Podcasting: A Killer Application For Binaural Conferencing

Earlier this week a morning’s news dump brought with it something from Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology, a communication professional and long-time podcaster. He penned some interesting observations about the use of audio on the web in, “Listen up! You may be producing audio sooner than you think.” His post helped cast a new light on my perspective of binaural conference services like Voxeet and Dolby Voice. While I may have some reservations about their use in business, these could be killer tools for podcasters!

I must admit I was tempted to title this post with reference to binaural conference calls “getting rid of the voices inside my head.” That’s the value of the spatial effect, it expands the soundstage such that the call participants seem to be arrayed around one’s head instead of piled up between the ears.

For a podcast that has two more participants binaural conferencing is definitely an improvement over voices in mono. However, to make this convenient Voxeet et al would need to offer local call recording in their client. At present this is not offered, although it is on the Voxeet wish list.

So, for the moment the only way to record a binaural call using Voxeet is to route the call audio into a separate recording tool, whether physical or virtual. For a short test I connected the headset output of my desktop PC to the line input of a Zoom H2 recorder, then plugged my AKG headphones into the Zoom output.

In this physical approach the output path (PC –> recorder –> headphones) has a  path entirely separate from the input (microphone), making a simple headset (phones+mic) unworkable. Fortunately, the Voxeet client, like most soft phones, allows the independent selection of input vs output device. Thus it was easy to send the output to the recorder+headphones and use my Blue Yeti as the input.

So arranged the Voxeet client becomes the connectivity to the others and the tool for arranging the guests within the soundstage. The Zoom recorder makes an stereo recording that can be post-processed using The Levelator or Auphonic.

I can see this as being a great way to enhance the audio quality of a podcast. I wonder how that translates into a revenue stream for such services?