Podcasts are about to become much more immersive if iHeartMedia has its way. Following the success of last year's 13 Days of Halloween, iHeartRadio's parent company plans to produce more 3D audio (or binaural) shows. It's working with Blumhouse Television to build on that series with several 13 Days shows orchestrated around holidays. In addition, the companies are co-producing a podcast called The Mantawauk Caves, while iHeartRadio will release bonus 3D episodes of some shows, including The Ron Burgundy Podcast, throughout the year.
Overall, the company expects to produce around a dozen 3D audio podcasts this year. In addition, it plans to host live binaural radio events across its network of stations, with prompts to listeners to wear headphones for the full effect. According to The Verge, iHeartMedia has built three studios in which it can record 3D audio.
The idea behind binaural audio is to make you feel as though you're in the same space as the action, with sounds, speakers and instruments flowing into your ears from what seem like different locations. The tech isn't exactly new — binaural recording techniques and surround sound have existed for decades — though it's perhaps becoming more commonplace.
A number of recent TVs and speaker systems support 3D audio, as do Amazon and Sony with some of their products. Along with podcasts and music, some visual media has been crafted with binaural audio in mind. The PlayStation 5, for instance, can deliver 3D audio (the Maiden visual demo for Resident Evil Village uses the technique to disturbingly great effect). The BBC, meanwhile, has released an episode of Doctor Who with 3D sound.