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.