinion. I wouldn't make any special effort for headphones. People who wear them all the time are used to the weird 'sound in the middle of your head' syndrome. So it may even put them off. I certainly wouldn't feel any kind of compulsion to make two mixes every time, just for the mobile user.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 10 at 11:05

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