Most music or movies you'll be listening to on your phone will be two-channel stereo recordings. Imagine for a moment that you are in a room with only two speakers in front of you. There are three points in this room; you, and the two speakers creating an equidistant triangle. Let's assume you are listening to a well recorded instrumental album, maybe a classical orchestra or jazz trio. These types of recordings are made in such a way to create a stereo image, which is something that is often misunderstood. Stereo doesn't strictly mean two channels, but rather, three dimensional. So a really good stereo recording played back with a pair properly positioned speakers will not just be replaying music, but will be re-creating carefully placed positional ques that tell your brain more than just that violins are on the left and that cellos are on the right, but should also give a convincing illusion of depth, so that you can almost see that the French horns are just a bit behind the center, and the trumpets are a little behind them and slightly to the right. Of course, the acoustics of the room will greatly affect the accuracy and believably of this three dimensional illusion, but part of what is allowing it to happen is actually the shape of your head, the position of your ears, and the shape of your pinna, or outer ears. Now, go back to this imaginary room with the two speakers spread out in front of you. Naturally, your right ear hears the right speaker and your left ear hears the left speaker, but what happens a few microseconds later? Your right ear starts to hear music from the left speaker as well, and your left ear starts to hear from the right speaker. This slight delay and off placement of sound is crucial to recreating this stereo image. The same thing would happen if you were in an orchestra hall; your ears primarily hear the directional ques initially meant for that ear, but then also hear the sounds meant for the other ear. Your ears are not isolated from the sounds around you. In fact, the reflections around the orchestra hall eventually contribute to the sound you are hearing, which is why no two halls sound the same. The way that sound waves bounce off your skull and race around your pinna is described by the term, HRTF, or Head Related Transfer Function, and that is why we can hear things in front, above, below and behind us with pinpoint accuracy despite only having two ears.
Now, play back that same album with headphones. Your left ear hears the left channel and the left channel only. Your right ear hears the right channel and the right channel only. There is no crossfeed of sound; there is only isolation. Sure, the music is still two channel, but it is hardly stereo in the truest sense of the word. Normally, HRTF doesn't come into play with headphones.
Back in the 90s, an Australian company called Lake Technology developed a computer algorithm that attempts to recreate the kind of natural crossfeed and HRTF you get when listening to music through two-channel speakers or from movies through five or more speakers. Dolby bought the marketing rights and started licensing the technology to various electronics firms and film studios. They call it Dolby Headphone. It's really cool, but not used enough in my opinion.
A few really expensive home theater receivers have Dolby Headphone built in, and even fewer films are release with an optional Dolby Headphone audio track. But for the most part, Dolby Headphone has remained a really cool and useful tool that just really hasn't been accessible for most people.
OK, now, put your headphones on, and play back that same classical or jazz album, (OK, Dolby Headphone will add depth and dimension to any recording), with your HTC 10. Make sure Dolby Headphone is turned on. Suddenly, the music sounds more spacious, more enveloping, more convincing. It doesn't feel like the music is just there at the edges of your ears but does indeed sound more three dimensional. It's not perfect, sometimes is a little subtle, and still not as good as the real thing, but it is an improvement, at least to my ears. HTC already has the best sounding headphone amplifier on the market, and with it, the best headphone equalization I've heard on any device*, but when you combine those two features with the realism of Dolby Headphone, now you have something really unique, and possible revolutionary.
The HTC 10 comes with Dolby Headphone, but to find the control panel for it, you have to first plug in a pair of headphones.
Go to settings, HTC BoomSound with Dolby Audio, then Dolby Headphone Effects. From there, select the kind of headphones you are using. Unless you actually have headphones from HTC, which you probably don?t, choose the fourth option: "Other", then click "APPLY".
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