The Sweet Sound of Stereo
I own an iPhone, have since 2007. But due to a recent incident this weekend at Jazz fest involving my phone and a concrete curb on Bourbon street, I’ve been rocking a backup LG V20. Today, I went to post a video to our Hooke Audio Instagram account like I normally do. Only this time, it sounded different. Watch with headphones on:
This video is in binaural stereo sound. Notice how you can feel me move around you?
It’s a shocking discovery seeing as I’ve been writing about Instagram and Facebook’s lack of stereo audio support for almost 5 years. I had no idea when the switch was made, so I decided to dig deeper into whether or not this support had been unrolled across all platforms…
THE DISCOVERY: Now anyone can listen to binaural stereo sound on Instagram, but Only Android users can upload it.
When you upload a video in stereo audio to the Instagram iPhone app, it gets down mixed to awful mono audio. Uploading a video in stereo sound to the Instagram Android app however remains in mono. Even Instagram stories remain in stereo upon upload. Hallelujah! And again, you can listen back to this stereo audio on your iPhone instagram app, you just can’t upload it…yet.
Why Only Android?
That’s what I am still trying to figure out. A friend of mine at Facebook thinks it has to do with an iOS level bug which is also restricting users from live streaming in stereo. He’s told me that stereo audio cannot be supported when using the Facebook in app camera, however if you were to use a different app which utilizes the Facebook API, then stereo audio is supported. Clearly they are still working out the bugs, but it’s a step in the right direction.
A Game changer for storytelling
For years, we’ve been sharing only half of the story on Instagram. We experience life’s most amazing moments with two ears, but when we capture them and share on instagram, it’s as if we have one. Imagine being able to relive a concert as if you were there VIA INSTAGRAM. Imagine reliving your son’s first piano recital and feeling like you’re right back in row one VIA INSTAGRAM. Imagine reliving an epic adventure again and again VIA INSTAGRAM. That’s what stereo support means, the ability to share binaural 3D audio to any one at anytime. All they need is a pair of headphones to feel like they’re there.
Never heard binaural 3D audio before? Listen to this with headphones on (and yes, I SHARED THIS VIA INSTAGRAM BECAUSE I CAN NOW! 😱)
The Next Step? Stereo Support Across ALL Platforms
– A video in stereo sound uploaded to Facebook via desktop will remain in stereo.
– A video in stereo sound uploaded to Facebook via Facebook mobile app (iOS OR Android) will result in a video in mono sound.
– A video in stereo sound uploaded to the Instagram app via iOS is converted to mono.
– A video in stereo sound uploaded to the Instagram app via ANDROID stays in stereo.
Many Hooke Verse customers want to share the videos they’ve created in stereo audio via the Hooke App directly to Instagram and Facebook. In order for 3D audio to flourish, our social platforms must support this content. 3D audio has a distribution problem. It ends when the two biggest social media apps in the World support it.
Instagram, if you care about storytelling, support stereo audio.
Facebook and Instagram have been around for years now and have the highest amount of users at it’s fingertips. In reality, it should be catering to it’s consumers needs. It is the giant tech companies like Facebook and Twitter’s responsibility to provide us, the consumer with the best tools to tell our stories. As long as Facebook converts everything to mono, how are we to know it can be better? However, as headphone sales continue to rise and iPhones now come with stereo speakers, more people are noticing the difference and demanding more, plus a better quality of experience. There are many creators sharing incredible stories with high quality audio, but Facebook is limiting them from truly connecting with their audiences, which is hurting everyone. That ends now.
It’s clear that these companies are looking for any opportunity to gain an edge over their competition, and once the video features have gone as far as they can, audio will be next in line to help one company rise above the other. Either way, the next few months will be pivotal in the social media arms race. We say watch your back Instagram. Some one might just take the lead in providing quality for its consumers.
Thanks for reading! I’ll continue to update this as things progress. And if you notice anything different on your phone, please let me know in the comments section below!
From One Ear To Another,
Founder, Hooke Audio