Live the Journey: Ambient Sound


We often use audio to augment our daily journey, whether it be to turn up the pace on the morning run or transport us from our busy commute, but have you ever wished you could travel to work on the Hogwarts Express?

For those of us who use our earphones to “escape”, be it through podcasts, audiobooks or wellness apps, there’s a phenomenon called audio atmospheres; a concept which elevates audio escapism to a new level. These “atmospheres” are also a fun way to explore your headphones' soundstage – their ability to create the illusion of space and direction. As with any good recording, you should be able close your eyes and point in the direction of any noise – such as a tweeting bird or bustling market stall – voice or instrument in a song.

Many of these atmospheres are created by playing eight different channels of sound simultaneously, creating a rich, textured soundtrack. Usually these depict a scene or place - for example a rainforest or cosy country pub. The channels can be individually altered, using volume controls or a left/right earbud split to create a strikingly realistic and immersive 3D experience.

There are a few great places to find these audio atmospheres; online libraries dedicated to hosting these interactive files. The sites have thousands of users, and offer a fantastic array of audio scenes, from fictional locations feature in the Harry Potter series, to the bayou of the deep south - to a downpour in the Scottish rain (something we’re familiar enough with already).

Other options include apps – such as Relaxio – let users mix their own ambient soundtracks. Fancy listening to a fan whirring, by a riverside campfire, while the thunder rolls in the distance? No problem; just set a few sliders – maybe a sleep timer – and press play.

These tools can be used with wired and wireless earbuds alike, so the journey is limited only by your imagination.

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